philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Hellbenders (2012)

A comedy where the concept is rather funnier than the film as a whole. The opening of the film admittedly had me laughing out loud.

The concept is of a sect of 'hellbound saints', a group of exorcists who specifically aim to use the method from the movie "The Exorcist" to defeat the most powerful demons. (You'll remember that in the Exorcist the priest defeats the demon by committing suicide while possessed.) In order to be possessed you need to be impure and the intention is to send the demons to hell, so the Hellbenders are priests who intentionally live in a state of debauchery to be ready to use this technique against demons.

Naturally Clancy Brown (the Kurgan from "Highlander") is on his A-game as the leader of the Hellbenders. But a surprisingly fun addition to the cast is 'Bubbles' from the wire (actor Andre Royo). He plays the bureaucrat of the group, recording all their sins to check they are all 'damnation-ready'. However, it's clear that breaking the rules is against his nature (so he's a far cry from the junkie he plays in The Wire').

Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

But remember, Jesus wasn't a zombie... He was a Lich. (Explanation below.)

(click here or on the image to see it slightly bigger)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Alain De Botton has decided that the current state of atheism is no good and has instead proposed what he decides to call "Atheism 2.0". But is Atheism 2.0 really any different from Atheism 1.0? Who does Alain De Botton think he is arguing against? Why promote this now?

I think we need a bit of background first of all....

Why Have An "Atheism 2.0"?

Read more... )

Religion For Atheists?

Alain De Botton is a popularist philosophy writer. There was a point where his book "The Consolations of Philosophy" was on shelves everywhere, though he wasn't really so interested in exploring the ins and outs of classical philosophy as giving a massively simplified and trivial version. Still, as was noted before, sometimes you can't show the entire depth of the argument if you want to appeal to the wider market.

His latest ideas in his book "Religion For Atheists" are explored in a lecture viewable here:

He also gives an impassioned speech about the ideas of "Religion For Atheists" in the audio form and you can listen to that here.

He says that the most boring question about religion is whether or not it is "true" and says that the issue has become a matter obsession for "fanatical atheists". I think what he ignores here is that while it might be "boring", the matter of truth is actually rather important. There are number of reasons to say this because there are plenty of cases where the unquestionable truth and authority of doctrine and/or scripture is used to justify what are sometimes quite influential political positions. Proposals for limiting access to abortion, limiting rights of certain groups in society, insisting on old traditional stances on gender roles, promoting abstinence education and, yes, even ID Theory are all often (though admittedly not every single time for every single one of these examples) tied to the believed doctrinal truth and authority of particular religions.

Essentially De Botton takes the old line that while you might not believe in religions you should still respect them. The question arises once again: What is it about religions which makes them worthy of respect? I don't think De Botton actually has an answer to this though (or at least not a convincing one).

De Botton claims that religion serves two central needs "which continue to this day and which secular society has not been able to solve with any particular skill":
1) "The need to live together in communities in hamony, despite our deeply rooted, selfish, violent impulses."
2) "The need to cope with terrifying degrees of pain which arise from our vulnerability to professional failure, to troubled relationships, to the death of loved ones and to our own decay and demise."

Or to put it another way:
1) Secularism heralds the breakdown of society.
2) There are no atheists in foxholes.

To be quite frank, the need for secularism would appear to me to arise precisely from the fact that, when people all belong to different faiths, religion doesn't help to promote harmony. Religion is often divisive and sectarian. As such, the idea that setting up non-religious communities must involve learning from the actions of the religious seems like nonsense. Far more often than not, the lessons are more likely to be cautionary tales; examples of what NOT to do when trying to foster a spirit of unity in diversity. Yes, there have already been figures like Martin Luther King and Haille Selassie who have been religious and attacked social injustices in ways that might be inspiring to the non-religious, but these figures can often be seen to be actively subverting the religious ideas they were brought up with. Dr. King, for example, takes the example of "the promised land" but does not imagine it as a contested strip of land or as some kind of post-apocalyptic paradise, but rather as the hope of a united humanity.

On the second point, I'll firstly note that atheists are found in all walks of life and don't appear to see their disbelief in God as a disadvantage. However, I think it's also worth asking, if atheistic modes of tackling these issues are so unskilful, why are there religious groups pretending to offer therapy without the professional background in the subject? Surely if religious methods were superior to secular ones on this front, Churches and places of worship would already be pioneers in the field, with absolutely no need to use fraudulent behaviour like this in order to promote themselves?

