Monday, April 30, 2012

Five Confessions From An Atheist

A Siren singing her song.

What would an atheist confess to? The question has been rattling around my head for the last day or two and here are five things that theists may find interesting about this atheist. 

5. I miss the certainty I felt when I was a believer.

When I was a believer I didn't worry about the BIG questions. Why worry about your purpose in life? You are God's child -- everything else is gravy. And a lot of my conceptions about heaven were really formed by watching bad 70's and 80's TV. One of the common plot devices in those sitcoms was that a character dreamed he or she died and went to heaven and had all of their questions answered. Didn't know where that lost sock was? God was going to tell you. Did your girlfriend cheat on you in 8th grade? All will be revealed. What I found out was that one of the side effects of not worrying about your place in the universe was that I really was concerned about heretics and unbelievers quite a bit.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Study Finds Catholic Clergy Are Psychologically Healthy

The Catholic Church has announced that it has completed a thorough psychological testing of all its priests, bishops and cardinals, and that all of them are psychologically stable and healthy. In the spirit of full disclosure His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has also undergone this procedure.

The Church has been steadily losing members as well as losing millions of dollars and euros since the scandals erupted. In Boston, MA the diocese was forced to pay victims $85 million in 2003. In 2007 the Los Angeles diocese paid victims $660 million. This all inclusive exam is intended to project the message to the world that the Church has successfully cleaned house and is a safe place for families.

The clergy were examined with the Rorschach test. The test traditionally consists of ink blots and is used to explore the true motivations and feelings a person has that he or she may not be willing to say. The test was administered by groups of Catholic mental health professionals and the results were analyzed by using complex faith-based algorithms. Below are a few of the images from the test as well as common responses made by the clergy. Pope Benedict's responses have also been included.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Three Fatwas

One of my pieces from Drawing Mohammed Day.

I've been perusing through the fatwas listed on the AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) site, and thought I'd share a few of them with you, my fellow Purgatorians.

As always, I have not altered the fatwas in any manner. I'm not even going to give clever/snarky remarks, because I think these teachings speak for themselves.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mind Blowing Hypocrisy: Germans Are Against The Giving Away Of Korans

I'm going to make a radical statement: I'm not against giving away books. And I mean any book from the Twilight series to Mein Kampf. I have personally read through the first two Twilight books and was amazed at the only skill the author seemed to possess was the ability to understand the inner workings of a twelve year old girl's mind (obviously that is an important skill to have if one is writing for twelve year old girls). Mein Kampf is the blueprint for Hitler's heaven on earth. Both books I find irritating to say the least (the latter much more than the former), but I would not stop a group from giving away such books. If radical Twilight-ers decided to do such a thing, the worst that would happen is that we would all have to deal with those glittery vamps a wee bit longer. If neo-Nazis decided to pass out their tome the populace would at the very least understand the workings of the Republican party.

I'm sorry for that last joke. It was too easy not too make.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Robotic Priests, Rabbis, Ministers and Imams Are In Our Near Future

Coming soon to a church near you.

In the not so distant future marriages, bar mitzvahs and Sunday morning religious services will be officiated by robots says Professor Andrew Canard, Chief Theologian at the prestigious Theological Institute of Technology (TIT).

"The role robots play have been growing exponentially in the last few years. The military uses them to detonate bombs. Robots are used in warehouses to move goods. Of course, the vacuum-bot has become a feature in many households. In lieu of the ever increasing role of our mechanised assistants it was only a matter of time before we developed the faith-bot," Professor Canard explained.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Comparing Pope Benedict XVI With Joseph Stalin

I had posted on Facebook an article from Atheist Revolution As Catholic Child Rape Details Emerge in Court, What Are Catholics Waiting For? , and I got a comment from one of my friends who did the "Oh yeah, well the USSR was run by atheists" line. I reflected on that pearl of wisdom and decided to do this post.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

America Is Not A Christian State -- Madison's Detached Memoranda

If the Father of the Constitution were alive today
he would be verbally assaulted by the likes of
Bill O'Reilly

I was on Reason Being the other day and a commentator stated how the Founding Fathers of the Republic were Christians and thusly made the American state a Christian organization. Having recently read Arguably, the Christopher Hitchens compilation of essays, I learned about the James Madison document Detached Memoranda, and referenced the document to the commentor. One could simply read the paper and see that the Father of the Constitution stood firmly on the idea that our government was a secular one.

