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Go to: Simply ... should I read the bible?

Functional Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 107 by Functional Atheist

Sure, read the Bible--though selected passages would be adequate for most skeptics. But only the King James version, since the poetic rendering of choice passages are so much better than in any other English language Bible. Ecclesiastes and the Psalms are particularly worthwhile, while on the other hand Leviticus should be read because so much of that book is so very awful. Richard himself has praised the literary quality of the best bits of the King James version, and I think Hitch also had some kind words regarding the literary qualities of that text.

And no, you are not therefore obliged to read other religious texts. Presumably you live in a Western culture, so the cultural context that the Bible provides makes it much more pertinent to an educated Western skeptic than any other religious text. If you are determined to be ecumenical, I suppose the Qu'ran would be the best choice for a second text, if for no other reason that Islam keeps intruding into modern politics (in a nasty way, similar to my reasoning in recommending Leviticus).

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 16:36:41 UTC | #951282

Go to: Watch Sneak Preview of FFRF TV commercial starring Julia Sweeney

Functional Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Functional Atheist

A simple and clear message--well done, Julia.

Letting Go of God is quite good. Ms. Sweeney gave religions and quasi-religious philosophies a more-than-fair shot before becoming an atheist, and her story will speak to those who have an inclination toward spiritual journeys, and New Age thinking. She ultimately rejected all such nonsense, but her willingness to sincerely explore those sorts of ideas will particularly resonate with those atheists who may have found the word "atheist" difficult to embrace.

I would also like to recommend her blog. She posts updates only once per month, generally on our around the first of the month, but I make a point of reading it.

juliasweeney.blogspot.com

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 04:10:17 UTC | #946688

Go to: Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett. Oxford, 9 May 2012

Functional Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Functional Atheist

Very enjoyable video, but the goofs were a little distracting.

Thanks to earlier comments, for directing me to Laban Movement Analysis, and related notations as used by dancers, choreographers and others. I was nearly certain such a system existed, but did not know what it was called.

And I will also agree with previous comments regarding profound skepticism toward Dennett's confidence that religions are doomed to die, or to change radically, in response to the information technology and communications revolutions. To name but one example, the resurgence of Islam in recent decades should have banished such pipe-dreams to the dustbin of history.

We may not like it--I certainly do not--but I wager that several religions will still be powerful and malevolent forces for not mere decades to come, but for centuries to come.

Sun, 03 Jun 2012 06:55:38 UTC | #945279

Go to: Does Religious Liberty Equal Freedom to Discriminate?

Functional Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 56 by Functional Atheist

This might be counter to the prevailing views here, but my response to the rhetorical question in the headline "Does religious liberty equal freedom to discriminate?" is a qualified 'yes.'

The American tradition of religious liberty includes a deep deference to the internal practices of religious groups. If a denomination like Roman Catholicism discriminates against women, and on the basis of marital status, when deciding whom to allow to become a priest, I think that is okay--and so does American law. A religious exemption for communion wine was allowed during the days of prohibition. If a denomination wants to bar openly gay clergy, or wants to bar same-sex marriage ceremonies from their churches, that is also within their rights under the "free exercise" of religion clause.

So yes, religious liberty does include a LIMITED freedom to discriminate.

But it is not a blanket right to discriminate. Other comments have covered the situations where religious liberty should and/or must defer to secular custom and law.

Thu, 31 May 2012 21:57:31 UTC | #944854

Go to: Mencken week: Day 2

Functional Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by Functional Atheist

Comment 6 by CEVA34 :

If every word in the Hitchens paragraph is true, it makes no difference to the validity (or otherwise) of the Mencken paragraph, does it? If we suddenly discovered Darwin was a serial killer, would we abandon the Theory of Evolution? If Hitler said two and two make four, would it not be true? What's the phrase? Ah, I remember - ad hominem.

I don't think you're being fair. Hitch's criticisms of Mencken do not amount to an ad hominem attack.

Ayn Rand, and Karl Marx, were atheists, but they also were profoundly wrong about a bunch of other stuff. Just because Mencken was an atheist does not mean he was not profoundly wrong about a bunch of other things.

Criticizing a writer based upon the writer's actual words and ideas is playing fair--and it is wise to bear in mind that just because someone got something like atheism correct is no reason to assume they got anything else correct.

Atheists are already falsely accused of effectively worshiping their favorite writers, and your attempt to equate fair criticism of a specific atheist with an ad hominem attack on that atheist merely reinforces the incorrect perception that atheists are over-eager to engage in hero-worship in lieu of more traditional forms of worship.

Tue, 22 May 2012 05:12:19 UTC | #942752

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