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Comments by cynicaloptimistrealist

Go to: Loss within the truth

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Recently, however, being a parent to two wonderful kids and married to a beautiful wife it's hit me that beyond this reality I will never see them again. While I've accepted this as fact for some time, it's as if a profound sense of sadness has descended upon me. I know the answer is to love and cherish them with all that I am now, and believe I will, but it has made me wish that the fallacy that is religion were true.

The belief in an eternal paradise brings up so many questions as mentioned above. The belief in a personal God I feel leads many to a belief in a personal heaven. I have heard religious people actually ponder and worry about how their two wives will get along in the afterlife (first wife having died, but both loved dearly). Then there's the question of what state they enter that paradise, presumably if everyone lives to an age where our biological machinery starts to wear out, then will will that personal paradise will be gridlocked with 3 wheel shopping mobiles, reek of urine and every other premises will be a bingo hall? If as the new testament suggests the dead shall rise physically, then will the families of suicide bombers have to go through some process not unlike assembling a book cabinet from Ikea? The RC and Anglican faiths have glossed over that and preach a resurrection of the spirit while the fundamentalists believe that new bodies will be distributed in a fashion reminiscent to a cosmic Gap outlet (presumably without the bodies being made by children in sweatshops).

The greatest fear for most people is losing the ones they love, but eventually it happens to everyone, religion exploits that most basic fear. As a species we often fear change, friends who are parents fear that their children will make some of the mistakes they did, they also seem to have this feeling that the world is more dangerous than the one they grew up in which is a fear as old as civilisation itself. There is the fear of letting go, how many parents feel (even covertly) that their childs choice of partner could be a little better?

Immortality can now be achieved, not in a physical sense though. Think back 200 years, only those at the pinnacle of society could preserve their images and thoughts, slowly through photography it became possible to preserve one's image for future generations, through mass education it became possible to preserve one's thoughts through writing, many didn't as the demands of life left many in the lower social strata with little time. Now it is possible for almost everyone to preserve all of the above, plus many other details of one's life through the medium of video, it is even possible to preserve the essence of personality to an extent. How many of you have looked back at family photos from the 1880s to the 1910s and asked: Was that man in the military uniform really as stern as he looked? How about his masculine wife, did she also sound like a man in drag? For anyone with children I think it would be very worthwhile to regularly record ideas, views on the issues of the day and life in general, stick the HDs in a box somewhere (don't forget to update them as technology changes - you don't want your great great great grandchildren wondering what all those little cute circular mirrors are). Your children probably won't be very excited by them, but 100 years hence I am sure your descendants would be fascinated.

Sun, 29 Jul 2012 23:14:55 UTC | #950298

Go to: Against All Gods

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Will any "sophisticated theologian" dissent?

I feel that in the question lies the oxymoron. Theologians are more excited by what humanity has not yet discovered and with every scientific discovery their iceberg melts a little more. Their arguments remind me of the logic my cat uses when faced with her reflection in the mirror "What's that cat doing here?", approaches slowly and attempts to attack reflection, realises the offending cat is behind the mirror, checks, no cat, moves to front of mirror and looks at me as if to say "See, there it is!".

I am not sure if you are in Japan for a conference or speaking engagements, if it's the latter and you have time please address one of the most irritating examples of pseudoscience that I encountered in Japan, eastern China and Taiwan - the blood group personality beliefs. It's particularly strong in Japan, if you speak to some people for a time, someone will suddenly ask "Are you type AB? You seem like an AB person!". It's basically astrology applied to blood groups, but when you dig deeper it has it's origins in the three "evils" of eugenics, social Darwinism and neo confucianism, it is basically a throwback from Imperial Japan's flirtation and collaboration with Nazi ideology.

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 00:03:07 UTC | #950132

Go to: Scapegoat for Catholic evils?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Professor Dawkins,

As always your post demonstrates the balance that few of us are capable of. Particularly when it comes to those who peddle deities and fiddle with children. I do agree with you that the psychological damage Catholicism does is far worse, not to mention the fact that if you draw an enconomic map of the world you will see that most of the poorer areas of the world are in the grip of either the Pope or Muhammad. Combined with their message that poverty equals piety they are one of the most damaging forces in the world.

He did not molest children himself, but covered up the activities of other priests.

I agree, but the sentencing structure is different in the US, I often see cases from the US where when you consider the crime the sentences seem excessive. I can't help but think that the high murder rate in some parts of the US directly relates to the structure of sentences there. In this case I feel it's just rewards. Suppose a colleague entered your office and admitted that he was an active paedophile, I imagine that you (as I would) contact the police and indeed social services if the person in question had children. Just suppose that instead the colleague entered your office and admitted the above, then explaining that he was in fear of a police raid, asked you to take care of his laptop for a while until the storm had blown over. If one was to agree to the request and not immediately pass the evidence over to the police, then one would be guilty of denying justice to those who have been abused and enabling the abuse of other children or the ongoing abuse of those he has access to. So, it is my belief that an enabler who acts knowing the seriousness of the crimes committed deserves to be treated as an accomplice.

Are his fellow prisoners likely to have the discernment to distinguish a coverer-up from an actual paedophile, and how will they treat him?

I imagine that he will be segregated as his crime involves the abuse of children.

But is this particular priest the fall guy for a Catholic culture in which he was just a pawn?

In a sense, yes, it has the effect of calming the great unwashed screaming for blood. Although I think it's another headline that the Catholic Church would rather not see, I think even Barnum who said "There's no such thing as bad publicity!" would make an exception in this case. There's an often told joke that when John Paul II visited Ireland and said "Young people of Ireland, I love you!" that he was merely reflecting the physical desires of his clerics. Let's face it headlines like that are only going to have a detrimental effect on membership.

I do feel that governments and law enforcement are going after the wrong target. The organisation as a whole should be hauled over the coals financially, they are an extremely wealthy organisation, I am sure you have noticed on your travels as I have that even in places where grinding poverty exists, that the church is usually an impressive building in contrast to the local hovels and that the priests homes are not that shabby either. So my view is that the organisation as a whole should pay dearly in the financial sense. If a police officer through accident or deliberate action injures an innocent member of the public there are heavy financial penalties for the force he is a member of, the same should apply to religious organisations,

Is the conviction of Monsignor Lynn designed to take the heat off the real evil, which is the entire culture of the Catholic church?

I would say that some of his superiors are wiping the sweat from their brow and thanking their God (that is if they believe in one, I can't see how anyone who has even read their scriptures can maintain a faith of any kind - probably the reason why Catholics are encouraged to parrot off prayers rather than explore their scriptures). Again I fail to understand, particularly in the litigious US why there have not been more multi million dollar cases taken against dioceses.

Can the church claim that, because individual priests are put in prison, that lets them off the hook?

I am sure they will try, I imagine they will say sorry for a few more years, then claim they are being victimised for something that happened in the past (similar to the way right wing parties shriek "victim" when anyone mentions the violent, un-evolved, racist halfwits they so recently attached themselves to). In many ways they're already back on their old hobby horse in this part of the world with a bishop recently speaking out against gay marriage and abortion, of course not one member of the subservient media asked "Considering its history, what gives your organisation the right to speak out on morality?".

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 23:38:43 UTC | #950079

Go to: Religious Olympics

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by cynicaloptimistrealist

One more..... A pogo event with the contestants nailed to crosses. I name it Pogofixion.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 23:51:17 UTC | #949939

Go to: Religious Olympics

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by cynicaloptimistrealist

How about the speed circumcision event?