I am currently sitting in my favorite coffee shop after being at work for 40 hours (working with people who have disabilities offers low pay, but fringe benefits like sleeping during the over night as well as a lot of over time) and preparing for a day dedicated to the combined birthday party of my children. I took some time out and took a second look at Detached Memoranda and thought I'd share parts of it.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Church And State Problems In Israel

Radical atheist thought: Getting paid by the government to study this
is a waste of time and money.

America has its problems with church and state separation, that's for sure. Our money is stamped with the Christian deity. Our Pledge of Allegiance got hijacked by Christians in the 1950's. Some state constitutions still have a provision that atheists can not serve in public office. The Boy Scouts are able to discriminate against atheists because we are not moral enough for them, and yet they still get support from the government.

But American atheists can take some solace that at least we are not Israel.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fatwa: Does Allah Want You To Have Anal Sex?

One of my suggestions in case the US military thinks
about burning more Qur'ans.

The last post concerning fatwas listed on the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) was whether or not a woman could travel alone in order to further her education. I was cruising through the fatwas tonight and found this question: What should she do if her husband likes to have anal sex? Intrigued, I read on.

Hubble Telescope's Images Prove God Exists

The Hubble Space Telescope is making news once again. Since its launch in 1990 the Hubble has taken many images of deep space using sophisticated instrumentation to observe near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared light. However, the telescope is currently making waves amongst the world's religious believers.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the foremost authority on faith-based science, Professor Andrew Canard of TIT (Theological Institute of Technology).

"The latest images from the Hubble Telescope offers conclusive proof that God exists," stated the winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize. "This is the most conclusive evidence in the Almighty since the Theory of Evolution got debunked," he continued.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fatwa: Can Women Travel Without A Babysitter?

I've been reading a few fatwas (religious rulings by Islamic scholars) on the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA). The site is dedicated to helping Muslims in the West with Islamic jurisprudence. One can browse through the fatwas by category. Intrigued, I decided to checkout what fatwas they had about women.
I wasn't disappointed. I swear to my fictitious God that I haven't changed this in any manner. Below is a question pertaining to sharia law and afterwards is the answer from the scholar.  Here is the link.

Monday, April 16, 2012

God Particle Discovered

The Higgs boson particle has been discovered. Andrew Canard, the lead metaphysicist at the Theological Institute of Technology (TIT) and past recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize, made the announcement to a room that included scientists, science journalists as well as religious bloggers from the Huffington Post.
"As many of you are aware our team of priests, imams, rabbis, ministers, TV evangelists, street preachers, shamans and witch doctors have been working on finding the Higgs boson particle, otherwise known as the God particle, for quite some time. Ladies and gentlemen, the particle revealed itself to us. Case closed, problem solved."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Muslims Who Become Atheists

I was exploring WikiIslam earlier today and discovered the People Who Left Islam section. You can find many, many testimonials of people who once believed in Islam but now do not. Unsurprisingly the testimonials illustrate common feelings and experiences that Christians feel when discovering their faith is a sham. Not every writer decides to become an atheist -- some become Christian, others Hindu. For this post I wanted to share parts of the testimonials from those who became atheists.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Purgatory's Hitchens Memes


It's Christopher Hitchens Day. However, Who Is The Anti-Hitchens?

Today, April 13th, is the birthday of Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011), and being recognized by some atheists as Christopher Hitchens Day. I went down to my public library yesterday and picked up Arguably Essays By Christopher Hitchens. After reading a few pieces I received an education on the history of George Orwell's Animal Farm (did you know that American soldiers gave copies of the book to the Russians immediately after WW2 so that the Soviets could burn them?), and that John Brown, often depicted as that madman who attacked Harper's Ferry just before the US Civil War, was more crazy like a fox than simply crazy? And of course, Hitchens' prose was as a joy to consume.

But one question burns in my mind.