Rallying Points For The Failings Of Secularism...

Alain De Botton makes a number of points at this stage on the failings of secularism. But these points about modern society are either patently the result of good common sense or quite clearly false:

Read more... )

Useful and Effective?

Read more... )

Yeah sure we can learn a few things from studying religion, but that doesn't mean religion deserves respect or politeness automatically. Religion used to be a much more central part of society than it is today and inevitably a great deal of what is good in society today will be based on the more religion-centered form that came before. But most often, the better way to tackle these kinds of issues is to cut out the religion. In fact even some religions are retreating from the term "religion", themselves recognising that certain religious ideas are simply no good. Some of these figures will want to retreat to some more primordial and "pure" version of their religion, insisting that their shift away from religion makes their ideas even more traditional, while others will be more progressive noting that old religious ideas have also been tied to old political and cultural ideas (noting, for example, that a morality based on honour and shame is clearly present in the Bible, but is rightly alien to our modern sensibility). Even the religious can tell that religion isn't all great and it would be extremely stupid of us not to share the fruits of this important lesson.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
(Short answer is "no" btw..., but there's more.)

Interesting article.

The article states its focus as follows:
"Joseph Ratzinger knows that he can’t aim his pious invective at the Jewish people as his predecessors did. So this most contemporary pope takes aim at the next best enemy of his faith: atheists. It’s another blood libel in the making."

Now it's quote strong words to call Ratzinger's rants against atheism equivalent to the blood libel against the Jews. But I think the point is that if Ratzinger still held the politcal power that Popes of the past did, this would be a great deal more worrying.

That said, the rise of secularism and the Church's waning reputation are precisely why Ratzinger is making comments like this in the first place. Personally I see this not as a worrying blood libel, but as another example of the Pope talking out of his arse.

However, I think the article may have a point that ranting about atheists is a more publically acceptable alternative to ranting about Jews. Apparently there's been a recent shift of people moving out of the Church because of its dealings with the "Legion of Christ" religious order, whose leader is known to have been a drug addict involved in a string of sexual abuses including paedophilia. Meanwhile seemingly in the same week there's been an uproar over a bishop in the "Society of Pius X" blogging the blood libel. The fallout of this specifically anti-semitic issue forms the context for Ratzinger's speech in Assisi.

When the focus is on the crimes of religion, how can he shift the blame? The answer is simple: lie.

"The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

"Yet I do not intend to speak further here about state-imposed atheism....

Now Ratzinger knows damn well that the Third Reich did not have state-imposed atheism. He also knows that the holocaust was fuelled by anti-semitism, often backed up by Christians. Even Martin Niemoller, remember for his poem "First They Came..." is known to have committed the blood libel. The fact is that anti-semitism was a fact of life for most people at the time and using religious, specifically Christian, excuses for bigotry against Jews was far from uncommon in Germany long before the Nazis gained power. In fact, this bigotry was, for many Germans, an incentive to elect Hitler in the first place as a strong leader entrenched in good Christian values.

What's more, for many Jews expressing God's absence was the consequence of experiences in the camps, not the other way around.

So why does Ratzinger, who grew up in Nazi Germany, put the blame for the camps on atheists? They're a handy scapegoat and one that much of his audience will readily accept.

Meanwhile Ratzinger informs us that agnostics choose to be agnostic because really they are "they are seeking the true God". While I can imagine a few agnostics agreeing with that, it's pretty condescending at heart. "You know when you said you weren't sure that there's a God? Well that's just because you were searching for the real God. I guarantee that you are most likely to find Him if you check out our traditions. Go ahead, dive right in!" - Yeah, f***ing charming...

In other news, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have asked Susan Sarandon to apologise for calling the Pope a "Nazi". Because "it only serves to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust". Perhaps they should talk to the Pope about that little issue too....?

(Via Butterflies and Wheels)
(Also several articles used on "The Freethinker")
(Ratzinger's full speech)

x-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)

I have now worked my way through Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou's "The Bible's Buried Secrets" and I f---ing LOVE it.

I think the great thing about it is that, while she is often stating outright what popular scholars will more often cover with more guarded language, she doesn't end up saying anything terribly controversial. During the second episode there was one point where I thought she'd skipped a step in her argument.... because she had. Intentionally. By the end of the episode she'd filled in the blanks and the argument was pretty solid.

