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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gentleman's Agreement

I am currently in the middle of reading Ibn Warraq's book "Why I Am Not A Muslim" and I came across a passage that nicely expands on the reasons for why they (theists) fear us most of all:

Many European apologists of Islam of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a far greater knowledge of Islam and were, by contrast, devout Christians - priests, missionaries, curates - who realized that to be consistent they had to accord Islam a large measure of religious equality, to concede religious insight to Muhammad. They recognized that Islam was a sister religion, heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas; and Christianity and Islam stood or fell together. They knew that if they started criticizing the dogmas, doctrines, and absurdities of Islam, their own fantastic structure would start to crumble and would eventually crash around them.

As I've already demonstrated in my post Beware of the Dog, they fear us because we represent reality. But Ibn's point above explains why they would rather have their children marry someone of any other religious affiliation before marrying an atheist. Every theist knows deep down that his specific religious beliefs are just as unsupported as the next guy's, so criticizing someone else's beliefs would be tantamount to criticizing his own. Therefore, even though they may not see eye to eye on everything, most religions (and the various sects and denominations within a particular religion) have an unwritten agreement to show some tolerance toward each other in order to keep them from destroying themselves.

Thus, it is safer for a Christian to marry a Mormon or a Jew or a Muslim before marrying an atheist, because we will most likely call them on their bullshit.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Enough Is Enough

How much longer are the American people going to let the current criminals in the White House and their enablers in Congress continue to screw them over? If these same deceptive, illegal and treasonous acts had occured during the Clinton years, ol' Bill would be rotting in a prison cell right now and it wouldn't be cigars we was smoking.

I'm hopeful that the makeup of Congress will change in the upcoming election (the current polls seem to be going our way). But I'm also just as cynical that nothing will change. The opposition has a lot of money to spend and a lot of time left to find the perfect negative marketing campaign that works best to scare us into voting for our own bondage and servitude. And speaking of bondage and servitude, they apparently have God on their side as well.

But if Congress does go our way, I think we need to push the "I" word big time. If Congress can hold an impeachment trial over Clinton's fib about his sex life, then it is nothing short of a national disgrace if it can't manage the same for this president, with all the mounting evidence implicating Bush in crimes against not only the Iraqis but the American people as well.

To help create the impeachment buzz, I would like to direct your attention to the ITMFA website. The "IT" stands for "Impeach The". The "A" at the end is for "Already". I'll let you try to figure out the "MF" in the middle. A few hints. It's not "Moderate Fibber" or "Mindless Fundie".

P.S. I don't intend to do a lot of direct Bush bashing on this site. Not that I don't despise the giggling murderer any more than the rest of you. It's just that there are so many blogs out there that already do it way better than I ever could.
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Beware of the Dog

We have two dogs. One we refer to as the "good dog" and the other the "bad dog". The good dog is everything you could want in a dog. He gets along with other dogs and our cats (in fact, I have never seen him meet another animal he doesn't like) and he has a very even temperament. The bad dog on the other hand does not get along with other dogs, in fact, he can be very aggressive toward them. And he has a tendency to chase our cats too. He can also be unpredictable with people at times. He loves to bark and growl and show his fangs and basically put on a big show.

Having a bad dog can be good for keeping solicitors away, but it is generally a pain in the ass otherwise. So we decided to hire a professional dog trainer to help us control our bad dog. I always assumed that our bad dog just had an aggressive personality and we needed to learn how to control him. But much to my surprise, the trainer explained that in our case, the displays of agression, the big shows of dominance, were really the result of fear. Our bad dog isn't innately evil, he is just afraid of other dogs and his aggressive behavior is merely his way of saying "back off buddy, I'm afraid of you".

So allow me to break away momentarily from my dogs and bring your attention to the following study:

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority

Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

I don't think there is anything too surprising here. It seems to me that the general public's views toward atheists has been this way for some time now. But why? Why do religious people distrust atheists to such an extreme?

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

Yes, I agree, it is typical to hear Christians accuse atheists of not having any morals. How many times have we been asked why we don't just go around killing people since we have nothing to tell us right from wrong? But I'm not sure that fear of moral decline is the ultimate reason for such attitudes.

