Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

We understand the concept

Sep 22nd, 2011 5:40 pm | By

As we saw, Jordan Sekulow complained that

Whether it’s Governor Rick Perry calling for prayer for our nation, Congresswoman Bachmann discussing her “calling” to run for elected office, or Governor Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, it is now acceptable for many in the media to ridicule the religious beliefs of one particular group of Americans – conservatives.

Let’s have a look at that first link. It’s Jordan Sekulow himself saying what a good thing prayer is.

Prayer is essential. Faith is powerful. Non-believers and skeptics cannot comprehend the concept of literally asking God for His guidance and blessing. This is not surprising nor is it, in itself, offensive. When the lack of understanding turns into sneers and insults, usually coupled with a lack of basic knowledge about the evangelical Christian faith, we have a duty to respond.

But that’s quite wrong – of course we can comprehend the concept - but we think it’s wrong about reality. We can understand it, but we think it’s as effective and useful as asking a water faucet for its guidance and blessing, or a tree, or a galaxy, or a hurricane. We think it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding. We think there is no “God” to ask for “His” guidance and blessing.

Many of us also think that adults ought to be able to understand that, and thus at least keep their practice of “asking God for His guidance and blessing” private, in the knowledge that it’s not something that all reasonable grown-ups think is sensible. Adults don’t talk to ghosts or fairies in public, mostly (apart from people like Sylvia Browne, that is), and for the same reasons they ought not to talk to “God” in public either.

That’s how the sneers and insults get in. It would be the same if adults were talking to fairies and ghosts, and Sekulow is wrong to think his “God” is fundamentally different.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Because she’s got a passport, he can get a visa

Sep 22nd, 2011 11:04 am | By

The familiar pretty story:

Seventeen-year-old Jessie faced being forced into marriage to her
40-year-old cousin in Bangladesh. She begged the British Consulate in Dhaka for help and officials stepped in. She is just one of an estimated tens of thousands of British women at risk of being forced into marriage.

Alan Morrison, the British Consul in Bangladesh, says his team meet a girl
like Jessie every week.

Born in Britain but living in rural Bangladesh and promised in marriage to a
much older man.

Jessie managed to call the consulate when her father was at evening prayers.

“She told them she was desperate not to marry but did not have any money and
was not allowed to look after her own passport,” said Mr Morrison.

Jessie had been promised to her cousin at the age of 11. She was due to turn
18 next month so the consul decided to act immediately.

In these circumstances, when you’ve got a British girl, often she’s seen as a
commodity,” explained Mr Morrison. “Because she’s got a passport, he can get a visa, and work in the UK. We’re seeing a generational strategy to emigrate to
the UK.”

And she’s just a thing to be used. And there are tens of thousands like her; she was rescued but most are not.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The God-given freedoms of its people

Sep 22nd, 2011 10:01 am | By

Now for Jordan Sekulow’s post itself.

He’s pissed off because the pesky leftwing atheist media have been saying Dominionists are Dominionists.

Whether it’s Governor Rick Perry calling for prayer for our nation, Congresswoman Bachmann discussing her “calling” to run for elected office, or Governor Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, it is now acceptable for many in the media to ridicule the religious beliefs of one particular group of Americans – conservatives.

The new insinuation is that conservative Christians are engaged in a concerted effort to establish a theocracy here in America. Under the guise of so-called ‘Christian Dominionism,’ our alleged goal is, “replacing American law with the strictures of the Old Testament.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I have explained before, Christians who seek to participate in the political process do so not as an attempt to install some type of theocratic rule, but to ensure that the government fulfils its God-ordained role in society to promote justice, provide security, and protect the God-given freedoms of its people.


I fail to see the difference.

I see the difference in the wording, yes, but the difference in the wording doesn’t amount to a difference in the substance. Thinking and saying (and insisting) that government has a “God-ordained role in society” is theocratic. Working to enforce that idea is working for theocracy. Thinking and saying (and insisting) that freedoms are “God-given” is theocratic – it entails thinking that only the freedoms you consider consistent with your idea of what “God” wants are to be protected; all others are to be eliminated. This includes for instance the freedom to stop being pregnant. It includes the freedom to attend school if your Amish parents want to take you out of school. It includes the freedom to marry someone of the same sex.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Sep 22nd, 2011 9:30 am | By

Here’s a question. Why is the Washington Post providing a platform for Jordan Sekulow, Director of Policy and International Operations for the American Center for Law and Justice?

