Tag Archives | Atheism

Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?

PIC: Ensceptico (CC)

PIC: Ensceptico (CC)

Eric Reitan writes at Religion Dispatches’ (A)theologies:

Not long ago, Christopher Hitchens—pugilistic author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything—sat down for an interview with retired Unitarian minister (and self-professed “liberal Christian”) Marilyn Sewell. It wasn’t the usual sort of conversation that Hitchens has with “believers,” since his preferred sparring partners tend to be religious conservatives and apologists for fundamentalism (such as Douglas Wilson).

Not surprisingly, early in the interview Hitchens was quick to announce who was a real Christian and who wasn’t, and to insinuate that Sewell fell into the latter camp; a comment that has inspired more than a few raised eyebrows among religious progressives.

But it’s easy to let Hitchens’ arrogance on this matter obscure some broader themes—and some surprising concessions on Hitchens’ part—that emerged in the course of the interview.

One of these themes has to do with just how much Hitchens and Sewell have in common.

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British Court Charges The Mormon Church With Fraud Over Its Teachings

mormon churhcIf organized religions solicit money from the public while propagating factually untrue claims, do they amount to illegal marketing scams? A British legal challenge is putting Mormonism to the test, the Telegraph reports:

A British magistrate has issued an extraordinary summons to the worldwide leader of the Mormon church alleging that its teachings about mankind amount to fraud.

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London next month to defend the church’s doctrines including beliefs about Adam and Eve and Native Americans.

A formal summons signed by District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe warns Mr. Monson, who is recognised by Mormons as God’s prophet on Earth, that a warrant for his arrest could be issued if he fails to make the journey from Salt Lake City, Utah, for a hearing on March 14.

The summons suggests that asking members of the church to make contributions while promoting theological doctrines which “might be untrue or misleading” could be a breach of the Fraud Act 2006.

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Remember How the Esquire Click Bait “Debunking” of Eben Alexander Ended up Being Total Bullsh*t?

esquirealexanderAs 2013 starts to fade into demonstrably unreliable memoryville, I’m sure the answer to that headline’s question for most remains no. It’s fascinating but when you think about it, last year ended up being a banner one in terms of exposing our insanely irrational cultural biases toward Gnostic spiritual concepts of any variety. Right off the bat, you had the Hancock/Sheldrake TED debacle and maybe nothing shifted in 2012, but when pretty early on you accidentally catch a discussion about Near Death Experiences on the Katie Couric Show of all places, it strikes you that maybe something did get tweaked ever so slightly beneath the surface. Of course the reason NDE’s were actually being talked about on ridiculously mainstream cultural markets like this had to do with money and the mass amounts of it Eben Alexander’s book on the topic managed to rake in. Everyone wants a piece of that action no matter how risqué.… Read the rest

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Is Atheism An Intellectual Luxury For The Wealthy?

Crack addict (not one of Arnade's photos - they're all copyrighted)

Crack addict (not one of Arnade’s photos – they’re all copyrighted)

Photographer Chris Arnade has a fantastic collection entitled Faces of Addiction set in New York’s South Bronx. He writes in The Guardian that “The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes. I’ve been reminded that life is not as rational as Richard Dawkins sees it. Perhaps atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy”:

They prayed whenever they could find 15 minutes. “Preacher Man”, as we called him, would read from the Bible with his tiny round glasses. It was the only book he had ever read. A dozen or so others would listen, silently praying while stroking rosaries, sitting on bare mattresses, crammed into a half-painted dorm room.

I was the outsider, a 16-year-old working on a summer custodial crew for a local college, saving money to pay for my escape from my hometown. The other employees, close to three dozen, were working to feed themselves, to feed their kids, to pay child support, to pay for the basics of life.

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Florida Atheist’s Challenge Leads To Display Of Festivus Pole In The State Capitol

festivusA Florida man has forced the state to display his homemade pillar of beer cans alongside a nativity scene at the state capitol, NBC 6 South Florida reports:

A nearly 6-foot-tall pole made from emptied beer cans will be put up in the Florida Capitol this week as a not-so-subtle protest to the recent placement of a Christian nativity scene.