It is obvious that religion does not directly correlate with good behavior. I merely have to take a gander at the Black Collar Crime Blotter in my monthly issue of Freethought Today to see numerous examples of the pious acting immorally. Besides, the great majority of people in this country consider themselves to be religious. Unless I live in an alternate universe in which I travel exclusively in atheist circles, then of all the various people throughout my life who have wronged me in some way, the majority of them have been religious. Surely, religious people are not living in the same alternate universe either.

No, their fear is not based exclusively on our "lack of morals" or self-interest, for they also suffer from the same afflictions. And even though I think there are many illogical inconsistencies in their beliefs, I find it hard to believe that they fear themselves. Rather, their real fear, what scares them most about us, is that we offer a rational, believable alternative to their superstitions, one they cannot easily brush aside.

Ahh, I think I hear my bad dog barking again.

As you will recall, his aggression was out of fear. He shows his fangs and barks and growls because he fears what he is attacking. Likewise, when the religious attempt to malign us by claiming we have no morals or that we are only self-interested, they are on the attack as well. Their slander and insults are merely the barks and growls of a fearful dog. Their fear is knowing that our reality is the ultimate threat to their dogma.

So the next time a Christian accuses you of being morally deficient or not worthy of marrying one of their own, try to remember that like the aggressive dog, the Christian is really just afraid of you. He's saying "Back off buddy, I'm afraid you'll take a bite out of my superstitious beliefs and infect me with the truth".
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Thursday, March 23, 2006



1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.
2. To avoid violation of or interference with: respect the speed limit.

"Respect my beliefs". "We should respect other's beliefs". "You can't say that, you should respect their beliefs".

How many times have we heard something similar to the quotes above? Do we really need to respect everyone's beliefs, no matter how unfounded? Do we really need to respect the racist's views on minorities or the homophobe's views on gay marriage or the sexist's views on woman or the religious person's view on your impending eternal damnation?

Of course not.

"Respect my beliefs" has become a catch phrase for people who don't want to tolerate views other than their own. It is a way of stifling opposing viewpoints by implying that people who hold differing opinions from yourself are somehow discriminating against you.

Now let me clarify, I am not suggesting that we start stoning people in the middle of the town square because we don't respect their beliefs. You see, while I in no way feel obligated to respect your beliefs, I will always "respect your RIGHT TO HAVE your beliefs". Let me clarify. You are free to believe in the supernatural deity of your choosing. And while I am in no way obligated to respect your god, I will protect, defend and support your right to believe as you wish.

So let's take a look at our definition again and apply it to our distinction between "respecting your beliefs" and "respecting your right to have your beliefs".

1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.

As noted above, I have no obligation to defer to, show esteem for or view favorably anybody's beliefs. I have a right to disagree with, poke fun at, object to and find repulsive any beliefs that I feel are wrong, unfounded, discriminatory or illogical. But I do support your right to have your beliefs. See the difference? Beliefs themselves are fair game. Your right to have your beliefs is honored without question.

2. To avoid violation of or interference with: respect the speed limit.

I think this is where most of the confusion comes into play. Just what is interference or violation regarding beliefs? Is it even really possible to interfere with beliefs? I suppose some form of brainwashing can forcibly alter your beliefs, but I think that is an extreme case and not what most people mean by interfering with their beliefs.

I think many people equate having a right to their beliefs with having a right to practice (or express) their beliefs and view any restriction on those rights as interference with their right to believe. While I can certainly understand this viewpoint, we generally find it acceptable to place reasonable restrictions on people's rights to practice their beliefs when warranted, especially when the practice of such beliefs could be harmful to others or violates the law. Unless we are willing to allow that everybody has an unlimited right to practice their beliefs regardless of harm or law, it is impossible not to have some interference with practice of belief. But I don't think the various restrictions placed on people's ability to practice their beliefs demonstrate an intent to interfere with their right to believe merely for the sake of violating that right itself, but rather to comply with the law.

Likewise, dissent is not a violation of belief or interference with the right to believe. As noted earlier, I am free to criticize, expose as fraudulent or offer rational alternatives to any belief I disagree with and in doing so I am in no way infringing on the rights of anyone to have those beliefs. If this wasn't the case, if we had to hold our tongue out of respect, then we would never be able to speak out against injustice because we would always be attacking someone else's belief system.

