Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to “register” with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.
Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website….
“A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.”—
For those of us who have lived and grown up in Muslim countries, we are told over and over again that Islam is great in every way. They claim just because there were certain scientists many centuries ago who made contributions to the advancement of science by translating the works of other people…
Many Christians believe Tuesday’s rare celestial event known as a “blood moon” is a sign that the End Times are upon us and the return of Christ is near.
The lunar eclipse scheduled to happen after midnight on April 15th will reportedly be the first of four so-called “blood moon eclipses” expected to occur over the next two years.
A “blood moon” occurs when the Earth spins between the sun and the moon. When the Earth aligns with the sun and casts a shadow on the moon, it creates the effect known as a lunar eclipse, where the moon gets darker as the shadow passes; as this happens, the color of the moon changes to a dark rusty red color, hence the name “blood moon.”
Many Christians believe the “blood moon eclipses” are a sign of the “End Times.” CNN notes Christians who draw a divine connection to the celestial event cite the Bible’s Book of Acts, in which God says:
“And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”…
…One day when I was still very young, I asked my father about his parents. I knew my maternal grandparents intimately, but I wanted to know why I had never met his parents.
“Because they died,” he said wistfully.
“Will you ever see them again?” I asked.
He considered his answer carefully. Finally, he said that there was nothing he would like more in the world than to see his mother and father again, but that he had no reason — and no evidence — to support the idea of an afterlife, so he couldn’t give in to the temptation.
Then he told me, very tenderly, that it can be dangerous to believe things just because you want them to be true. You can get tricked if you don’t question yourself and others, especially people in a position of authority. He told me that anything that’s truly real can stand up to scrutiny.
As far as I can remember, this is the first time I began to understand the permanence of death. As I veered into a kind of mini existential crisis, my parents comforted me without deviating from their scientific worldview….
Virginia KKK Leader: We're Not Racist, We're Just Misunderstood Christians
According to Klan imperial wizard Frank Ancona, the KKK is just misunderstood because of a “few rogues.”
Which Republican public relations firm is handling the Ku Klux Klan PR these days? They seem to be undergoing a “rebranding,” that overused euphemism for papering over their past in order to renew interest in their future.
“We don’t hate people because of their race. I mean, we’re a Christian organization,” Frank Ancona, an Imperial Wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told WWBT on Thursday.
He insisted that the KKK had been unfairly maligned for its acts of violence against black people in the United States.
“Because of the acts of a few rogue Klansmen our Klansmen are supposed to be murderers and want to lynch black people, and we are supposed to be terrorists, and that is a complete falsehood.”
Awwww, they’re just misunderstood. All of those photos of them burning crosses on lawns and the lynchings that actually did happen? Just a big fat lie.
At any rate, their rebranding is not going particularly well. Perhaps that’s related to the flyers they’ve been leaving in Virginia neighborhoods. Here are some of their marketing pitches:
One of those fliers says “many people have experienced the blacks firsthand” and have seen the “savagery and animalism in many of these people.”
The flier that went to Chesterfield residents says the organization’s mission is “exalting the Caucasian race and teaching the doctrine of white supremacy.”
“That does not mean that we are enemies of the colored and mongrel race, but it does mean that we are organized to establish the solidarity and to realize the mission of the white race,” that flier reads.
Ancona said some misconceptions come from the fact that the organization is open exclusively to white, native-born Christians and that it has rituals and ceremonies that mysterious because they are known only to Klan members.
Yes, that could certainly have something to do with it. There’s nothing particularly racist about excluding anyone who isn’t white, now is there?