She has clear and careful arguments which are rooted in the historical evidence and she's always careful to remind us that history and archeology is an ever shifting discipline which has to cater to new evidence constantly. She makes clear where she has strong backing in his discipline and where she is going out on a limb.

And to think there are people on the blogosphere comparing her to blooming Dan Brown. (This guy's a symbologist <A what?> and he's discovering patterns in symbols and numbers. <Based on historical evidence?> -No, based on patterns in symbols and numbers. I just said. <Well that's stupid isn't it?> - No, it's brilliant. Look he's discovered that Jesus was politically important <bollocks> and that he had a wife <based on bollocks> and that the female protagonist is Jesus' direct heir <which after two thousand years means precisely bollocks>. -Well it's an exciting enough story, right? <No, the writing's bollocks too.>)

The choice of topics has been pretty cool too. Did King David really exist as the powerful king he is described as in the Bible? What function might tales about King David have served? Were the Israelites always monotheists? When might they have shifted to monotheism and why? But perhaps the real kicker (and the thing that I suppose has earnt her the Dan Brown comparison) is whether God had a wife. Her issues with the influence of patriarchy on ancient stories carry on with her criticisim of the way Eve is presented in the Garden of Eden story. Along with that she asks: What elements are read into the Garden of Eden story today that are not even in the text? Was there a real Garden of Eden? Did the story have political relevance?

Also interesting is the number of people responding not with "BLASPHEMY!" but rather with "well yeah... of course". People being shocked by the claim that King David never existed, that Yahweh had a wife and that the Garden of Eden was originally a temple would be unsurprising. To hear them saying that this is all obvious is a bit of a shock.

Now going round the internet there is no shortage of people trying to poke holes in Dr.Stavrakopoulou's arguments. There are claims that she doesn't show alternative viewpoints. (Not only does each show feature at least one viewpoint from each of the Abrahmaic religions, but she often disagrees with scholars in religion and/or archeology too.) There are claims that her accounts are too superficial. (A dodgy argument when we are dealing with a TV programme for a typical layman audience with only a single hour on each of the three big topics.) There are claims that she is putting forth the arguments as her own innovations. (She also speaks to scholars/archeologists who agree with her arguments and are working on the vital evidence. The title of her programme "The Bible's Buried Secrets" means that the evidence for her claims is found in archeology i.e. "buried", not that she's uncovering some kind of conspiracy.) So yeah, some people are wrong on the internet. Big surprise.

Francesca Stavrakopoulou's Three Claims

Claim One: King David was a myth.
(Youtube link for part one of episode one)

Read more... )

Claim Two: God had a wife
(Youtube link for part one of episode two)

Read more... )

Claim Three: The Garden of Eden is the Temple in Jerusalem
(Youtube link for part one of episode three)

Read more... )

Stavrakopoulou VS Widdecombe

Read more... )

Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou has an article about Abraham here:

I'm putting her book on my Christmas list:

Also, you can find my transcript of her appearance on the radio programme "Museum of Curiosity" here:

And I'm really interested to see what she has to say in the future. Awesome stuff....

philosoraptor42: (Default)

Okay, so I just heard of her for the first time ever the other night when she appeared on the BBC Radio Comedy show "Museum of Curiosity". I've got lots to say about what I've come across, but for now I'll simply leave you with this transcript of her bits on the show.

Remember that it's a comedy show, so she's being intentionally flippant and her fellow contributors to the "museum" aren't taking it all entirely seriously either:

Host: Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou is the senior lecturer of theology at the university of Exeter, a member of the European Association of Biblical Studies and the presenter and writer of the BBC series "The Bible's Buried Secret". She also happens to be an atheist.

What's more, her time on TV has been spent arguing that Moses never existed, and that the Bible was re-written to malign Eve and erase God's wife from memory.

So Francesca, God's wife who was she then?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Well, she's a goddess called Asherah who was responsible for various life-giving functions in the earthly realm along with her consort, her husband, Yahweh. She's kind of fairly well known throughout the ancient Near East and she's pretty cool.

Co-contributor: What was she called again?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Asherah.

Co-contributor: So God was married?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Hmmm.

Co-contributor: Wow. I imagine that was a big spread in Hello wasn't it?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: But he divorced her and she didn't do quite so well in the divorce settlement. The God that's worshipped today by Jews, Christians and Muslims isn't the same as the God that the Bible was written about - and that God actually was the God who was married.
Host: That's really remarkable, I mean this has been kept a pretty tight secret then?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Really it's like a testimony to how bad scholars are at just communicating stuff that we talk about, because we've been talking about it for a long time. But a lot of people disagree with me. Anne Widdecombe disagrees with me.