So let's use an example to illustrate the above points. I know many Christians who feel that homosexuality is a sin. They believe homosexuals will not only be punished by God but should also not be allowed some of the various rights that heterosexuals take for granted (marriage, adoption, etc...). As should be obvious by now, I completely respect their right to have their beliefs, no matter how wrong I think they may be. I would love to be able to change their mind, but I in no way want to take away their right to believe that homosexuality is a sin.

But, I do not respect their beliefs about homosexuality. In fact, I think they are wrong. I might even refer to them as homophobes or bigots. And if they wanted to try and convert my friends, I would actively oppose them. But none of my actions would violate their right to believe that homosexuality is a sin. It may make them uncomfortable. It may make them unpopular. It may cause them to lose some friends. But as an atheist, I have only one thing to say to that: welcome to the club baby.

Likewise, if there is a law which states that you can't discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation and it applies to one of my Christian friends, then forcing them to comply with that law is also not a violation of their right to believe. They are free to continue to believe whatever they like about homosexuals, but they are not free to do harm to others by violating a law that protects people from discrimination.

So the next time someone plays the "respect my beliefs" card, you can safely toss it aside, knowing that you have them on the ropes and they are desperately holding on for the bell. You must respect their right to believe. You should probably conduct yourself in a respectful manner. But you do not have to respect their beliefs.
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Monday, March 20, 2006

Holy War

Afghan Christian Could Get Death Sentence

An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death on a charge of converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under this country's Islamic laws, a judge said Sunday.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam."

Now, why does the Afghan judge's "It is an attack on Islam" remark sound so familiar? I just can't put my finger on it. Maybe it has something to do with following:

Vision America's "The War on Christians" Conference (props to God is for Suckers!)

Some of the panels in this conference include:

- The ACLU And Radical Secularism: Driving God From The Public Square
- The Judiciary: Overruling God
- Jews Confront The War On Christians
- The Media: Megaphone For Anti-Faith Values

Many Christians throughout this country seem to be suffering from a disorder that, while it seems to be a recent phenomenon, has actually been around for just over 2000 years and which I like to refer to as "Christian Persecution Complex". There are a variety of things which can trigger this affliction, such as:

- Supporting equal rights for EVERYONE
- Defending EVERYONE's civil rights
- Creating a government based on a secular constitution
- Representing EVERYONE in the media

Being as I am such a kind and loving person (almost Christ-like, if I may be so bold), I just can't stand to see so many persecuted Christians suffering this unbearable attack on their beliefs. So, in order to help our Christian friends fight this epidemic, I suggest the following:

- Instead of supporting the ACLU while it defends Christian's civil rights, please vote for politicians who are willing to give the current Jesus in the White House unlimited power to spy on the godless Quakers.

- Rather than watching those evil liberal left-wing radical secular humanist cable news channels, please watch FOX News and the 700 Club instead. (Update: you can safely ignore this one since no one has ever been able to find an evil liberal left-wing radical secular humanist cable news channel)

- When playing the Chinese fortune cookie game where you add "in bed" to the end of the fortune, please add "with Jesus" instead (e.g. "Good things come in small packages in bed with Jesus").

- Get a copy of the constitution and replace every instance of "the United States of America" with "Our Lord Jesus Christ".

We the People of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for Our Lord Jesus Christ.

- When approaching a river, stream or large body of water, ask yourself "What Would Jesus Do?" (If you don't know how to swim, then ask yourself "What Would Noah Do?" instead).

We may never find a cure for Christian Persecution Complex, but every little bit we can do to make our Christian brothers and sisters feel more comfortable and ease the pain of the relentless attack on their beliefs will help immensely. Won't you do your part today?
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Friday, March 17, 2006

Honesty is the Best Policy

As Homer Simpson once said: "You know me Marge, I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexuals flaming."

And I like my Christians evangelical.

That is why Jerry Falwell is such a breath of fresh air. He isn't afraid to tell it how it is. I respect a man who stands up for his convictions.

Earlier today, reports began circulating across the globe that I have recently stated that Jews can go to heaven without being converted to Jesus Christ. This is categorically untrue.

You see, he doesn't tip-toe around on broken egg shells. You don't have to read anything in to what he says. There are no secret meanings or double entendres.

