Today is a holiday in England and Wales called the Summer Bank Holiday, not a religious one, best known here for being the last holiday before Christmas, the weekend of the Reading Music Festival, and is, in a way, the start of the end of summer.
With the religious origin of many holidays in mind, it was with interest that I read today’s article in Center For Inquiry by Reba Boyd Wooden, where she talks about how holy days meant to bring communities together often seem to have the exact opposite effect, driving a wedge between sects of the same faith. Some points from the article are the differences in subjects and tone fired from the pulpit by different Christian ‘denominations’, and that good people in religion can and would be good even in the absence of their religion.
After all, religion does not make you a good person any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. Surely being good for its own sake is its own reward?
Here’s a partial quote from Reba’s article:
The… minister preached a lot about heaven and hell and said that death is “precious.” … [Was] death “precious” for my nephew and my niece’s husband who died recently in their forties — one leaving two teenage sons?
Here’s the rest of the article: Theology and Ritual Divide Neighbors on Holy Days
There is a certain irony to this post, considering my previous post, but it’s worth my vaguely embarrassed shuffling feet.
As you may be aware, Dr Phil Plait is an astronomer, science blogger, author (most notably Bad Astronomy [Amazon|UK] and Death From The Skies! [Amazon|UK]), public speaker with magnificent on-screen/-stage presence, educator, and also skeptical activist and the former President of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). He’s also recently announced that he has a TV show called Bad Universe — the pilot airs on Sunday, 29 August 2010. Enough of the plugs…
During the recent The Amazing Meeting (TAM) 8 conference in Las Vegas, Phil gave a talk that generated quite a bit of controversy in the blogging world — including from a number of fellow skeptical activists. That itself is becoming increasingly more common, but what is entirely uncommon was the messages of Phil’s talk. You should watch it.
You’d need to have been asleep to not have seen how deeply important that message was to Phil. I’d be hard-pressed to recall any speech I’ve seen or heard that is so deeply impassioned, compassionate and humanistic. Everything he says is correct.
It truly is far too easy to mock the viewpoints of those with whom we disagree, to score cheap points, to shout the doctrines or proofs of our own position over others, to be abusive and insulting, to treat others as sub-human or idiots. You may say (as some of the talk’s detractors do) that this is justified in light of what they or those they identify with have done, but the fact remains that if you’re not behaving like a grown-up when discussing these topics, you’re deliberately expending time and effort showing others how smart you are while confirming both that skeptics are dicks and closing that mind to further discussion. I have better things to do with my time.
It’s impressed me deeply enough to see about how I can re-think my approach to the topics I write about. Stay tuned, sports fans.
Normally I’m reluctant (believe it or not) to post blatantly antagonistic anti-theistic posts, but I do make the occasional exception, as I am both qualified to and normally only do so to make a point. This is one such example.
Top Ten Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian
10. You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9. You feel insulted and “dehumanised” when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8. You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7. Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in Exodus and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in Joshua including women, children, and trees!
6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5. You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4. You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects — will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving.”
3. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to “prove” Christianity.
2. You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% failure was simply the will of God.
1. You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history — but still call yourself a Christian.
/ Hat tip to EvilBible.com.