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Jun 30

A report is in from Bolivia that there is a statue of Jesus in a church that is "weeping real tears."Of course, the devout are now flocking to the church, and church officials are declaring that it's a miracle.

Jun 30

Prof. Paul Allen of Concordia UniversityReligionists are those who see religion as beneficial or necessary for human existence and, therefore, something that should be preserved and protected. I recently visited Montreal, Canada, where the divide between secularists and religionists in academia is very much alive, at least in some institutions.                     Some of these religionists are theologians or professors trained in theology who occupy positions in secular universities. When some of them feel religion is threatened, they respond more as part of an ecclesial-academic complex than as secular analysts of religion. One example is Professor Paul Allen, an associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. His response to religious violence offers an excellent case study of how Christian and religionist apologetics represents itself as scholarship.Read more »

Jun 30

National PostTeacher accused of Islamophobic tweets connected to post about imposing ...National PostThe @firstatheist Twitter account's biography at one point linked to a blog titled “Emancipation,” which purports to be written by someone named Michael who describes himself as a teacher, atheist and free-thinker. An Aug. 24, 2014, post describes ...

Jun 29

Chimpanzees’ Bystander Reactions to Infanticide | Human Nature Unlike fundamentalist Christians, who proudly boast that they have to use their holy book to understand what's right and what's wrong, and so bizarrely claim to be more moral than people who don't need a handbook, it seems even chimpanzees understand the difference, either instinctively or through culturally-inherited memes. Ironically, this indicates that this ability may even have been present in the last common ancestor shared by chimpanzees and humans. This was the conclusion of a team from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, who allowed chimpanzees to watch various videos, some showing acts of chimpanzee violence including the hunting and killing of a colobus monkey, some peaceful activities and one showing chimpanzees killing an infant chimp. One manifestation of the human capacity to tell right from wrong is the way we stare at the unusual - the Bystander Reaction - the reason so many people watch gruesome or distressing videos on YouTube, Facebook, or slow down to get a good look as they pass the car-crash on the other carriageway. It seems that chimpanzees do the same. Abstract Social norms—generalized expectations about how others should behave in a given context—implicitly guide human social life. However, their existence becomes explicit when they are violated because norm violations provoke negative reactions, even from personally uninvolved bystanders. To explore the evolutionary origin of human social norms, we presented chimpanzees with videos depicting a putative norm violation: unfamiliar conspecifics engaging in infanticidal attacks on an infant chimpanzee. The chimpanzees looked far longer at infanticide scenes than at control videos showing nut cracking, hunting a colobus monkey, or displays and aggression among adult males. Furthermore, several alternative explanations for this looking pattern could be ruled out. However, infanticide scenes did not generally elicit higher arousal. We propose that chimpanzees as uninvolved bystanders may detect norm violations but may restrict emotional reactions to such situations to in-group contexts. We discuss the implications for the evolution of human morality. Claudia Rudolf von Rohr, Carel P. van Schaik, Alexandra Kissling, Judith M. Burkart. Chimpanzees’ Bystander Reactions to Infanticide. Human Nature, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s12110-015-9228-5 Having ruled out factors such as any tendency to be attracted by the screams of the infant, because they were also present in other videos, the only thing left was that the chimpanzees recognised something that was outside the accepted social norms - the very basis of social ethics. To be fair to fundamentalists, the belief that morality could only have come from a god, is a central religious apologetic 'proof' of the existence of one or other gods. It was one of C. S. Lewis's favourite 'proofs' he used in the much quoted Christian apologetic, Mere Christianity. It is still routinely trotted out for money to audiences of believers by people like William Lane Craig. It'll be amusing now to see how these people, and especially creationists, cope with the problem of simultaneously claiming that their morals were given them by a magic friend so they are the only ones who can tell right from wrong, with this evidence that it is an evolved ability which might well have been present even in the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees, and the evidence that chimpanzees can tell right from wrong without either a magic invisible friend or a book it allegedly wrote for the purpose. 'via Blog this' Income from ads will be donated to charities such as moderate centre-left groups, humanist, humanitarian and wildlife protection and welfare organisations. If you've enjoyed my blog please show your appreciation by giving to a great cause - Oxfam Be Humankind. Feed the world.