While I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel and dearly love the Jewish people and believe them to be the chosen people of God, I continue to stand on the foundational biblical principle that all people — Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc. — must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven.

Uh oh, I was worried there for a second. The opening of that sentence is a little too "Jesus loves you" for me. You know what I mean. Those people who go around saying "love the sinner, hate the sin". Give me a break. If God is willing to punish them in hell for all eternity without any chance of redemption, then why would hating them be any worse. In fact, I would much prefer to be hated here on earth than to burn in hell for eternity. I consider hate to be step up from eternal damnation. Besides, we all know that hate is more of a motivator than love. The carrot can't dangle in front of us without the stick.

In this age of political correctness and diversity, the traditional evangelical belief that salvation is available only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is often portrayed as closed-minded and bigoted. But if one is to believe in Jesus Christ, he must believe in His words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). I simply cannot alter my belief that Jesus is The Way to heaven, as He taught.

Thank you for addressing my concerns above. Yes, it's about time we stop caving in to political correctness and diversity. As painful as it may be, the closed-minded and bigoted truth must be told.

I want to reaffirm that I am a Zionist in terms of Israel’s entitlement to its homeland. I continue to pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, as the Bible instructs Christians to do. And I have dedicated my life and ministry to working for the peace of Israel. I dearly cherish the highly esteemed Jabotinsky Award which was given me in 1981 by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. I have led thousands of pilgrims through the Land Of Israel during my 31 tours over 36 years. I seriously believe that few Americans have invested more time and resources in the defense of Israel in this generation.

You're backsliding again Jerry. There is no need to defend your beliefs, you have Jesus on your side. Whether you are helping pilgrims steal land from Palestinians or stealing money from little old ladies sitting in front of their TVs, your message is pure.

However, I simply cannot alter my deeply-held belief in the exclusivity of salvation through the Gospel of Christ for the sake of political or theological expediency.

Like the Apostle Paul, I pray daily for the salvation of everyone, including the Jewish people.

Can I get a hallelujah? And nice touch "including the Jewish people", because it does seem like we sometimes forget that Jews are people too.

We need more Christians like Jerry if we are going to win the religious arms race. For God's sake, Muslims are willing to kill themselves for their beliefs. That must be some marketing campaign. How are we going to keep up with that unless we start promoting all the good things that Jesus has to offer?
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The Carrot or the Stick?

Missouri House rejects spending for birth control

Missouri stopped providing money for family planning and certain women's health services when Republicans gained control of both chambers of the Legislature in 2003.

But a Democratic lawmaker, in a little-noticed committee amendment, had successfully inserted language into the proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that would have allowed part of the $9.2 million intended for "core public health functions" to go to contraception provided through public health clinics.

The House voted 96-59 to delete the funding for contraception and infertility treatments after Rep. Susan Phillips told lawmakers that anti-abortion groups such as Missouri Right to Life were opposed to the spending.

Their logic boggles the mind. Let me see if I understand this correctly:

1. You're an anti-abortion group called Missouri Right to Life.
2. Assuming you live up to your name, you oppose abortion.
3. But you apparently also oppose helping women get access to contraceptives which would prevent the need for abortion in the first place.

Maybe I am missing something here? Let's read on, shall we.

The family planning program that was canceled in 2003 had provided state grants for women's health care services. Anti-abortion lawmakers had battled in court for years to try to prevent that money from going to Planned Parenthood, which also provides abortions.

This year's provision, inserted by Rep. Margaret Donnelly, D-St. Louis, would have avoided the Planned Parenthood controversy by only providing contraception through public health clinics. It primarily would have affected women who lack private insurance but who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, which provides contraception under federal rules.

So Donnelly was trying to bend over backwards to appease the "pro-lifers" and they still wouldn't budge. I don't get it? The funding was targeted to public health clinics only (which I'm assuming in Missouri do not provide abortions). If I were a member of Missouri Right to Life, I'd be all over this. It is the best of both worlds: no funding for abortion and prevention of abortion.

There must be something else to this? Let's continue.

"If you hand out contraception to single women, we're saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that," Phillips, R-Kansas City, said in an interview.

OK, now I see the problem.