Co-contributor: I think calling her "a lot of people" is a bit cruel.

The rest is under the cut... )
Cross-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, just thought I'd quickly check whether any of my posts come up when you google "Conor Cunningham". It looks like it's the second page before any of my stuff turns up (but heck, I haven't written much. I've written more on John Milbank and it takes three pages for me to turn up there).

Anyway, I clicked one of the links where they were asking for reviewers for the book. (Not because I want to review it for them, but because it surprised me to see people begging for book reviewers on a blog. Is that normally how this works?) Anyway, the comments were all hilarious....

jridenour said...
Whenever Christians argue that orthodoxy is a third way between fundamentalism and atheism, chances are the argument is b.s.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 4:13:00 AM

Nathaniel Drake Carlson said...
1500 words seems awfully short to do proper justice to this one.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 7:21:00 PM

APS said...
So when is ABC Ethics & Religion just going to change its name to The Daily Red Tory?
Sunday, February 20, 2011 12:53:00 AM
John Milbank expressed support for a movement called "Red Toryism" which basically means "I'm right-wing but I want to be considered left-wing anyway". He then started writing articles for ABC where they're now requesting reviews for Conor Cunningham's book.

A.J. Smith said...
And did they really have to use the same cover as Behe's egregiously bad "Darwin's Black Box" for this?
Sunday, February 20, 2011 2:58:00 AM

Considering that Cunningham is opposed to ID-theory, that's a remarkable oversight on the part of the marketing team.
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Pope Benedict says that condoms can be used to stop the spread of HIV

In a break with his traditional teaching, Pope Benedict XVI has said the use of condoms is acceptable "in certain cases", in an extended interview to be published this week.

After holding firm during his papacy to the Vatican's blanket ban on the use of contraceptives, Benedict's surprise comments will shock conservatives in the Catholic church while finding favour with senior Vatican figures who are pushing for a new line on the issue as HIV ravages Africa.

Read more... )

x-posted to [ profile] atheism 
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, I've had a bad day of apologetics recommendations. (Well, just two actually, but anyway.) I don't seek this stuff out, but in two separate places it's been recommended to me and so I'm being actively encouraged to get pi***d off.

The second (and far more annoying) of the two recommendations came from [ profile] talk_religion in this entry. The piece of apologetics they link to says "oooh btw the verse in the Bible doesn't say girls must marry their rapist" and then goes on to say "stupid atheist should have known better".

(Please note: The two quotes above were paraphrased from the general gist of the article for the purpose of summarising and comic effect.) 

The apologist give three reasons why they disagree.

The first reasonRead more... )

The second reason Read more... )
The third reason is the only one I felt it necessary to comment on. And that was this:
The third reason is that, to interpret the law in Deut 21:28-29 as a rape is to make God the commander of a morally heinous command.
Oh I'm sorry. It's horrible, so we'll have to change it, eh? After all, that's obviously how you should read the Bible. You don't go into the Bible looking for moral truths. You go into the Bible interpreting it especially so it fits with your existing understanding of morality, don't you?

For me, this was quite enough. No need to make a big long explanation (as I have done above). This alone was enough to show how daft this whole thing was. I gave the following response:
So the reason it can't be translated as "rape" is because that would be horrible....

Yeah, that's some pretty lame apologetics right there.
Then I found myself following up with this:
I do wonder what his explanation is for punishing a woman who loses her virginity outside of marriage with stoning....
(Deut 23-24)
And that's when I got the following response and the naivety managed to quite severely enrage me. (I kept my annoyance restrained obviously, but even so. Grrrr!):
Well, ask. The website itself deals with a lot of biblical stuff and in interesting ways. He or she (there are two) might make it a blog post.
The basic gist of this response being "hey, if there's still some stuff you aren't sure of, maybe they can explain!" The commenter didn't seem to understand from my nice and restrained response to the initial article quite how ludicrous I would find this. My stance is that the initial article (which they recommended) was rubbish and quite possibly intentionally disingenuous. As such, I have little reason to think any follow-up articles won't be similarly rubbish and disingenuous.

The first line of my response to them was this:
There are tons of apologetics websites out there. What's so special about this one?

