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cleanhippie

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Member since: Sat Jul 3, 2010, 12:24 PM
Number of posts: 17,003

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I can understand how people can convince themselves to believe all manner of absurd things.

But how some seem to be able to convince themselves that the non-consensual impregnation of a woman is not rape is beyond my comprehension.

The lengths they will go, the contorting they will perform, the rationalizing....What. The. Fuck?


I don’t want my wife to indoctrinate our two-year-old into religion



It’s fine if my wife discusses religion when our daughter is old enough, but I’m against her smuggling it into the child’s life when she can have no understanding of its significance


My wife and I have just had a row about introducing our two-year-old to religion. I am an atheist, while my wife is a Christian, tending towards the evangelical. Religion has not been a source of tension until now. She would like me to believe, but has made no great effort to convert me.

I was content with the idea that, at some stage when our child was older, school-age at least, my wife would start discussing Christianity with her and encourage her to share her beliefs. At the same time, I planned to let her know about my atheism and tell her that other religions exist. I didn’t imagine it would descend into a tug of war. If my child decides to believe, when she is old enough to make an informed choice, that will be her choice to make and I would respect it.

But tonight my wife opened a package of books she had bought, all aimed at introducing Christianity to toddlers. I protested that we hadn’t even discussed broaching this subject with our child, and said I didn’t want her to be indoctrinated at an age when she is barely able to form sentences. I begged for patience, and said there could be no objection to my wife discussing this with her when she is old enough to deal with such a complex subject, but that it was grossly unfair to start smuggling it into her life when she can have no understanding of its significance.

My wife’s position is that to delay the discussion is, in effect, to indoctrinate our child into atheism. She seems minded to press ahead, despite my vehement disagreement. Is there any general view on the age at which a child can fairly be introduced to religion?

Not really. And the age at which you introduce a child to a religion is no indication of how strongly, or if, or for how long, they will believe in anything. I know religious people who introduce their children to religion because “not believing” is more widespread so they feel they need to get in early to preserve their beliefs. I do not think this approach works in the long term.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/19/dont-want-wife-indoctrinate-two-year-old-into-religion

Why Is Rape at the Origin of Most Religion?

x-posted from Religion


Stories like the Virgin Birth lack freely given female consent. Why don’t they bother us more?


Powerful gods and demi-gods impregnating human women—it’s a common theme in the history of religion, and it’s more than a little rapey.

-Zeus comes to Danae in the form of a golden shower, cutting “the knot of intact virginity” and leaving her pregnant with the Greek hero, Perseus.

-Jupiter forcibly overcomes Europa by transforming himself into a white bull and abducting her. He imprisons her on the Isle of Crete, over time fathering three children.

-Pan copulates with a shepherdess to produce Hermes.

-The legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus are conceived when the Roman god Mars impregnates Rea Silvia, a vestal virgin.

-Helen of Troy, the rare female offspring of a god-human mating, is produced when Zeus takes the form of a swan to get access to Leda.

-In some accounts Alexander the Great and the Emperor Augustus are sowed by gods in the form of serpents, by Phoebus and Jupiter respectively.

-Though the earliest Christians had a competing story, in the Gospel of Luke, the Virgin Mary gets pregnant when the spirit of the Lord comes upon her and the power of the Most High overshadows her.

-The earliest accounts of Zoroaster’s birth have him born of a human father and mother, much like Jesus,; but in later accounts his mother is pierced by a shaft of divine light.

-The Hindu god Shiva has sex with the human woman Madhura, who has come to worship him while his wife Parvathi is away. Parvathi turns Madhura into a frog, but after 12 years in a well she regains human form and gives birth to Indrajit.

-The Buddha’s mother Maya finds herself pregnant after being entered from the side by a god in a dream.


The impregnation process may be a “ravishing” or seduction or some kind of titillating but nonsexual procreative penetration. The story may come from an Eastern or Western religious tradition, pagan or Christian. But these encounters between beautiful young women and gods have one thing in common. None of them has freely given female consent as a part of the narrative. (Luke’s Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord: be it done to me . . .”)

Who needs consent, freely given? If he’s a god, she’s got to want it, right? That is how the stories play out.

Whether or not the delectable young thing puts up a protest, whether or not seduction requires deception, whether or not the woman already has a husband or love, whether or not she is physically forced, the basic assumption is that the union between a god and a woman is overwhelming in an orgasmic way, not a bloody, head-bashed-against-the-ground kind of way. And afterwards? Well, what woman wouldn’t want to be pregnant with the son or daughter of a god?