Susan, your lack of political savvy is appalling, but I can understand your confusion. When I think of "women who lack private insurance but who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid" I automatically assume they are single as well. And that might have very well been the case back in the good old days we all long for. But today, for whatever reason, a lot of women who lack private insurance but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid are actually married. So in effect, you are alienating a percentage of your constituency by implying that they are single and promiscuous (they go hand in hand after all) when they are really just poor. And you and I both know that you don't want to alienate poor voters, not in this economy. As the wealth continues to concentrate into fewer and fewer hands, Republicans will need all the poor voters they can get.

So I'm going to offer you some advice to get you out of the mess you have created. Instead of outright denying funding for contraceptives, why not just attach a rider to the Democrat's proposal requiring that a woman be married before she can get contraceptives? You can't miss, it's a win-win for everyone.

1. You won't alienate all those poor married women whose support you are going to need in the future.

2. You are promoting traditional family values by encouraging single women to get married.

3. You are defending the sanctity of marriage. Women who have access to contraceptives will have less worry about unwanted pregnancy. Thus, they will be more willing to fullfill their wifely duties and then their husbands won't need to look elsewhere.

4. You are promoting sound economic policy. Fewer poor children equals less government handouts which means even more tax breaks for everyone.

Oh yeah, I guess there is that whole thing about reducing the number of abortions, which I'm sure you support 100%. The thing is though, if you push that angle, then people are going to start asking why you don't want to reduce abortions for poor single woman as well? While this question may seem logical, they just don't understand that abortion isn't the primary focus here. Encouraging Family Values is the real issue. So just keep repeating the spin: "Family Values will encourage marriage. Married women will be able to get contraceptives. Contraceptives will keep dad happy." But if at all possible, don't bring up the abortion issue if you can avoid it. You're a little weak on this one.

So let's go over this one more time. Punishing the poor is out (at least overtly), it only alienates potential voters. Encouraging marriage is good, it plays to those traditional heartland values. Rewarding married women with contraceptives not only allows you to score much needed political points, but it allows you to continue to punish single women who should know better.

You see, a win-win for everyone.
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

This one is for all the ladies out there

A helpful guide to proper ladylike feminine womanly behavior from the good people at the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

We believe the Bible teaches that God means the relationship between husband and wife to portray the relationship between Christ and His church. The husband is to model the loving, sacrificial leadership of Christ, and the wife is to model the glad submission offered freely by the church.

Submission refers to a wife's divine calling to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband's guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership.


In the home, Biblical headship is the husband's divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike leadership, protection, and provision.

Headship bears the primary responsibility for the moral design and planning in the home, but the development of that design and plan will include the wife (who may be wiser and more intelligent).

Well, at least they threw in that whole wiser and and more intelligent part. Kudos to you ladies.

Thus we believe that there is good reason to affirm the enduring validity of Paul's pattern for marriage: Let the husband, as head of the home, love and lead as Christ does the church, and let the wife affirm that loving leadership as the church honors Christ.

You hear that ladies. Men are willing to be so gracious as to let you affirm your subordinate role in the family. With friends like that...?

We would say that the teaching inappropriate for a woman is the teaching of men in settings or ways that dishonor the calling of men to bear the primary responsibility for teaching and leadership.

But I'm sure you ladies would have no trouble find teaching jobs at either a beauty academy or culinary institute.

Yet not even well-educated Priscilla, nor any other well-educated women in Ephesus, were allowed to teach men in the public assembly of the church: writing to Ephesus, Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man" (1 Timothy 2:12). The reason was not lack of education, but creation order.

Sorry ladies, you drew the short straw on that one. But I guess we now know which came first; the egg, not the chicken.

OK, I have to stop now. It was funny at first, but now it is just too painful to continue reading through. If you have the stomach for it, more power to you. Me? I think I've got my God given right to a foot massage coming.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

God Complex

Here we go again, Washington Considering 'Pharmacist Refusal' Proposal.

ATTENTION PHARMACISTS. YOU ARE NOT DOCTORS. If you were, you would be the one's writing the prescriptions instead of filling them.

I don't mean to demean the profession in any way. Pharmacists play a valuable role in the process. But their role is limited. Good pharmacists understand their role and don't overstep their bounds.

