Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“Tell me your image of God and I’ll tell you your politics.” - Marcus Borg
..."The meaning of religion is defined by what religious people actually believe, and the great majority of the world's religious people would be surprised to learn that religion has nothing to do with factual reality." Dreams of a Final Theory: Steven Weinberg (Nobel Prize For Physics)
The apparent decline in the effectiveness of evidence and reason in American politics is a direct result of the rise in political participation by evangelical Christians. Their adherence to uncompromising sectarian dogma is clearly the origin of their opposition to L.G.B.T. rights, abortion and the scientific fact of global warming. Their influence is evidenced by the inability of Republicans to compromise, leading to the current gridlock in Washington. Don Shipp
"The beauty of the religious right as a political bloc was that it provided a large pool of voters that often acted in unison, based on a narrow set of issues that had relatively little to do with actual governance and did not inconvenience the corporate interests that finance the Republican Party. By and large, the things that mattered most to these voters mattered least in the Oval Office. Despite the Bush family's traditional aversion to its culture, Rove and the other strategists knew that they had to have that bloc." Russ Baker, Family of Secrets. pg 399.
John J. DiIulio Jr., the former head of president Bush's faith-based initiatives, says "What you got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
"Only 7 percent of the country’s top scientists (defined for this poll as the members of the National Academy of Sciences) professed a belief in God, while almost no Nobel laureates are religious. A mere 3 percent of the eminent scientists who are members of Britain’s Royal Society are religious. Moreover, meta-analysis has shown a correlation among atheism, education, and IQ. So there are striking differences within populations, and it’s clear that degree of atheism is linked to intelligence, education, academic achievement, and a positive interest in natural science. Scientists also differ per discipline: Biologists are less prone to believe in God and the hereafter than physicists. So it isn’t surprising that the vast majority (78 percent) of eminent evolutionary biologists polled called themselves materialists (meaning that they believe physical matter to be the only reality). Almost three quarters (72 percent) of them regarded religion as a social phenomenon that had evolved along with Homo sapiens. They saw it as part of evolution, rather than conflicting with it." D. F. Swaab: We Are Our Brains
As a general rule, religiosity is highest among the poorest nations of the world, and lowest among the richest. This Gallup study of global religiosity, asked people around the world if religion was an important part of their daily lives. Unsurprisingly, there is a general correlation between the importance of religion in daily life, and homicide rates. (from Secularist10)
Only the least godly democracies enjoy the best overall socioeconomic conditions – as measured by the uniquely comprehensive Successful Societies Scale – in history, the much more Christian US is the most dysfunctional 1st world nation according to major indicators. The primary factor driving the strong correlation between high rates of popular secularism and better societal conditions is the tendency of high levels of economic prosperity and low levels of income disparity and poverty that are created by secular progressive policies to accidentally but consistently suppresses mass religiosity. The religious right tends to oppose effective progressive socioeconomic policies in favor of the socioeconomically Darwinistic dysfunctional policies that favor popular religiosity. No socioeconomically successful and highly religious nation has ever existed, and the antagonistic relationship between benign conditions and the popularity of religion probably make it impossible for one to come into being." Gregory S. Paul
...what we are now seeing are the obvious characteristics of the West after the fall of Rome: the triumph of religion over reason; the atrophy of education and critical thinking; the integration of religion, the state, and the apparatus of torture -- a troika that was for Voltaire the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the political and economic marginalization of our culture. Of course, the Dark Ages were not uniformly monochromatic, as recent scholarship has demonstrated; but then, neither is present-day America. The point is that in both cases "dark" is the operative word. Morris Berman
"Religion is exactly the same kind of thing as astrology": A. C. Grayling
And as the collapse becomes palpable, if human history is any guide, we, like past societies in distress, will retreat into what anthropologists call “crisis cults.” The powerlessness we will feel in the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further collective delusions, such as fundamentalist beliefs in a god or gods who will come back to earth and save us. The Christian right provides a haven for this escapism. These cults perform absurd rituals to make it all go away, giving rise to a religiosity that peddles collective self-delusion and magical thinking. Crisis cults spread rapidly among Native American societies in the later part of the 19th century as the buffalo herds and the last remaining tribes were slaughtered. The Ghost Dance held out the hope that all the horrors of white civilization—the railroads, the murderous cavalry units, the timber merchants, the mine speculators, the hated tribal agencies, the barbed wire, the machine guns, even the white man himself—would disappear. And our psychological hard wiring is no different. Chris Hedges
My American friends tell me that you are slipping towards a theocratic Dark Age. Which is very disagreeable for the very large number of educated, intelligent and right-thinking people in America. Unfortunately, at present, it's slightly outnumbered by the ignorant, uneducated people who voted Bush in. But the broad direction of history is toward enlightenment, and so I think that what America is going through at the moment will prove to be a temporary reverse. I think there is great hope for the future. My advice would be, Don't despair, these things pass. Richard Dawkins (See his home page.)