--snip--

The miraculous conception stories I listed may have roots in pre-history, in early religions centered on star worship and the agricultural cycle, but they emerged in modern form during the Iron Age. By this time in history, most women were chattel. Like children, livestock and slaves, they were literally possessions of men, and their primary economic and spiritual value lay in their ability to produce purebred offspring of known lineage. The men at the top owned concubines and harams, and virgin females were counted among the spoils of war. (See, for example, the Old Testament story of the virgin Midianites in which Yahweh commands the Israelites to kill the used women but keep the virgin girls for themselves.)

--snip--

This is the context for the miraculous conception stories, and in this context, the consent of a woman is irrelevant. Within a society that treats female sexuality as a male possession, the only consent that can be violated is the consent of a woman’s owner, the man with the rights to her reproductive capacity—typically her father, fiancé, or husband. Many Christians are surprised when told that nowhere in the Bible, either Old Testament or New, does any writer say that a woman’s consent is necessary or even desirable before sex.

http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-rape-origin-most-religion?paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark

Why Is Rape at the Origin of Most Religion?


Stories like the Virgin Birth lack freely given female consent. Why don’t they bother us more?


Powerful gods and demi-gods impregnating human women—it’s a common theme in the history of religion, and it’s more than a little rapey.

-Zeus comes to Danae in the form of a golden shower, cutting “the knot of intact virginity” and leaving her pregnant with the Greek hero, Perseus.

-Jupiter forcibly overcomes Europa by transforming himself into a white bull and abducting her. He imprisons her on the Isle of Crete, over time fathering three children.

-Pan copulates with a shepherdess to produce Hermes.

-The legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus are conceived when the Roman god Mars impregnates Rea Silvia, a vestal virgin.

-Helen of Troy, the rare female offspring of a god-human mating, is produced when Zeus takes the form of a swan to get access to Leda.

-In some accounts Alexander the Great and the Emperor Augustus are sowed by gods in the form of serpents, by Phoebus and Jupiter respectively.

-Though the earliest Christians had a competing story, in the Gospel of Luke, the Virgin Mary gets pregnant when the spirit of the Lord comes upon her and the power of the Most High overshadows her.

-The earliest accounts of Zoroaster’s birth have him born of a human father and mother, much like Jesus,; but in later accounts his mother is pierced by a shaft of divine light.

-The Hindu god Shiva has sex with the human woman Madhura, who has come to worship him while his wife Parvathi is away. Parvathi turns Madhura into a frog, but after 12 years in a well she regains human form and gives birth to Indrajit.

-The Buddha’s mother Maya finds herself pregnant after being entered from the side by a god in a dream.


The impregnation process may be a “ravishing” or seduction or some kind of titillating but nonsexual procreative penetration. The story may come from an Eastern or Western religious tradition, pagan or Christian. But these encounters between beautiful young women and gods have one thing in common. None of them has freely given female consent as a part of the narrative. (Luke’s Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord: be it done to me . . .”)

Who needs consent, freely given? If he’s a god, she’s got to want it, right? That is how the stories play out.

Whether or not the delectable young thing puts up a protest, whether or not seduction requires deception, whether or not the woman already has a husband or love, whether or not she is physically forced, the basic assumption is that the union between a god and a woman is overwhelming in an orgasmic way, not a bloody, head-bashed-against-the-ground kind of way. And afterwards? Well, what woman wouldn’t want to be pregnant with the son or daughter of a god?

--snip--

The miraculous conception stories I listed may have roots in pre-history, in early religions centered on star worship and the agricultural cycle, but they emerged in modern form during the Iron Age. By this time in history, most women were chattel. Like children, livestock and slaves, they were literally possessions of men, and their primary economic and spiritual value lay in their ability to produce purebred offspring of known lineage. The men at the top owned concubines and harams, and virgin females were counted among the spoils of war. (See, for example, the Old Testament story of the virgin Midianites in which Yahweh commands the Israelites to kill the used women but keep the virgin girls for themselves.)

--snip--

This is the context for the miraculous conception stories, and in this context, the consent of a woman is irrelevant. Within a society that treats female sexuality as a male possession, the only consent that can be violated is the consent of a woman’s owner, the man with the rights to her reproductive capacity—typically her father, fiancé, or husband. Many Christians are surprised when told that nowhere in the Bible, either Old Testament or New, does any writer say that a woman’s consent is necessary or even desirable before sex.

http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-rape-origin-most-religion?paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark

If You Have To Believe, It Probably Isn’t Real

When I was little, my parents taught me to believe there was a person who was always watching me, keeping record of all the good things and bad things I do. I couldn’t see him, they told me, but somehow he could be anywhere and everywhere without any limitations of time or space. I shouldn’t bother looking for him, they said, because he wouldn’t show himself to me under any circumstances. It was some kind of principle for him, I guess. But this person was going to either reward me for being a good boy or else punish me for being bad. At one point I began to question the existence of this person but I was told I had to believe. It was crucial in order for the magic to work. If I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t receive the benefit of the magic. For some reason, my believing was essential to the work of this all-seeing, ubiquitous, yet practically invisible person. It finally occurred to me one day that this person is totally made up. Whom am I talking about? I can think of a couple of options for whom this description fits very well. But at this point in my life my conclusions about both are the same: If you have to believe in something for it to become real in any practical sense, it’s probably just in your head.