Jun 29

Anthony Colin Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney. Inconceibale tht he would not have approved the letter. Catholic church writes to companies that support same-sex marriage | World news | The Guardian The Catholic Church really doesn't get it. It's not just the paedophile priests and nuns, abuse of vulnerable adults, financial corruption, support for autocratic, right-wing dictatorships, the sale of 'confiscated' children, the systematic, sometimes brutal, cover-ups, the habitual avoidance of responsibilities for their crimes and casual hypocrisy of the church and it's clerics, bad though they are, that is causing people to vote with their feet and stay away from church. A recent survey, conducted by a concerned Catholic priest in the USA, found that a major cause of people leaving the faith was the opposition of the church to equality issues such as equal marriage rights for gay people, female reproductive rights and female priests (although what women would want to be a minister in a church of misogynistic bigots is beyond me). The massive rejection of Catholic moral authority, as seen in the recent Republic of Ireland referendum on same-sex marriage, signifies that what people are now rejecting overwhelmingly is not so much the stink of corruption and hypocrisy but what the Church itself stands for. What people are rejecting in droves is the dogma and doctrines of the Church itself, especially the sanctimonious condemnation and hate for anyone who isn't one of them. People are rejecting the notion that somehow the Christian churches (not just the Catholic one) own the institution of marriage, just as they would like to own education, law, politics, science, literature, theatre - everything in fact, at least in so far as it affects every detail of our lives. The extent to which the Catholic Church has failed to understand why it is losing the battle for support, can be seen in this crass and counterproductive attempt to influence moves to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia. In a crude attempt to threaten and bully businesses who had supported, or were thinking of supporting, a change to the Marriage Act, the business manager for the Sydney Roman Catholic Archdiocese wrote a letter worthy of any protection racketeer, pointing out: [The Catholic Church is a] significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international... [many] employees, customers, partners, suppliers [belong to the Catholic faith]... You are publicly supporting a strategic, political and well-funded campaign designed to pressure the federal government into changing the Marriage Act. I wonder whether you have questioned whether it is the role of a corporation such as yours to be participating in such an ­important matter that impacts all of Australian society now and into the future. For corporations to speak on such issues on behalf of shareholders, employees, clients/customers, suppliers and other stakeholders is indeed overstepping their purpose and is to be strongly resisted. It's inconceivable that this letter didn't cross the desk of the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, who replaced Cardinal Pell, currently living it up in Rome in his luxury apartment in an upmarket suburb, apartment provided and furnished with money from the Vatican whose finances he was brought in to sort out. The letter came as a response to the public endorsement of an open letter posted on the website of the gay right advocacy group, AME by the big four Australian banks, McDonalds, KPMG, Twitter, Qantas, Telstra and Airbnb. It seems though that it may have been counter-productive, as firms see the commercial benefit in being as dissociated from sanctimonious Catholic bigotry as possible and instead associated with enlightened Humanism. 72% of Australian marriages are now civil marriages and even 67% of Australian Catholics supported same-sex marriage in survey last year, yet the Catholic Church still feels it has the right to interfere and meddle not even as representative of a majority of its members, but as advocates of bigotry, hate, division and dogma. What the Catholic Church just doesn't get, is that modern Humanism is growing and developing, and above all moving forward, as old dogmas are examined and found wanting, to be replaced by better, more inclusive, less hateful and less divisive social ethics. Modern Humanism is able to do this with consummate ease because it doesn't require adherence to dogmas and doctrines because it is not a cult requiring an in-group and out-group mentality. The only test of a 'good' humanist ethic is if it increases the sum-total of human happiness, creates a more secure society in a balanced environment, and reduces strife and hate. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. What consenting adults do in private is no concern of anyone but the participants. Seeking to impose control over the bedroom activities of consenting adults, using the threat of punishment by an imaginary invisible friend from a Bronze Age superstitions, simply doesn't work on the vast majority of educated people nowadays. The Catholic Church is caught between ditching its dogma - and so ceasing to be Catholic - or continuing on its present road to irrelevance and the long-overdue refuse tip of old, irrelevant and risible ancient superstitions. 'via Blog this' Income from ads will be donated to charities such as moderate centre-left groups, humanist, humanitarian and wildlife protection and welfare organisations. If you've enjoyed my blog please show your appreciation by giving to a great cause - Oxfam Be Humankind. Feed the world.

Jun 29

Today Dr. Kirk wrote: As a New Testament scholar, I see my job as always listening first and foremost to the text in its historical context, and allowing its theology to be the first voice to which we respond. In the end, I will affirm creeds or confessions, if I do, because I believe they contain the right things to say at a given moment in time in which they were written, in light of what scriptures says. In this, I thought I was just being a normal biblical scholar. And Protestant. And Evangelical.However, a couple of my senior Bible colleagues found this disturbing. It was not enough to affirm that some confessions were correct. One had to start with the confessions and use them as hermeneutical guides in the strong sense. One had to like the idea that we define Christianity by what we believe. Integrity is crucial for both of us. I define integrity as being true to the historical critical scholarship and bringing that into theological dialogue with the church. They define integrity as being true to the “Grand Tradition of the Church” and allowing that to guide what we see in and say about history.So when I say, “The Synoptic Gospels show Jesus as an idealized human figure,” I have not said enough. If I cannot say, “And it also shows the divine Jesus, as we learn in the creeds,” I have articulated a theology that “is on a trajectory” away from our shared statement of faith. My senior colleagues and I give different answers to the question, How do we relate the Bible to the theology of the church? And this is one major reason why next year will be my last at Fuller. LINK.This is typical of a conservative creedal requiring institution, which leads me to say once again that Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!