All organized religions abhor creative change. Catholic priests hated the new cosmology of Copernicus. Muslim Cadis and Mullahs detested the appearance of a contraceptive pill. Jewish rabbis loathed the arrival of television. Inventions represent creativity and novelty. They open up the horizon. They contest existing authority. Their very possibility challenges the church’s exclusive hold over truth. And that challenge is a cause for panic – for without this exclusivity, organized religion becomes irrelevant. The Scientist and the Church, Nitzan and Bichler
It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so." Robert Heinlein
Jerry Falwell has already declared, “We absolutely are going to deliver this nation back to God in 2008!” The Authoritarians: Bob Altemeyer (Download his Free Book).
“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” - John Adams
"...the alliance between fundamentalists or evangelical religion and right wing politics is a very troubling phenomenon and this is certainly one of the most potent reasons for it. What's really scary is that a lot of them seem to think that the second coming is around the corner -- the idea that we're going to have Armageddon anyway so it doesn't make much difference. I find that to be socially irresponsible on the highest order. It's scary." Daniel Dennett interview in Der Speigel. See his home page.
"Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic." -- Bertrand Russell English philosopher and mathematician 1872-1970
The Gospels are radical pacifist material, if you take a look at them. When the Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, he shifted it from a radical pacifist religion to the religion of the Roman Empire. So the cross, which was the symbol of the suffering of the poor, was put on the shield of the Roman soldiers. Since that time, the Church has been pretty much the church of the rich and the powerful—the opposite of the message of the Gospels. Liberation theology, in Brazil particularly, brought the actual Gospels to peasants. They said, let’s read what the Gospels say, and try to act on the principles they describe. That was the major crime that set off the Reagan wars of terror and Vatican repression. The United States was virtually at war with the Catholic Church in the 1980s. It was a clash of civilizations, if you like: the United States versus the Gospels." Noam Chomsky: What We Say Goes.
Any attempt to hold ideologies accountable for the crimes committed by their followers must be approached with a great deal of caution. It is too easy to assert that those with whom we disagree are not just wrong but tyrannical, fascist, genocidal. But it is also true that certain ideologies are a danger to the public and need to be identified as such. These are the closed, fundamentalist doctrines that cannot coexist with other belief systems; their followers deplore diversity and demand an absolute free hand to implement their perfect system. The world as it is must be erased to make way for their purist invention. Rooted in biblical fantasies of great floods and great fires, it is a logic that leads ineluctably toward violence. The ideologies that long for that impossible clean slate, which can be reached only through some kind of cataclysm, are the dangerous ones. Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine"
"Africans say that the missionaries came and told them to look toward heaven and when they looked down again, all their land was stolen ..." Clark Kerr quoted in Subversives: Seth Rosenfeld
One of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns - about ethics, spiritual experience, and the inevitability of human suffering - in ways that are not flagrantly irrational. We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith. Letter to a Christian Nation. Sam Harris
The idea that religion is a separate magisterium which cannot be proven or disproven is a Big Lie - a lie which is repeated over and over again, so that people will say it without thinking; yet which is, on critical examination, simply false. It is a wild distortion of how religion happened historically, of how all scriptures present their beliefs, of what children are told to persuade them, and of what the majority of religious people on Earth still believe. You have to admire its sheer brazenness, on a par with Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. The prosecutor whips out the bloody axe, and the defendant, momentarily shocked, thinks quickly and says: "But you can't disprove my innocence by mere evidence - it's a separate magisterium!" Eliezer_Yudkowsky
"The policies of Nazi Germany were not officially Christian, but they were the product of a long and deplorable history of Christians' behavior toward Jews...How could a gospel of love be connected with such hateful and evil behavior - not once but consistently for many centuries ?" When Religion Becomes Evil: Charles Kimball
