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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Find it Difficult to Take Atheists Seriously







Two recent examples that have made the news this week have reaffirmed my belief that many, if not most, atheists are intellectual Lilliputians who have a hard time trying to convince people that they aren't bitter, nihilistic, socially autistic, mental midgets. First, in yesterday's Christian Post we read...






"The "jail or church" program in Bay Minette, Ala., that gives first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice between doing time and paying a fine or attending church once a week for a year has been delayed as the town's lawyers face pressure to ensure that it does not violate any church and state separation laws.

The Restore Our Community (ROC) program caught national media attention for what many believe to be a veiled attempt to coerce criminal offenders into going to church. Despite Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland’s insistence that the program does not "coerce" church attendance because the offender is given the option of participating, groups like the ACLU, Freedom from Religion, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) have complained that ROC is a "flagrant" violation of the Constitution."






How are they trying to establish a state religion? The convict can opt not to go to church and thus they aren't being forced to do so. This objection flies in the face of empirical evidence for those who supposedly champion empirical evidence when one considers that those who attend church regularly are less likely to commit crime. Perhaps, just perhaps, being held accountable by a body of believers just might be beneficial for certain ne'er-do-wells and they just might want to reprioritize their selfishness and weigh it against the consequences of their actions.




I doubt that the ACLU would object if they were being schooled on the benefits of the religion of Secular Humanism though.






The second example is from earlier in the week when I read that a group of California atheists paid to have the following billboard put up...







"One of the billboards located in the city of Orange states, "Make this a better world. Reject all religious superstitions." Listed underneath the proclamation are 36 different references to Christianity, other religions, and cults. Included in the list are: "Talking Snakes," "Burning Bushes," "Resurrection," "Salvation," and "Sin."

Lumped in with the Christian references are "Voodoo," "Magic Underwear," "Astrology," and "Hand of Fatima."




Such lumping in together of all of these items implies that all religious beliefs are of equal weight when nothing could be further from the truth. They should be judged on their own merits and decisions made according to their veracity accordingly.








17 comments:

GentleSkeptic said...

The Restore Our Community (ROC) program caught national media attention for what many believe to be a veiled attempt to coerce criminal offenders into going to church.

Hmm. I was under the impression that when you were convicted of a crime in this country, you were supposed to serve your time IN JAIL. Not get a pass, or a choice, or an "option," to sit in church. Perhaps we should also offer the option of going to a movie? Or mosque? Seems to me that the correlation between church attendance and likelihood of criminal activity is moot when speaking of the already-convicted-of-criminal-activity.

One recent example that will be making news soon has reaffirmed my belief that many, if not most, American Christians are behavioral hypocrites who have a hard time trying to convince people that they aren't posturing, deceptive, self-satisfied moral midgets who, despite being Washed in the Blood, behave just like the rest of us.

True love doesn’t wait after all.

That’s the implication in the upcoming October issue of an evangelical magazine that claims that young, unmarried Christians are having premarital sex almost as much as their non-Christian peers.

The article in Relevant magazine, entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It,” cited several studies examining the sexual activity of single Christians. One of the biggest surprises was a December 2009 study, conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which included information on sexual activity.

While the study’s primary report did not explore religion, some additional analysis focusing on sexual activity and religious identification yielded this result: 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex - slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.


Just sayin'.

They should be judged on their own merits and decisions made according to their veracity accordingly.

That you can't see that this has already been done simply speaks to your (heavy) sectarian bias. No surprise there.

JD Curtis said...

Jail time for convicts? That's soooo 1980 GS. Heck in Britian, only 7% of convicts serve any jail time whatsoever. Link

GentleSkeptic said...

Oh, my bad; I thought we were talking about AMERICA.

Speedy G said...

Make this a better world. Reject all religious superstitions."

But then there wouldn't be ANYTHING left. How is THAT helpful?

Justin Vacula said...

J.D., you want me to debate you and you levy personal attacks at atheists while demonstrating that you don't understand the definition of atheism nor recognize wide diversity amongst atheists (not all atheists are nihilists and I'm certainly not - you should know this since I authored a recent post on meaning).

This "jail or church" program is flagrantly unconstitutional. It's almost as bad as the Christian rapper who came into a public school recently in an attempt to convert and preach to students after stating that he didn't care that we he was doing was illegal.

Church/state separation isn't only meaning "there can be no theocracy." It means that the government should not favor religion over non-religion, favor one religion over another religion, etc. Here, the government is discriminating against atheists or those of other religions not pertaining to the church/churches. It's quite obvious. You link stats from SundaySoftware, but fail to recognize that atheists are disproportionally represented in prisons when considering the entire population and other important factors.