Who is the anti-Hitchens?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

18 In A Hindu Mob Given Life Sentences In India

Hinduism, much like modern Judaism, often gets a free pass amongst US atheists. Atheists as a group don't like to label radical Hindus and Jews, well, radical Hindus and Jews. I do not hold to that policy. In the spirit of pointing out religiously motivated crimes on the subcontinent here is the latest chapter in the sad tale of how in 2002 Hindu rioters burned 23 Muslim women and children alive. We can take some solace that some justice has been eeked out from this faith-based tragedy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What The Ultimate Fighter Can Teach Atheists

There's been two posts recently on other blogs about a common problem amongst atheists. This morning I read Al Staphenelli's piece, When An Atheist Should Remain Closeted and yesterday I read the Friendly Atheist's post, Atheists Need to Do a better Job at Communication. The first post, as evident from the title, offers advice when a closeted atheist should not go public with his or her disbelief. The latter post demonstrates one of the common traps that atheists can fall into: appearing distant and not connecting emotionally with an audience in a public forum. Being a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA) I think that sport can offer some insight into the primary issue brought up in both  posts.

Namely, you need to have a plan.

And it better be a good plan, too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Attacking Witches In India

Showing Christian love.

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is the book by the late great Christopher Hitchens where the author methodically and with great flourish exposes the deleterious effects of religion. Religion blunts reason to the point of it being a wee nub. Religion makes good people say and do horrific things. Religion adds gasoline to the already simmering societal fires. And in this weeks' Economist is an example of faith's wonders on motion:  Witchcraft in Assam - Toil and trouble.
RANJITA BASUMATARY does not look much like a witch. Outside her home in Udalguri on the plains of the north-eastern state of Assam, she hangs a silk gamosa scarf around this correspondent’s neck and invites him in for tea. In early 2007 Mrs Basumatary was driven from her original village after her neighbours accused her of being a dain—a witch. Around 100 villagers surrounded her home and beat her with sticks, leaving her badly bloodied and bruised. After receiving death threats, she fled with her husband and three children.
Where are the holy men? Where are the wise greybeards who can surely dispel such barbaric behavior amongst the populace? After all, isn't Islam the religion of peace? Isn't Hinduism the faith of a happy elephant-god who rides on a giant mouse? What about Christians, surely they can dispel the myth of witchcraft?
Surely not.
People in Assam mostly follow mainstream Hindu teachings, but tantric sects continue to offer up animals in ritual sacrifices to the mother goddess, Shakti. Animist beliefs persist among the state’s 60-odd recognised tribes and sub-tribes. The arrival of Muslim migrants and the spread of Christianity by American missionaries have not dispelled local superstitions.
I'd wager if there was suddenly a surge of skeptical missionaries there would be a drop off of all superstitions -- witchcraft, Hindu as well as the Abrahamic myths. There are only two problems with this scenario. One, there are no skeptical missionaries to my knowledge. Two, if there were skeptical missionaries there would be an extra expense of supplying them with armed guards. The last thing the superstitious want to hear is that they are superstitious.
In rural Assam the ojha, a traditional medicine man, is revered for his skills at countering black magic. According to folklore, the medicine man learns his skills, but witches are born with their powers. In patriarchal communities this is a convenient distinction. It is rare to find a female ojha.
This I find amazing. Somehow women are not the center of a patriarchal faith-based society. Though there may be some male dains (witches) somehow that little skeptical voice in my head says that these witches are mostly women. Perhaps that little voice is wrong. A quick internet search lead me to this article from The Statesman in 2002, Witch hunting plagues rural Assam.
Jyotsna Chatterjee, an activist of the Delhi-based Joint Women’s Programme, blamed the problem on the vested interests of a “patriarchal society” ... “reluctant to give women their property rights.” Chatterjee claimed that widows and older single women were specially vulnerable, made easy targets and were attacked “after being branded witches.” “The standard excuse seems to be that it is a family dispute and there is no need to take the matter to court,” she said.
Sorry for that short digression to The Statesman -- now back to The Economist piece.
In early-modern Europe and North America paranoia about witchcraft surfaced at times of great tension. This corner of Assam has been embroiled in a decades-old struggle for statehood by Assam’s largest tribe, the Bodo.
Mrs Basumatary is a devout Christian. But local jealousy seems to have prompted the accusations of witchcraft. Her family had prospered, leasing livestock to other villagers. It led to resentment. When children in the village fell sick, the ojha accused Mrs Basumatary of casting spells—his own charms and potions having failed. Her case is not an isolated one. At least 17 people were killed in witch-hunts in the area last year. Mrs Basumatary’s family is still too scared to return to its old village.
Want to make a bad situation worse? Add faith to the mix and shake.