“Most of the past – surely far more than 99 percent, if we could quantify it – is irretrievably lost; it cannot be recovered. This should instill some modesty in us. Consider the weeks following the crucifixion. We have only minuscule fragments of what actually transpired. What, for instance, do we really know about the resurrection experience of James? First Corinthians 15:7 says that he saw the risen Jesus. And that is it. What Jesus looked like, what he said, if anything, where the encounter took place, when precisely it happened, how James responded, what state of mind he was in, how the experience began, how it ended – all of this had failed to enter the record. Almost every question that we might ask goes unanswered … Yet they are the sorts of questions historians often ask of old texts. The fact that we cannot begin to answer them shows how emaciated historically – as opposed to theologically – the Gospel narratives really are. Even if we naively think them to be historically accurate down to the minutest detail, we are still left with precious little. The accounts of the resurrection, like the past in general, come to us as phantoms. Most of the reality is gone … Even if history served us much better than it does, it would still not take us to promised land of theological certainty.”—Allison, Dale C.. Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and its Interpreters, p. 337-339. New York: T & T Clark, 2005. Print. (via academicatheism)
…I am by no means an expert on most of this. Unlike my beloved uncle, I am not a geologist. Unlike my academic colleague and acquaintance Richard Dawkins, I am not an evolutionary biologist. Unlike my old professor Carl Sagan or my fellow Planetary Society Board member and dear friend Neil deGrasse Tyson, I am not an expert on astrophysics. I am, however, a science educator. In this situation, our skeptical arguments are not the stuff of PhDs. It’s elementary science and common sense. That’s what I planned to rely on. That’s what gave me confidence…
…After the debate, my agent and I were driven back to our hotel. We were, by agreement, accompanied by two of Ham’s security people. They were absolutely grim. I admit it made me feel good. They had the countenance of a team that had been beaten—beaten badly in their own stadium. Incidentally, if the situation were reversed, I am pretty sure they are trained to feel bad about feeling good. They would manage to feel bad either way, which is consistent with Mr. Ham’s insistence on The Fall, when humankind took its first turn for the worse. And by his reckoning, we’ve been plummeting ever since….
“Astrologers were greatly impressed, and misled, by what they believed to be confirming evidence—so much so that they were quite unimpressed by any unfavorable evidence. Moreover, by making their interpretations and prophecies sufficiently vague they were able to explain away anything that might have been a refutation of the theory had the theory and the prophecies been more precise. In order to escape falsification they destroyed the testability of their theory. It is a typical soothsayer’s trick to predict things so vaguely that the predictions can hardly fail: that they become irrefutable.”—Karl Popper (Curd, Martin, and J. A. Cover. Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, p. 7-8. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998. Print.)
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that as a modern religious person I'm kinda offended by your blog. Not because you're an atheist, because everyone's entitled to their own belief. And that's exactly my issue. Everyone is entitled to believe in what they want, and what you're doing is disrespecting that and basically returning to the mindset of the dark Ages, in which anyone who disagrees with your personal beliefs is wrong and shut be put down and humiliated. I believe in theistic evolution, I
(continued) don’t deny science, physical scientific proof is scientific proof. But that still doesn’t mean that all other beliefs are fundamentally wrong. That one belief can cancel out another. Try being a little more respectful of other people’s feeling. At least don’t go out of your way to mock them. Please.
Dan Dennett said that there’s no polite way to suggest to someone that they’ve devoted their life to a folly. But even so, for good measure I just scrolled back quite a ways through my posts and I couldn’t find anything that could reasonably qualify as offensive or mocking. I’m returning to the mindset of the dark ages? What exactly did you read? I would love to know what content, that nobody is forcing you to look at, has got your feelings so hurt because at this point, I’m honestly confused.
I feel that my content stays true to the header of the blog in what it offers. I mean, I do understand that people who worship belief are generally uncomfortable with skepticism to the point of taking offense, but it’s not like I go around to superstitious people’s blogs and send them messages telling them that they are wrong; that they are offending my metaphysical and logical sensibilities and they should stop it.
I don’t even know who would do something like that.
“Another important doctrine of the Christian religion, is the atonement supposed to have been made by the death and sufferings of the pretended Saviour of the world; and this is grounded upon principles as regardless of justice as the doctrine of original sin. It exhibits a spectacle truly distressing to the feelings of the benevolent mind, it calls innocence and virtue into a scene of suffering, and reputed guilt, in order to destroy the injurious effects of real vice. It pretends to free the world from the fatal effects of a primary apostacy, by the sacrifice of an innocent being. Evil has already been introduced into the world, and in order to remove it, a fresh accumulation of crimes becomes necessary. In plain terms, to destroy one evil, another must be committed.”—Elihu Palmer, “Principles of Nature” 1801 (via academicatheism)
…If evolution is true, and if life on Earth originated in water, then there must have once been fish species possessing primitive limbs, which enabled them to spend some part of their lives on land. And these species, in turn, must be the ancestors of four-limbed, land-living vertebrates like us.
