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

 

Children and teenagers can handle a lesbian or gay orientation within themselves. What they cannot handle is the trauma of concealing it, not being able to express it or talk about it, and the negativity surrounding it by others around them.

 Joe Kort, gay affirmative therapy for the straight clinician (via disabledbyculture)

Religious people will say that being gay is bad for your mental health, and then they’ll work tirelessly to make it true.

Guess Who Got into a Facebook Face-off over Atheism?

While the idea of a face-off on social media might suggest stepping into the middle of a frivolous fracas, a serious issue was raised in a recent Facebook post by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in which she accused State Sen. Katrina Shealy of “spreading the lie” that the director of the Department of Social Services, Lillian Koller, is an atheist. Shealy responded on her own Facebook page that she was angry over the governor’s accusation, asserting that she had asked Haley’s staff months ago to confirm or deny rumor about Koller’s alleged atheism. The staff clarified that Koller is Jewish, which came as a relief to Shealy. “I don’t give a flying flip what the Director is,” came her retort. “Well that is not true either, I would worry if she were an atheist.”

Really? And why is that? If Koller were an atheist (again, she apparently isn’t), how would that negatively affect her job performance? Why would anyone’s religious beliefs or lack of beliefs be an issue at all?

Of course, we all know why. The issue is prejudice. Atheists are one of the most maligned groups in the United States, especially in the Bible Belt where the first question someone asks upon meeting you is, “So where do you go to church?” According to polls, being atheist is less acceptable in America than being gay, Muslim or Jewish. Heck, even Haley and Shealy can accept a Jewish director of Social Services, but apparently not an atheist one…

AZ Senate Passes ‘Right to Discriminate’ Bill

This afternoon, on a party-line 17-13 vote, Republicans in the Arizona Senate bucked the national trend and gave final approval to SB 1062, a GOP-led bill that would create a special “right” to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religion.

Under the bill, which was introduced by Republican State Senator Steve Yarbrough, individuals and businesses would be granted the legal right to refuse services to people or groups if they claimed that doing so would “substantially burden” their freedom of religion.

In interviews with local media, Yarbrough made it perfectly clear that the specific purpose of this bill is to legitimize discrimination against the LGBT community. But during today’s nearly two-hour-long debate, Yarbrough took a different tack, claiming that the basic rights of LGBT people victimize anti-LGBT Christians.

"This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

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skepticalavenger:

Although I don’t like the expression “real Christians,” this makes a great observation.

skepticalavenger:

Although I don’t like the expression “real Christians,” this makes a great observation.

Science completely contradicts Christian's anti-gay bigotry...

confrontingbabble-on:

This issue is one of oppression, bigotry and government colluding with religious fundamentalists to withhold equal rights from a sector of its citizens…

"Along with many other Right Wing Christian groups, [the American Family Association (AFA)] is a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. On a recent show he spent most of one segment ranting about all the awful things that will happen to America if the Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act. In particular, he asserted that it would lead to incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.Fischer is clearly not a very good historian….He’s trying to convince us that homosexuality is really bad and destroys empires. This is a testable claim.

Children of Gays.

  • In 1996, Mike Allen and Nancy Burrell published a peer reviewed study on the subject. They found the following: “The results demonstrate no differences on any measures between the heterosexual and homosexual parents regarding parenting styles, emotional adjustment, and sexual orientation of the child(ren). In other words, the data fail to support the continuation of a bias against homosexual parents by any court.” (The full text is available through PsychNet if you’d like to read it. There is a modest fee for membership.)

  • In 2006, Gregory Herek replicated the conclusions: “The data indicate that same-sex and heterosexual relationships do not differ in their essential psychosocial dimensions; that a parent’s sexual orientation is unrelated to her or his ability to provide a healthy and nurturing family environment.” (Also available through PsychNet.)

  • In 2001, Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz discovered something rather startling. While children of gay and lesbian parents don’t “become gay” any more than children of heterosexuals, daughters of lesbian couples do display one very different behavior: They play better with male children and have more gender-neutral views of society. (Isn’t that what we want? For women to choose their own destinies sans gender impositions?) "53 percent (16 out of 30) of the daughters of lesbians aspired to careers such as doctor, lawyer, engineer, and astronaut, compared with only 21 percent (6 of 28) of the daughters of heterosexual mothers."

  • Overall, Stacey and Biblarz found that "Lesbigay parents and their children in these studies display no differences from heterosexual counterparts in psychological well-being or cognitive functioning."

Adult Gay Relationships

Failing to prove that children are harmed by having gay parents, many Christian bigots will go on to claim that homosexual relationships are “inherently” less stable, less emotionally fulfilling, and psychologically damaging. This claim is also contradicted by the evidence.