Jun 29

Dr. Tom Oord, tenured professor of theology, was recently from fired from Northwest Nazarene University. NNU President David Alexander lied by saying "he was being terminated for economic reasons having to do with enrollment declines in the graduate division where Oord taught some of his classes." However, this last year NNU was "enjoying record enrollment and had been issuing press releases celebrating the overall financial health of the institution." Karl Giberson tells us the real reason he was fired:Oord was the university’s leading scholar, with 20 books on his CV; by most measures he was also the denomination’s leading scholar and one of a tiny number of Nazarene theologians whose reputations reached beyond evangelicalism. Oord had won multiple teaching awards and was wildly popular with students and respected by his colleagues. He had brought over a million dollars of grant money to the university—a remarkable accomplishment for a professor at a small, unsung liberal arts college. Oord, however, was controversial. He strongly supported evolution and had long been a target of creationists in the denomination. He embraced “open theism,” the view that God does not know the future but responds in love—rather than coercive control—to events as they occur, rather than foreordaining everything. Fundamentalist critics called him a heretic and had been vying for his termination for years.This is typical of a conservative creedal requiring institution, which leads me to say once again that Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!

Jun 29

LINK. I agree.

Jun 29

Voltaire NetworkMalthusian Atheist Enters Pontifical Academy Of SciencesVoltaire NetworkSupreme Court Rats Cabal Splinters Out of Fear of Popular Backlash over Healthcare Stripping; More Free Trade Sellouts Can Still Be Stopped, but only with 15% Protective Tariff; Anti-Establishment Mood Grows Among Primary Voters; Relentless Insanity of

Jun 29

Religion News ServiceAtheists politicians might be rare now, but not for longReligion News ServiceAtheists are still the least popular religious group in America, but they outrank socialists in a new poll of political favorability. That's bad news for presidential contender Bernie Sanders, a non-religious socialist. But it's not all doom and gloom ...

Jun 29

Letter: Plenty of atheists who have killed millionsSalt Lake TribuneDuring World War II, an avowed atheist, Adolf Hitler, was responsible for approximately 55 million war dead. These included 20 million to 25 million military killed, 5 million prisoners of war and the rest civilians who were killed due to famine ...

Jun 29

I love science, and am delighted with the progress we've made in understanding the universe.

Jun 28

Las Vegas Review-Journal'Atheist church' provides community without supernatural originLas Vegas Review-JournalPeople sing along to music during an event by the Sunday Assembly, an "atheist church," at UNLV in Las Vegas Sunday, June 14, 2015. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Follow Erik Verduzco on Twitter @Erik_VerduzcoErik Verduzco on Twitter @

Jun 28

TIMEThe Incredible True Story Behind 'Amazing Grace'TIMEAmazing Grace was written by an Englishman who in the early part of his life was an outspoken atheist, libertine, and slave trader. John Newton was born in London in 1725, the son of a Puritan mother and a stern ship commander father who took him to ...and more

Jun 28

In a region increasingly defined by its Islamic fundamentalism, Ismail Mohammed is vocal about his belief that there is no God. And he's discovering that he's not alone.

Jun 28

Daily BeastMeet The Middle Easts Atheist PreacherDaily BeastMohammed's show is part of a proliferation of pro-atheist channels, magazines and blogs across the Middle East is arguably the latest iteration of Arab Spring. When Arab youth once sought to overthrow regimes, they now are embracing small, more ...

Jun 27

BizPac ReviewVideo: Dr. Ben Carson's response to a Hollywood atheist is pretty darn funnyBizPac Review“I remember a few years back I was engaged in a debate in Hollywood with a leading atheist. This guy thinks anybody who believes in God is a total moron,” Carson told the crowd. “As they got to the end of the conversation, you know, he is denigrating

Jun 27

I'm sure that most of you know by now that in a landmark 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the nation.When I got up this morning, I noticed a few things that bear mention.The world still exists.God did not smite America.

Jun 27

The Bakersfield CalifornianSOUND OFF: An uptick in the atheist point of view in TBCThe Bakersfield CalifornianAs to the other comments you edited out, I do hope the next time you get editorializing from the atheist point of view about religion, and particularly Christianity (they don't dare mention Islam by name), being a source of trouble in the world you won ...

Jun 26

Breitbart NewsSelf-Proclaimed Atheist SE Cupp to GOP: You're Going to Be a Relic if You Don ...Breitbart NewsFriday on CNN's “Newsroom With Carol Costello,” conservative commentator SE Cupp urged her fellow Republicans to accept the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same sex marriage because she argued “it's the future” and if they don't she warned, “you're

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