But don't put the Rabbi too close to the Communion Wafer Eating event lest you want the Christians to look like they are having a gum chewing contest.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 23:49:15 UTC | #949938

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by cynicaloptimistrealist

As someone who had a Catholic upbringing, but never actually believed my advice may not be up to scratch. Think about what you have been taught, if the Catholic upbringing is as standardised as I suspect you should have been provided with some psychological insulation against other religions, particularly new religious groups. In my childhood I often heard stories about groups which once they had a person in their grasp refused to let go, then I heard devout Catholics uttering "once a Catholic always a Catholic" when hearing that someone had jumped the fence for another group. I began to see it less as "something most of the adults seemed to believe" and more as a cult.

Then there's the message about accepting Christ equaling an afterlife in heaven and the alternative. If you go back enough generations in your family you'll find people who either never heard of Christ or rejected him. For people of northern European origin it's around 1,000 years or a little more, for most people of Sub-Saharan African or Asian origin it's no more than 400 years at most. So all those people, your ancestors, who never heard or Christ are cast into a pit of eternal fire for never having heard of him? What would you think of a prime minister or president who wandered the country with a group of soldiers executing those who hadn't heard his name or those who thought there were flaws in his policy? I think if you honestly make the comparison between an all loving, all forgiving being and an earthly psychopathic dictator, who are both are basically acting in the same way, then you will reach the conclusion that God is a psychopathic dictator in reality much closer to the Stalin, Hitler or Mao. Or, you will reach the conclusion that the whole thing has been made up. Not by one man, but by a committee. There is a saying "A camel is a horse designed by committee" - if you look at how badly the New Testament fits the old, how the 4 books in the new do not tally with each other (huge differences) and how the 4 books you think are the Gospels are actually about 4 of 40 that were chosen by a committee. Not to mention the fact that Christianity took three or four hundred years to decide that women had a soul.

The fear of hell is natural if they got to you, don't worry some silly idea gets to everyone for a while and some unfortunately for life. Have a good look at the world religions, note the techniques used to insulate them from new ideas, from Jesus telling Peter "Whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven" to Muhammad explaining to his followers that he had revealed the perferct word of Allah which was final and could not be altered (Seal of prophets). Look at how the Roman Empire survived as the Catholic church, with the same level of bloodshed, immorality and persecution as before. Apologists will counter "Oh they were the bad popes", but "whatever you bind in heaven.." means that if a Pope was helping himself to the wives of others or defiling corpses that was fine by God.

If I was to attempt to sell you a ferry ticket to Atlantis, I think you would correctly ask me to provide evidence that Atlantis existed and that a ferry company actually went there. You would check independent sources, you certainly wouldn't accept the information in my brochures at face value. Look for evidence of hell, not in the holy books (they're my collection of Atlantis brochures with happy smiling people enjoying the advanced technology and insatiable Atlanteans), is there any evidence elsewhere? I think you will find none. Do not take the word of people who threatened a man with death for discovering the Earth revolved around the Sun. I wish you well on your journey, if I ask you to think about anything it is this: When asked to spend money, you require evidence, when asked to judge a person, you require evidence, when diagnosed with an ailment or ilness you are provided with evidence, evidence is not just something you are told, it is something you can verify from multiple independent sources, why should you give your heart and mind to an idea without the same evidence you demand when parting with your cash?

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 23:39:09 UTC | #949937

Go to: Religious Olympics

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by cynicaloptimistrealist

As everyone has beaten me to it on the psychological aspects of religion, I am going to return to the base level of religious behaviour. I think the main religions would have to be treated as broad separate disciplines each subdivided into their own specialist categories.

This years London 2012 RIOC events are:

Christianity:

1: ACMT Skeet Shoot (Abortion Clinic Medical Technician Skeet Shoot): Participants wait at the entrance to a womens health clinic, the referee sounds a siren, the doctor then attempts to make it from his car to the door of the clinic while the devout Christian attempts to enforce the "Thous shalt not kill" commandment. The American team are the ones to beat in this event.

2: Synchronised Swindling: Competitors line up at the edges of the stadium which has been filled with spectators chosen for their extreme gullibility and then try to extort as much money as possible using everything from forgiveness of sin to aiding God's work to part the fools from their hard earned cash. The Catholics used to be the dominant force in this event, but in recent years they have been spectacularly eclipsed by the Scientologists and West African Christian groups.

3: The Paedophile Triathlon: The first part is the 100m temptation hurdles, instead of traditional hurdles un-supervised children are placed along the track. The competitor must proceed from the first hurdle - grooming to the last which is abuse. The second part is Moral Gymnastics - This part involves convincing the child that it is God's will and more importantly convincing them not to tell their parents or the authorities. The competitor who reaches the finish line first in the hurdles and produces a silent religious child in the second part takes gold, those arrested are immediately disqualified, while the competitors who are compromised, but transfered to a different lane can re-run the entire event competing for silver and bronze. The Irish Catholic team are the masters of this event, but in recent years they have had some stiff competition from the American and Australian teams.

Islam

1: The Adultress Shot Put: A vulberable young woman is accused of adultery and buried up to her waist in the sand pit. The competitors gather in a circle and each picks up a heavy iron ball. Points are awarded to those who can land a killing blow while yelling "allahu akbar" simultaneously. Points are also awarded for inflicting fear and pain on the target. The Iranians, Saudi Arabians and Afghans are all solid competitors in this event.

2: Apostate Basketball: This is a team event. An apostate or infidel is placed in a kneeling position in front of the team and is forced to read a pre-prepared confession of his mis-deeds. He is then decapitated with a slightly blunt weapon and the first team to place a head in the basket while causing maximum suffering and chanting the all important "allahu akbar" are the winners. The Pakistanis, Yemenis and Chechens are the best teams at this event, but in recent years the Iraqis and Afghans have been catching up.

3: Honour Kayaking: Despite its name Kayaking only makes up the final part of this event. A girl rejects her religious traditions/ wears western clothing or falls in love with a non muslim. She is released on the track, her father (with other family members in hot pursuit) must drag her back to the starting line, beat and murder her. The final stage of the event involves disposing of the victim during a kayak race with the gold medalist both arriving at the finish first and evading detection. The Turkish, Kurdish and Pakistani teams are equally powerful in this event.

Pursuant to the RIOC goal of world peace and understanding Israeli Judaism and Palestinian Islam are to compete in their own special events.

Israeli/Palestinian:

1: Land Wrestling: The Israeli team must find an area of the arena promised to them in the sacred rulebook, they must clear the area of non team members or use more aggressive new team members to populate pockets of the area. They must punish any protest from the inhabitants with violence and protests from the spectators with the label of anti-semitism.

2: Bus Jumping: While the Israeli team are engaged in the land wrestling event, members of the Palestinian team must find the bus carrying the wives and children of the Isreali team and then attempt to make it jump using a human bomb. The Palestinian who suceeds in this event not only gets the gold medal, but also has the company of 87 virgins/raisins for all eternity.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 21:15:06 UTC | #949923

Go to: No religion is Australia's second most popular religion

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Hi Michael,

Much as I tried, I can find no way of getting the data you want (Disclamer: It is Friday and I have just returned from a late liquid lunch with colleagues). I imagine the results very much depend on education, as an atheist from birth born into a Catholic family, as I departed childhood I noticed that my devout parents and almost every other devout person I know are people who very much browse the rules and then pick the ones that suit their situation. I came from a small family as did nearly all my friends, the prevailing attitude seemed to be "Only have as many children as you can afford to give the best opportunities to and it is a greater sin to bring a child into the world for whom you cannot provide".