  • A 2003 empirical study by Gottman, et al, of the interaction between heterosexual and homosexual couples found that "same-sex couples actually demonstrated more positive (and fewer negative) behaviors during their interactions than did married couples."

  • The 2003 study had a small sample, so Roissman, et al, conducted a more thorough and broader series of studies in 2008. They found "individuals in committed same-sex relationships were generally not distinguishable from their committed heterosexual counterparts, with one exception—lesbians were especially effective at working together harmoniously in laboratory observations."

  • Empirical evidence for actual levels of infidelity in either heterosexuals or homosexuals is very difficult to come by. Varying cultural and ethnic definitions, self-reporting bias, and social concerns have rendered the body of evidence difficult to interpret. At best. There is no data available for divorce rates among gays — since gay marriage has never been allowed in the U.S. However, it’s important to note that there are no reliable studies linking homosexuality with higher levels of relationship infidelity.

  • Recent publications have questioned the reality of monogamy as a historical tradition. In The Myth of Monogamy, Barash and Lipton present a compelling (and cross-disciplinary) argument that heterosexual couples have never been paragons of fidelity to begin with. In other words, it appears that lots of people — both gay and straight — cheat. The Roissman study backed up this conclusion with the observation that both gay and straight couples’ relationship satisfaction was based more on non-sexual factors like parental support and modeling. Not sexual orientation.

In short, the arguments from the Christian bigots fail. They do not reflect reality, but rather a religious ideological agenda. There is no evidence that homosexual marriage destroys society. There is no evidence whatsoever that gays are inherently less healthy, happy, or faithful than straights. There is no evidence that children of gays suffer any harm. In fact, there’s reasonable evidence that children of lesbians are more socially accepting and well adjusted — especially girls. Fischer and all the other anti-gay bigots are wrong. They are factually, objectively wrong, and there is no excuse whatsoever for giving their hate any place in even one point of law.”

Read in full  http://www.examiner.com/article/science-completely-contradicts-christian-s-anti-gay-bigotry

Pretty much every time I conclude that a Church Father seems like a pretty cool guy, I learn that he hated Jews and/or women.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Church History From ‘The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1” by Justo L. Gonzalez (via azspot)

When I read the whole article, I’m struck by the cognitive dissonance of the author. A kind of liberal Christian who acknowledges that the bible was assembled by extremely fallible men and that the totality of the church has never been in agreement on very importation doctrinal tenets (I.e. was Jesus God?). They acknowledge that the church has been behind some of history’s worst abuses of power… Yet, they they still believe that there is some benevolent god behind it all and that this book is his Word. It seems obvious that they care more about belonging to the rich tradition of Christianity than they do about whether or not it’s actually true or not.

…Erick Erickson isn’t only an amateur theologian. He also considers weighty moral issues like what to do if your own child is gay. And his answer? Well, he’s not worried if his son is gay … as long as society then properly shuns and discriminates against him.

confrontingbabble-on:

Religion: immorality, bigotry and prejudice…cloaked in a seductive disguise of self righteous social respectability…

goodreasonnews:

41 homophobic Christian groups, (who do, in fact, represent most of Americas Christian population through lobbying and if you’re a Christian, make no mistake, you are supporting this) published this half-page ad in today’s USAToday calling on the Boy Scouts of America to continue to oppress and marginalize homosexuals at every level throughout their organization. This is true Christianity right here and while not all Christians support this sort of thing, all Christians support one or more of these lobbies whenever they donate to their church, support Christian political movements (because they’re usually fronted by these groups. Even seemingly innocuous ones like the National Day of Prayer), or just promote Christianity in culture because you lend legitimacy to these people and these causes. This ad shamefully equates homosexuality to immorality and progress to cowardice. They are the cowards. They are cruel and their culture is a dying one. You either get on the right side of history and throw this garbage away or you support them in shame and face being humiliated for generations to come as backward and ignorant.
Source

goodreasonnews:

41 homophobic Christian groups, (who do, in fact, represent most of Americas Christian population through lobbying and if you’re a Christian, make no mistake, you are supporting this) published this half-page ad in today’s USAToday calling on the Boy Scouts of America to continue to oppress and marginalize homosexuals at every level throughout their organization. This is true Christianity right here and while not all Christians support this sort of thing, all Christians support one or more of these lobbies whenever they donate to their church, support Christian political movements (because they’re usually fronted by these groups. Even seemingly innocuous ones like the National Day of Prayer), or just promote Christianity in culture because you lend legitimacy to these people and these causes. This ad shamefully equates homosexuality to immorality and progress to cowardice. They are the cowards. They are cruel and their culture is a dying one. You either get on the right side of history and throw this garbage away or you support them in shame and face being humiliated for generations to come as backward and ignorant.

Source