Founded by Pat Robertson, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and its Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow quickly established themselves as key players in the right-wing movement, litigating a variety of cases at all levels, including the Supreme Court. The ACLJ has been particularly active in fighting marriage equality and defending the Pledge of Allegiance, while Sekulow has maintained very close ties to the Bush White House and played a central role in pushing for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito.

It reminds me of Obama – listen to all points of view, invite everyone to the table, be even-handed to a fault, reach out to your enemies while abandoning your allies, model good behavior toward opponents and assume that they will do likewise. Right-wing newspapers and magazines don’t give left-wing commentators a platform, so why do putatively liberal or centrist or at least reality-based newspapers and magazines give right-wing theocrats a platform? Are they thinking the right-wing theocrats will reciprocate? Has it escaped their attention that this never ever happens?

The ACLJ thinks and says that rights are “God-given.”

Our Mission | Freedom and Liberty are God-given rights

It also apparently has no women in important roles, at least not judging by that banner.

By focusing on U.S. constitutional law, European Union law and human rights law, the ACLJ and its affiliated organizations are dedicated to the concept that freedom and liberty are universal, God-given and inalienable rights that must be protected.

Universal and God-given – there’s a tension there. If “freedom and liberty” are God-given rights then they are rights as defined by “God” and that of course means defined by clerics. Clerics and their religions have particular, narrow, goddy concepts of “rights” which often in secular terms mean the opposite of “rights.” I don’t trust that clump of guys at that table to protect my rights. Far from it: I’m quite sure they want to take some of my rights away.

It’s very odd that the Washington Post feels obliged to help them with their work.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Tom Martin on “whoriarchy”

Sep 21st, 2011 5:12 pm | By

Remember our friend Tom Martin, the MRA who is suing LSE for being unfair to men? He just sent me a message to let me know he’s done an interview with two other MRAs so that I could listen to it if I wanted to. Nah, I don’t. But I looked around a little and found that after his chatting at my place he did some chatting at Cath Elliott’s place. Oh boy; treats.

I’ll give you some highlights.

Sunday at 4:21 pm:

So ‘male-dominant’ cultures, are more likely female-powerful.

It’s a skanky, whorish, back seat-driving type of power which leads to economic and cultural ruin and war –  a whoriarchy.

We know for instance, that women tell men what to do in marriages 90% of time – that is the same everywhere in the world.

Monday at 2:30 am:

Right out of the gate, you assume that women just pick the colour of the curtains, but ask any estate agent, and they’ll tell you its the woman of the couple who has the final say on whether to buy the house or not.

Women make 90% of couple decisions big and small, according to a 2007 Harvard Study I can’t find, but is out there somewhere.

The next thing you’re doing, is presenting the domestic sphere as separate from the political sphere.

Women in the home have access to more political debate than men do in the workforce, as women at home have more access to media.

But yep, restricted movement and the veil are the price some women think is worth paying, as long as they don’t need to get a job.

Women can’t drive in Saudi, but they do have chauffeurs.

And most of those who can afford it, choose a chauffeur.

Muslim women are really the boss in the home, and fascism starts in the home.

In a whoriarchy, in the same way you don’t need to drive to control where the car goes, you don’t particularly need an education either, as long as you know how to steer a man, but these whores don’t, which is why their countries and cultures are failing.

Yesterday at 5:14 pm:

Feminists sometimes tell the truth, in which case, no court case.

As soon as people lie, in order to make women look like bigger victims than they are, or men bigger perpetrators than they are, then that is no longer feminism, but anti-male victim-femalism.

It is a negative stereotype, which is harassment.

It is bias, which is not protected under the academic immunity principle.

It is a breach of university regulations, which makes it a breach of contract.

It is misleading advertising, if this agenda wasn’t made clear in the prospectus.

You cannot reason, with the unreasonable. Those addicted to the unreasonable assertions that men are bad and women are good – who refuse to acknowledge any new positions, even in light of overwhelming evidence, should not call themselves feminists.

Furthermore, I did not sign up for a degree in feminism, but one in gender – which LSE personnel acknowledge should be about men and women – but which behind the scenes, they try to make all about women.

LSE legal team please note.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Little indeed

Sep 21st, 2011 4:18 pm | By

The Massachusetts Republican party wants Harvard to stop paying Elizabeth Warren’s salary while she runs for the Senate. It doesn’t just want Harvard to do that, it’s trying to tell Harvard to do that.