I have always noticed from what I have seen in Ireland and the U.K. that people who are under-educated, seem to have a multi-generational reliance on social welfare and who seem to feel that social welfare is a perfectly normal life aspiration (not just the safety net it is intended to be) tend to have more children. Some of the above people may be devout, however I suspect the fact that more children equal more cash is acting as much more of an incentive than any religious views. I have noticed from my travels in the middle east that the greater the level of religious devotion combined with poverty the larger the number of children and I have also noticed a correlation between poverty combined with traditional beliefs in rural China. So, in Australia I imagine that unless the Catholics listed in the census are of the Mel Gibson variety the figures for children are pretty similar to the rest of the developed world.

An interesting thing about Catholicism is that many children who are listed as Catholics may have been to church as few as 3 times (baptism, communion & confirmation) for the reasons that there's usually a party for the baptism, there's a cash incentive for a child making communion which usually doubles at confirmation. I played the game until I realised there was no more money to be made from it and then leapt from the atheistic closet. It does worry me that people still list children as belonging to a particular religion and the government allows them to do so.

Also worth noting is that some 65000 people identify themselves as Jedi, outnumbering Scientologists by 30 to 1.

That's great to see, after all the Jedi weapon of choice is totally harmless. It does worry me that there are 6,500 Scientologists out there parting with obscene amounts of cash to have their skin resistance tested by what is essentially a multi-meter with only one visible setting.

Fri, 06 Jul 2012 19:43:20 UTC | #948694

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 197 by cynicaloptimistrealist

I am a woman and burkas offend me. Burkas say that I am scum, and they say men are out-of-control sex maniacs.

Although I don't share your view on banning the Burqa, I agree. It says a lot about the societes it emerges from generally and the males from those societies particularly. If they believe men cannot be trusted to behave with respect when the face (or any other part of the body) is exposed, then they need to take a critical look at themselves and decide whether they wouldn't be better locked away for the safety of society. The reason I don't believe in banning it is that it can be almost eradicated by forcing secular mixed education in schools (peer pressure usually kicks in from age 10 onwards - pretty soon you'd have thousands of muslim girls threatening their fathers with social services), banning religious identification in government workplaces, the private sector will generally follow suit as there is nothing more off putting than realising that one is alone in a room and surrounded by ninja.

It is my hypothesis that much of the discourse on women in the Quaran is inspired by nothing more than possessive jealousy - what particularly comes to mind is Mohammad banning his followers from marrying any of his widows when he dies (previously he had married widows and encouraged his followers to do so), but when it came to "his" widows it became a totally different matter. It reminds me of a joke I was told: A farmer is at the end of a long battle with cancer, he decides to take his sons for one last drink at the local pub. They meet the local playboy who enquires about the farmers health, the farmer informs him he is dying of AIDS. After the local playboy has departed one of the farmers sons asked him why he lied like that. The farmer responded "I don't want that randy bastard sniffing around your mother after I die!"

Fri, 29 Jun 2012 00:03:07 UTC | #948307

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 194 by cynicaloptimistrealist

They are kinder to the dogs. The Quran says one must be kind to a dog or set them free. There is no similar provision for women.

A little, but not much. If you have any sense of empathy towards animals avoid looking into how animals are treated in a Muslim majority country (I know many developing countries and even some relatively developed ones have similar issues), but after taking a walk through what was supposed to be a small zoo near Topkapi Palace in Istanbul I was drained of most of the empathy I had for the local population. After watching and getting into a heated discussion with visitors (and later security forces) who thought it was entertaining to throw stones at a frightened wolf in a 4 metre square enclosure, the same fate was meted out to what was clearly a pet German Shepherd (exhibit marked European Wolf) in a nearby cage, this animal was scared also but I discovered it to be quite friendly after the stone throwing locals were persuaded to go forth and multiply. A young lion kept in an equally tiny enclosure and teased relentlessly. Conditions were disgusting, animals were kept without access to shade or clean water in searing heat. Oddly cats of the domestic variety were treated well, but I suspect for religious reasons. If you cannot treat an animal ethically and humanely without religious instruction to do so, in my book you're not much of a human. As for the treatment of other humans, be they male or female, I find societies follow a trend, if they are too savage to provide basic protection and comfort for other mammals, then they tend not to care for their apex mammals too well either.

Thu, 28 Jun 2012 23:14:29 UTC | #948304

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 187 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Having glossed through the discussion reading the views of those who would be described as politically correct and those who may see themselves as less so, I have decided to clear my mind of what was previously written and wade in with my own 50c (to those in Britain that's about 40p and falling by the hour).

Should religions have the right to prevent the publication of cartoons or books or plays that are deemed offensive?

Of course not. Offense is taken, if you take religious sensitivities to their logical conclusion, then such sights as a gay couple holding hands, a woman not appropriately covered, condoms on display in a pharmacy, a cross on top of a church, the sale of alcohol etc., etc., etc would be deemed as offensive by one group or another. It would lead to a climate of fear of litigation which would stifle every day freedoms, literature, music, theatre and film.

Is it legitimate for a state to ban the burqa?

A blanket ban (excuse the pun) is not legitimate. However, it should be banned for all government employees dealing with the general public. It should be necessary to identify oneself when dealing with state authorities. It should not be allowed while driving. The jealousies of men which gave rise to the burqa should not force the state to put in place practices which pander to those religiously inherited jealousies ie. only allowing women employed by the state to check the identies of women. As has often been said by Professor Dawkins, the key to eliminating divisions in our societies is secular education. Schools should not have any religious ethos or bias, school uniforms should be mandatory and all forms of religious identification should be forbidden on school (government) property. Education for both sexes should be mandatory until the age of 18. All this should be backed up by a robust social service which enforces the laws of the land without fear or prejudice. If a father is blocking access to education or it is felt there is a danger to the health or life of a child or young adult, then the full weight of the law (including the use of care orders) should be brought down on that father.

Should a Catholic adoption agency be allowed to turn away gay prospective parents?

Should a religious organisation be allowed to decide the future of children who neither have knowledge of religion nor the mental maturity to make complicated choices?? I think not, services such as adoption should be without exception under the control of the state. The only factors that should determine the outcome of adoption are the background of the couple and their ability to provide an emotionally and financially secure upbringing for the child.

Should an employee be allowed to wear a cross at work?

It depends on their work. If they work for ACME Cross On a Chain Ltd., then it is probably a good idea that they wear a cross. If they are a pastor, priest or vicar, then a cross is a good idea. If they are in government employment the very fact that the state should be a neutral entity should prohibit the wearing of religious or political symbols. As someone who works in the private sector, I deal with people of all religious and political persuasions and none, I think it is better to present a neutral friendly face to prospective clients and to the public as a whole. When dealing with a prospective supplier I do not want to see a cross, burqa, kippah, wheel of life, "A" badge, rabbits foot, swastika or "x for prime minister" badge, it's extremely unprofessional and it makes a silent statement almost as if it is opening the conversation with a personal statement of belief. Imagine a gay couple going for relationship counselling and discovering their counsellor had all the identifiable attributes of a woman peeping out of a letter box or a young woman seeking advice on contraception discovering her advisor adorned with a cross and a "got Bible?" t-shirt. I think in both cases no matter how professionally the person did their job there would be a legitimate fear that their advice was tainted by the ideals of the introductory unspoken statement that their attire made.