So let's elaborate a little on the difference between a doctor and a pharmacist. I go to the doctor for advice on my health and for help with making decisions about any problems I may have. I go to the pharmacist to fill any prescriptions that my doctor may have given me for treatment. Do you see the difference here? I actively seek advice/treatment from my doctor, not from the pharmacist.

Now I do appreciate the fact the pharmacist may be able to recommend an equivalent alternative that would be better or cheaper. And I really appreciate it when the pharmacist warns me about taking it without food or asks me if I am taking any other medications to make sure I don't have any reactions. But this is not advice about medical decisions made between me and my doctor. This is helping me carry out those decisions in a safe manner.

Feel free to browse the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists. There is a lot of interesting stuff in there, but nowhere can I find an allowance for pharmacists to overrule the decision making of the doctor-patient relationship. In fact, there are a lot of things about respecting the rights of the patient:

a pharmacist promises to help individuals achieve optimum benefit from their medications, to be committed to their welfare, and to maintain their trust.

A pharmacist is dedicated to protecting the dignity of the patient. With a caring attitude and a compassionate spirit, a pharmacist focuses on serving the patient in a private and confidential manner.

In all cases, a pharmacist respects personal and cultural differences among patients.

A pharmacist avoids discriminatory practices, behavior or work conditions that impair professional judgment, and actions that compromise dedication to the best interests of patients.

So if a woman and her doctor decide that a perfectly legal drug is the best treatment, then by their own code of ethics, the pharmacist has a duty to fill that prescription. If a pharmacist cannot fullfill his/her duty, then he/she needs to find another line of work.

But what about pharmacists' rights? You can't force them to do something they are morally opposed to? This is a free country after all, isn't it?

If you are a pacifist, you shouldn't join the armed forces. If you are a militant vegetarian, you shouldn't work in a steak house. Surely, I am not the only one who realizes that doctors prescribe birth control and morning after pills to women.

If you are a pharmacist and you don't like the fact that there is a drug available to prevent conception and you can't uphold your own code of ethics to respect the patient's right to make perfectly legal medical decisions for herself, then you need to find another profession because you have proven that you are incapable of handling the responsibilites of your own.

If you want to help make medical decisions for other people, then go back to medical school. If you want to play God, then go to church. But leave your own morality out of the patient-doctor decision making process because you have no right to play doctor or God behind the counter.

Updated 3/16/2006

God-Doctor says: I'm not denying a woman the right to get the morning after pill. I'll happily recommend another pharmacist who will fill her prescription.

You pharmacists are as spineless as those pro-lifers who are willing to let women murder their babies if they were raped. For God's sake, stand up for your principles and beliefs. If you were involved in a plot to murder someone, but you actually didn't pull the gun, does that still not make you guilty? How can you sleep at night knowing that you contributed to the killing of an innocent life?
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Burden of Proof

There is a quijibo living in my house. Prove to me that it does not exist!

You can't. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to prove to me that it doesn't exist. You can use all your fancy scientific methods of observation to try and prove me wrong, but you will never convince me because I had a personal revelation a few days ago in which the quijibo made himself known to me. Science can explain a lot, but it can't explain the supernatural. So don't even try to convince me otherwise. I know the quijibo exists and you are merely anti-quijiboan if you say otherwise.

Now of course you don't have to prove that my quijibo doesn't exist. Why should the fact that I concocted an entity known to me as a quijibo burden you to prove that it doesn't exist? There are an unlimited amount of supernatural phenomenon I could dream up which you have never considered before. Should you be required to prove that each and every one of them does not exist in order to know that they don't exist? Are you not reasonable in stating that my quijibo doesn't exist until I can prove that it does?

OK, so I'm the only one who believes in a quijibo. It is easy to write me off as a nutcase. But what if we replace my supernatural entity with another one, one that has a much bigger following. You know who I'm talking about, the big man in the sky. Does the fact that more people believe in God than in my quijibo shift any of the burden of proof on to the non-believer to prove that God doesn't exist? Are we not still just as justified to say that God doesn't exist as we are to say that my quijibo doesn't exist?

Just as with my quijibo, the default and rational position is that God doesn't exist until proven otherwise. There is definitely a comfort in numbers, but appeal to the masses (tradition) is not a valid argument for theism for the same reason that personal revelation is not valid, they are both too subjective to be used as proof. Whether one or one billion believe in some supernatural concept, the burden of proof is still completely on the believer and the reasonable and rational default position is that it doesn't exist.