I'm not really terribly interested in apologetics, wherever it comes from. The fact is that there is tons of sexist stuff in the Bible and plenty of religious people who want to offer excuses for it.
I then looked into the article further and found a number of issues, and I'll quote the rest of my response below. The main discovery however, was that they were actually responding to an article from Michael Martin (amongst other things, the editor of the "Cambridge Companion To Atheism"). The article he wrote is available online and the point of it was not to start whining about particular verses in the Bible, but to respond to the idea that atheists can't have objective morality. His argument was intended to demonstrate that looking to the Bible for morality doesn't work and if there's one thing that the apologetics article failed to demonstrate in response to that, it's that the Bible is a clear source of moral precepts. In fact, they've shown, at very least, that there are clear language barriers and cultural barriers to interpretation, if not actually unconscionable recommendations for the treatment of women.

The rest of my response is quoted below. Including the bit where I get annoyed by yet another mistake in his references, this time for a passage from Aquinas. Grrr!:Read more... )
x-posted to [ profile] apololgetics 
philosoraptor42: (Default)
John Milbank was a theology lecturer I came into contact during my degree. His Radical Orthodoxy movement apparently had a major following in academic circles, though there appeared to be very little mainstream knowledge of it. More recently he's been putting forward a number of articles into major news sources. He released a couple of articles in The Guardian's "Comment Is Free" section including one advocating "Red Toryism" (i.e. I want to vote Conservative yet still call myself a lefty) and another (which really infuriated me) advocating a new feminism biased in favour of men *facepalm*

So what's he done now? Well it turns out he's really pleased about certain recent comments by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but he doesn't think she quite kisses Christianity's arse enough. So he's published a new public article. this time on

I don't know if John Milbank mistook extracts from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book "Nomad" for an individual article or whether he is simply treating them that way. In any case the extracts on that website are no longer available, but I was able to find a cached copy of them which you can find in my un-edited post about this along with a copy of John Milbank's reply. Click here for my original un-edited article.

So how does John Milbank's article frustrate me? Let me count the ways....

1. The Enlightenment was Christian...
Read more... )

2. Christianity is the source of feminism...
Read more... )

3. TRADITIONAL Christians are NEVER biblical literalists...
Read more... )

4. Science was nurtured by Christianity and is the direct result of monotheism.

Read more... )

5. Christians have historically been against forced conversions...
Read more... )

6. In various theocracies and dictatorships around the world Islam has an unfair privilege. Why don't we give the same unfair privilege to Christianity in the west? (Also, Christians don't get enough opportunities to proselytise. Blah Blah Fatwa Envy Blah Blah...)
Read more... )

7. Muslims will prefer Christianity if they are properly informed, whereas they tend to choose Islam because they are coerced.
Read more... )

8. Muslims ought to be apolitical mystics. Christians on the other hand...

Read more... )

9. Rowan Williams advocated "parallel legal jurisdictions"...
Read more... )

10. Rowan Williams and Tariq Ramadan are idiots - therefore that whole Christian proselytising scheme...Read more... )

11. "The lamentably premature collapse of the Western colonial empires."

Read more... )

Bits I actually agreed with

Read more... )

Some silly links

Read more... ) (Cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Filmdrunk On The "ZOMG ANTI-WHITEZ BIGGO-TREE" Race Fail Related To Rodriguez' New Action Spoof "Machete"

If you half paid attention to one of the Machete trailers and never saw the movie, you too would know that Robert Rodriguez’ film is an anti-white hateporn snuff film promoting genocide against the white race. This was first discovered by Bay Area National Anarchist (yes, “national anarchist”) leader Andrew Yeoman, who not only vowed to protest the Machete premiere while brandishing actual machetes, but even started a Facebook page. That’s right, sh*ts getting real now!  (*writes “HELTER SKELTER” on the wall with poop*)  ATTICA! ATTICA! (*throws pillow at cat*)
A group of white nationalists will protest the new Robert Rodriguez movie Machete at Bay Area cinemas this week. This gets even more interesting: The protesters will show up “armed” with machetes.
“We feel that this is an explicit threat to white folks,” Yeoman wrote on the far-right blog Occidental Dissent, “and that it is necessary to send a message to moviegoers and the producers of this film that threatening people because they happen to be white is unacceptable.”
Whoa whoa whoa, “happen to be white?”  I don’t know about you, buddy, but I didn’t “happen to be white”, I was bequeathed my pure-white skin by God himself so that I might rule over all manner of swarthy ethnics from behind locked doors as I drove through their neighborhoods shaking my head at their obnoxious jungle music. 