Should Christian bed and breakfast owners be allowed to turn away gay customers?

If you are providing a service to the general public then the equality laws of the state should apply. If the question was re-phrased as "Should Scottish bed and breakfast owners be allowed to turn away English customers?" or vice versa, I think most people would answer in the negative. In fact, one could ask the same question about the adoption agency above.

Should gay marriage be legalised?

Of course it should. I once heard an old man rationalise his agreement with gay marriage by asking "Why shouldn't they suffer like the rest of us?". Marriage is a formal legal commitment which has financial, social and legal implications, giving one group of people the same thing and calling it something else in order to pander to narrow minded theocrats is duplicitous to society and demeaning to the group wishing to avail of that service. I saw the issue concerning forcing churches to marry gay people raised in an earlier post, of course they should not be forced, but here's the sting, neither should they be allowed to register marriages on behalf of the state. If they feel that applying the law of the land to their admission policy or sacramental policy is an issue of conscience, then they should be relieved of that burden. In secular countries like France a couple who wish to have a religious marriage must also have a civil ceremony at their local public office.

I believe in a secular and equal society, I don't believe that it is right for a state to make exceptions or allowances to their general rules for what are private or personal matters. Even in a private sector workplace I do not think it is wise for an employer to make such exceptions. Imagine you are in a busy office with three colleages, 4 lines are ringing simultaneously, it's midday on Summer solstice, one colleague is facing east away from her desk praying and another is kneeling mumbling "Hail Marys". You as the only employee in your office who has no such beliefs, are juggling 4 lines of increasingly impatient clients. You know that your one remaining colleague is going to be quite some time because he's in the car park slaughtering a goat, subsequent to that he has a virgin to deflower which is going to be a mammoth task as the only settlements in the proximity of your office building are rough council estates. Is such a workplace where private beliefs and philosophies take precedence over the tasks at hand fair to you?

Thu, 28 Jun 2012 21:32:16 UTC | #948293

Go to: HOMOOUSIOS: The movement toward Orthodoxy

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Thank you! You're too kind! takes a bow

I looked up that blues singer, very interesting. I agree with you on Israel, I have visited briefly and left more confused and if the truth is told more annoyed. I believe Israel has the right to exist and defend itself, but I could not justify its use of religious zealots (or any other type of idealist) to expand into captured terrirories. I always felt that if the argument for holding these areas is national defense then the areas should only contain military installations, populating them with civilians smacks of "lebensraum". Many older Israelis blamed the settler mentality on recent immigration from Russia and the US. As an Atheist I would still prefer to live in Israel than in any of the neighbouring countries. I feel the continued use of past victimisations as an excuse for current actions is wrong, I detest the labeling of those who disagree with Israeli policy as anti-semites and the indoctrination of successive waves of children in the belief that the outside world is anti-semitic. I feel its caused by a lack of political maturity, I have seen the same type of indoctrination in mainland China, a psyche not unlike a bullied child becoming the village policeman. Despite all the above, I felt relatively safe speaking my mind in conversation with Israelis in Israel.

If one is to take literally the God's image claim, I have yet to see a religious fundamentalist explain the existence of Wayne Rooney.

Many of the early polytheistic religions had a mother and a father figure, but the Abrahamic mindset didn't allow for anything more than a role of necessary goods which provide necessary services. I think the closest thing in the Abrahamic sense to a "mother goddess" is the Virgin Mary, I think her importance probably grew in Christianity because it was a proselytising faith competing against polytheistic European religions. Look at all the saints in Catholicism, there's one for every human profession and condition, this is without doubt polytheism. As for the nativity story, there's enough there to keep Freud busy for several lifetimes - A creator father who is also a dove and a man, impregnates a woman to become the mother of his son who is also he. In that one article of faith which every Christian must believe you have rape, incest and beastiality.

The virgin birth only serves to reinforce the Abrahamic view that women were chattel with a slightly higher value than their domestic stock and considered second hand if not virgins. It's a strange way of viewing the world even for that time, I can't imagine any person, even at that time, contracting the services of a carpenter who had never touched wood or hammered a nail.

Wed, 20 Jun 2012 19:19:47 UTC | #947922

Go to: HOMOOUSIOS: The movement toward Orthodoxy

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Hahaha yes but they would know all about parthenojesusgenesis !

Brilliant, so brilliant that it moved me to poetry. I am not a poet by any means and never had nothing more than a passing interest. I don't know if a fully functioning hermaphrodite exists, I have never seen any books on the subject and google searches leads one to websites that are not designed with education in mind. So, this is my crude (in the literal sense as well as all others) attempt. Please heed my warning that above all else this is crude and please stop reading here even if you consider yourself to be one who does not easily take offence:

                                    Once upon a time in old Bethlehem,
                        Lived a maiden chaste, pure, but coveted by all the men,
                                  Beneath her robes, a surprise did nuzzle,
                                For both parts she had, of the gender puzzle,   
                                    To keep at bay, the lecherous locals,
                                      She wedded to a gullible yokel,
                          This carpenter she loved, but between the sheets,
                                Her carnal demands, he could not meet,
                            More interest had he in chairs, tables and pegs,
                              Than the pleasures promised betwixt her legs,
                                     All earthly pleasures he did forsake,
                          A large wooden phallus for her he resolved to make,
                              "This ought to please her for many winters",
                             But he didn't sand, so she filled with splinters,
                                 This last affront, was for her too much,
                            So her female too sore, her male she touched,
                              She pulled and tugged, and pulled more still,
                          Until millions and millions from her member did spill,
                               One seed took root and she began to fear,
                            That her husband would think this rather queer,
                                  But knowing him as a credulous clod,
                                    The paternity, she blamed on God,

Tue, 19 Jun 2012 21:37:04 UTC | #947877

Go to: HOMOOUSIOS: The movement toward Orthodoxy

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Hello again,

I mean an intact hymen or the generally accepted definition that no penis has entered the vagina. So even if one wished to adhere to a strict definition (hymen intact) one could implant a pregnancy surgically (I hope no one has attempted this as there is no reason to), but it is possible using modern medical technology.

The thing that always disturbed me from the time I became aware of human sexual function and behaviour was the fact that people believed in a God who basically went around raping virgins. It's perverse, an immortal all powerful being who could create a human from a heap of clay or clot of blood a few thousand years later felt the need to impregnate a virgin. Using that kind of belief as a moral compass it's no wonder Mohammad felt that it was perfectly fine to deny Aisha the remainder of her childhood at 9 years of age and that for hundreds of years Catholic clergy so no issue in pursuing similar fetishes with the children of many nations.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 23:13:52 UTC | #947264

Go to: Living in a very religious country

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Coming from a country which until about 20 years ago had very similar belief rates and attitudes to the Philippines, I understand how you feel. For me the beacons of hope were Mary Robinson (who spent much of her early political career championing civil rights for minorities and trying to legalise contraception, she eventually went on to become the first woman president) and David Norris (Ireland's first openly gay politician who spent years fighting the corner of Irelands LGBT community). Both were deeply unpopular at first earning the emnity of most of their fellow politicians, but their logic and clarity won out, these days both are extremely popular and have earned the deserved adulation of much of the population. The two people above and their small band of followers are probably most responsible for turning a backward near theocracy towards enlightenment (there is still a lot of work to be done though and very few have stepped into the void left by Ms. Robinson).