Sure enough, in 2004, scientists found one of those transitional species: Tiktaalik roseae, a 375-million-year-old Devonian period specimen discovered in the Canadian Arctic by paleontologist Neil Shubin and his colleagues. Tiktaalik, explains Shubin on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, is an “anatomical mix between fish and a land-living animal.”
"It has a neck," says Shubin, a professor at the University of Chicago. "No fish has a neck. And you know what? When you look inside the fin, and you take off those fin rays, you find an upper arm bone, a forearm, and a wrist." Tiktaalik, Shubin has observed, was a fish capable of doing a push-up. It had both lungs and gills. In sum, it’s quite the transitional form…
Origins: Founded in 1926, Vietnam by Ngo Van Chieu and others based on a séance.
Adherents: (apprx) 2-6 million
God(’s) and the Universe: God represented by Divine Eye. Founders of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity venerated, and saints including Victor Hugo.
Human situation and life purpose: Goal is peace and harmony in each person and in the world. Salvation by “cultivating self and finding God in self.”
Afterlife: Reincarnation. Bad karma can lead to rebirth on a darker planet; good karma to better life on earth. Eventual attainment of nirvana or heaven.
Practices: Hierarchy similar to Roman Catholicism. Daily prayer. Meditation. Communication with spirit world (now outlawed in Vietnam).
Texts: Caodai canon
History and Beliefs
Cao Dai (a.k.a. Dao Cao Dai or Caodaism) is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement with a strongly nationalist political character. Cao Dai draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism. Its pantheon of saints includes such diverse figures as the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Sun Yat-sen… More
“Of course, even if there were no evidence for God’s existence, that’s no proof that God does not exist. An Australian forensic scientist I met while lecturing in Syndey told me that there’s a saying beloved of criminologists: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. A suspect might still be the murderer even if there is no evidence that he is. To rule him out, you need an alibi, that is, positive evidence that he did not commit the crime. To rule out God’s existence, the atheist needs more than just absence of evidence; he needs some positive evidence of absence.”
— William Lane Craig
Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. However, absence of evidence is evidence of absence where evidence is to be expected. Neglecting that the god question isn’t akin to a crime scene, a scene where foul play is suspected but lacks motive, DNA evidence, a murder weapon, and so on, is comparable to a scene where no foul play is suspected. We expect evidence to be here or there. For instance, we expect evidence for a physical Jesus. Yet there isn’t any. Also, what’s offered as evidence crumbles when scrutinized. We also expect evidence in archaeology; indeed, Christians expected this evidence as well and that’s why we have so called biblical archaeology. Unfortunately, archaeological evidence doesn’t confirm the stories in the Bible; rather, it thrusts them into question. For instance, David and Solomon purportedly had the grandest kingdom Israel has ever seen. Solomon purportedly built this illustrious temple. Yet there’s no evidence to confirm this; the evidence we have, according to Silberman and Finkelstein, suggests that David and Solomon, if they existed, were nothing more than local village rulers—a far cry from two of the greatest kings in human history!
So there definitely is positive evidence against the biblical narrative and god’s existence. If the Bible isn’t accurate about anything else, why should we expect it to be accurate about god? And would you want it to be!? He made two bears descend on a bunch of trolling kids or teens (depends on your translation); he threatened to basically abort pregnancies by ripping open the pregnant women amongst his enemies; he commanded the slaughter of Canaanite and Amalekite children and infants; if taken literally, according to the Flood myth, he drowned an entire world save a family of eight and two or seven (?) of every species to ever (!) exist. You should be happy that the Bible isn’t accurate, but since it’s not, there’s no reason to take the god of its pages seriously. Furthermore, Jesus is god; thus, if he didn’t exist, in what sense can we say god the father exists? What about the holy spirit, which testifies of him? To disprove one mode of the Trinity is to disprove the Trinity itself.
And there is still metaphysical naturalism. Not only is evidence of god absent from nature (unless you’re presupposing that nature itself is the evidence), but where we would expect to find such evidence we instead find self-contained natural explanations. We expected to find evidence for god in the motions of planets, instead we found mindless gravity doing its thing. We certainly expected to find it in the processes of life, instead we found chemistry and natural selection. So it’s not just that there is absence of evidence, it’s that nature does indeed provide an abundance of positive evidence against the god hypothesis. Nature has an “alibi”.