I digress, but the blockquote above was an excerpt from an article from last week, which among other things, included the news that carrying around a machete is apparently perfectly legal.
Read more... )

(Link) (Original article includes video)

Interview With Creator Of Cat VS Humans

What is it about cats that draws you to them?

I think it reflects on the kinds of personalities I’m drawn to. Cats are generally independent, know what they want and are pretty laid back. And it just so happens that the people I surround myself have that same personality. I also love how you have to earn a cat’s affection and trust. They just don’t easily surrender themselves to you. I actually respect that. But I do appreciate a dog’s ability to unconditionally love its pet parent. It’s pretty amazing, I must say.

What other job could you imagine having?
I love animals. If I weren’t a designer, I would’ve been a veterinarian. Or a cat whisperer.

(Whole interview here...) (Cat VS Humans here)


"If Obama is one, them Muslim can't mean Muslim"

Charlie Brooker on Ground Zero Mosque BS

And finally:

Jesus Had HIV is actually good theology (when explained properly), but oddly didn't go down well with African congregation....
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Ok, you spend ages without anything interesting to say about religion and then two points comes up at once.

First one seems uncontroversial, (from my side of the fence at least)
God rejoices at abortion:
I found the text for Rachel's Tears online and was sickened to discover that the rite for abortion is couched wholly in terms of sin and transgression. The Episcopal Church, by resolution, has long held that women have the freedom to choose an abortion. It is not considered a sin. That this new rite begins with the words, "I seek God's forgiveness..." and includes "God rejoices that you have come seeking God's merciful forgiveness..." is contrary to the resolution. Women should be able to mourn the loss of an aborted fetus without having to confess anything. God, unlike what the liturgy states, also rejoices that women facing unplanned pregnancies have the freedom to carefully choose the best option - birth, adoption or abortion - for themselves and their families. No woman makes this decision lightly or frivolously. But each needs the non-judgmental and non-coercive support of her faith community to make the best decision for her circumstances.

The wording of this liturgy focuses solely on guilt and sin instead of the grief and healing that may accompany a very difficult but appropriate decision to terminate a pregnancy. If anyone is paying attention at the General Convention, this rite should not be approved.

This statement was made by Rev. Nina Churchman.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with this. The Anglican Church does not condemn abortion as part of its doctrine. As such, a woman should not be expected to admit guilt if they have one. If an abortion is sometimes the right decision, why shouldn't God rejoice in it?

Slightly more awkward is the claim that everyone should refer to God as 'Allah' in order to encourage greater harmony:
A proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" is not sitting well with the Catholic community.

Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn't care what he is called.

"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.

"I'm sure his intentions are good but his theology needs a little fine-tuning," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Roman Catholic priest based in Rome. Morris, a news analyst for FOX News Channel, also called the idea impractical.

"Words and names mean things," Morris said. "Referring to God as Allah means something."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding.

"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."

The positive elements are:

The term Allah causes far too much panic when it is just the arabic word for God. Wider usage would discourage the ridiculous phobia.

The concept of idolatory is common to the Abrahamic faiths and if people are so stuck on words they are inevitably putting irrelevant details in the way of what truly matters.

The negative elements:

It isn't going to catch on and news stories like this just fuel the old "ZOMG the Muslims are taking over" mentality.

Muslims don't need other religious believers to use their word for God. They need mutual respect. As nice as the sentiment is, I'm not sure it would do the trick even if it was adopted...

(So, do I cross-post this to [ profile] atheism ?)

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Ok, this isn't the first blog about religion for me to check out that isn't by an atheist.

Blogs I recommend... )

Anyway, the new blog I discovered today called "The World Of Doorman-Priest" is written by a Lutheran Pastor working as an RE teacher. Today I was very amused to stumble on the following list of God-proofs (intentionally humourous):

The Argument from Personal Experience:

  • My Aunt had a brain tumour
  • She had a lot of medical interventions
  • We prayed
  • She got better
  • Therefore God exists

The Argument from Christian Superiority:

  • I'm not wasting my time on you Athiests. God exists whether you believe it or not
  • Therefore God exists

The Argument with the Doctor:

  • I am not taking my medication
  • I AM God
  • Therefore God exists

Benny Hinn's Argument:

  • Telling people about God has made me a millionaire
  • Therefore God exists

The Argument from miracles:

  • In a train crash 400 people were killed
  • A small girl survived, but lost both her legs
  • Therefore God exists (Praise the Lord)

The Evangelical's Argument (1):