In fact, it has to be this way in order for religion to exist in the first place. For example, does the Christian need to prove that every other supernatural god created, or that could be created does not exist? Does he need to prove that my quijibo is not the supreme ruler of the universe? No. The default and rational position is that all those other supernatural entities do not exist. If this weren't the case, if he were forced to prove that all other gods did not exist in order to justify his own belief, then he would never be able to believe in his own god because it would be impossible to disprove all the others just as he would claim it is impossible for atheists to disprove his own.

Just as the burden of proof does not shift to the Christian with regards to other gods, it does not shift to the atheist with regards to any gods. The default and rational stance is that no gods exist until proven otherwise. The only difference between the Christian and the atheist is that the Christian is willing to accept anecdotal proof for belief in his God while atheists are not (or for any supernatural god for that matter).

One more time, repeat after me. The burden of proof is on the believer and the rational position is that supernatural entities do not exist until proven otherwise.
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Monday, March 06, 2006

Common Courtesy

Paul Kurtz had an editorial in the Dec/Jan 06 issue of Free Inquiry magazine (which I highly recommend) about the Pursuit of Excellence, in which he states:

... if an open democratic society cherishes the right of privacy, at the same time it needs to encourage the cultivation of excellence and nobility. It should endeavor to raise the levels of taste and appreciation by means of education and persuasion.

According to Kurtz, this goal can be accomplished through moral education (develop moral character and reasoning), cultural education (elevate aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity) and the development of intellectual talent (a good liberal arts education).

Well, I would like to suggest an additional target be included with the three above; teaching common courtesy. I think if we can bring back a lot of the little niceties and polite behavior that we seem to have forgotten, the world will be a much better place for everyone.

While I'm sure everyone has their own pet peeves, here are some of my favorites:

Please keep your gum to yourself. If you're in your own house, or car, or by yourself on a desert island, by all means, chew as much gum as you want. But when you are with other people, please swallow it or get rid of it. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to hear you chewing your gum, especially when you are oblivious to all the snap, crackle and popping produced by your chewing. When I'm in a movie theater and I can't hear the dialogue over your gum chewing, you have the problem, not me. And your coworkers will thank me, because trust me, they are about ready to go postal on your ass after having to listen to you for the past 10 years.

Please eat with your mouth closed. Not only is the sound of your smacking just as annoying as gum chewing (see above), but the sight of saliva-drenched, half-chewed food in your mouth is downright repulsive. Trust me, I'm doing you a favor here. I've known people who have lost business deals over lunch because their table manners were so atrocious. Cows chewing their cud belong in a field, not at the dinner table.

Ask for permission, don't assume you have it. For example, if you are selling your house and you want to put a for sale sign on my front yard because I have a good location, all you have to do is ask. You see, I spend a lot of money paying a yard service to keep my lawn looking nice. Therefore, I don't want a for sale sign right in the middle of my yard, ruining the aesthetic beauty. Thus, I will be more than happy to let you put your sign in my yard, but it will be over toward the side yard. And if you insist on putting your sign up anyway without asking me, don't get angry when I move your sign or throw it in the trash.

OK, this one may be a little controversial, but I think that people should at least make an effort not to bring their cold/flu symptoms with them to work or other public places. I realize that we can't avoid getting sick and I understand that there will be symptoms such as runny noses, coughing, etc... I'm not asking for a complete sickness free environment. But there are over the counter medications that will help alleviate your symptoms and make you feel better at the same time (you see, we both win). You could try blowing or wiping your nose every once in a while instead of trying to create the biggest snot-loogey known to man. There is a difference between someone making an attempt to keep their symptoms down to a reasonable level and those who just let it all out without concern for the others around them.

Flush the toilet in public restrooms. If you are a germophobe, then use your foot. Seriously, were you born in a barn?

Don't barge into elevators. Guess what? There may be some people who want to get off on the very floor you are standing on. It's going to be kind of hard for them to exit when you are blocking the door. I've nearly lost teeth from head on collisions. If you have a problem restraining yourself, just remember this simple rule, "You are not the only one in the building".

