Tag Archives | Religion

Why I Drifted Away from the Atheist Movement

Mikko Luntiala (CC BY 2.0)

Mikko Luntiala (CC BY 2.0)

I used to be a militant atheist. Here’s why I’m not anymore:

I’m loath to use the A word because the most vocal and visible proponents of atheism have strayed far away from promoting reason, tolerance and secular values and into promoting misogyny, xenophobia and far-right politics.

But for at least a couple years, from sometime in 2006 until sometime in 2009, I was a militant atheist, dashing off dozens of blog posts condemning religious thought for promoting murder and mutilation. I thought we, the atheists of the world, were railing against injustice and speaking truth to power.

Atheism felt just and true and important. But no longer. What happened?

Atheism as Justification for Xenophobia

Over time I sensed that for far too many people in the movement, atheism was if not a front then at least a rationalization for xenophobia or racism or both.

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[5am Film Series] The Brain Hack

What if all visions and hallucinations of “God” are simply a result of brain malfunctions? Is God merely a neurological construct?

In The Brain Hack, a computer science student enlists a student filmmaker to document his attempts to trigger religious hallucinations with hypno induced temporal epilepsy.

This is probably one of the best short films that I’ve showcased on here. It’s amazingly shot and packs a lot of plot and detail into 20 minutes while then topping off with a somewhat expected self-referential ending. Some of the tech dialogue became corny, but overall the film works and it’s definitely worth the 20 minutes to watch.

The Brain Hack – Short Film from Joe White on Vimeo.

For the full ‘Brain Hack’ experience, visit the website: thebrainhack.com
Follow us at facebook.com/thebrainhack
And listen to the soundtrack: itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-brain-hack-ep/id963432873

WINNER – Best Short – Best Music – Best Actor – The British Horror Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – London Sci-Fi Film Festival, Boston Science Fiction Film Festival, Big Apple Film Festival, LA Indie Film Fest, Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival, British Shorts Berlin.… Read the rest

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What Is Ritual?

Ecstatic ritual of Khlysts ("radeniye")

Ecstatic ritual of Khlysts (“radeniye”)

Via Sarah Perry at Ribbonfarm

Sarah Perry  is a resident blogger visiting us from her home turf at The View from Hell.

If we should inquire for the essence of “government,” for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, another police, another an army, another an assembly, another a system of laws; yet all the while it would be true that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of which is more important at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition which shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn, he would naturally regard an abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more misleading than enlightening. And why may not religion be a conception equally complex?

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Atheist Richard Dawkins Condemns Chapel Hill Shootings Of Three Muslim Students

Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were found dead on Tuesday

Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were found dead on Tuesday

Sara C. Nelson writes at the Huffington Post UK:

Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins has publicly condemned the murders of three Muslim students after a furious row over the suspected anti-religion motive for the killings.

A separate storm has erupted over the lack of media coverage of the tragedy after the bodies of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were discovered on Tuesday afternoon in a suburban neighbourhood on North Carolina, USA. Unconfirmed reports claim they were shot dead “execution style”.

Rumoured atheist Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was arrested and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

On Wednesday Dawkins tweeted: “How could any decent person NOT condemn the vile murder of three young US Muslims in Chapel Hill?”

Dawkins’s comment came after posts circulated online suggested Hicks was an atheist who had allegedly written: “When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me.

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President Obama “Throws Christians Under the Bus” at National Prayer Breakfast

800px-President_Barack_Obama

President Obama is currently facing backlash for “throwing Christians under the bus” at yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast. In the past few weeks, many have chastised his avoidance of using the phrase “radical Islam.” But, instead of appeasing his critics, Obama decided to take things in a different direction.

At the breakfast, Obama gave a speech in which he not only avoided using the term “Radical Islam,” he reminded us that atrocities have also been committed in the name of Christ:

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious [sic] for their own murderous ends?

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.

