What Philip Pullman said:
(I’ve still got an hour and a half left to Easter, so…)
re: Catholic child-abuse sex scandal — PZ Myers, on why we should (always!) “tell on the church”:
So this is our sacrilege for the day: speak the truth, decry the crimes of those in authority, challenge the dogma that says we are sinful beings redeemed by the suffering of another.
Richard Dawkins, on whether the Pope should resign:
No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.
From a comment thread on another blog (of a Mennonite Brethren pastor) I’ve been reading:
One last note about your above response to my comment. At one point you said: “The truth of the gospel has often been less accessible to the intelligentsia than to ordinary people open to God” — I’m a little disappointed by this statement. I’m used to hearing anti-intellectual statements slung at me and my nonbelief by other less-thoughtful believers, but I wouldn’t have expected such a sentiment to be touted by you.
I’m always stunned when I hear believers state that possessing intelligence can serve as a detriment to embracing faith. (I’m assuming you’re thinking along the lines of 1 Corinthians 3:19?) If this is really the case, that my “worldly wisdom” is keeping me from God — then who’s to be faulted? Me, in my quest to better understand the world around me, or God, for being so divinely hidden that he’s invisible (or seemingly nonexistent)?
Does this mean I would have to dismiss certain knowledge in order to be more open to faith? Why can’t faith work alongside what I know? I’m not closed off to God or the supernatural, but I don’t think I can sacrifice my intellect in order to privilege warm and fleeting feelings in my heart. It seems like the only option the church gives nonbelievers like me is that I must first assume there’s a God before I can hear (or note evidence) from God. If this is the case, then I guess I won’t be returning to the faith anytime soon.
Last week the Obama administration welcomed the Secular Coalition for America to come to the White House to meet with officials in the administration. Keeping in mind that presidential administrations meet with special-interest groups and lobbyists all the time, you would think that this particular meeting wouldn’t have been as big of a deal — but this was the first time a US presidential administration has initiated contact with an atheist/agnostic/humanist organization.
First of all, it’s first notable that my current president acknowledges such groups (as compared to his predecessor) — but what’s even more interesting for me is to note some of the religious right’s response to this meeting. Case in point, CBN (Pat Robertson’s domain of the Christian Broadcasting Network) presented this news report:
A few things to point out in this “news” segment:
First of all, don’t you love that last-minute quote thrown out at the end of the report that “99.9% of Americans believe in a higher power”? Did you notice how the statistic is made EXTRA accurate because it’s verified by the speaker asserting “and that’s about accurate”? I suppose I should just take his word for it. So much for the accuracy of the 2008 Pew Forum’s report on the US’s religious landscape (which found that 92% of people believe in a supernatural force, but only 6-in-10 people view God as a personal, relational being).
In the report/article the CBN reporter outlined the three objectives the Secular Coalition wanted to discuss with the Obama administration — here they are, in all of their godless glory:
First, to protect children from what they call “neglect and abuse” for parents who cite religious reasons to deny their children medical treatment.
Second, to end coercion of military men and women from being proselytized or forced into participating in religious events.
Third, to make sure that faith-based organizations that receive federal funds cannot hire on the basis of religion or proselytize to those receiving their services.
Aren’t these demands utterly OUTRAGEOUS?! <-- sarcasm Seriously, what is wrong with this list? Why would the religious right want to call foul over these issues? Are they saying that children should NOT be protected from neglectful parents who choose prayer over insulin? Should it be US military policy that all soldiers be forced to participate in religious rituals whose beliefs they do not subscribe to? Would evangelicals be so protective of Faith-Based initiatives if most of faith agencies receiving governmental funds were of the Muslim, Hindu or Mormon faith systems that discriminated and proselytized? But the kicker for me is the fight over preserving the “under God” portion of the pledge of allegiance. Did you notice how protective the news report was over that phrase? Whenever someone gets red-in-the-face arguing for preserving the pledge, their ignorance is revealed. The “under God” portion of the pledge wasn’t added until 1954, when it was inserted during the McCarthy era as a way of distinguishing us good Americans from the red-commie atheist Russians. I’m sure Jefferson is still rolling in his grave over that insertion. Would these defenders of the phrase be so adamant if we said “under Allah” or “under Zeus” instead of “under God?”
Ah well. Nothing like a little CBN watching to brighten my day. Earlier this afternoon I was subjected to watching a graphic propaganda film on abortion. I’m continually amazed at how easy it is to mask unethical approaches under the guise of religious belief.