“By restoring her to the faculty, even though she has now formed a federal
election committee and is actively campaigning, the university is establishing a
bad precedent for academic appointments,” Nate Little, executive director of the state GOP, wrote in a letter to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust.

As if that’s their business. As if they’re the boss of Harvard. As if Harvard were taxpayer-funded.

The Globe adds later, drily,

During last year’s special election, [Republican Senator Scott] Brown continued to accept his taxpayer financed salary as a state senator. He has not expressed any plans to give up his federal salary while running for reelection to the US Senate.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Every night I would go to bed fearing the same god

Sep 21st, 2011 2:59 pm | By

Growing up a good Christian.

For me, the idea of “god” was incredibly confusing, even though I didn’t admit it (even to myself). When you’re a child raised in the church, you’re taught all of the fundamentals from an incredibly early age. Jesus loves you. God loves you. Jesus died on the cross for you. You have to accept Jesus into your heart in order to be saved. You repeat these things over and over and sing songs about them. They’re completely imprinted in your head before you’re old enough (i.e. emotionally and mentally mature enough) to even begin to understand what they mean. You accept them as fact because they’re taught to you by people you love and trust; people who would never lead you astray. The idea that those people would lie to you, or even be ill informed, doesn’t cross your mind. To a young child, parents and teachers are good people and they know everything.

Which is exactly why adults shouldn’t teach children things they have no good reason to believe are true. It’s unfair; it’s taking advantage. The adults in question don’t usually realize this, of course…which is one reason it’s worth saying it a lot.

There was, however, a darker side. I knew that there was a hell. I knew that it was a place of fire and suffering where bad people were tortured for eternity; never, ever finding relief. I suppose I never questioned how a place like that could exist if god was a good god; probably because my beliefs had all been packaged so neatly for me. Everything good was from god and everything bad was from the Devil. In a religious upbringing, beliefs are presented in a way that leaves little room for questioning, unless you’re able to step out of your comfort zone and put ALL of your beliefs into question; something a little girl like me simply couldn’t do.

Every night when I went to bed, I would pray and ask Jesus into my heart. I knew it was only “necessary” to do it once, but I was terrified I had done it wrong, or that something I had done that day—some sin I had committed—would cause god to not love me anymore. To a shy little girl who was unsure of herself and still struggling to understand the world around her, the idea of disappointing her creator and being sent to a place of eternal torment was incredibly disturbing. (I suppose it’s probably disturbing to anyone!)

Every Sunday I went to church and sang songs about Jesus, laughed and played with my friends, prayed to god, and learned Bible stories. Every night I would go to bed fearing the same god I had been taught loved me and “had the whole world in his hands.” Every mistake I made—every “bad” thought I had—caused me to beat myself up inside and hate who I was.

Doubleplus ungood.

We keep being told atheism isn’t enough; people need more. Well sure they do, and sure it isn’t, but at the same time…Just getting rid of that train of thought would be doing a lot. A lot.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Cooler than thou

Sep 21st, 2011 10:48 am | By

The Archbish of C is annoyed because the perceived coolitude of atheism is making it “difficult for the Church to convey its message.”

Well jeez, Rowan, I’m annoyed because the perceived wonderfulness of theism makes it difficult for atheism to convey its message – and your message has had it all its own way for quite a long time, please note.

…the coolness of atheism is very much in evidence. The problem is it’s become a bit of a vicious circle. Atheism is cool, so books about atheism are cool.

They get a high profile, and books that say Richard Dawkins is wrong don’t get the same kind of publicity because atheism is the new cool thing.

It’s difficult to break into that, but plenty of people are trying.

No, it’s not just because atheism is the new cool thing (which is itself highly debatable, given the volume of the backlash); it’s also because so far the books that say Richard Dawkins is wrong are terrible books. (That’s not because it’s impossible to write a good book that says Richard Dawkins is wrong. It’s probably because a whole book devoted to saying that is kind of a silly idea, so people who can write good books don’t write that kind of book.) (There are good books that say Richard Dawkins is wrong along with other things, but I take the Archbish to mean books written especially to say Richard Dawkins is wrong; there are no good ones of those.)

The archbishop said that Christian witness is the strongest argument the Church has to rebut the claims of atheists such as Dawkins. He said the evolutionary biologist would struggle to explain the growth of the Church in Zimbabwe in the face of constant brutality and harassment.