When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind. --J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp.51-52
We are not endeavoring to chain the future, but to free the present. We are not forging fetters for our children, but we are breaking those our fathers made for us. We are the advocates of inquiry, of investigation and thought. This of itself, is an admission that we are not perfectly satisfied with all our conclusions. Philosophy has not the egotism of faith. Robert Ingersoll
Freedom of conscience for all — which exists only in secular democracies — should be at the top of the list of shared concerns. Candidates who rightly denounce the persecution of Christians by radical Islamists should be ashamed of themselves for not expressing equal indignation at the persecution of freethinkers and atheists, as well as dissenting Muslims and small religious sects, not only by terrorists but also by theocracies like Saudi Arabia. With liberal religious allies, it would be easier for secularists to hold candidates to account when they talk as if freedom of conscience is a human right only for the religious. Susan Jacoby
American Humanist (Million Dollar Challenge)
Religulous, Bill Maher's film.
Flock of Dodos (a film on evolution vs id)
the Defamers of Religion (12/3/2015)
if People Actually Treated Religion as Just a Metaphor (Like
Trekkies and Secular Jews)?
"What poses the greatest threat to our liberty is "insult fundamentalism." It presupposes that feeling insulted is accompanied by a special right to react with violence, and it runs all the way through our era's multiple efforts to impose restrictions of free speech. The time is now ripe to reject this." Flemming Rose, Tyranny of Silence, How one cartoon ignited a global debate on the Future of Free Speech.
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is currently imprisoned in a Saudi
Arabian jail having received the first 50 of a threatened 1,000 lashes.
If Raif survives these floggings he faces another 10 years in jail. His
‘crime’ was to have set up a website that called for peaceful change of
the Saudi regime away from the repressive and religiously exclusive
regime that it is. (more)
Why I am Not a Muslim: Ibn Warraq (pdf download.)
Why Did God Create Atheists ? (6/6/2010)
The Greatest Story Ever Sold (video)
Sam Harris: Religion is Failed Science
I am not a
Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist
|by Peter Meyer|
Religion has always been politically useful. See this note. It has been a pretext for war, and the destruction of the (political) opposition. Non believers are heathens and can, without guilt, be abused or slaughtered. This righteousness accompanied colonial exploitation, brutal treatment of indigenous populations, the genocides of the American Indians, and the Jews in Germany. That's the Christian tradition. Jews are in the process of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. Muslims have a long history of genocide also.
It keeps people in their place, promising a glorious next
in spite of misery they may be experiencing in this one. Thus it
allows economic elites to ignore the poverty stricken even though
biblical texts favor the poor. (About the Inquisition.)
are treated as a lower class. The promise of reward in the after life
motivates suicide bombing.
It provides a sense of exceptionalism. After all, religion promises to convey the ultimate truth and those who know it will be the chosen ones or the saved ones. It motivates the strong man dictator to megalomania, divinity, and it enables the spread of empire. It requires suspension of critical faculties, and demands unwavering belief on faith. That is why it is usually in conflict with science.
It confers legitimacy to rulers who are cloaked in it. George W Bush, for true believers, was chosen by God, and it was his right to declare war on his own initiative. Hitler also made such claims. Many empires have used it as justification for bloody expansion. (About the Donatists.) Many heads of state have declared themselves divine.
It indoctrinates and imprints children when they are very young so that they will absorb propaganda that is beyond reason. A thorough indoctrination makes them much less able to do serious scientific work. A country which is a theocracy is probably incapable of serious technological development, civilized behavior, or sensible policy.
As population pressure causes resource problems, the church simply ignores the situation until catastrophe occurs. Then it is regarded as the will of God. The unintended consequence may be Armageddon. True conservatives would be very careful of this planet because it is the only one that can support humanity. Because the faithful think the end is near, they are oblivious to the condition of the environment.