At Christmastime we are bombarded with movies and stories touting the importance of believing in Santa. If you don’t believe, they tell us, he can’t do his thing. My kids love Polar Express, and like most movies about Santa Claus it reminds us that Santa’s magic only works if you believe in it. It’s not that he will cease to exist, mind you; it’s just that you won’t personally benefit from his work if you fail to acknowledge his existence. Grown-ups know this is a fairy tale of course, but we continue to pass this tale on to our children anyway because, hey, our parents did it to us. It makes Christmas more exciting and fun, and there’s the added bonus that sometimes it persuades kids to straighten up and act right. It works quite well on kids. But if a grown-up still believes this fanciful tale, well, that is the stuff of great comedy. That’s why the movie Elf is so funny. The very thought of a grown man bouncing up and down, excited about Santa coming to town is just hilarious.

--snip--

I also remember that when I was a Christian, I was told that I must believe in order to reap the benefits of the Christian faith. I was told I was a very bad person—so bad, in fact, that I deserve to be punished for all eternity (good grief…I know I have my bad days but come on, now!). That was the bad news. The good news was that if I’d only believe, I could receive in myself the benefit of a magical transaction which would erase, at least temporarily, the deleterious effects of my own awful wickedness. I say temporarily because after I performed my part of this initial transaction, I was informed that future mistakes still had to be paid for in some way or another (that part was very vague, mind you). But the benefits of my new membership in the Chosen People Club were always tied to how much I believed. God was real, I was told, regardless of whether or not I believed in him. But without the believing, I would receive little or no outward evidence of this person’s presence in my life.

Hmm. This feels very familiar. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

Prayer works. But you have to believe.

People can be healed. But you have to believe.

You can be saved! But you have to believe.

The Holy Spirit can make you a new person! But you have to believe.

You can have a relationship with God and he can speak to you and guide you. You can “hear” his “voice.” But you have to believe.


--snip--

It took me till my mid-thirties before I finally realized that, if you have to believe something is real in order to make it real, it’s probably not real at all. It’s in your head. Oh sure, I know there’s power in positive thinking, and sometimes you can accomplish greater things if you keep a positive attitude and learn to visualize achieving your goals. My old football coach used to chant before a big game, “You gotta believe!!” And to some degree he was right. We’ve even learned that sometimes the expectation that you will recover from an illness can speed up your recovery. The human immune system is an amazing thing, and sometimes a dose of optimism is all it needs to kick it into high gear and do its job. But for most things it just doesn’t matter what you believe—whatever is, simply is. If I swallow arsenic, it won’t matter what I believe about arsenic…I’ll be a goner. If I believe I can fly and I jump off a tall building, I’m gonna be a pancake in the end. If I believe I have a million dollars in my bank account, it won’t do me any good and the debt collectors will still keep calling me until I present them with real money. And it didn’t matter how firmly anyone ever believed the sun goes around the Earth, the reality is still what it is no matter what you “think in your heart.” For most things in life, believing doesn’t make things true.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2014/12/17/if-you-have-to-believe-it-probably-isnt-real/



More at link.

Sam Harris rips the head of the National Institute of Health for pushing religious ‘bullsh*t’

Neuroscientist Sam Harris had some harsh words for one of the nation’s top scientists during a recent podcast.

The outspoken atheist said that Francis Collins, the current head of the National Institute of Health and the former director of the international Human Genome Project, was an example of an intelligent person who peddled religious “bullshit.”

--snip--

“Now, this is not to say that people don’t have great experiences that they want to capture in religious language,” Harris said. “But when you look at someone like Francis Collins, who is running the NIH, who is a medical geneticist and obviously a very smart guy who has made real contributions to science — but he is also a bit of a Bible-thumper, he’s an evangelical Christian. He believes in evolution, thankfully, but he also believes that immortal souls and free will were just downloaded onto the hard drive of only one species of primate at some point in history by an almighty God.”

“And when you ask him about the resurrection, he believes in the resurrection (of Jesus) and he believes in the coming resurrection of the dead, and he, I think, is sensitive to how unseemly it is for the head of the NIH to talk about these things, so when you ask him for details, he says, ‘Well, this is all very complicated and you should consult the work of John Polkinghorne and N.T. Wright.’ And when you consult their work, you get just pure madness. It is just a word salad, which is foisted on scientifically illiterate people by scientifically literate people for reasons that are patently emotional.”