Ugh.

JD Curtis said...

not all atheists are nihilists and I'm certainly not

How do you view the following?

"nihilism rejects..the belief in final purpose, that the universe is built upon non-random events and that everything is structured towards an eventual conclusive revelation" Link

Is this congruent with your personal belief system?

Here, the government is discriminating against atheists or those of other religions not pertaining to the church/churches

But the courts have already declared atheism to be a religion.

Is there actually an atheist intervention group that wishes to counsel convicts? I really don't know.

JD Curtis said...

You link stats from SundaySoftware, but fail to recognize that atheists are disproportionally represented in prisons when considering the entire population and other important factors

Glad you brought this up. From Vox Day's The Irrational Atheist..

"I previously referenced the number of atheists being held by the prison system of England and Wales, where it is customary to record the religion of the prison population as part of the Inmate Information System. In the year 2000, there were 38,531 Christians of twenty-one different varieties imprisoned for their crimes, compared to only 122 atheists and sixty-two agnostics. As Europe in general and the United Kingdom in particular have become increasingly post-Christian, this would appear to be a damning piece of evidence proving the fundamentally criminal nature of theists while demonstrating that atheists are indeed more moral despite their lack of a sky god holding them to account.

However, there also happened to be another 20,639 prisoners, 31.6 percent of the total prison population, who possessed 'no religion.' And this was not simply a case of people falling through the cracks or refusing to provide an answer; the Inmate Information System is specific enough to distinguish between Druids, Scientologists, and Zoroastrians as well as between the Celestial Church of God, the Welsh Independent church, and the Non-Conformist church. It also features separate categories for 'other Christian religion,' 'other non-Christian religion,' and 'not known.' At only two-tenths of a percent of the prison population, High Church atheists are, as previously suggested, extremely law-abiding. But when one compares the 31.6 percent of imprisoned no-religionists to the 15.1 percent of Britons who checked 'none' or wrote in Jedi Knight, agnostic, atheist, or heathen in the 2001 national survey, it becomes clear that their Low Church counterparts are nearly four times more likely to be convicted and jailed for committing a crime than a Christian." " Link

GentleSkeptic said...

This.

This is exactly what Justin is talking about, and why he shouldn't "debate" you.

But the courts have already declared atheism to be a religion.

This. This is a lie, or rather, a conveniently twisted "truth" that ignores the substance of the ruling. No … it's just a lie. Standard creationist pull-quote tactic.

It is undisputed that other religious groups are permitted to meet at ___________’s prison, and the defendants have advanced no secular reason why the security concerns they cited as a reason to deny his request for an atheist group do not apply equally to gatherings of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Wiccan inmates. The defendants argue that all they are doing is accommodating religious groups as a whole, as they are required to do under RLUIPA. See Cutter, 125 S.Ct. 2113; Charles, 348 F.3d at 610-11. But the defendants have not answered ____________’s argument that by accommodating some religious views, but not his, they are promoting the favored ones. Because the defendants failed even to articulate—much less support with evidence—a secular reason why a meeting of atheist inmates would pose a greater security risk than meetings of inmates of other faiths, their rejection of __________’s request cannot survive the first part of the Lemon test.

It failed the Lemon Test! lol

JD, quickly: what is the name of the case/ruling in question? (You won't find it at that WND link: why is that?)

GentleSkeptic said...

In fact, I'm certain that if I went into JD's archives I could find a post where this lie has been debunked already. But here he is, presenting it again as truth.

This.

No debate.

GentleSkeptic said...

Yup. Found it. (Thanks, Google!)

Additionally, the US courts have upheld the idea that atheism qualifies as a religion as well as secular humanism. —JD Curtis

With the same freaking link.

Worth noting, once again, JDs double-standard with regard to the courts. When they "declare atheism a religion," he'll repeat that (false) conclusion like it's gospel. When they declare gay marriage bans unconstitutional, he'll decry it as judicial activism.

Justin Vacula said...

I directed you to my post on meaning in which I said:
"Meaning, as I and many other philosophers see it, is entirely a human concept that we attribute to certain parts of our lives that we find to be sentimental, pleasing, worthwhile, etc. People might believe that meaning is not a physical 'thing' and is thus incompatible with materialism, but this is a misunderstanding; meaning arises from ideas which arise from consciousness (which is the result of physical processes). Ideas and consciousness, also, can not be 'touched' (like matter can), but these are the products of physical processes. Materialism can be compatible with meaning."