  • Most people do not believe in God
  • This is what the Devil wants
  • Therefore God exists

The Evangelical's Argument (2):

  • God loves you (John 3.16)
  • How could you ignore that?
  • Therefore God exists

The Evangelical's Argument (3):

  • God exists
  • No he doesn't
  • Yes he does
  • No he doesn't
  • Yes he does
  • No he doesn't
  • Athiest goes home in a huff
  • Therefore God exists

And my own personal contribution, the Argument from Piss off and Die

  • God exists
  • No he doesn't
  • You know, that offends me but I am praying for you
  • No he doesn't
  • Therefore God exists
He also had a rather neat explanation of the his problems with the evangelical approach concerning hell and the atonement:

I have to confess, I had a little problem with Hell. If we didn’t accept Christ there was only one outcome. Not that the youth leaders or clergy made a big thing about Hell that I can remember. No, it seemed more to be an idea left hanging in the air, the Voldermort of Christianity. We were all aware of it but it was rarely spoken of as sentences trailed off while leaving an inescapable implication echoing in the silence. Of course none of this was helped by the terrifying visions of medieval artists as they struggled to express on canvass an apocryphal idea from print. Yes, the conversations trailed off with a conspiratorial finger to the side of the nose and visions of lakes of fire and eternal agony.

Much better to sing a chorus.

My problem was simple. My dad was a policeman and I knew the theories of punishment: protection of society, rehabilitation, deterrence and of course retribution. I think I understood instinctively that Christian teaching on Hell was in some way linked to the idea of retribution; well it wasn’t going to be linked to rehabilitation was it, what with it being eternal and therefore with no parole to give you the chance to prove that you had been reformed? But I had grown up with another understanding – that of the principle of the punishment fitting the crime. What could anyone do in our insignificant lifespan that could possibly justify eternal torment? So what with it seeming all a bit overblown and out of proportion I felt the doctrine shot itself in the foot rather.

“Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot.” They would say.

Yeah, well maybe.

“Anyway, all sin is sin against God. There is no victimless sin.”

I found it hard to see God as a victim – a generic victim that is not the victim in Jesus on the cross: that was only too real and I understood that bit. God as victim didn’t seem to fit in with Omnipotence and Transcendence and I found it hard to reconcile the idea of an equal punishment for, say, genocide and mild sexual fantasy following reading the inner pages of Playboy Magazine.

Or was it that we were all punished eternally but with different levels of torment? Perhaps if you weren’t that wicked it wouldn’t be the burning flesh falling from your skin and then reappearing only to burn off again in perpetuity. Maybe it would be more like, I don’t know, perpetual repeats of The Antiques Roadshow. Ah, but how would even an Omniscient God be able to distinguish between the various levels of sin? Was muttering darkly at my maths teacher for being obnoxious with me over quadratic equations better or worse than getting away without paying the bus fare to school that morning? And in the cosmic scheme of things did either of them merit that lake of fire and the demonic toasting fork?

“No, what it is, right, is that once you are there you continue to curse God because of the torment and so perpetuate the sin which requires additional punishment. It becomes a cycle.”

“I see.” I didn’t but I was learning not to rock the boat. (I gave that up as I got older.) I just didn’t equate God with being quite so petty and mean-spirited. That’s not to say that I felt we should get away scot-free: after all punishment seems a perfectly reasonable principle and I was eternally grateful to Jesus for taking my sins.

Being a teenager and a Christian, I was beginning to discover, was occasionally the cause of a headache.

A more recent post was about his wife's experiences in a charity shop. If there's a war on Christmas, why is it Christians trying to prevent it being celebrated?

Anna came home from work quite worked up and upset. Anna works at Oxfam in Headingley and has done for two years. She absolutely loves it.

This happens from time to time and it is usually related to shoplifting. Anna is a very moral person and the idea of shoplifting from a charity shop is one she simply can not get her head around.

"What sort of person does that?"

Today it was something different. They have been threatened. A letter was delivered (now with the police for forensics) which said: "This is a very polite but very serious reminder not to display Christmas cards until November 1st. We will put superglue into your locks if you do. Peace and goodwill." The organisation calls itself The Movement for the Containment of Christmas.

This is not an idle threat. They have already glued the locks of the Mind (mental Health) charity shop in the same parade of shops.

Peace and goodwill?

The wife sounds like quite an interesting character:

As my wife asked me: "What's the point of knowing about the atonement if you can't answer any questions about insect bites?"

