Combating the Defamation of Religion

The world just keeps sliding slowly into a quagmire of human rights abuses.  Ireland recently passed a Blasphemy law that prohibits anyone from talking bad about another’s religion and wouldn’t you know it the Muslims are behind it.  In most (or probably all) Muslim controlled countries it’s against the law to write or speak against the religion or its founder Muhammad…fact is it’ll probably get you killed.

The United Nations has this non-binding resolution on “Combating the Defamation of Religion” that is intended to curtail speech that offends religion — particularly Islam.  Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the measure to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 1999. It was amended to include religions other than Islam, and it has passed every year since.

The non-binding Resolution 62/145, which was adopted in 2007, says it “notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.”  It “stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement of religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently came out strongly against this resolution and laws around the world that make religious defamation a crime, saying that freedom of speech and religion should be equally upheld.

“Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called ‘anti-defamation’ policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion,” she said

“I strongly disagree. The United States will always… stand against discrimination and persecution… But an individual’s ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others’ freedom of speech,” Clinton said.

“The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faith will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse,” she added.

Other critics of the resolution believe this is a dangerous threat to freedom of speech everywhere.  There are some religious groups and free speech advocates banding together to fight this resolution which they say is being used to spread Sharia Law in the Western world and will intimidate those who would criticize Islam.

“It’s obviously intended to have an intimidating effect on people expressing criticism of radical Islam, and the idea that you can have a defamation of a religion like this, I think, is a concept fundamentally foreign to our system of free expression in the United States,” said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Kevin Hasson, who is founder and president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm in Washington that opposes the resolution says “It is a slap in the face of human rights law.”

“The whole idea of the defamation of religion is a Trojan horse for something else,” Hasson said. “When you talk about defamation, you talk about people being defamed and people being libeled, but ideas can’t be defamed. Ideas don’t have rights, people have rights.”

He added that “the resolution is a shield for Islamic fundamentalists who retaliate against perceived offenses and want to make Islamic Sharia law the law of the land.” He said the resolution passes under the guise of protecting religion, but it actually endangers religious minorities in Islamic countries.”

“It provides international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, and there are a number of people who are in prison today because they have been accused of committing blasphemy,” said Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

We have to remember that many of the governments that are pushing this idea are not democratic governments.  Citizens of Egypt or Pakistan who have been two of the prime ringleaders of this movement, are frequently put in prison or arrested for blasphemy or other “crimes” against the Muslim religion, and even if they’re not arrested (rare), the fear of being arrested creates an environment of self-censorship.”

Western democracies are arguing that a religion cannot enjoy protection from criticism because that would require a judicial ruling that its teachings are the “truth.” (I can see fundamentalists jumping all over this)

“Defamation carries a particular legal meaning and application in domestic systems that makes the term wholly unsuitable in the context of religions,” the U.S. government responded on the issue to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We probably won’t have a problem here in the US with this absurd law because of our Constitutional Right of Free Speech, but you never know, look at what George Bush did to our most precious document.  And by the way, it’s still being abused because most of Bush’s presidential decrees that usurped some constitutional laws haven’t been rescinded.

Look out if you travel overseas though.

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Your God Can’t do S….!

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible [is] a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” Albert Einstein

Leo Pardus, writing over at the De-Conversion blog Here has a great piece up. He lists (most) all the things that your God CANNOT do, and that’s in addition to never answering anyone’s prayers.

Below is a small sample.

Your God cannot:
“Give his church enough unity, sense, inspiration, drive, integrity, or guts to ‘accomplish such good works as to shame people of their slander’, or to ‘withstand the gates of hell’, or to ‘overcome the world’, or to ‘keep the unity of faith’, or to do anything else that he said the church should do. (What a great founder and guide!)”

If you go to the site…I urge you to read the post slowly and ponder what he is saying.  The whole list is completely true and speaks volumes about the lack of truth of the old Jewish myths.  Me and most other atheists have been saying these things for years, but never in such a manner that your mind can wrap around so quickly and completely.


