Qualia Soup in the first of a series on why good does not require religion.
President Obama got this exactly right during the campaign, and ever since he was elected. He’s been pounding the leadership of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in both Waziristans without relenting for two years now to great effect. Now under his command and his direction, Osama Bin Laden has been taken out. Kudos to him for his consistent focus on the actual terrorists, and his successful prosecution of the war against them. If anyone cares to argue this, I will merely point out the huge number of successful drone strikes within Pakistan, there’s no need to point out the fact that we got Bin Laden.
Let’s put this into language even wingnuts can understand. Obama promised to get our greatest enemy inside Pakistan, and he sent seals in to do that. They kicked ass, took names, and turned our greatest enemy into fishfood. President Obama has my vote in 2012.
Christopher Hitchens is ill, and cannot make an address he was scheduled for instead he sent this letter.
Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.
That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.
Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.
As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit…) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson’s wall of separation. And don’t keep the faith.
I place this here on my blog so I might have easy access to it for few better words were ever writ to those who don’t believe.
As stated in previous posts, I’m an atheist – I don’t believe in god(s) or the supernatural. Lack of belief is not the same as denying the possible existence of god(s) however, as Qualia Soup explains in the following excellent presentation. It sums up pretty well where I am at – I don’t care whether you believe or not, I don’t care which god(s) you believe in, I just can’t believe myself. Some consider me a militant atheist because I often point out the abuses of extremists who are religious, but to me it’s part of my job as a rational human to speak up when I see evil.
In this video Richard Dawkins rightly takes the Pope to task for borrowing a page from the Ben Stein’s book and going Godwinian against atheists. This is a Discovery Institute tactic — pretend that all atheists are potential Nazis when really European Catholics, like those in Vlaams Belang, are much more likely candidates for the Nazi party. What I really do not get is how a moral coward like Ratzinger who marched wearing a “Gott mit uns” belt buckle while in the Wehrmacht can make such a bogus claim. Reality belies the Pope’s claim, indeed it seems that religious moral cowards are more likely to become Nazis than atheists, after all the current Pope did.
In a recent controversy a shcool in Mississippi canceled the Prom because the bigots in the school administration did not want to allow a lesbian to attend with a female date or to wear a tuxedo. The cancellation was to prevent being taken to court by the ACLU, but now they are going to court regardless. Way to go ACLU – replace “lesbian” with black, Jew, Indian, or Amish and you can see how this is clearly discrimination and how it deserves it’s day in court. The move by the school admin is discrimination, and is bigotry. Parents in the Itawamba district need to reconsider what kind of education their children are getting in a district where exclusionary bigotry like this is supported by the school board.
From the article:
Jackson, MS– The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against a Mississippi school board after a decision was made to cancel the high school prom. The Itawamba County School District’s refusal to change their policy on allowing same-sex dates to be admitted to the dance prompted their decision to cancel the prom altogether. The suit, filed in federal court on Thursday, March 11, 2010, contended the school board violated a student’s First Amendment right to free expression, according to information provided by USA Today.
Previous post: Narrow Minded Bigots Cancel Prom and Spite Everyone
Today is international Darwin Day, and it’s Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday as well. It’s a great day to celebrate and I recommend going to see “Creation” tonight.
This is what happens where tyrants rule. Not imaginary tyrants like those dreamed up by paranoid tea partiers, but instead real tyrants like those ruling the United Arab Emirates. Warning: Graphic Violence, but not the spattering blood type.
More on this bizarre miscarriage of justice at LGF
Ireland’s new blasphemy law is being purposefully flouted by the atheists of Ireland. The group has put up a website that publishes 25 quotations that are blasphemous to contest the law in the courts. Right now the site is getting crushed with traffic, so I will link instead their Google cache. As a proponent of individual liberties and rights I have to show my solidarity, so please take some time to read up on this ridiculous law.
If you are religious you will most likely find these quotes offensive, and I used to really care a lot about not offending religious people even though I’ve been atheist all my life. (Even as a child going to Sunday school I never really believed, bible stories were just another genre of fiction to me – not quite as good as Tom Swift, nor the factual articles in Encyclopedia Britannica and Americana, however I’ve always taken pains not to offend the religious with my atheism.)
That has changed slowly over the past four years as the Religious Right in the US has hijacked the Republican party. Rather than being another PAC or group within the big tent, they have declared themselves owner of the tent with veto power over who gets in and who doesn’t. All of their bigotry against atheists and homosexuals and other minorities is now on virulent display across the right wing blogosphere, and some things that used to be confined to hate groups like Fred Phelp’s church and Randall Terry’s hate group Operation Rescue, are now on virulent display and just accepted. So I’m not worried about offending them anymore – there’s no God that can shut me up either.