The next thing that helped change things permanently for the better here was the discovery that vast numbers of Catholic clergy had been involved in the wholesale buggery and brutalisation of generations of children. This had always been known about, I remember jokes from my childhood (How to circumcise a priest: Slap a choir boy in the head) which referred to such practices, but when the authorities eventually acknowledged and investigated it many believers felt a sense of deep betrayal and the understandable moral need to distance themselves from the Catholic church. Wherever catholicism has had the population in its grip, there has been rampant abuse of children by its officials. I am sure such a story is waiting to break open in the Philippines too and when it happens the stranglehold which Rome has over Manila will slip away and the church will have to adopt a defensive position (ie. we're not all kiddy fiddlers) such as the one in which it finds itself in Ireland. Unfortunately in most cases, pain is an indirect result of progress and in Ireland the high price paid by generations of innocent children resulted in the death of catholicism as a way of life, which I am thankful for.

So my advice to you, your country has very painful memories of Spanish occupation - associate that correctly with the imperialistic urges of Catholicism, there have to be thousands of suffreing children and adults with memories of a lost childhood out there - find them and encourage them to speak. Finally follow and where possible aid those who champion unpopular causes such as contraception and LGBT rights, they are the people who can change the course of a nation.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 22:51:38 UTC | #947262

Go to: HOMOOUSIOS: The movement toward Orthodoxy

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by cynicaloptimistrealist

There is no excuse in this day and age to continue buying into the ancient stories, so many gods, so much sex and too many virgins to make these stories even hint of truth.

You're absolutely correct, I encountered something recently that really concerned me. A friend who is an atheist told me that when his daughter who is 4 years old asked about God he told her a vague story about a creator god who watches over everyone and rewards the good in heaven. I was totally shocked by his explanation, it was easier to tell her that story than answer 100 more questions. What I was witnessing was religious apathy, the can't be arsed taking the difficult route approach, I hid my shock as at the end of the day it is his daughter and unfortunately he found it easier to vaguely agree with the lies her teacher had told.

When they learn that god is not the one watching them 24/7 , that it is big brother with surveillance cameras all over the place, they can begin to enjoy life knowing they are being watched, but by other humans .

When I was in my mid teens a friend came to me worried that God and his recently dead uncle were looking down on his nocturnal wrist strengthening routine. He was actually afraid, at first I tried to convince him there was no such entity and when that failed I lessened his fears by convincing him that if there was such an entity he was probably far too busy keeping a running tally on the Tiananmen Square massacre which had conveniently taken place a week or so before.

I would have given anything to witness just one virgin birth.

Thanks to science this is actually possible, I don't want to witness one though.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 21:55:16 UTC | #947252

Go to: HOMOOUSIOS: The movement toward Orthodoxy

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Catholicism is really a strange beast, even though I was brought up with it although I never beleived it, but it has always fascinated me from an historical and psychological perspective.

Look at the historical periods where there were massive conversions of people to Catholicism, in most cases you'll find that just like Islam it was spread by the sword - in Latin America, Africa and the Philippines the conversions almost exclusively followed devestating invasions where relatively technologically primitive peoples were given the choice to either believe or die. A choice I suspect has been presented implicitly until recently (and perhaps even now) to starving people in 3rd world countries in receipt of food or education from Christian charities. Even in its early history the Catholic church first converted Kings and tribal leaders throughout Europe, knowing that the uneducated masses could not resist the power of the local state or chief, so in many cases refusing to convert would result in your death or exile. Very quickly they took control of the education of future generations of kings and leaders, thus perpetuating their dogma and power.

Their discouragement of critical thinking, rejection of scientific and social progress, and their willingness to endorse dictators and dictatorially minded politicians have had a destructive and lasting economic and political legacy on southern Europe, Ireland, South and Central America and in the Philippines - look at the economic performance of those areas,then look at the religious demographics and political histories, the connection is too great to ignore (the Japanese only avoided such a fate by giving the Catholic missionaries a taste of their own medicine in 1597 and continuing in similar fashion throughout the 1600s). The mistake the British made in Ireland after the reformation which founded Church of England was not publishing the Book of Common Prayer in Gaelic which at the time was the language of most of the population living outside Dublin, don't get me wrong I am thankful to the British for subsequently almost eradicating a horrible langauge (alas the British were underachievers in this task and much to my annoyance there are still small pockets of the population who insist on speaking Irish and try to gather others to their crusade). Imagine a language where the only way of greeting someone is to say "God be with you" and the correct reply is "God and Mary be with you", how backward can you get? But publishing that book in Bog Latin could very well have saved the British future trouble and also could have saved Ireland from the post independence nightmare of a sucession of theologically minded elected dictators who prostrated before the clergy while condemning their children to much worse (elected by a populace perpetually kept undereducated and blindly obiedient to the same clerical elite).

As for the continued belief, that's achieved by simple psychological trickery. Until the Vatican 2 reforms all Catholic rites were performed in Latin for populations with little or no knowledge of the language, the people were told what they believed and are asked to repeat it in unison during mass every sunday(this is rather disconcerting and reminiscent of some cult horror movie as I discovered when I attended a funeral recently, standing silent and unimpressed while many others bowed their heads and droned like a hive of bees being subdued by smoke). Difficult questions were answered with ambiguity and probing ones were answered with threats. It is passed from parent to child like red hair and freckles, holes in theology are glossed over and the inquisitive are made to appear foolish - in fact the stories I remember most clearly from teachers and visiting priests related to the apostle Thomas who is usually referred to as doubting Thomas (I prefer rational thinking Thomas - at least for his time). In every story he is made to appear like some sort of village gobshite and the others who accepted what they were told and followed orders were made to appear as examples of how one should behave. Parents are given books that instruct them on how to pass on a doctrine that they know very little about to their children, this is akin to the Pope teaching the Kamasutra (unless he is instructing from the Gary Glitter Unabridged version of which I am sure he possesses at least substantial second hand knowledge of from listening to the confessions of his colleagues). Throughout my childhood I became accustomed to "because that's what we believe!" as the stock answer to the theological holes a four year old found.

In summing up, it is my hypothesis that Catholicism is not believed, it is simply followed like a son follows the football team or political party his father followed. When I look at my parents who are catholics I see perfectly rational people who break almost every illogical tenet of their religion, but through a sense of guilt and fear instilled like a phobia in their childhood attend services and when challenged on their beliefs say "well that's what I believe, you're entitled to yours"(I know they have no idea what they actually believe and I see the discomfort in their eyes at the thought of me asking them to explain it). I suspect they have doubts, but through that afterlife phobia they have fallen into the trap of hedging their bets and they are sitting aloft that Everest of optimism that if their three legged blind donkey with the dead decomposing midget strapped to its back romps home they get to spend eternity with their family. Excuse the profanity, but who the fuck among us would want to spend eternity with our extended family??? One day a year at Xmas is torture, an eternity - fuck that for a game of soldiers!!!

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 21:06:36 UTC | #947239

Go to: Ghost seance goes wrong

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by cynicaloptimistrealist

To the OP, I think you need to explain to your concerned colleague that the children were performing a script. She is obviously extremely superstitious and resonably dismissing her fears point by point may diffuse the confrontation. Go ahead and make the film, make it known that it is a scripted ghost story. There should be no reason for anyone to object. The fact is that the children contributed to this story, the children had no issue with it, I presume you didn't wake up in the middle of the night to find your lawn populated by villagers carrying flaming torches while angrily waving pitchforks, so there's no need to worry. The parents haven't complained and I am sure their children have told them about the project as something like this would be quite exciting for them, so you're dealing with one parent who has either misunderstood the course of events or is living in the dark ages. Either way, it sounds like you have the support of your other colleagues.