“I think we should be even more critical in some sense of people like Francis Collins, the so-called nuanced religious person,” Harris concluded.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/atheist-sam-harris-rips-the-head-of-the-national-institute-of-health-for-pushing-religious-bullsht/

Kansas mom stabs son to death while he sleeps: It’s ‘better for him to go to heaven tonight’

A Kansas mother has been charged with the chilling death of her 10-year-old son, who she allegedly stabbed to death while he was sleeping because she thought he would be better off in heaven.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/kansas-mom-stabs-son-to-death-while-he-sleeps-its-better-for-him-to-go-to-heaven-tonight/



Read the link for details. I'm not going to post any more of it because I'm sure it really had nothing to do with her religious beliefs. Nothing at all.

Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.

Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold the implausible and more easily-dismissed “Christ of Faith” (the divine Jesus who walked on water), ought not to get involved.

Numerous secular scholars have presented their own versions of the so-called “Historical Jesus” – and most of them are, as biblical scholar J.D. Crossan puts it, “an academic embarrassment.” From Crossan’s view of Jesus as the wise sage, to Robert Eisenman’s Jesus the revolutionary, and Bart Ehrman’s apocalyptic prophet, about the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence. But can even that be questioned?

The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith. These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify. Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.

--snip--

Also important are the sources we don’t have. There are no existing eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased. Little can be gleaned from the few non-Biblical and non-Christian sources, with only Roman scholar Josephus and historian Tacitus having any reasonable claim to be writing about Jesus within 100 years of his life. And even those sparse accounts are shrouded in controversy, with disagreements over what parts have obviously been changed by Christian scribes (the manuscripts were preserved by Christians), the fact that both these authors were born after Jesus died (they would thus have probably received this information from Christians), and the oddity that centuries go by before Christian apologists start referencing them.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/18/did-historical-jesus-exist-the-traditional-evidence-doesnt-hold-up/

.

When my son survived a serious accident, I didn’t thank God. I thanked Honda.

Last Friday night, a semi-trailer pushed the car my son was driving into a Jersey barrier. The trailer’s back wheel landed on the hood of the car, less than six inches from my son’s head. Every window shattered, throwing glass inches from his face.

But my son has not a scratch on him.

I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I wrote a letter to Honda praising the expertly engineered safety features that saved his life. I explained that I had been in an equally serious accident 18 years earlier and had suffered a serious brain injury and broken bones all over the right side of my body, requiring countless surgeries.

I posted the letter on Facebook, and closed it with this:

I want to extend my thanks to the engineers who used their intelligence and skill to create a car that safe, to the crash test dummies who have died a thousand horrible deaths and to your executives who did not scrimp on safety.

Thank you, Honda.

That last line rubbed some people the wrong way. While many who left comments on my post were just glad that my son was alive and well, others wanted to know why I had thanked Honda for that outcome. The entity that deserved my thanks, they said, was God. One commenter wrote: “I am thankful that God held your son in His embrace and I am curious why you thanked Honda rather than Him.”

--snip--

However, over many years of thinking about religion and faith, I have noticed that something sad and somewhat strange happens when we thank God: We tend to stop there. We simply overlook the decisions, the science, the policies and the people who contributed to the “miracle.” To put it another way: When we focus on supernatural deliverance from harm, we often ignore all of the human ways we can improve our own safety. I am concerned that we may associate survival of serious accidents with the unpredictable hand of Providence, not with airbags, safety testing and the regulations that have put them in place.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/12/when-my-son-survived-a-serious-accident-i-didnt-thank-god-i-thanked-honda/

“Choose Faith in Spite of the Facts”

I usually don’t think it’s worth beating up on the purveyors of popular evangelical feel-goodism, for the same reason I don’t get in boxing matches with life-size Jell-O sculptures. But I had to make an exception for this tweet from human tooth-whitening strip Joel Osteen:


The facts may tell you one thing. But, God is not limited by the facts. Choose faith in spite of the facts.



Osteen is most famous for his surgically implanted smile and his prosperity-gospel theology which teaches that Jesus is a jolly, rosy-cheeked Santa Claus who’s eager to shower you with wealth, happiness and worldly success, if you only ask. His relentlessly upbeat preaching style, which has all the forced cheerfulness of a singing animatronic display in a mall, has given rise to a brutal satire, Third World Osteen, which juxtaposes the preacher’s blandly positive pablum with stark images of destitution and violence. For the record, Osteen himself owns a multimillion-dollar mansion in a rich Houston suburb. (You’d think prosperity-gospel believers would realize, eventually, that the only ones getting rich off this theology are the preachers who write the books about it; but somehow they never do.)

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2014/12/choose-faith-in-spite-of-the-facts/


more at link
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