What? No he wouldn’t. Humans can be passionately devoted to beliefs that are mistaken. Opposition often strengthens that devotion – as it does with atheism in the US, for instance. We like a challenge. Devotion is not a marker of truth.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

No really, it’s all yours

Sep 20th, 2011 5:07 pm | By

From David Futrelle at Man Boobz - some guy says feminism causes male violence. (Well sure it does – makes perfect sense if you think about it – if we just do what we’re told what’s there to get violent about?) Guy points out it’s a bad idea, because after all who can hit harder?

In other words, the fact that there are violent men out there is why women shouldn’t complain about violent men. Presumably the only marches women should be organizing would be “No, Go Ahead, You Keep the Night” marches.

Good one.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Archbishop Smith of Southwark

Sep 20th, 2011 4:28 pm | By

Archbishops say the funniest things.

Archbishop Smith said that although Sikhs and Muslims had successfully used the law to uphold a right to manifest their beliefs in such areas as religious attire and jewelry, Christians were denied the same right because the courts had decided that it was not essential to the practice of their faith.

“Why can’t Christians wear the symbol of the cross?” he asked in an interview with the American Catholic News Service.

“It is absolutely part of the Gospel,” he said. “Without the cross there is no salvation. It is at the heart of our faith because it is the symbol and sign of God’s unconditional love.”

That really did make me laugh aloud. A torture device is the symbol and sign of God’s unconditional love. Without the symbol and sign of being tortured to death, there is no salvation. Oooooooooooookay.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Watch your back

Sep 20th, 2011 3:02 pm | By

Religion makes people better department.

Let’s say you lived in Giles County, Va., a rural enclave of about 17,000 people in the southwestern portion of the state. Let’s say you were a high school student and you were opposed to the school board’s decision to post the Ten Commandments in your school.

Would you be eager to be public about it?

Nope. I’ve learned too much about how a great many people feel about perceived attacks on their religion.

At AU, we know from experience that plaintiffs in church-state lawsuits can and do experience harassment. When we sued Judge Roy Moore, Alabama’s infamous “Ten Commandments judge,” the plaintiffs were named. That means people could track them down – and some did.

During the litigation, plaintiff Melinda Maddox , who was newly married, returned from her honeymoon to find that the windows of her house had been shot out.

As I noted in a February blog post about plaintiffs in church-state cases, it can take real courage to stand up for church-state separation in court. Consider the case of Joann Bell, a mother in Little Axe, Okla., who protested religious activity in her children’s public schools in 1981. Her home was burned down by an arsonist.

But don’t forget: religion makes people better.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

When it’s a problem

Sep 20th, 2011 12:45 pm | By

Libby Anne gets responses from people saying “yes but we home-school and we follow Jesus but we don’t fit your description.” She gently points out that if they don’t fit the description then she’s not writing about them…and goes on to provide a list of the genuine problems with “the various teachings of Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull” [italics hers], not having a large family or homeschooling. Among them -

  • When parents teach their daughters to dream of nothing but homemaking and seek to kill any other desire or dream, that is a problem.
  • When parents teach their daughters that boys are to go out into the world and take dominion while girls are to take dominion by doing laundry, that is a problem.
  • When parents teach their daughters that women are created to serve men, that is a problem.
  • When adult daughters are expected to obey their fathers and remain under their fathers’ authority, that is a problem.
  • When parents insist that they control their adult daughters’ romantic relationships and can’t trust them to be adults and make their own decisions, that is a problem.

She knows this from the inside.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Sep 20th, 2011 10:56 am | By

Never let it be said that Islamists don’t have a soft spot for children. Hell no – they’re as sentimental about the kiddies as Charles Dickens or the pope. They like nothing better than to give the wee ones a special treat during Ramadan.

A radio station run by Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamist group has awarded weapons to children who won a Koran-reciting and general knowledge contest.

Andulus radio, based near Mogadishu, gave the group which won first prize in
the Ramadan competition an AK-47 rifle and the equivalent of $700 (£450).

The second prize-winners received an AK-47 and $500, while the third prize
was two hand grenades and $400.

Ahhhh – isn’t that sweet. Can’t you just see it? The dear little eyes going round with excitement, the tiny hands fumbling with the triggers, the whores and infidels screaming and writhing on the ground.

You didn’t know I was such a softy, did you.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

One of these items doesn’t belong

Sep 19th, 2011 5:30 pm | By

Via Metamagician, a piece by Brian Thompson of JREF on “diversity” at JREF.

we at the JREF do take diversity  seriously, and it’s something we strive to achieve at our events.  If  the skeptics community is going to thrive and grow, it’s essential that no one feel unwelcome or excluded due to race, gender, religion, or  sexual orientation.