To Aguazul, I had to read your post several times to be sure that I wasn't misunderstanding your point, then I started searching for the punch line, but I found none. Having spent time traveling around different villages in China (officially atheist apart from the religion that is the CCP but in reality very superstitious) and Taiwan, I do agree that the further you travel from large population centres the stranger beliefs become. However, reality for the witches, traditional healers and psychics I encountered was a reality revealed by the previous generation, not one of them innovated, tested new ideas or techniques, so the knowledge they claim to represent never expands. I've watched people throwing bones on the floor to predict the outcome of my journey (that's the equivalent of me drawing a card from a deck and deciding to stay in bed if I draw anything less than a 10), had a guy study my finger and tell me that I drink too much (I drink about 6 times a year at most) and was warned not to spend the night in an old un-populated village because of "screaming ghosts" who turned out cats in the heat of passion (that did scare me - a screaming beast with 4 reflective eyes is enough to make anyone jump). I am not a scientist, but I have a curiousity about almost everything and I understand that the more I learn about something the more I realise how little I know about it. Traditional believers are much more "arrogant" in their certaintity that the events around them occur at the caprice of spirits or gods, agreeable results appear when rituals were performed correctly, unfortunate results where rituals were not observed to the letter or some taboo was broken. To illustrate my point, I spent some time with a Paiwan tribe (a people I have tremendous respect for) in southern Taiwan after a devestating typhoon during which great parts of jungle covered mountains collapsed into the valleys below. Many older people blamed the government for diverting part of a river, thus angering the spirits.

Filip is not unleashing an unknown experiment on his students, they are performing a script just like the ones you see in many horror movies, tv shows and books - if you have data that suggests that actors in horror movies and authors of ghost stories are less fortunate than the average person because they mess with "dark powers" that they cannot control or understand, I would love to see it. Chemistry teachers demonstrating experiments to students are demonstrating tried and tested experiments which are only new to the students, in a way that's exactly what Filip is doing in his media studies class by asking his students to write and film a ghost story which is also a tried and tested media topic.

Probably my opinion doesn't sit well with atheists here, though -- sorry -- but I'm out here in the field, and not all of reality fits our current Western-scientific view of the world.

The first part of this sentence is correct, no need to apologise we all have different views. The second part leads me to wonder which field you're in, is it per chance the one filled with those white stemmed pointy brown capped mushrooms that people seem to eat raw? The "current Western-scientific view of the world" constantly grows and adapts, it is never satisfied with leaving things alone because they are poorly understood.

Tue, 15 May 2012 21:21:17 UTC | #941695

Go to: Am I over-reacting?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by cynicaloptimistrealist

You're not over-reacting at all! The school should have fully disclosed the nature of the group hosting the trip. As state schools are supposed to be for children of all faiths and none, imagine the media storm if little Ahmed had gone on what his parents thought was an outdoors week and returned filled with a bag of dirty clothes and a mind full of the baby Jesus.

As a survivor of a private RC school in the ROI, I am a little perplexed that a school with a COE bias (I have always seen the COE and their Irish bretheren the COI as being much more liberal in their outlook than the RCC) would allow children in their care to attend a camp run by an evangelistic group (there is usually a fear of further dwindling their flagging membership to a bunch of old testament thumpers). Such groups are usually looked upon with a sense of derision by the more established churches.

Some posters have mentioned that a little research could have unmasked this particular group, but you would have expected the school to do the research and presented all the available information to the parents. The school should also have enquired about whether background checks were performed on all camp staff or not, even though it's not regarded as law, it is best practice and when handing a group of children to an relatively unknown group best practice should always be followed. It also has to be remembered that even if a child has no interest in Christian mythology they will want to attend the trip because all their friends are going.

I think such camps are much more dangerous than a few prayers or hymns at assembly, if the words of a prayer or hymn are fairly meaningless to you, then you're not likely to become infected by the message behind it. Being locked away with a bunch of happy clappy evangelists who no doubt tie in their activities to suit the message at the end of the day is much more harmful to children. I see the same developments in the ROI, there are lots of evangelistic groups springing up offering events for children and even meals/social gatherings for adults. I constantly remind anyone within earshot that if their message (read product) was so good they wouldn't need to throw a party to sell it to you. Perhaps we atheists/humanists/secularists should start forming local groups with social events and anything that gets arses on chairs in one area so we can start acting as a cohesive group, maybe something with a charitable dimension which would actually demonstrate to the average ovine people out there that one doesn't need to believe in a great Santa in the sky to perform charitable actions.

Mon, 14 May 2012 20:57:38 UTC | #941480

Go to: Catholic School?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by cynicaloptimistrealist

I really feel your pain. I don't have children yet, but I know when they come along that I will face the same issue as you, particularly as the Catholic Church infiltrated nearly every educational establishment in this country. However, thanks to the fact that they pursued children sexually with all the greed of a starving vampire in a blood bank in the state school system and to their barbaric cruelty (sometimes resulting in the deaths of children) in state run orphanages, they are now being forced from that system, so there is hope.

I was the child of believing RC parents and was sent to a private RC school (to avoid the boy hungry priests/brothers my father had encountered and the vicious frustrated nuns from the order of Our Lady of the Perpetual Premenstrual Tension otherwise known as the Loreto who had made my mother's childhood a misery) . I never believed a word of it because as a child there was nothing that they could demonstrate to prove there was a God, after all the Tooth Fairy left money under my pillow, I had met Santa Claus, so when I compared God to the above in my early childhood I figured that God was the least likely as there were no presents, money, letters or meetings. To top it all off I was told about this wonderful place called heaven where people went when they died, I wondered why adults were so upset by death if that was the case, had the person who died been so bad? So I didn't believe, kept quiet throughout primary school and only started to voice my opinions in secondary school, my opinions were met with veiled threats about an afterlife of eternal fire, this only served to en-trench my opinions as I began to realise that their God was actually a sadistic psychopath bent on punishing unrequited love.

There are a couple of things you could do to prevent them from foistering the "sins" of their teachers on your child. You could lie, tell the school that you are a different religion (many Catholic Schools will accept children of different religions because in a private school the bottom line is the fees) and ask for your child to be excused from RE. The other way is to carefully explain at every step of the way to your child that some people believe in things that are preposterous, there is the danger here that your child will come out with the immortal "But, my daddy told me that this is.........." and let the tiger out of its cage. The other problem is that I am sure that many RC schools have developed a "happy-clappy" approach modelled on the Mormon way of catching them early which is very effective with children and also adults who haven't encountered religion and built up the necessary mental anti-bodies to repel it as I saw to my horror in the PRC. To lighten things up here's the finest example I've seen of how RC theology appears to a child, I grew up and went to school very near to the man in the above link and although I was educated 40 years later than him, the nasty psychological RC cruelty hadn't changed a jot. Enjoy the video.

Tue, 08 May 2012 21:08:27 UTC | #940612

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 222 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Imagine if the Romans used the guillotine, or the noose, or the gas chamber? Lovely.

Good one. Imagine Christians making the sign of the noose to each other or clasping their throat for air.