The homemade Festivus pole will be erected most likely on Wednesday in the same first-floor rotunda as a nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ that was put up last week by the Florida Prayer Network. Festivus is a “holiday” created for the TV sitcom “Seinfeld”.

Chaz Stevens, a Deerfield Beach resident, applied to the state Department of Management Services to put the Festivus pole on display. Stevens said the intent of the Festivus pole is to make a political statement on the need for the separation of church and state.

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Satan Is Good, God Is Bad: Our Shifting Moral Compass and Why Atheists Are Throwing the Devil Under the Bus

Rolling_Stones_Sympathy_for_the_DevilDerek Murphy writes at Holy Blasphemy:

I went to Skepticon 5 expecting a group of heretics that would get a kick out of my inversed reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost, which claims that Satan is the hero of the story (which was actually the mainstream reading before it became the “mistaken reading”, and is now coming into vogue again by top Milton scholars).

I was surprised to find that Satan makes atheists uncomfortable. Atheists already have a huge image/perception problem, with the religious proclamations that people can’t be good without God and that therefore all atheists are “evil.” Christians already think of atheists as nearly synonymous with Satanists; hence atheists have an uncomfortable relationship with Satanists and don’t want to be associated with the Devil.

Even more so than the term “Atheist”, “Satanist” has an immediately powerful negative connotations. And on the one hand, I definitely think that those people who wish to create a secular political and social force big enough to stand up to religious groups that are trying to make their faith-based beliefs govern the private lives of the rest of us, need to think about how they are perceived because it does impact the message being shared.

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Atheist Church Trying To Win Over Bible Belt

Photo: Jeffrey M Dean (CC)

Photo: Jeffrey M Dean (CC)

Jerry DeWitt, the former pastor turned atheist preacher, is trying to spread the word on atheism in the evangelical South. Good luck Jerry! From Daily Beast:

Last Sunday, several hundred atheists gathered in a Hollywood auditorium for the inaugural meeting of the Los Angeles Sunday Assembly, the latest blossoming of the atheist “church” movement slowly spreading across the country. Thanks to a fundraising tour by the British comedy duo who launched Sunday Assembly in the U.K., America is suddenly hearing about new “atheist megachurches” that have cropped up in several major cities.

But far away from the hype cycle of social media and the cultural freedom of metropolitan America, a former Louisiana pastor is struggling with a similar project deep in the small towns of the evangelical South. On June 23, Jerry DeWitt led the first service of the Community Mission Chapel in Lake Charles, Louisiana—a product of his own painful journey from beloved local pastor to abandoned outcast.

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DisinfoCast: 81: Russ Kick – “Death Poems”

9781938875045

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Legendary editor Russ Kick returns to the DisinfoCast to discuss his new collection Death Poems, an anthology of verse both modern and classic dedicated to all aspects of death: Funerals, the death penalty, serial killings, the Underworld and more. Funny, sad, atheistic, spiritual, mythic, wise and morbid, this is the perfect collection for anyone who needs a little “memento mori”.

Additional subjects discussed: Near-death experiences, morbid thoughts, the afterlife or lack thereof, “the 357 test”, the role of art, post-modernism and more.

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‘Atheist Church’ Begins Global Mission

rNnBiIf it looks like a duck…

Via Salon:

Yesterday, The Sunday Assembly—the London-based “Atheist Church” that has, since its January launch, been stealing headlines the world over—announced a new “global missionary tour.” In October and November, affiliated Sunday Assemblies will open in 22 cities: in England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, the United States and Australia. “I think this is the moment,” Assembly founder Sanderson Jones told me in an email last week, “when the Sunday Assembly goes from being an interesting phenomenon to becoming a truly global movement.” Structured godlessness is ready for export.

The Assembly has come a long way in eight months: from scrappy East London community venture (motto: “Live Better, Help Often and Wonder More;” method: “part atheist church, part foot-stomping good time”) to the kind of organization that sends out embargoed press releases about global expansion projects. “The 3,000 percent growth rate might make this non-religious Assembly the fastest growing church in the world,” organizers boast.

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