I don’t understand that – it looks like a typo, or a thought-typo. It looks like grabbing an established category without taking the time to think about it and thus notice that it needs tweaking for the purpose.

There’s no sensible or substantive reason to cause people to feel unwelcome due to race, gender, or sexual orientation, but there can be such a reason due to religion (or atheism), for the same sort of reason there can be sensible or substantive reasons to cause, say, socialists to feel unwelcome at a gathering of libertarians or vice versa. That is, people can be caused to feel unwelcome simply by being exposed to ideas they disagree with, and that could easily happen to religious people at a skeptics’ event.

It seems like a futile idea for a skeptics’ organization to commit itself to not causing religious people to feel unwelcome in that way. Race gender and sexual orientation are a different category, but ideas can’t be prevented from possibly causing people to feel unwelcome, without being emptied of all their content and so ceasing to be ideas.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

He had to wash his hair that day

Sep 19th, 2011 4:56 pm | By

So, did things get a little too hot for Bush? Did he suddenly remember some brush that needed cutting? Did he have that bad dream about the cops knocking on the door the way they did to Kissinger that time?

Next week’s appearance by former U.S. president George W. Bush at an event hosted by a local evangelical Christian university has been cancelled.

The decision came Wednesday, the same day three former students launched a petition urging the university to cancel the speech. On Tuesday, a class valedictorian and professor publicly spoke out against the appearance following the resignation of another staff member.

Bush was scheduled to speak Sept. 20 to about 150 people at an invitation-only breakfast hosted by Tyndale University College and Seminary, home to about 1,400 students at two campuses in Toronto’s north end.

Toronto, you see. To-ron-to. It’s in Ca-na-da. That’s a-no-ther coun-try. It’s outside the US. Bush has compelling reasons not to go to places that are outside the US.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

One hand is enough

Sep 19th, 2011 2:08 pm | By

It doesn’t matter what you believe. The important thing is how you live.

An Islamic sharia court in Nigeria has sentenced two men to amputation at their right wrists for stealing a bull, with the amputation to be carried out in
public if it is given final approval.

The sharia court in the village of Nassarawan Mailayi in the northern state
of Zamfara on Thursday ordered that Auwalu Abubaka, 23, and Lawalli Musa, 22,
have their right hands chopped off for stealing a bull worth 130,000 naira
($867, 628 euros).

A man shows his amputated hand (archive shot)

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Don’t think, just live

Sep 19th, 2011 12:19 pm | By

Via PZ, I find the latest iteration of John Gray’s world-weary anti-liberal schtick.

Most of it is the familiar Armstrongesque “religion is not belief it’s practice.” Silly atheists are barking up the wrong hydrant trying to say the beliefs are all eyewash because the beliefs don’t matter so ha. Art and poetry aren’t about establishing facts and religion is like that so ha. Myths aren’t silly and wrong, they’re great stories, except the one about science being a good thing, which is silly and wrong because humanity isn’t marching anywhere because it forgot to bring its boots so ha. You know the kind of thing.

Human beings don’t live by argumentation, and it’s only religious
fundamentalists and ignorant rationalists who think the myths we live by are
literal truths.

Evangelical atheists who want to convert the world to unbelief are copying
religion at its dogmatic worst. They think human life would be vastly improved
if only everyone believed as they do, when a little history shows that trying to
get everyone to believe the same thing is a recipe for unending conflict.

We’d all be better off if we stopped believing in belief. Not everyone needs
a religion. But if you do, you shouldn’t be bothered about finding arguments for
joining or practising one. Just go into the church, synagogue, mosque or temple and take it from there.

What we believe doesn’t in the end matter very much. What matters is how we

I bothered with this just because I wanted to point out the howling absurdity of that final paragraph. As if how we live could float free of what we believe! What we believe damn well does matter very much because it influences how we live.

For instance – if we believe that what we believe doesn’t matter very much then we live without paying much attention to what we believe and whether it’s well-founded or not and whether it could motivate us to do damage or not – we live according to Dunning-Kruger – we don’t know, we don’t know that we don’t know, and we don’t care that we don’t know, because we believe it doesn’t matter.

And by contrast, if we believe that what we believe does matter and we believe that female human beings are created inferior and subordinate by God, then how we live will be shaped by that belief. If we’re men we’ll fuck up the lives of any women we have power over, if we’re women we’ll let our lives be fucked up, in both cases because we’ll think it’s what God wants.

