Archive for May, 2013

Map of Cosmos and Religion

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The universe is 100 million years older than thought, according to the best-ever map of the oldest light in space.

The adjustment brings the universe’s age to 13.82 billion years, and means space and time are expanding slightly slower than scientists thought.

These discoveries come from a new all-sky map of ancient cosmic light by Europe’s Planck mission, which has measured what’s called the cosmic microwave background in greater detail than ever before.

Wow.

I don’t understand people who are religious. I really don’t. It’s not that I don’t understand why they are religious. It’s more like how can you remain religious given the overwhelming evidence against anything even remotely religious? It baffles the mind.

Religion does not only not make sense and contradicts everything we know about the universe and this Earth, but religion is a dead end. How can you know that our galaxy is so diverse with billions of other stars and endless galaxies bound together in cluster after clusters of galaxies and then still believe the goat herder stories and creation myths perpetuated by the Bible and other religious texts? It just seems so…childish.

It’s like still believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

Do people really think the billion galaxy universe was just created for us? And more to the point, do the fairy tales of the Bible and Koran really make sense to you? Even if we were to take them figuratively, does the concept of religion still -appeal to people? Or seem real? I find it suffocating.

On the other hand, I have found atheism to be a revelation.

The fairy tales perpetuated by religion made maybe sense when human kind was still in its infancy. But now that we are grown up, so to speak, and have expanded our knowledge significantly,  there is no need for fairy tales.

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As a kid, I loved the idea of Santa Claus myself. But I grew up and realized he was made up. Why aren’t we doing the same with religion? Just replace Santa Claus with Jesus or the other way around. In fact, as a kid, until I was 6 or 7, I really thought the two were the same for some reason.

I understand that humans do not like the idea of no control and not knowing. I understand the inherent fear in existential uncertainty. But I also understand that this fear has prompted countless cynical opportunists in the form of religious and political leaders to take advantage and actually claim to know the truth and have the answers – and the answers are magical and cannot be proven because that is just how the invisible operates, and “by the way, here are the rules, which we decided to set at the exact opposite of how we created you.

Personally I believe that the only religion worth following is the love of knowledge and the only god worth worshiping is the truth – however difficult it may be to accept and however inconvenient of a truth. We do not need to be the center of the universe. In fact, the universe was doing fine long before we came around and it will do just as fine long after we are gone.

universe31The idea of eternal heaven, or anything without parole and a way out –  an end – whereby one spends eternity just being happy with ones loved ones – no drive, no seeking out truth or knowledge, wonder or laughter, no challenges to the way we view the world and ourselves – just being happy forever and ever with loved ones. Who wants that? Who wants to spend eternity like that? It sounds boring to me and lazy and simple minded and as i would imagine hell.

The universe is so perfectly strange, vast and unimaginably endless that our gradual uncovering of its’ secrets, no matter how small,  is the most exciting thing imaginable to me. I only regret not living long enough to see what is in stow for us 100, 200 or maybe even 2000 years down the road.

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Priorities. We Don’t Have Them

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Have you ever dreamed of not having to pay taxes and wished you could convert your home to a church, for example – or even better, create your own religion – so you get tax exemption? Do you have all the paperwork but know you will not make the approval by the IRS? Or that you wouldn’t be able to stand the scrutiny that is involved in granting an organization and/or group tax exempt status? Have you always believed that the lack of credible evidence on your part with respect to your justification as to why you want tax exempt status would make it hard, if not impossible, for you to apply for and be approved for tax exemption? Well, worry no longer.

Thanks to the witch hunt of the IRS and questioning why the agency that is tasked with tax collection is scrutinizing the tax exempt application of a party that is explicitly anti-tax – a party that requested tax exempt status as a “social welfare” group while running their own political candidates despite the fact that charitable exemption has very specific rules about direct political advocacy –  no one who applies for tax exempt status will be scrutinized in the future. Well, at least, very few will, which is exactly what the problem is here.

The real scandal is not really whether the Tea-Party received too much scrutiny, but why aren’t others applying for tax exempt status not receiving the same scrutiny and are not held to the same standards?

The Catholic Church spent $ 2 million during the last election cycle on anti same-sex marriage efforts and they are tax exempt. If you are going to put measures on a ballot, directly influence political outcomes or run your own candidates, you shouldn’t be tax exempt.

Yeah, we sure got our priorities straight. No one complains that the IRS audits middle-class wage earners disproportionately more so than millionaires and corporations, mainly because poor people are an easier target and easier to prosecute than someone like Romney or a corporation with hundreds of pages of tax returns and utilized loopholes. Noooo. Let’s instead take an issue with the IRS scrutinizing the Tea-Party’s tax exempt application when that is the smartest thing the IRS has done in years.

The fuckery of this alleged scandal just goes on and on even though the treasonous tea-party’s application for tax exempt status was approved. If they had not been approved (which they really should not have), I would maybe be more inclined to understand the uproar but they did get approved.

bs-ed-horsey-tea-party-congress-20130520Instead of people applauding the IRS for doing the right thing in this instance, they let their personal dislike of the agency cloud their judgment and actually prompt them to take the side of the Tea Party while completely missing the bigger picture, which is that the Tea Party, by applying for tax exempt status, is really just cheating.  They should not be granted tax exempt status, they are running their own candidates.

