Tag Archives: Religion

Religion Survey Results

A survey asking about people’s knowledge of religion has some not-so-surprising results. Protestants and Catholics are less knowledgeable about their own religion’s doctrines than atheists, Jews, and Mormons.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. [Yahoo News]

In addition, Americans don’t grasp the secular laws that protect both government and religion, the separation of church and state.

The study also found that many Americans don’t understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.

“Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are,” Pew researchers wrote. [Yahoo News]

Questions concerning Charles Darwin and evolution were included in the survey.

Respondents were also asked, “And which of these court trials focused on whether evolution could be taught in public schools?” and offered the choice of the Scopes trial, the Salem witch trials, and Brown vs. Board of Education. Only 31% of respondents selected the correct answer of the Scopes trial, 36% selected Brown vs. Board of Education, 3% selected the Salem witch trials, and 30% said that they didn’t know. [Nation center For Science Education]

Nothing particularly surprising in the results. The Pew Research Center’s report is here (PDF).

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Filed under darwin, Evolution, Religion

Religious Freedom By Popular Vote

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.”

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Filed under Christianity, Religion

Philip Pullman On Freedom Of Speech

No matter how well a person states something, no matter how eloquent, mild mannered, and straightforward they are, religious drones will find some way of belittling and warping the initial message. Promoting a reverence for Christianity only protects Christians; promoting freedom of speech protects everyone. But some Christians miss this point entirely and criticize writers like Philip Pullman for writing an “offensive” book they don’t have to buy or read. And then some of them sometimes ask why Western atheists don’t speak blasphemously of Allah, too. What’s most disturbing is the envy that question betrays.

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Filed under Books, Christianity, Culture Warfare

Arrogance In Prayer

I invariably regret it when I check out the insipid stories linked through AOL News. (Old e-mail accounts are a burden.) Not only is the quality of the reporting from these junior outlets surpassed by that of any high school newspaper, the comments left, which I can’t help from browsing — are inherently vacuous. This time the story I fell upon is about an unfortunate 4-year-old boy, named Luke, who was struck by a foul ball at a baseball game. He suffered a skull fracture and is currently in a medically-induced coma. The reporter and several of those who left comments couldn’t help but stick religion in the reader’s face. The reporter said:

Luke was hit Sept. 2 at a minor league game in Niles, Ohio. We may never know why it happened, but what’s happened since should restore your faith in people. It might even restore your faith in faith.

Maybe this nutwing will never know why it happened, but I already know. And I think I may speak for all reasonable people when I say they know, too. It was a mere accident. Even the distraught mother said so in the video. And why would a well trained and responsive medical team restore my faith in faith? A commenter took the god slant further:

May God’s healing hand touch this precious young boy. I pray God is with his parents, giving them strength and faith in this critical time of his recovery. Also, prayers for the ballplayer, may he find comfort and peace.

In tragic cases such as this, religious minions are quick to grab credit for their non-existent deity. If the boy survives god will receive their praise, even though god didn’t prevent the accident. But if the boy dies, I’m sure the same minions will lay blame elsewhere, on the non-existent devil, perhaps. It’s not like the god of the Old Testament ever killed a child –well, except in some of those fire-and-brimstone stories, which are simultaneously and conveniently open to wide and narrow interpretation. That worldwide flood must have killed millions of innocent children. On the other hand, modern medicine has saved countless. Who to trust?

When tragedies occur and people insist on praying for deliverance, the one thing I find most insufferable is that humans can’t admit to themselves that they are sometimes helpless. Prayer is the delusion of certainty that humans have control over everything just by asking the Sky Daddy to intervene. And encouraging children to believe in prayer sets them up for disappointment when god doesn’t provide. Pray to your heart’s content, but don’t expect me to join in, and don’t condemn me as a heartless bastard when I don’t. Supporting modern medicine and reason is the best way to help children like Luke.

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity

Get A Job At The Kentucky Creation Museum

The Kentucky Creation Museum has a list of available jobs. (Sorry, nothing in management; those positions are already filled by the best and the brightest, like the least dull of all the dull knives in the kitchen drawer, I guess.) The question is, are you qualified to work in the fast-paced highly controlled –and I do mean highly controlled– world of creation science? And do you have the proper documentation? Here’s what you’ll need:

Items needed for possible employment:

  • Resume
  • Salvation testimony
  • Creation belief statement
  • Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith

Prospective applicants may be wondering – Now where the hell do I get a resumé? Seriously, what is a salvation statement or a creation belief statement? Will I need a pastor to sign off on all this paperwork? How about a notary public? Does the notary also have to provide proof of his or her own faith? How and where do I confirm? Is there a form to download? And is drawing blood involved in any of these affirmations?

Darn, I must not be qualified because I don’t even understand the freaking requirements. Damn you, Ken Ham, for running such a tight ship… I mean Ark.

P.S. In this economy, I can imagine someone falsifying their creation-belief salvation confirmation thingies just to gain employment. For shame, for shame! But hey, they just might fit in with the other bearers of false witness.

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Filed under Trawling For Creationism

Charles Darwin, The Human Being

descent-of-man

Sexual differences in freshwater Swordtail. Male has a long tail appendage to show off to the ladies.

I consider Charles Darwin’s The Origin Of Species and The Descent Of Man two of the greatest books never read by creationists. Both are beautiful works celebrating the details of the natural world. But many creationists condemn them without even a glance. They read reviews, they often say, or they rely on the “experts” to judge the value of Darwin’s “theories”. The unwilling creationists don’t know what they’re missing.

Even within Darwin’s dry technical books -as apposed to his personal journals or autobiography- there is the occasional glimpse into his sense of humor. In The Descent of Man, for instance, one can read a hundred pages of qualitative data and then be surprised with a mild joke, an anecdote, or a quip about the French. Here Darwin talks about the quiet female Cicada:

Every one who has wandered in a tropical forest must have been astonished at the din made by the male Cicadæ. The females are mute; as the Grecian poet Xenarchus says, “Happy the Cicadas live, since they all have voiceless wives.”

See, wife jokes were funny in 19th century England and ancient Greece. And it goes to show that a century is not a long period of time at all. The year 1871, when The Descent Of Man was published, was yesterday. In the 18th century, Charles’ grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, once wrote about lending a college friend his class notes. The friend angrily returned them with a scribble across the cover, which accused him of atrocious spelling and being the son of a whore. Charles Darwin, you devil, you’re a human being after all. And you’re “descended from monkeys”.

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Filed under darwin

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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Filed under Atheism