Karen Armstrong’s latest book, “The Case for God”, New York: Knopf, 2009 Reviewed in the November/December issue of Foreign Policy magazine has a great line that has me wondering if it was a Freudian slip, as she is very much on the side of religion.  …

She says:”Homo sapiens is also Homo religiosus. As soon as we became recognizably human, men and women started to create religions. We are meaning-seeking creatures.”  (my Emphasis)

Now, this I have been saying for 50 years…we humans created (i.e. made up) religion…not God, glad to finally have someone relatively famous agree with me.  Well, I know most of my readers agree with me, and some are famous  🙂

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Some Atheists Believe in Religion…New Books

A new bunch of atheist books are hitting the bookshelves.

Bruce Sheiman says he doesn’t believe in God, but he believes in religion.  Ignoring the question about whether God exists he argues that the benefits of religion outweighs the cost in his new book, An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off With Religion Than Without It.

In an interview with writer Daniel Burke of Religion News Service, Sheiman said: “I don’t know if anybody is going to be able to convince me that God exists, but they can convince me that religion has intrinsic value.”

“More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision,” Sheiman says.

“Faith provides meaning and purpose for millions of believers, inspires people to tend to each other and build communities, gives them a sense of union with a transcendent force, and provides numerous health benefits,” Sheiman argues.

The last few years has seen an abundance of in-your-face books by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens who argue that belief in God, or any religion, is akin to being slightly crazy or worse.  But, throughout time there have been defenders of religion who may not believe in the religion per se, but recognize its cultural benefits.

Some really evil people in the Dark Ages criminalized non-belief  and you could lose your livelihood and/or life if you didn’t believe, and of course if you are a Muslim you’re screwed if you try to renounce your faith nowadays…this is the down-side of any religion…let them get in control and all benefits go away.

Greg M. Epstein, chaplain at Harvard University argues in his new book, Good without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, that morality does not depend on a judgmental deity and that nonbelievers can lead meaningful, even purpose-driven, lives, but they can also learn from people of faith.

“When our goal is erasing religion, rather than embracing human beings, we all lose.” Epstein says.

“Atheists too, can be a blessing for believers,” says co-founder and co-leader of New York’s interreligious Faith House Manhattan and author of It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian, Samir Selmanovic, “Atheists are “God’s whistle-blowers,” who keep believers honest and focused on the here-and-now,” Selmanovic added.

No one expects the God debate to end any time in the near future, but in the meantime, perhaps we can disagree a little more agreeably…or not. 🙂

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Free Will is an Illusion

Free will is an illusion. It is synonymous with incomplete perception. —Walter Kubilius

A single uncaused cause could destroy the universe.
“Everything that happens is followed by something else which depends on it by causal necessity. Likewise, everything that happens is preceded by something with which it is causally connected. For nothing exists or has come into being in the cosmos without a cause. The universe will be disrupted and disintegrate into pieces and cease to be a unity functioning as a single system, if any uncaused movement is introduced into it.” Chrysippus

Is God an uncaused cause?…yes he is according to Christian theology.

The puzzle of free will and moral responsibility
“Everyone believes himself a priori to be perfectly free, even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life. … But a posteriori, through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns…. Arthur Schopenhauer

Free will in the Hindu tradition
“Therefore we see at once that there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know, and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is molded by conditions of time, space and causality. … To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here.” Swami Vivekananda

Buddhism on Free Will
In Buddhism it is taught that the idea of absolute freedom of choice (i.e. that any human being could be completely free to make any choice) is foolish, because it denies the reality of one’s physical needs and circumstances. Equally incorrect is the idea that we have no choice in life or that our lives are pre-determined. To deny freedom would be to undermine the efforts of Buddhists to make moral progress (through our capacity to freely choose compassionate action). Wikipedia

If the Christian God knows exactly what will happen, right down to every choice one makes, the status of choices as free is called into question. If God had timelessly true knowledge about one’s choices, this would seem to constrain one’s freedom.