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New Gods: Should We Banish Faith Forever? [Debate]

234 - New Gods
Evidence and reason are supposedly the basis of our beliefs. Yet religion continues to flourish, and new gods conquer even the most rational minds. Is unjustified, groundless belief an essential part of human nature? Or can we banish faith forever?

The Panel: American anthropologist Scott Atran, Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn and humanist Pavan Dhaliwal examine the foundations of thought.

(Find more debates like this at IAI TV)

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The loneliness of the long-distance drone pilot

Aaron Sankin via The Kernel:

Bruce Black had been preparing for this moment for most of his life.

Growing up, he always wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 1984 with a degree in geology, Black was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He spent years as an instructor pilot before quitting to join the FBI, where he specialized in chasing down white-collar criminals, but the pull of military was too strong. He eventually found himself in the air above Afghanistan.

Black flew constantly. Once, in the spring of 2007, Black’s job was to serve as another set of eyes high above a firefight happening on the ground. An Army convoy had been patrolling near a site of a previous strike and gotten ambushed by Taliban fighters while returning to base. Black was acting as a crucial communications relay, sending life-and-death updates back and forth from the men and women on the ground to the Pentagon and a network of support staff located around the world through the military’s version of the Internet.

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Is pot the new gay marriage for the GOP?

Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)

Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)

Jonathan Topaz via Politico:

Marijuana is shaping up to be the new gay marriage of GOP politics — most Republicans would rather not talk about it, except to punt to the states.

But when it comes to the 2016 presidential race, a series of legalization ballot initiatives — and a certain outspoken Kentucky senator — could make it harder for the Republican field to avoid the conversation.

When asked to articulate their positions on recreational marijuana, several potential GOP 2016 candidates have tried to strike a tricky balance: stress the downsides of pot use and the upsides of states’ rights. Some have indicated their openness to decriminalizing pot, at least in their state, but none favors outright legalization.

For instance, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who took steps toward decriminalizing pot in his state, declared last year: “I am a staunch promoter of the 10th Amendment.

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Rollerball Amerika 2015

rollerballdvdVia Philip A. Farruggio – World News Trust:

You must see or revisit Norman Jewison’s 1975 film Rollerball, starring James Caan as superstar player Jonathan E.

In it, we see a world no longer made up of countries, but of corporations that control every bit of life for the people. There are no longer wars, just a complacent populace who “go along to get along.”

A very select few are chosen by the corporations to become executives, giving them elite status. It seems everyone loves the violent sport Rollerball, which is like our current NFL football on steroids.

Jonathan E. is their Michael Jordan or Lebron James superplayer who is revered worldwide, even by the fans of opposing teams. He has everything a man could wish to have: a fine sprawling ranch, with servants and horses, and gorgeous female companions chosen for him by the Energy corporation that rules Houston and the surrounding areas.

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Living Bits: Information and the Origin of Life

Image: Flickr user Tau Zero, adapted under a Creative Commons license.

Image: Flickr user Tau Zero, adapted under a Creative Commons license.

Via Chris Adami at PBS.org:

What is life?

When Erwin Schrödinger posed this question in 1944, in a book of the same name, he was 57 years old. He had won the Nobel in Physics eleven years earlier, and was arguably past his glory days. Indeed, at that time he was working mostly on his ill-fated “Unitary Field Theory.” By all accounts, the publication of “What is Life?”—venturing far outside of a theoretical physicist’s field of expertise—raised many eyebrows. How presumptuous for a physicist to take on one of the deepest questions in biology! But Schrödinger argued that science should not be compartmentalized:

“Some of us should venture to embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them—and at the risk of making fools of ourselves.”

Schrödinger’s “What is Life” has been extraordinarily influential, in one part because he was one of the first who dared to ask the question seriously, and in another because it was the book that was read by a good number of physicists—famously both Francis Crick and James Watson independently, but also many a member of the “Phage group,” a group of scientists that started the field of bacterial genetics—and steered them to new careers in biology.

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