John Gray needs to take a closer look at the world.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

With X at the center

Sep 19th, 2011 10:04 am | By

A non sequitur.

Led by the biologist Richard Dawkins, the author of “The God Delusion,” atheism has taken on a new life in popular religious debate. Dawkins’s brand of atheism is scientific in that it views the “God hypothesis” as obviously inadequate to the known facts. In particular, he employs the facts of evolution to challenge the need to postulate God as the designer of the universe. For atheists like Dawkins, belief in God is an intellectual mistake, and honest thinkers need simply to recognize this and move on from the silliness and abuses associated with religion.

Most believers, however, do not come to religion through philosophical arguments. Rather, their belief arises from their personal experiences of a spiritual world of meaning and values, with God as its center.

The first paragraph talks about “scientific” atheism and the known facts, but then the second paragraph criticizes that view by talking about philosophical arguments. Gary Gutting, the Notre Dame philosopher who wrote the post, makes a kind of transition from the first to the second with the remark about “an intellectual mistake,” but still, it seems like a muddying of the waters to imply that Dawkins is guilty of “scientism” and then once that’s taken care of, shift to philosophical arguments.

Of course most atheism combines the two, and most non-philosophers don’t worry much about keeping them separate. At any rate, that second paragraph doesn’t make much sense to me, for the usual kind of reason. It seems circular. Most believers get their belief from personal experiences, with God at the center. But “God” is the very item that’s in question, so how can “God” be at the center before there is any reason to think “God” exists? Gutting slots “God” in there as if it were perfectly natural and inevitable, but “God” is what atheists don’t believe exists, so it’s question-begging to slot “God” in anywhere.

A spiritual world of meaning and values is a very general category, and could mean anything or nothing. “God” is much more specific, despite its convenient flexibility for purposes of argument. It doesn’t work to claim or imply that belief in God is not an intellectual mistake by talking about personal experiences of a spiritual world of meaning and values, with God as its center. Gary Gutting is a philosopher so I’m confident that he knows that much better than I do…yet he said it anyway. (Maybe he just meant “with the idea of God at its center” – but he didn’t say that.)

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

New ex-Muslims tell their stories

Sep 18th, 2011 5:01 pm | By

Read them.

Lastly, I discovered the beauties of Science That really opened my mind to new possibilities. There was just so much wonder in the world that Islam seemed too petty and small.  Why would Allah who creates the Universe worry about little things us humans do? Surely he has better things to do, and don’t tell me he watches over us because he cares for us and loves us. Have you read the Quran? If anything, Allah hates us considering the only ability he has shown in the Quran is the ability to find any excuse to torture you and bring you pain.  Islam seemed to diminish the beauty of the Universe by teaching that you are born into a pointless test which is rigged to make you fail. Allah apparently created us, just to see if we’ll worship him and find out which of the hundreds of religions was the real one. That began to seem if not absolutely pointless, then to be honest, rather stupid. What kind of a test is it in which most people only pass just because they were born into the winning team? If life is a test, it seems the most unfair test imaginable. If that is the meaning of life, to pass a pointless quiz, I would rather live a meaningless life.

My view exactly. Why would a god create humans with some cognitive abilities and “test” us on our willingness to refuse to use them for the sake of “faith”? A god like that is a cheat; it’s an outrage to worship it.

Noshina Fawad, Leeds

I grew up in a household where my father was an atheist and my mother, a liberal Muslim. We were taught ethics and morality and were raised as Muslims. The more I learnt about Islam, the more I became aware of its many restrictions and how I was totally against them. Islam preaches peace and serenity and yet encourages the murder of ‘kafirs’, those who have said anything against it. Islam prohibits listening to music and yet many of the surats and ayats of the Quran are in musical form. Islam conveys equality for both men and women while men are allowed to have four wives, and this liberty is not mutual. Living in Pakistan, I witnessed how women were brainwashed to believe that they only existed to be of service to men, how children were scolded to memorise verses that they didn’t even understand. Religion limits an individual to a certain way of life; it restricts us to grasp any other possibilities of existence. I believe in justice and freedom and I am proud to say I have renounced religion!

No longer quivering.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Which twin has the Toni?

Sep 18th, 2011 3:28 pm | By

Now it’s time for an ironic juxtaposition. Are you ready?

First, from Vision Forum -

Housewives Desperate for God


Next, from lawyer-turned-designer Duncan Quinn -


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)