Reminds me of the late great Bill Hicks line: "Do you think if Jesus comes back he's ever going to want to see another fucking cross? It's kind of like going up to Jackie Onassis with a sniper rifle pendant!". I never got the use of the cross either, as a small child I wondered who had been so unfortunate to get nailed to a plank in their underpants. Imagine you had a successful career, but the manner of your death was a little embarrassing, so it would be like sticking up a memorial to Elvis with him sitting on a toilet or a memorial to David Carradine hanging bollock naked in a cupboard. Your earlier point about personal memorials - they should be removed (although they might save counils a few quid sticking up danger signs as nothing makes you slow down on a bend more than knowing a few people got mashed there). And paramilitary memorials - they should also be removed and replaced with monuments to the civilians murdered (unless they're putting one to Bobby Sands in front of the NI Unislim HQ). Anyone who took up arms against 2 democratically elected states does not deserve a memorial.

On the one hand I think a weapon or vehicle would make a great memorial for members of artillery units or armoured cavalry units, on the other hand I don't feel a heavy machine gun would work for infantry, particularly as many infantry men in WW1 and WW2 died as a result of machine gun fire. So I think in the case of infantry men, particularly as the infantryman is the weapon, his equipment are simply tools, the monument should be an infantryman in full kit.

In the past they served to prevent people breaking taboos which might cause them to incur wrath of God or the Gods. They were intended to protect the would be blasphemer, lest they broke the taboo and the suffered.

I slightly disagree with this one. If you read the Abrahamic texts you'll find that much like Hitler, Stalin or Mao, their God was prone to collective punishments. So I beleive ancient blasphemy laws were designed to protect the whole community from the homicidal wrath of their God. I think modern blasphemy laws are only a little different, governments in the west have passed them or renewed them recently to protect the community from the homicidal wrath of those who think they are doing their God's work.

Fri, 04 May 2012 18:42:16 UTC | #939724

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 163 by cynicaloptimistrealist

You are kidding....right?

My apologies Amos, I re-read that section and it looks like nonsense. I was thinking more about point 5 as I was hungry enough to eat a farmers arse through a tennis racket when writing. Anyway despite it turning out as a steaming turd on the screen, the point was intended a little differently and should have been expanded so. I know that the mere mention of uprooting any war memorials in Europe would have veterans groups going ape, but (this is just an assertation) I think that the removal of the God element (or absence of it) wouldn't worry too many of them. I think that in Europe as a whole (again I could be wrong on this as I am just basing this on comparisons I have drawn between people I have known in the British, Swiss and US services) that there is less emphasis on the patriotic or nationalistic indoctrination and more emphasis on performing the tasks at hand in a professional manner.

I also believe that while many countries in Europe are anything but constitutionally secular, many people see religion as a private matter, so it is easier for atheist politicians and openly gay politicians to attain office and as a whole there are less positive religious references made by politicians in Europe.

Tue, 01 May 2012 19:56:53 UTC | #938792

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 140 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Shhhhhh, don't mention "it", I blame those damn tabs in Firefox, point 5 in my last post was meant for here. Back to the cross, don't waste the money lining the pockets of the lawyers and giving Fox viewers something to dribble over. On a dark evening, find a friend who can weld, weld on 4 legs extending from the intersection both straight up and straight down pointing away from the main body at 45 degree angles. Then to both sides you can truly say "it depends how you look at it", for the Christians they can see exactly what it is by looking at it straight on. If Athiests happen to pass just as they begin to mutter "a fucking cro.." quickly lead them off to a 45 degree angle and watch their faces light up as they exclaim "Oh, it's a tank trap, it's nice to see a monument to the engineer corps, they're so under-represented!!"

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 23:32:10 UTC | #938498

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 133 by cynicaloptimistrealist

I initially urged caution from an historic and public image point of view. I yeild to some of those who have countered my points in a logical and well reasoned manner. However, I still urge caution - for the following reasons:

1: Look how divisive this issue has been here. From some posts you can see that it has become quite emotional with ad hominems flying from some quarters. If, as can be resonably assumed (from other posts on other issues) that most of those against are not trolls, tainted by religious ideals, religious apologists or theists in disguise, then this issue is quite divisive among atheists (discounting the "no true atheist" argument, because to be an atheist one must only reject superstitious beliefs). If it's divisive among atheists, imagine how this is going to play out with agnostics and lapsed believers who politicians lovingly refer to as swing voters. Every organisation which wishes to further its causes should be interested in winning people over.

2: The opponents of secularism and humanism are in the majority, not just in the, US but throughout the world. So sometimes it's best to fight the bigger battles in more liberal areas, thus winning more people over and isolating the more socially backward areas. After all the Westboro Baptist view on homosexuality wouldn't have been out of step 50 years ago, now they're so isolated that they have to resort to inbreeding, pretty soon they'll "evolve" a 6th finger which would make for amazing organ playing at their Sunday meetings.

3: It's a military monument. In Europe that wouldn't be too much of an issue, but in the US where patriotism and God are heavily interwoven (the USMC Rifleman's Creed is just one such example) you could soon find veterans groups all over the US in shrill opposition. It could also have the unforseen result of further alienating groups like the MAAF.

4: In taking a case you are relying on the legal interpretation, which is fraught with danger in a society where a large proportion of lawyers and judges hold superstitious beliefs, there examples are too numerous to mention where clearly incorrect legal decisions were made based on interpretation. I'm not sure if you've factored in the possibility of a publicity hungry wealthy evangelistic group setting up a well funded defense campaign backed by veterans groups and accompanied by the usual dirty publicity campaigns that such groups use to silence their opponents.

5: Sausages - the 4 sided ones are best, provided they are made by good butchers using good ingredients and not the cheap supermarket ones containing horses scrotums, the fingers of a factory worker and the mouse that fell into the machine all wrapped in prophylactics which failed the quality control tests for their original purpose. The reason it is best - when shallow fried it cooks evenly and easily with all sides of the sausage reaching ths same golden shade (very very brown is my preferred state of readiness). You can keep the mash, for me serve it up with fried onions on a sesame bun smothered with HP and a line of wasabi down the sausage. Those who have enjoyed a well made cuboid sausage will understand.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 20:14:34 UTC | #938455

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 61 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Well in the states perhaps, but not in my part of the world. I'll start you off with my home town Carrickfergus....if you wade through the site at that link, out of over 60 memorials, there is 3 or 4 which take the form of a Celtic Cross.

Your part of the world isn't exactly 100 miles from my part of the world, well actually it's more or less exactly 100 miles. I think you'd agree that if Northern Ireland were to adopt a secular constitution (yes I know, more chance of Sir Gerard Adams and Lord Martin Mc Guinness leading the 12th festivities) most people would ignore the odd Celtic cross blocking the traffic or the odd "To the glory of God" etched into the side of a monument (which reminds me of the Wellington Monument on my own doorstep) in favour of tackling one of the real causes of disunity there which are the state funded sectarian schools. Speaking of the NI issues and going completely off topic, I was always amazed at how nationalists there were perfectly happy to take Her Majesty's social welfare payments in Her Majesty's money and then spend it in their local supermarket or off licence (because the cost of living in the Republic would make them truly green) thus paying VAT to HM Government, smacks of hypocrisy.

Indeed, in all likelihood you are right, but replacing the cross with a universal monument such as a sculpture of a 'Doughboy' something along the likes of this one HERE would've been more apt at the time, and if everyone is genuine about there purpose on this subject, then to do it now should pacify all parties involved, don't you think?