Please feel free to leave your own suggestions. Together, we can make the world a nicer place.
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rape and Incest

Miss. House Advances Bill to Ban Abortion

OK, no surprises here. Mississippi seems like it might be the type of place where women are treated like second class citizens.

The measure, which passed the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday, would allow abortion only to save a woman's life. It would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Barbour, a Republican, said he preferred an exception in cases of rape and incest, but if such a bill came to his desk: "I suspect I'll sign it."

Heck, I'm surprised they even made an exception for the woman's life. Most pro-lifers believe that life begins at conception and thus the fetus has the same rights as any other person because it is a protectable life. So why should anyone be surprised that there would be no exceptions for rape and incest? After all, it is not the fetus' fault that it was the product of rape or incest. Wouldn't the fetus have the same rights as any other person, regardless of how it was conceived. If the woman was raped, she will just have to accept the fact that she must act as an incubator for some baby she never asked for because that baby has just as much a right to life as she does.

So why are some pro-lifers willing to make an exception in the case of rape and incest? Why is it OK to terminate a fetus (which remember, has the same rights as any other person and is a completely innocent bystander) in these circumstances but not because someone's birth control failed or because the woman is in an abusive relationship or because the woman is a teenager who is not capable of taking care of a baby or just because it is not the right time to have a baby? Seems to me that if you start going down the slippery slope of allowing some abortions then you are opening up the flood gates for unlimited abortion. Just ask those valiant warriors battling to protect the institution of marriage.

Should the life of a woman trump the life of an innocent fetus? Who gets to play God and decide which one lives and which one dies? Put yourself in the place of an innocent fetus (which, in case you have forgotten, is a person with the same rights as any other person). Would you want someone else making life and death decisions about you? Wouldn't you deserve a fighting chance? Besides, if a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, can't we all be comforted that it was part of God's Plan?

I would be suspicious of any pro-lifer who does favor exceptions in the fight to save innocent fetuses babies people. If they can justify the killing of the innocent in certain circumstances then surely they are animals capable of leading us into the next holocaust.

Updated 3/4/2006

Senator Bill Napoli from South Dakota supports the murder of innocent people.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

So you have no problem allowing a religious virgin to murder her baby, eh Bill? I guess her baby is shit-out-of-luck and doesn't even deserve as much protection as a crack whore's baby? You make me sick you hypocrite. If a teenage slut can survive the physical and emotional trauma of rape, surely God's loving grace will heal the wounds of an innocent virgin. Stop turning your back on the unborn. Uphold the sanctity of life and force that girl to give birth to that baby.
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

State Religion

Appeals Court Denies Stay Of Legislative Prayer Ruling

A federal appeals court is refusing to temporarily lift a judge's order banning prayers during Indiana House proceedings from mentioning Jesus Christ or endorsing any particular religion.

House members have been complying with the order by meeting for informal prayers in the back of their chambers before official business begins.

Am I the only one missing something here or have they already found a solution to this problem? Why can't they just continue to hold their private prayer meetings in the back of the chambers? Are their prayers any less meaningful if they are done there instead of in front of the House? Will God only listen to their prayers if they are presented during official House proceedings? Do they need to force their prayers upon the entire House in order to validate their own beliefs?

It is impossible to be all-inclusive when it comes to religion. If we let the Christians have a prayer then we have to let the Jews have a prayer, and also the Muslims, oh, and what about the Mormons and the Jehova's Witnesses, and don't forget the Scientologists and the Satanists, and did I mention the Pagans, the Wiccans and the Seventh Day Adventists, and it would be rude to exclude Hindus and Taoists.

I know, let's just create a generic prayer that doesn't reference any religion in particular. Well, if I were religious, I'd consider a watered-down prayer designed not to offend anyone to be a slap in the face. If I really believed in the power of prayer, I would want my prayers to reflect my beliefs. And if that meant praying to Jesus, then I surely would not settle for leaving him out.

It is obvious why atheists cry foul whenever a breach occurs in the separation of church and state, but I would argue that theists should be just as concerned. State sanctioned religion can never be all-inclusive. And a generic religion includes almost no one. So why settle for some bureaucrat's idea of what religion should be when you can have it exactly the way you want it in the privacy of your own prayers?
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