Actually, my group, the NEPA Freethought Society, wishes to go into a local prison and talk to prisoners about science, philosophy, secularism, etc.

I'm talking about atheist prisoners in the US, not elsewhere.

GentleSkeptic said...

The Court did not rule that atheism is a religion. Instead, the court ruled that, for First Amendment purposes, atheism is a religion for Kaufman. Those are two very significant qualifiers. It means that atheism isn’t inherently a religion. It means that atheism isn’t inherently a religion for Kaufman — it’s only a religion for Kaufman in this narrow context. It means that atheism isn’t a religion for First Amendment purposes for everyone — just for Kaufman (and presumably some other inmates) in the context of this case.

The Christian Right, though, acts like the court said that atheism is a religion, full stop. Much of the confusion stems from a World Nut Daily article which radically distorts the facts and very pointedly doesn’t link to the original decision where people can read it for themselves.


Not that it will make any difference. I fully expect to see this lie from JD again in six months or so.

JD Curtis said...

If one peruses the pages of Merriam-Webster, religion is defined (4th definition) as..

"a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"

I beieve that under this definition, atheism is a religion.

JD Curtis said...

I'm talking about atheist prisoners in the US, not elsewhere

The statistics kept by the US Bureau of Prisons are apparently much less specific than those in England/Wales.

my group, the NEPA Freethought Society, wishes to go into a local prison and talk to prisoners about science, philosophy, secularism

Thanks for arriving to the party 2,000 late.

How do you plan to tell them how to use the knowledge they can gain from your visitations for good and not criminal activity? What would form the basis for instructing prisoners on how to make such decisions? I would suppose that it would be something akin to Utilitarianism but I'll let you answer that.

JD Curtis said...

what is the name of the case/ruling in question?

I believe they used Torasco v. Watkins but I could be wrong.

A note made by Justice Hugo Black from that ruling stated "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others."

GentleSkeptic said...

If one peruses the pages of Merriam-Webster, religion is defined (4th definition) as "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith."

K. But that's not what you said initially, you said the courts have declared it a religion. (Who's your authority: Webster's, or the courts? Just kidding; I know it's Jesus. Did He say that atheism is a religion?) Anyway, I'm sure you noticed that your definition is lower in ranking than "3. archaic : scrupulous conformity", and that example sentences include "Hockey is a religion in Canada," "Where I live, high school football is religion," and "Food is religion in this house."

OMG, high-school football is a religion! Did you know?

I believe they used Torasco v. Watkins but I could be wrong.

You are wrong. I actually provided a link to discussion of the case. A link that references the bogus WND article. And you still can't be bothered to read it, preferring your bogus WND article. Which, of course, does not link to or even provide the name of the case, lest anyone realize that they are lying. But that won't stop you from saying "the courts have declared atheism a religion" in the future, will it?

A note made by Justice Hugo Black blah blah blah…

Uh-huh. Not the ruling in question here. And do you remember what that kind of note is called? It's called an obiter dictum and it's noteworthy because it's not legally binding. The Latin translation is "something said in passing."

1. Law An opinion voiced by a judge that has only incidental bearing on the case in question and is therefore not binding. Also called dictum.
2. An incidental remark or observation; a passing comment.

In any case, the link that YOU PROVIDED regarding Torcaso four months ago says this:

This is frequently cited by people on the religious right as [evidence] that the Supreme Court has declared Secular Humanism to be a religion, but such people are simply unaware of the fact that dicta have no legal force.

Ever think about reading the shit you link to, JD?

This.

This is why i find it difficult to take conservative Christian bloggers seriously.

JD Curtis said...

But that's not what you said initially, you said the courts have declared it a religion

GS, if it's protected like a religion, it is ...what? A hoagie? An order of wings? A cigar?

It is a belief system in the same catagory as more (historically) organized religions.

OMG, high-school football is a religion! Did you know?

And yet football is routinely denied to the point that they are filing lawsuits to see it. Would this be the case if they were atheists wishing to congregate?

You are wrong. I actually provided a link to discussion of the case. A link that references the bogus WND article

I checked out the link GS. Would the prisons deny freedom to assemble concerning atheism (or perhaps secular humanism) or the ability to watch football?

In any case, the link that YOU PROVIDED regarding Torcaso four months ago says this:

This is frequently cited by people on the religious right as [evidence] that the Supreme Court has declared Secular Humanism to be a religion, but such people are simply unaware of the fact that dicta have no legal force.


GS, in the link you are talking about, what type of 'rights' of Torasco are violated?