Absolutely, I suspect the town was as broke then as it is now, they probably wanted a heroic looking squaddie, went to the local monument maker with a drawing and said "We want this and change from $100", to which the response was "listen, $100 won't even touch what you're looking for, but I can sell you this within budget. I was trying to branch out into making tank traps for the war effort, didn't even get the other legs on before the bastards called a ceasefire."

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 01:29:20 UTC | #938081

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Atheism is a belief? Atheism is the explanation for the universe? I don't think that's quite right.

I should have clarified that, as opposed to theism, the rejection of a creator figure forces you to explore the origins of the universe and life because you are more inclined to reject simple explanations. As far as it being a belief, yes of course, even a belief based on evidence is a belief, just not a belief in the traditional religious parametres of accepting something as a "true" because others do.

Societies don't seem to have a problem with tearing down symbols when it suits though does it? I mean, all emblems of Nazism were removed at the end of WW2....signs of Saddam Hussain's regime were quickly destroyed when he got ousted. There was a vibrant trade in Communist statues after the break up of the USSR. Don't even mention the change in national flags. Sinn Fein want the removal of all things British in parts of N.I.

Absolutely correct, it was regarded as expedient to destroy the emblems of Nazism to prevent it flourishing again, for similar reasons with Saddam's Ba'ath regime. It would have been nice to leave some of those communist statues in place as they represented a siginificant period of time and history. As for Sinn Fein, they have always lived in some sort of dreamland, they ignore historic and demographic facts, not to mention their past brushing aside of the democratic will of the people. They originated from a pretty theocratic sectarian organisation, they were called "the Rosary Bead Brigade" by their opponents within republicanism during the early 1970s. Despite their current flirtation with inclusivity, I suspect that the heart of their membership still beats to a theocratic nationalistic drum.

The construction and destruction of a colonial landscape: monuments to British monarchs in Dublin before and after independence.

Personally I think that was a disgrace, George, William and Victoria sat there doing no harm, there was no danger of Neo-Colonialists using them as a rallying point to overthrow the republic. They were part of our shared history whether the theocratic, nationalistic, narrow minded individuals who ran the country into the ground from independence until the 1990s accepted it or not. It would have been better had the founders of the state accepted the past, not portrayed themselves as eternal victims of colonialism and got on with building a modern democracy.

I'm left wondering, would it still be petty if it was a big Crescent Moon, Star of David or Atheist 'A'? And would those believers and none believers alike that are defending this article of religious symbolism, be just as vociferous?

Why not have all 3 along with a Buddhist wheel on our monuments, then we can all agree that everyone is fully represented and lament together at how ugly the monument looks (joke). My attack on this FFRF stunt is that it is an historic monument and that it only serves to marginalise their cause. I think it is much more valuable to fight to remove the "One nation under God" and "In God we trust" which actually perpetuate the indoctrination of millions and result in the twinning of dangerous concepts such as nationalism and religion.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 17:34:07 UTC | #938014

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Next you'll be telling me that atheism is a religion.

Definitely not, but it is a belief, one I happen to think is the explanation for the universe.

Who gets to decide what is cultural relic and what is religious endorsement? The law decides.

The law is open to interpretation and my argument still stands that taking the local authority to court over this is a precious waste of time and resources.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 16:10:31 UTC | #938000

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Did you know there are 'Star of David' gravestones on fallen WW1 German soldiers that were Jewish, in German war grave cemeteries throughout France and Belgium? I've seen them myself, and they were left untouched during Nazi occupation during WW2. No one is suggesting that individuals religious beliefs should not be represented on their headstone for goodness sake, but to blanket represent all dead veterans with the symbol of the majority is wrong. How would you feel if it was a loved one of yours that the cross represents, if your loved one was not Christian?

I did and I too have seen them and I was quite surprised they were left untouched. I agree that the blanketing of veterans is wrong, but I also disagree with the energy being wasted on calls to move a historic monument.

As for the Mormons, it's laughable, their beliefs are as sound as the "Celestial Teapot" and if they want to make me a friend of their imaginery friend on their cosmic Facebook, that's fine by me. I'll still laugh at their stupidity and arrogance.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 15:54:21 UTC | #937995

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by cynicaloptimistrealist

Bollocks...you really should do the minimum of research (Google) before commenting.

On June 6, 1900, the bill to charter the American National Red Cross (ARC) was signed into law. Section 4, which ultimately was codified as 18 U.S.C. ยง706, protected the Greek red cross symbol by making it a misdemeanor for any person or association to use the Red Cross name or emblem without the organization's permission.

..and...

The earliest emblem of the Red Cross is a red Greek cross on a white background; it is often claimed to have been derived as the inverse of the Flag of Switzerland, which has a white Greek cross on a red background.

Hello Amos, I actually did an extensive Google search and came up with the same answer, but when I researched the Greek Cross I found:

"Used especially by Eastern Orthodoxy and Early Christianity Also known as the crux immissa quadrata. Has all arms of equal length and not much longer than the width. Often the arms curve wider as they go out."

So, as modern medicine traces its origins back to ancient Greece and the Christian hospitals founded by monks even though the original meaning of the symbol was different, the meaning changed. Why do you think that in Islamic countries a crescent is used and at one time a swastika was used in China? even in ancient Cultures medical treatment was linked to religious sites. So the symbol of the Greek cross was hijacked by Eastern Orthodox Christians and came to be associated with religion which in turn came to be associated with health care, whether we like it or not.

Why? Why was the cross seen as a cultural symbol of remembrance? Where would those setting it up as such ever get that idea from? Think about what you are saying.

I have thought about what I was saying and the answer is in my previous posts, the society at the time was generally religious and Christian so of course when remembering their fallen they stuck up huge ugly crosses everywhere. My argument is that we don't have to hide away every trace of that, is it not more mature to ignore it and say "At that time people were very superstitious"?

If you look at WW1 memorials there was a general trend towards crosses, by WW2 many of the monuments seem to be more secular and most recent ones seem to celebrate the lives of the soldiers and the sacrifice they made for their cause.

Behave yourself. Or get an emblem of every other 'fallen comrades' belief system put up alongside...simple enough in my opinion.

I totally agree, at that time you could safely assume that in a small white Rhode Island town that the soldiers were Christian.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 15:45:50 UTC | #937992

Go to: Rhode Island cross controversy - legitimate or petty?

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by cynicaloptimistrealist

The destruction of the Buddhas by the Muslims was not done to establish a progressive secular society. It was done because Muslims do not tolerate the Buddhist idea of God. They also rail against the Hindu idea of multiple Gods. Both of these religions are classified as pagan. In the Koran these are the Kaffar. This is what gives authority to the fundamentalists to destroy them as objects of idol worshipping.

This example is the very opposite of what is going on here with the cross at the fire station.

Hello again Laurie,

In response I would say that both are driven by belief, the destruction of the Buddhas by religious belief and the request to remove the cross by the belief that the cross is in contradiction with the First Amendment, one could argue it does, but one could also argue that at the time of its construction that the cross was the accepted symbol of memorial at the time and was not erected as a symbol of endorsment. If my local government were about to erect a cross, crescent, star of David or a Goat in the middle of public land today I would be the first person raising objections. Sometimes we have to concentrate on the here and now rather than revising planning decisions 90 years ago.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 15:06:09 UTC | #937986