Tag Archives | Religion

A Buddhist Perspective On Artificial Intelligence

buddhismIs Buddhism the only world religion that will be able to grapple with our emerging reality? Via Institute for Emerging Ethics & Technologies, Andrew Cvercko writes:

Emergent artificial intelligence poses a problem for many religions, especially those that ascribe a special place for humanity and for human consciousness in the cosmos. Buddhism may be the one system of religious thought that not only accepts but will actively embrace any AIs that we produce as a species.

Later [Buddhist] texts illustrate that animal life is just as capable of becoming enlightened as human life is, and recently many Buddhist thinkers have begun to include plant and microbial life as well. Buddhism may have in fact been the first philosophy to find personhood beyond the human. Would it accept artificial intelligence in the same way? The simple answer is that, from a Buddhist view of the mind and consciousness, all intelligence is artificial.

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Mayor Declares 2014 “Year Of The Bible” In Texas City

flower moundFlower Mound, a Texas city of more than 60,000, believes it can fix the world’s problems by becoming a bible-based society. Via Fox News:

The mayor of a Texas city is raising some eyebrows after he officially declared 2014 the “year of the Bible.”

Tom Hayden, the mayor of Flower Mound, made the declaration at a city council meeting last month. Hayden says he had considered making the declaration for years because he wants his community to connect through the Bible, and finally decided to do so in 2014.

“The morality that helped build our country is based on the values that are found in the Bible. And as we look at problems, maybe we’re getting away from those values,” [said Hayden].

Hayden hopes to do so by encouraging all the residents of his town to read the entire Bible together in a year. Daily passages will be posted on a website called thebible2014.com, which was created by the Calvary Chapel of Flower Mound “as a connecting point to fulfill the Mayor’s vision.”

 

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King Tut’s Mummified Erection May Provide Angle On Ancient Religious Conflict

800px-Howard_Carter_in_the_King_Tutankhamen's_tomb

Pic: Harry Burton (PD)

King Tutankhamun’s father was Ahkenaten, who among other things instituted a new heliocentric religion that led to the persecution of Egypt’s priestly class. Tut (incidentally, my favorite honky) rolled back much of his father’s radical changes, apparently something the priests wished him to continue in death.

Via HuffPost:

Egypt’s King Tutankhamun was embalmed in an unusual way, including having his penis mummified at a 90-degree angle, in an effort to combat a religious revolution unleashed by his father, a new study suggests.

The pharaoh was buried in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings without a heart (or a replacement artifact known as a heart scarab); his penis was mummified erect; and his mummy and coffins were covered in a thick layer of black liquid that appear to have resulted in the boy-king catching fire.

These anomalies have received both scholarly and media attention in recent years, and a new paper in the journal Études et Travaux by Egyptologist Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo, proposes a reason why they, and other Tutankhamun burial anomalies, exist.

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One Third Of Americans Reject Evolution

Pew Research Center

It’s no secret that there are some creationists in America, but a third of the adult population? That’s the claim in a new research study by Pew Research Center:

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” The share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009, when Pew Research last asked the question.

About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution.

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The Atlantic Questions Whether Religion Evolved From Psychedelic Experiences

Pic: GreenZeb (CC)

Pic: GreenZeb (CC)

Entheogens and religious experiences discussed in The Atlantic:

Via The Atlantic.

The notion that hallucinogenic drugs played a significant part in the development of religion has been extensively discussed, particularly since the middle of the twentieth century. Various ideas of this type have been collected into what has become known as the entheogen theory. The word entheogen is a neologism coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists (those that study the relationship between people and plants). The literal meaning of entheogen is “that which causes God to be within an individual” and might be considered as a more accurate and academic term for popular terms such as hallucinogen or psychedelic drug. By the term entheogen we understand the use of psychoactive substances for religious or spiritual reasons rather than for purely recreational purposes.

Perhaps one of the first things to consider is whether there is any direct evidence for the entheogenic theory of religion which derives from contemporary science.

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Happy Saturnalia To All!

SaturnaliaA celebration dear to the hearts of the Disinformation team at this time of year is Saturnalia, one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places, with expectantly humorous results. Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BC to raise citizen morale after a crushing military defeat. Originally celebrated for a day, on December 17th, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week-long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd.

Our favorite exposition of Saturnalia has long been the Electric Sheep comic strip, no longer easily available on the web, but we dug in the crates and are pleased to bring it to you. We did find it here and in a video created from the original website posted to Funny or Die:

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Mormon Church Changes Stance on Race

Mormon Jesus

Mormon Jesus approves.

Just as the Roman Catholic Church has become  more liberal, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon Church, has decided that “dark skin” is no longer the “mark of Cain.”  I tell ya, the End must be extremely goddamn nigh.

VIA Dwindling in Unbelief

The LDS church has finally confessed. It admits that it was wrong about
race from the church’s beginning in 1830 until 1978 when God changed
his mind about black people.

Here is what the new document “Race and the Priesthood” says about it:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse … that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.

If that is true, then the LDS church disavows the Book of Mormon, which says that God cursed people by blackening their skin, causing them to be “a dark, filthy, and loathsome people,” and that any “white and delightsome” person who “mixes seed” with them will be “cursed with the same cursing.”

Here are just a few passages in the Book of Mormon that the Mormon church now disavows:

After they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

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Failed Evangelical Apocalypse Predictor Harold Camping Dead At 92

Apocalypse SaturdayEver get the feeling that when semi-senile celebrity televangelists declare that the end of the world is approaching, they are just projecting their own impending death onto the rest of us? Via Religion News Service:

Harold Camping, the radio preacher who convinced thousands of followers that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011, to usher in the end of the the world, has died, according to a statement released late Monday by his Family Radio network. He was 92. He had fallen at his home on Nov. 30.

Camping first predicted Jesus’ return in 1994, but his most recent forecasts gained national attention through advertisements and the Family Radio network of stations he founded. He warned that “judgment day” would occur in May 2011 and said the world would end in October 2011.

The ministry sold its prominent stations and laid off staffers, with assets dropping from $135 million in 2007 to $29.2 million in 2011.

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Christian Anarchist Group Swipes Bikini Calendars From Mall Kiosk

pfojChristian anarchists employed at a mall got tired of walking past a mall kiosk selling bikini calendars. Christian. Anarchists. Employed. At. A. Mall. Must be a radical Chic-fil-A splinter group. People’s Front of Moo-dea? Good grief, kids. Turn the other cheek(s).

Via Raw Story

A group of Christian anarchists has taken credit for the theft of $2,000 worth of calendars featuring scantily clad women from a Georgia shopping mall in Buford.

“Every day on the way to work, we had to walk by this kiosk. Each passing encounter forced a specific sexuality and beauty standard upon us, and we couldn’t take it anymore,” the alleged thieves wrote on the website JesusRadicals.com on December 4.

The website describes itself as a gathering place for “Christians who are also anarchists.”

The group of three Christian anarchists said one person distracted the sole employee at the kiosk on Black Friday while another person grabbed about 200 calendars off the shelves and replaced them with paper signs that read, “Sorry, misogyny is out of stock.” A third person acted as a lookout.

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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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