The real scandal, therefore, is not the IRS scrutinizing the Tea party, the real scandal is that an organization –  such as the Tea Party  – which runs its own candidates and is heavily and directly involved in the political process  is getting tax exempt status. Of all places, the organization that is explicitly anti tax is granted tax exempt status.

That is insanity.

That is like the final flame that set that oil slicked water on fire. That is just adding insult to what was an offensive premise to begin with. A premise under which the Tea party was receiving serious consideration for their application for tax exempt status. The fact that they thought they could do it and get away with it and the fact that they indeed got away with it, just makes all this so much more ironic. Instead of arguing about why they even got the status in the first place, we argue about why where they scrutinized in the first place.

Of course that coward Obama pulls his tail between his legs and gives in again, asking the head of the IRS to resign, instead of stating the obvious which is that any organization that applies for tax exempt status must receive the same scrutiny as the Tea Party. No exceptions, no apologies.

OfokcThat’s what I call having misplaced priorities.

So, dear readers,  if you ever wanted to apply for tax exemption status, now is the time to do it. Thanks to our bored garbage media that likes to make an issue out of nothing and the dumb public that is allowing their personal dislike for having to pay taxes cloud their judgment with respect to the Tea Party’s tax exempt status and the wider implications of such a decision for this country’s political sphere, scrutinizing tax exempt status applications will from now on be a thing of the past. So go ahead and submit. The tea Party and religious organizations are, so should you.

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Lessons From the Bible

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When I first saw this I thought it was a freaking joke made up by someone with the worst sense of humor. That, or a piece of cartoon/anime porn. I mean she does look like she was fisting his ass. Outside of porn and S&M,  how do you even come up with a scenario like that?

Turns out, this pile of garbled shit is the result of the fermented mind of a religious person to be found in the Old Testament of the glorious Bible, Deuteronomy 15: 11-12 to be exact.

I am not kidding.

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”

I swear the Bible is the most hilarious work of fiction ever written.

May I remind our religious brethren that if anyone today came up with something like that as part of their religion, we would recommend they receive full psychological evaluation.

Seriously though, this isn’t divine anything, this is a cry for help.

 

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Can You Retroactively Take Back an Eternal Damnation Sentence?

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“Hang Atheists”

This is what peace looks like. Brought to you by Islam

This is what peace looks like. Brought to you by Islam

Well, it’ s good to know that Islam is a peaceful religion that is merely misunderstood. Just look at how misunderstood nearly 200,000 people were in Bangladesh last month when they stormed the streets of Dhaka rioting, injuring and even killing people, asking that atheists and all those who offend Islam be hanged or else executed  I totally feel the love here. Don’t you?

Officers were forced to use stun grenades to break up a rally by the group Hefazat-e Islam (Protectors of Islam) that so far has left at least 15 people dead and more than 50 injured.

According to police, more than 200,000 protesters marched the city centre to demand the government take a more Islamic stance on domestic policy. Many of the protesters had come into Dhaka from rural villages, making their way to the city’s largest mosque. However, the gathering quickly turned into a riot as shops and cars were set alight, government building attacked and police officers targeted. Clashes outside the mosque saw police react to stone throwing with tear gas and rubber bullets fired from armoured vehicles.

Kamrun Nahar mourns in front of a morgue as her husband Shaheed Hossain, 45, an activist of Bangladesh Awami League, died in a clash with Hefajat-e-Islam in Dhaka

Kamrun Nahar mourns in front of a morgue as her husband Shaheed Hossain, 45, an activist of Bangladesh Awami League, died in a clash with Hefajat-e-Islam in Dhaka

According to the AFP, the protesters were heard chanting: “One point, one demand, atheists must be hanged.” Sky News reported a protester, saying: “This government does not have faith in Allah. This is an atheist government; we will not allow them to live in Bangladesh. Muslims are brothers, we must protect Islam.”

In contrast, how many people went on the streets in this very same city protesting the death of over 700 workers,  many of whom made little more than the national minimum wage of about $1.20 per day under horrible, 16 hour day working conditions? A few hundred people? Compared to 200,000 who marched on the streets asking that atheists and those who disagree with them be killed?

Yes, I can see all the love shining through the smoke, and soot and smell of dead bodies at the hands of god-fearing and also god-loving believers.

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Atheist FAQ: Islam: Misunderstood Or Unduly Demonized?

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Everywhere I turn there is someone defending Islam, claiming it’s being unfairly picked on, claiming people saying bad things about Islam is like [insert strawman/false equivalence argument] or could lead to [insert a slippery slope argument].

I am  sick of people turning this whole criticism of Islam-as-a-garbage-religion into a cricitism about arabs and subsequently calling it racism. Opposing religion  – any religion – is, first of all, not racism. Islam is not a freaking race. And secondly, well shit, Islam does deserve the criticism – as a religion.