This is Purgatory.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Explaining Good Friday To My Six Year-Old

The Good News is that the story isn't real.
The Bad News is that people believe it.

"What is Good Friday?" Ali asked.

Ali is my six soon to be seven year-old, and she had asked that question several times in the last few days. Under normal circumstances I have no problem answering my children's questions immediately. The problem was, of course, was that she asked at the most inopportune times. We were vacationing in Florida at Disney World when she asked about Good Friday. I chose the prudent answer I'll tell you later versus taking the risk of potentially facing a mob of disgruntled Christians. Being the dutiful father I forgot about her question until she remembered it a relative's house who happened to be a casual believer. Though the relative in question is laid back in her faith, she is in her seventies and a survivor of pancreatic cancer as well as two small strokes. I certainly wasn't go to induce stroke #3 by informing Ali on the barbaric history of Good Friday in front of her. I simply gave her my previous answer that her question would be answered later.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's Easter! A Classic Time For Christians To Attack Jews

Say you're a Christian living in Russia in the late 19th or early 20th century. It's Easter and you've just stepped out of church. What's next on the agenda?

Attacking Jews may be on the menu.

Here is an excerpt from the 1908 book Readings of Modern European History by James Harvey Robinson, Professor of History at Columbia University, and Charles A. Beard, Adjunct Professor of Politics at Columbia.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Passover Insanity or Goose Stepping Over Dead Egyptian Babies

Yahweh, Yahweh  ├╝ber alles.

I found this piece over at the Jewish atheist blog coin laundry titled And I thought Finger Puppet Plagues were Bad . . . The post is about how Rabbi Shraga Simmons has come up with "fun" as well as creative ways to communicate the 10 Plagues of Egypt to children. I'm just going to paste the original article from the man of G-D, because it's just so crazy.

Here it is. I'll do some commentary at the end.

Friday, April 6, 2012

10 Plagues Of Egypt? I Give You The 10 Plagues of Reason

Passover begins at sundown today, April 6th. A central part of the Passover celebration, of course, commemorates the 10 Plagues that God (or G-d as devout Jews refer to the Sky Fairy) drops down on the Egyptians. And I was thinking about what plagues we atheists suffer from everyday. What curses are we the recipients of? Of course, there is no deity that inflicts harm upon us. Rather our grief is derived from a populace stuck in the grip of a barbaric fairy tale. Here are the 10 Plagues of Reason.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Islam In Egypt - Worst Case Scenario?

Let's talk about Islam in Egypt.

Better yet let's have *Sunni scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi talk about it.

Oh, Andy, you may say this sheik is just one lunatic spouting off absurdities and is not representative of political life in Egypt.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Two Experiments Support The Notion That Deliberate Reflection Assists In Making Moral Decisions

There is an interesting article about morality in this week's Economist magazine, and it's titled, Time to be honest: A simple experiment suggests a way to encourage truthfulness. The piece describes two simple experiments created by Shaul Shalvi, a psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam, to explore how people make moral choices under certain conditions. He had assistance from fellow researchers Ori Eldar and Yoella Bereby-Meyer of Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Five Reasons Why I'm Happy To Be An Atheist On Vacation

I'm in Florida right now with the family, and I thought I'd share some of my reflections on how awesome it is to be one of the godless while engaging in some rest and relaxation.

5. I don't have to waste my time going to church while on vacation.

This is obvious. How many of us who were raised in faith got dragged to some strange church while on vacation by our parents? My parents dragged me down to Florida (ironic since that's where I am now) quite a few times back in the day, and we attended Southern Baptist services. Having been raised in Massachusetts I couldn't help but think that going to a church that supported slavery was tantamount to treason. (Much like going to a Lutheran church would make any informed person feel like they're supporting the Third Reich.)

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