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Secular Time Travelers

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The Civil War & States’ Rights

All the graves of US Confederate soldiers have opened up, and the evil dead are walking among us in the form of revisionist amateur-historians. For only a mindless corpse could make the case that the American Civil War was fought over states’ rights. Here’s why –It’s an undisputed fact that leading up to the Civil War, the slave states demanded, in no uncertain terms, that by law all slaves that runaway to free states ought to be forcibly returned to their masters; it was a major issue leading up to the war. The slave states argued that states ought to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to participate in slavery. And to this day Confederacy sympathizers attempt to fight the Civil War for a second time by saying that it was really all about states’ rights, and not so much about that pesky side-issue called slavery. Bullshit, I say.

The difficulty with this most hypocritical of arguments is that for slavery to have continued, the free states would have had to comply with the returning of runaway slaves, which is an act of slavery in itself. But how can a state have a choice if it is forced to participate in an evil it wholeheartedly rejects?

Do you see the contradiction? The South was happy to use the states’-rights argument when it worked in its favor, but when it was inconvenient it insisted that the law compel the North to participate in the horrors of slavery. You can’t have it both ways. Either a state had the choice or it didn’t. What the South really desired was that all the states abide by the tenets of slavery, which wasn’t going to happen, hence the inevitable war. The Union either had to consist of all free states or all slave states; it could not exist peacefully as a combination of both.

I recommend everyone read The Causes Of The Civil War (edited by Kenneth Stampp), a wonderful little book of essays, which chronicles the politics preceding the war.

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Filed under Culture Warfare, Politics, Uncategorized

Paranormal Idiots Influence Children’s TV

This week, the Cartoon Network is broadcasting a children’s ghost-hunting show called The Othersiders. Following in the footsteps of those incredibly stupid paranormal shows on other channels, The Othersiders has children walking through creepy buildings at night with loads of high-tech equipment, with them pretending to interpret meaningless data or quibbling over non sequiturs. The $3000 microphone picked an unexplained farting sound; must be a ghost. The electromagnetic field detector indicated electrical activity near the toaster; must be the devil himself.

What’s doubly ridiculous about this show is that it has actually offended some of the professional, ghost hunters, but not for the reason it bothers reasonable people. They don’t like the idea of children handling the dangerous paranormal. Here’s a quote:

All it will take is one of these kids getting attacked and traumatized for life and all these underage shows will be removed overnight from the network. Until that happens, let’s protect them by not making the focus of Cartoon Networks new season an underage ghost hunting show. TV will not be there when stories surface of kids getting hurt while ghosthunting after watching this show. These shows are role models for this next generation of ghosthunters. . . . if we let them watch alone, we are responsible for what happens, especially if it is later determined to be dangerous.

The only danger I see in this farce is that children are being taught to act like fightened gullible sheep. Of course, there is the risk of someone tripping in the dark and falling down some stairs. But hopefully, what most of these kids will walk away with is a good laugh.

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Young Australians Revolt Against Gullibility

Young Australian Skeptics

When I was 7 years-old my favorite subjects of conversation were Bigfoot and UFO’s. I eagerly believed in both of these questionable phenomena based solely on “the evidence” provided by cheesy TV shows. Boy, was I a major drongo (Australian slang for a stupid person). Well, I would have been if was an Australian. I’m not. I’m an American, so technically I was a dumbass. But America and Australia share a common problem. Both countries are plagued with creationism and other pseudo-scientific, and anti-intellectual movements, COUGH religion COUGH. Rev. Ken Ham is an export of Australia, I’m sorry to say.

So, it’s only natural that an organization of young Australians would spring up to encourage others to be more discerning and skeptical. It’s called Young Australian Skeptics: A Sanctuary for Young Free Thinkers. Check it out, or you’ll go to hell. What, you doubt me? Do you want to take that chance? But what if you’re wrong?

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A Mild Criticism Of Richard Dawkins

I disagree with Prof. Richard Dawkins on at least one point concerning religion; I think that a lack of religion won’t cure humanity of most of its evil behavior. Religion does amplify our inherent “badness”. But atheism, while it does alleviate this “badness”, it won’t remove it from our human nature.

But overall, I dig the way Richard Dawkins thinks and writes. His thought processes are clear, informative, and reasonable. He pushes people to think for themselves.

So, it’s with great sadness that I must make fun of the cover of his “Voices Of Reason” DVD. It looks like a bargin bin religious video: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. Prof. Dawkins, you’re not a savior, you’re a positive force. A shot of you staring off into the stratosphere framed against the perfect sunset is cheezy. I know your organization is non-profit, but still, a little more effort would have prevented you from looking like that uptight Charleton Heston.

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Faith By Any Other Name Is Just As Empty

In a Newsweek opinion peice from September 27th, writer Lisa Miller, “argues against the atheists”. The column is called “Belief Watch”, and Miller’s apologetic scribblings do the vacuous nature of religious belief complete justice. She begins by arguing that atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are unfamiliar with real believers.

First, if 90-odd percent of Americans say they believe in God, it’s unhelpful to dismiss them as silly. Second, when they check that “believe in God” box, a great many people are not talking about the God the atheists rail against—a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs, who lays down inexplicable laws about sex and diet, punishes violators with the stinking fires of hell and raises the fleshly bodies of the dead.

When over fifty percent of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, what are we atheists supposed to think? If we include all Christians worldwide, particularly the ones in poorer Catholic and Eastern Orthodox nations, the percentage is probably much higher. This doesn’t take into account the non-democratic Islamic nations, where Western ideas are spat upon, and where basic education is limited to males, and where people are threatened into believing in the all-powerful Allah. So, the actual number of believers in an angry, vengeful, and intervening god is probably much much higher than even Lisa Miller cares to imagine.

Apologetics is a form of faith; it’s faith in faith. Miller finishes her paper-thin argument by hauling in the invisible sacred cow.

Submitting faith to proof is absurd. Reason defines one kind of reality (what we know); faith defines another (what we don’t know). Reasonable believers can live with both at once.

Reasonable believers? Can reason and faith coexist? And how can faith define the unknown? Isn’t the unknown, by its very definition, indefinable? Here, Miller’s mental gymnastics are Olympic quality. And most believers would likely take great offense to her reducing their unshakable faith to an algebraic X. Personally, I prefer to think of all faith simply as a Y.

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