Biblical fundamentalists tell us they know what will happen to the human civilization in the years to come.  It seems God has this plan that he set in motion at the beginning of time.  We are to see the “antichrist” take over the world at some point and the forces of “Good and Evil” will fight it out in Armageddon (Megiddo in Israel). Good will win out…of course, and those left alive, and those already dead and buried, will be resurrected and face a sort of heavenly Inquisition to determine if they will live forever in the Kingdom of God…you know, the one that Jesus said his followers alive in his time would live to see.

This plan is evidence that we have no free will at all, as everything that happens (and has happened) on earth is bound to lead up to the final days and the prearranged melodrama. All actions we take as individuals only contributes in some miniscule way to the final outcome…nothing we do by using our “free will” changes the prearranged outcome.

Now some fundamentalists say that they will be “Raptured” up to heaven before this happens and they will not face the final days of earths destruction, some say they will be left on earth to clean-up the mess and achieve a sort of paradise on earth were we will all (those left) live forever.  In any event Satan looses and he knows it, and has known since the beginning of time…it’s all prearranged and set in stone…so to speak.  I’m sure that some denominations have slightly different versions, but these seem to be the dominate view.

Having the story ‘out there’ and knowing the outcome just isn’t compatible with free will.  The bible is no help, as it says we Do have free will, and it says we Don’t have free will.

What do you think?

Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for Atheism ever conceived. – Isaac Asimov

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Satan and Mark Twain

Letter from Satan who is banished to earth to his friends in heaven–St. Michael and St. Gabriel

“…Moreover — if I may put another strain upon you — he thinks he is the Creator’s pet. He believes the Creator is proud of him; he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes, and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to Him, and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea? Fills his prayers with crude and bald and florid flatteries of Him, and thinks He sits and purrs over these extravagancies and enjoys them. He prays for help, and favor, and protection, every day; and does it with hopefulness and confidence, too, although no prayer of his has ever been answered. The daily affront, the daily defeat, do not discourage him, he goes on praying just the same. There is something almost fine about this perseverance. I must put one more strain upon you: he thinks he is going to heaven!”

“He has salaried teachers who tell him that. They also tell him there is a hell, of everlasting fire, and that he will go to it if he doesn’t keep the Commandments. What are Commandments? They are a curiosity. I will tell you about them by and by…”  Letters from Earth, Mark Twain, c.1909

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A Christian Government??

“When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil.”
Gary Potter, Catholics for Christian Political Action.  Obviously this dude wants to take over America…Catholics have a really poor record of governing people…think burning of non-existent witches and the Inquisitions.

“I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”  George Bush Sr., former President of the United StatesHey there’s at least 43 million of us who do not share your view, and we are more tolerant than Christians.

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
Pat Robertson, Christian CoalitionA proponent of a theocratic government, and obviously not one advocating equal treatment under the law.

“Your tax dollars are being used to pay for grade-school classes that teach our children that cannibalism, wife-swapping and murder of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior.”
Jesse Helms, former senator NC.  Wow…I’m kinda glad he passed on. That attitude is evil.

“The Bible is the inerrant …word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error  in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc.”
Jerry Falwell, former Televangelist.  I might add that he also believes America should be a theocracy.

“God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them.
George W. Bush, former (thank goodness) President of the United States. Where were we when ol’ G.W. was being instructed by God??

“Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office.”
Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women for America.  Wife of Tim LaHaye co-author of the “Left Behind’ religious book series, and evangelical minister.

Do we really want the Christian Right taking over our government and telling us how to live?  How serious are we about allowing government to peek inside our minds and bedrooms, tell us what we believe, etc. I think I would commit suicide rather than live under the control of religion, Christian or Muslim.  Remember the book 1984 we all had to read in High School…multiply that by a factor of 10.

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