Polls from Fox News and CNN indicate that around 60% to 70% of Americans disapprove of an Islamic community center being built in New York, blocks from Ground Zero. A followup Gallup poll, though, shows 65% of Americans have only heard a fair amount, a little, or nothing at all about the issue.
Either way, I find it disturbing. The majority of Americans either think their petty sense of emotional outrage is more valuable than an unambiguous right of religious freedom, or they are opinionated on an issue they are not completely familiar with. The media has gleefully fanned the flames without clarifying the facts.
“Yes,” I hear the critics of the Islamic community center say, “we all have religious freedom.”
“But,” they add, “you should be polite enough not to use it when it offends us.”
One example of the inconsistency of religion
Trapped in the recesses of the web –like hardened chewing gum stuck for eternity in the cracks of a sidewalk– are religious forums and pseudo-news organizations with URL names beginning with “faith”, “belief”, or “answers”. They’re little worlds unto themselves, and that’s the way their readers like it. They don’t spurn reality, for they create their own; the same way Las Vegas casinos don’t cheat because they make up their own rules.
At Belief.Net a dude named David Klinghoffer has chronicled his Dialogue with Atheists. He challenged atheists to explain how life can have meaning or morality without a supernatural being bestowing them upon us. Klinghoffer stretched his argument to the extreme, though, by comparing atheists to the Joker, the supreme nihilist. He forgets, though, that the Joker also loves to expose hypocrisy.
As an atheist, I’m left wondering where religious folk find their meaning and morality. Surely it’s not in any religious text; for bestsellers like the Bible and the Quran are morally ambiguous at best. They’re all things to all people. Prohibitionists, for example, used the bible to speak against the evils of alcohol; and we know how that ended. And according to which Christians of the 19th century you consult, the Bible both supports and condemned slavery. Today, if you compare the King James version of the Ten Commandments to more modern translations here’s a hint of what you’ll find: The former says Thou shall not kill; the latter say Thou shall no commit murder. How Orwellian.
Religions are not wells of meaning and morality; they’re justifications for capricious humans. Give me reason over faith any day.
My posts have mostly slammed Christian creationists for their anti-intellectualism and pseudo-scientific ideas. So to be fair, I’m offering up this turd of a video featuring a Muslim creationist. He may have an accent, but he blabbers on like a Christian, using all the hackneyed arguments against evolution. He spins a caricature of Darwin and science for his audience, and hopes the sheeple will not question his lies.
The arrogant prick who posted the video on YouTube describes it as “Why Darwin’s theory is incompatible with the Quran”. A reasonable person, of course, would not have held a single book up as irrefutable. Science is open to being questioned; that’s why it works. Clearly, the Quran is a fragile text, one that crumbles under the slightest criticism.
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.
Poor Mike Rowe, from the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs, had an early career hawking objet d’art on QVC. Like a skilled urban archaeologist, he deftly describes his find – the Ark of Noah. Except his Ark is a small garish highly-overpriced tote bag.
And check out the name on the side of that sturdy craft, it’s called the S.S. Noah. SS stands for steam ship. So here we have strong evidence that Noah’s Ark was self-propelled. I guess the Ark wasn’t thrust upon Mount Ararat by God, it was sailed there by Noah. He should have settled on Hawaii, the fool. Anyway, this is quality evidence in favor of the Biblical Flood, so we best keep it to ourselves or the creationists might use it. It’s better than anything they currently have.