Fundamentalist religion usually has as its unstated goal,
desire to take over the State, the better to expand and enforce
their views on everyone. It is easy to see that it is a major cause of terrorism and war. People who believe
in rich rewards in the
'afterlife' have an incentive to become suicide bombers, or, as
seen at abortion clinics, murderers of
people who disagree.
People persuaded to believe based on faith will believe anything...even if it is apocalyptic.
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me...It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority. The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too." They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied..."The one I feed."
What’s striking about journalists and intellectuals today, liberal and conservative alike, is not their mythic Voltairian skepticism but their deference to belief and utter failure to criticize, much less satirize, America’s romance with God. With very few exceptions (like the incisive Katha Pollitt) social critics have abandoned the tradition of caustic secularism that once provided refuge for the faithless: People “are all insane’ Mark Twain remarked in Letters from the Earth. “Man is a marvelous curiosity. . . he thinks he is the Creator’s pet. He believes the Creator is proud of him; he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea’ from Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: Wendy Kaminer
finds more Americans believe in devil than Darwin Thu Nov
29, 2007. The evidence for evolution is
presented in detail in Richard Dawkins book: The Greatest
Show on Earth.
Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible: Jerry A. Coyne
A Universe From Nothing: Lawrence M. Krause
Breaking the Spell: Daniel C. Dennett
God, the Heretical Origens of the American Republic: Matthew Stewart
The God Strategy, How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America: David Domke and Kevin Coe
in the Name of God: Jessica Stern
Why the Christian Right is Wrong: Robin Meyers
A moral reckoning : the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its unfulfilled duty of repair / Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.
Jury: Cullen Murphy. The Inquisition as a template for
the war on terror.
Losing My Religion: William Lobdell
Europe and the Jews: Malcolm Hays
Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment: Phil Zuckerman
Piety and Politics: Rev Barry W. Lynn
Jesus is Not a Republican: Edited by Clint Willis and Nate Hardcastle
Made in Texas: Michael Lind
Religion and the Cold War edited by Dianne Kirby
The thesis of Kirby's excellent introduction is that the Cold War was one of history's great religious wars, 'a global conflict between the god-fearing and the godless'. (p. 1) It was a war in which 'Christianity was appropriated by Western propagandists and policy-makers for their anti-communist arsenal' (p. 2), nowhere more so than in the USA. But in addition, as this volume demonstrates, Christianity was not simply a tool of psychological warfare. Church leaders were not merely pawns in a political game; they were active participants. Their flocks were not only recipients of propaganda; for millions religious faith was central to their lives. This fact is most vividly demonstrated in the several chapters that deal with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII during the early years of the Cold War.
Divided By God, Noah Feldman
The Cross and the Lynching Tree: James Cone
The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Ronald Sider
Fall From Grace - Fred Phelps (Part 1 of 8) (documentary)
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: Carl Sagan
Misquoting Jesus: Bart Ehrman
Kingdom Coming: Michelle Goldberg
The End of Days: Gershom Gorenberg
Letter to a Christian Nation: Sam Harris
God: the Failed Hypotheses: Victor Stenger
Freethinkers: Susan Jacoby
Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: Wendy Kaminer
The Quotable Atheist: Jack Huberman
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: Charles MacKay (It is in the public domain.)
When Religion Becomes Evil: Charles Kimball
Sacred Rage, the Wrath of Militant Islam: Robin Wright
God, the Devil, and Darwin: Niall Shanks
Atheism: The Case Against God: George H. Smith
SINS Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal: Michael
Religion Gone Bad: Mel White
Blind Faith, the Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine: Richard P. Sloan, Ph.D
Strategic Implications of American Millennialism (a pdf available on-line.)
The Varieties of Religious Experience: William James
The Age of
Reason: Thomas Paine (Free from Project Gutenburg)
All Evil: Richard Dawkins (see it on Youtube)
Religulous: Bill Mahar (watch it on-line).
The Atheism Tapes: (video) See them on-line.
Lake of Fire (2006 Movie)