One feels she may have a point.


", if you lie about farting in bed, why should I believe you about the resurrection?"

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Y'know, I feel really silly quoting Family Guy as if it's profound or something, but this part really appealed to me:

Meg: "But Brian I just want you to feel the joy that I feel. I mean the Church makes me feel accepted and safe and part of something bigger than myself."

Brian: "But Meg, you don't need an outside voice to feel those feelings. They're inside of you. What you call God is inside you, in all of us. I just hate to see people hating and killing each other over their own interpretation of what they're not smart enough to understand."

(x-posted to atheism)

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Just looked at an interesting post where someone was claiming not to be a liberal. (I'm not interested in going into that since it's quite irrelevant to this post.) I've always had a problem with the term 'liberal' myself, especially in online conversations with more politically right-wing Americans who seem to use it as a term equivalent to 'scum'. The kinds of things they claim to be 'liberal' are often things which all three political parties in the UK would accept as common sense. Anyway, the point is that you need to know what you a term like 'liberal' means before you can affirm or deny holding to it.

This made me think about the whole atheism/agnosticism thingy.

Yes, this is where you click to read the rest of my pointless rant. )


Nov. 1st, 2008 03:19 pm
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, I've just randomly run into this article by Giles Fraser, a vicar who writes for The Guardian and he has just revealed something which I had suspected but hadn't been sure on until now.

Several months ago, I was working in a Register Office. There I discovered that there is a strict ban, not only within civil marriages but the building as a whole, on anything religious. The whole area is strictly secular. I found myself wondering what the point of this was, since surely the British Humanist Association hadn't campaigned for this and why would anyone want to limit the freedom of expression within non-religious marriages?

The actual rule is as follows:
"The law will not permit the use of any wording, readings or music which may have religious connotations at a civil marriage."

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
A long time ago I listened to an mp3 of a radio programme about Radical Orthodoxy. The highly verbose and well-researched lecturer John Milbank had arrived at the university just as I was considering taking a masters there and all the seminars with visiting speakers during my MA course seemed to have this odd new theology movement hanging over them. I had always been very annoyed by the way the clearly intelligent lecturers seemed to keep making reference to this movement and making highly counter-intuitive assertions I felt I had no right to contest. So I decided, even having finished my masters, to take advantage of the opportunity of hearing a bite-sized view of Radical Orthodoxy meant for ordinary radio listeners.

All I knew so far was that:
(i) Radical Orthodoxy considers modern secular society to be overrun with nihilism and seemingly blamed this on the lack of religious belief.
(ii) It felt the need to consider Christianity from a pre-modern perspective (using post-modern philosophy as a justification for this).
(iii) John Milbank appears to hold a socialist political stance.
(iv) The movement opposes both secularism and theological liberalism.

Anyway after a very dull radio programme I eventually found this definition of 'transcendence' voiced and claimed to be the main idea of what modern society is missing. Transcendence also seemed like a pretty sketchy term at the best of times, but this is really completely incomprehensible. This is actually stated by the Radical Orthodoxy proponent Catherine Pickstock:
"Transcendence is a word to describe the reality which is beyond all categories. It's beyond all dichotomies. Beyond all understanding of 'thing' which we have. So, for example, where we see a thing as having boundaries, as having a place, as having a certain kind of temporality, transcendence is beyond all of those things. It's beyond here and there, near and far, limit and unlimitedness.

"Transcendence is simply beyond every definition. Which isn't to say it's formless, or like a big mess. It is unity itself, but unity conceived of as beyond being. I think 'beyond being' is perhaps the most useful way of thinking of it, although one could also say, as Plato said of the good, that it's unsayable. It simply can't be reached in words.

"So if you think of reality as a kind of hierarchy for a moment and you put transcendence at the top of the hierarchy; and you have on the lower rungs of the hierachy all forms of reality right down to ants and ants' legs and so forth. Although transcendence, according to this picture, is right at the top, equally it is just as present to the ants' legs as it is to the angels and priests and the bishops and so forth. It's both at the top and at the bottom. There simply isn't a place where transcendence cannot be, because it is transcendent; it is beyond all limit, and yet works in and through every limit that we have."
If you want to see if that makes any more sense in the context of the radio programme the link is here:

Personally, I've never heard so much rubbish in all my life.

John Milbank also claims that if priests cannot give an account of angels as real beings they shouldn't be ordained. Oh dear.....


philosoraptor42: (Default)

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