In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

A Healthy Dose of Islamophobia – In Defense of Sam Harris

…Obviously, a peaceful Muslim does not logically equal a peaceful Qur’an, or a peaceful religion. Many Muslims have never even read the Qur’an in any language (79% of people in Pakistan are illiterate). It is not, nor should it be, enough to meet a nice communist to conclude whether or not communism is a useful economic system. It is not enough to meet a lovely group of Anti-Vaccination believers in order to determine whether or not vaccines cause Down syndrome. I, for example, live in Santiago, Chile, and Chilean people (in very general terms) are tremendously racist against different ethnic minorities, particularly Blacks or Asians, and openly so. However, it is not a stretch of logic to believe, as I do, that Chilean people are extremely kind and hospitable, while at the same time holding their racist beliefs in contempt. Indeed anyone, from any western country, in all likelihood has met at least one Christian family who perhaps is deeply homophobic, or does not believe in any form of sexual contraception, or believes that creationism should replace evolution in science classrooms. This Christian family might be the most delightful family that has ever invited you into their home, but this is not to say that their beliefs on specific subjects do not fall under scrutiny, nor should it be free from criticism no matter how offended they might feel. Pointing out bad ideas, that small or large quantities of people hold, is not an attack on their personality or affability, it is only an attack on an idea….

Manifesto for Secularism

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.

For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.

We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism. We demand:

•Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.
•Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.
•Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.
•Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.
•Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

(The Manifesto for Secularism was adopted at the 11-12 October International Conference on the Relgious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights. The Conference called on people everywhere to join the International Front for Secularism and strengthen a human alternative to the religious-Right.)

(Source: secularconference.com)

Catholic Bishops scrap welcome to gays in sign of split

…bishops failed to reach consensus on a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals. The new section had stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.

Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families face. It said “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity,” but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman….

Evolution by QualiaSoup

If you’re going to watch one video about Evolution make it this one.

The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity

The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad and are bound together by such religious practices as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and almsgiving to assist people in need. But they have widely differing views about many other aspects of their faith, including how important religion is to their lives, who counts as a Muslim and what practices are acceptable in Islam, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The survey, which involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in over 80 languages, finds that in addition to the widespread conviction that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His Prophet, large percentages of Muslims around the world share other articles of faith, including belief in angels, heaven, hell and fate (or predestination). While there is broad agreement on the core tenets of Islam, however, Muslims across the 39 countries and territories surveyed differ significantly in their levels of religious commitment, openness to multiple interpretations of their faith and acceptance of various sects and movements.

Pakistani Christian woman is sentenced to hang for 'blasphemous' comments about prophet Mohammed

A Pakistani Christian woman has been sentenced to hang after she was accused of making ‘blasphemous’ comments about the prophet Mohammed during an argument.

While working as a berry picker in 2009, 46-year-old Asia Bibi got into a dispute with a group of Muslim women who objected to her drinking their water because as a Christian she was considered ‘unclean’.

Hours after the incident one of the women reported mother-of-five Ms Bibi to a local cleric, claiming she had made disparaging remarks about the prophet Mohammed during the row.

As a result of the allegations, a furious mob arrived at Ms Bibi’s home and savagely beat her and members of her family. She was later arrested, charged with blasphemy and eventually sentenced to death - with her entire family forced to go into hiding after receiving threats on their lives.

This week, despite international outrage and hundreds of thousands of people signing a petition for her release, Ms Bibi lost an appeal to have her sentence overturned, meaning she now faces death by hanging.

The shocking case hit global headlines after two prominent politicians who tried to help Ms Bibi were assassinated, one by his own bodyguard. Lawyers showered the killer with rose petals when he appeared in court and the judge who convicted him of murder had to flee the country.

WHATEVER the origin of our belief in life’s meaning, it might seem to be a blessing. Some people find it reassuring to think that there really are no accidents, that what happens to us — including the most terrible of events — reflects an unfolding plan. But the belief also has some ugly consequences. It tilts us toward the view that the world is a fundamentally fair place, where goodness is rewarded and badness punished. It can lead us to blame those who suffer from disease and who are victims of crimes, and it can motivate a reflexive bias in favor of the status quo — seeing poverty, inequality and oppression as reflecting the workings of a deep and meaningful plan.

Not everyone would go as far as the atheist Richard Dawkins, who has written that the universe exhibits “precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” But even those who are devout should agree that, at least here on Earth, things just don’t naturally work out so that people get what they deserve. If there is such a thing as divine justice or karmic retribution, the world we live in is not the place to find it. Instead, the events of human life unfold in a fair and just manner only when individuals and society work hard to make this happen.

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

lunaradvent asked
Hell, Jesus said various times in the bible that he also wasn't god and didn't believe that he was god/a god. I still don't know where Xians got Jesus=their main god from.

I suspect it came about through some circular reasoning and selective interpretations.

quixylvre asked
"If Christ were alive today, there is one thing he would NOT be: a CHRISTIAN." - Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a. k. a. Mark Twain

A classic. Although I’m not sure Christ was a Christian at all. Seems like it was “Paul” who invented that shit some decades later.

Sam Harris Response to Reza Aslan Calling Him a Fundamentalist Atheist

Education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty … A teacher of any subject, who insists on accuracy and a rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit in the pupils. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded … They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence … They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.

William Graham Sumner

(Source: facebook.com)