What has come out of Islamic countries over the past 50 years beside oppression, terrorism and subjugation? These are realities we cannot deny for the sake of political correctness. That is not to say garbage hasn’t come out of Christian countires but this is not a zero sum game where criticising Islam means you condone Christian oppression and/or supremacy or are barred from criticizing Christianity. Atheists are just as concerned about Christian supremacy as they are of Islamic supremacy and a bunch of religions in between.

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I am also tired of the same old excuse about how one cannot judge a culture or religion by what it outputs. Well guess what, you can and you should.

When most of the things coming from religion for hundreds of years – shit, for thousands of years – have been atrocities, oppression and subjugation you cannot state with a clear conscience that religion had nothing to do with it. That is where you step back, make use of your mental faculties and rational mind as a human being and recognize religion for what it is, saying to yourself “Gee, maybe there is a connection between religion and [insert bigot action of your choice].”

People always talk about how religion is misunderstood and especially Islam, but it isn’t. When 100% or even 80% of the crap coming out of Islam is what we see around us, then there is no misunderstanding and it was about high time we sat down and connected the dots and saw this religion (like all religions) for what they are instead of sitting here watching another atrocity be committed in the name of Islam and politely nodding out of a false sense of decorum, kidding ourselves into believing that hey, that doesn’t mean it is Islam’s fault after all , “it is just gravely misunderstood.”

So once and for all: Islam is not misunderstood. No religion is. The crap you see coming out of Islam and countires where Islam is the forced state religion is what you get. There is no grey area, no misunderstood anything, no shades of grey, no in between. Islam is what it is: a hateful, intolerant, violent and militant religion asking subservience and obedience by its followers under penalty and by employing scare tactics.

Any abused individual will tell you that “obeying” someone out of fear is not love, it is fear. And there is nothing warm, divine, enticing, great and peaceful about fear and about coercing people by induction of fear.

Now this is not to say that there are no kind Muslims or non-violent ones who do not condone this kind of behavior, but as a movement Islam is pretty obvious. Of course not every single person is a violent zealot.  Most Muslims themselves are, more than likely, the victims of their own regimes and its oppression – constantly under the yolk of the state and its perceived divine backing, held in ignorance and controlled by fear and terror.

And this is also not so much a criticism of people practicing Islam.  They can practice Santa Clausism as far as I am concerned.

However  this is about religion inciting hate and violence and the notion that other ideas are so dangerous and frightening that we have to destroy those who think or utter them.

When your religion is in the habit of treating an entire segment of the population like second class human beings, such as women, or killing those who disagree with you, don’t tell me that isn’t so and that your religion is misunderstood. When your religion is in the habit of exerting control over people regarding every aspect of their lives: from what they wear, what they listen to, what they watch, what they say and heck even what they think, you cannot state without a trace of irony that your religion is a peaceful one that is gravely misunderstood.

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Having no choice and being controlled are hardly peace conducing things. Atheists despise all religion and it just so happens that sometimes the discussion is about Islam, while sometimes about Christianity and sometimes about Judaism.

As the dust on the horrific Boston bombings by the Tsarnaev brothers has yet to settle, Muslims have already felt the impact of their association with Islam.  Some scholars are observing a rise in what they call Islamophobia in popular media and blogosphere.

While Muslim-bating rhetoric and explicitly racist legislation, police surveillance, witch-trials and discriminatory policies towards Muslims in North America and abroad cannot be denied,  from the stand point of the atheist such volatility and aggression perpetuated by Islamic countries is expected and nothing surprising. What is surprising is calling criticism of Islam Islamophobia and in some cases even racism.

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One Huffington Post contributor even went so far as to refer to outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins as a “xenophobe” because he tweeted that “Islam [is the] greatest force for evil today”. Said contributor even went so far as to suggest racism, because “the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are non-white“, ipso facto criticising Islam is criticizing a non-White person which supposedly then constitutes racism.

Uh-huh…

Islamophobia is not the correct term to refer to criticism or critics of Islam. That just makes it sound like the critics are afraid of something they don’t understand and that is not true.

I (and most atheists) understand Islam and Christianity, Mormonism and Scientology and Quaker-rism, and Shaker-rism and Judaism perfectly well and atheists are only afraid of them in so far as the power they have to make people engage in all sorts of atrocities and lies, bigotry and hatred on its behalf.

Secondly, the notion that we have to stop “picking on” Islam because most Muslims are non-white and it could lead to something like racism is ludicrous. The notion that criticizing an act committed by non-whites constitutes or could be construed as racism is beyond flase.

I am tired of giving credence to the imaginary friends of religious people and a god who can create entire universes but is also endlessly interested in my personal thoughts. 

Moreover, xenophobia, which means extreme fear of foreigners, is definitely not the accurate way to describe Dawkins. The man has been just as outspoken against Christianity and people in the West and all religions for that matter as against Islam. It is just that right now – given the immense oppression that is at the heart of the Muslim world – he has chosen to talk about Islam.

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Dawkins has very valid reasons for criticizing religion, the practice of which has lead to the marginalization, persecution, and oppression of women and others because they do not adhere to the ridiculous tenets of such a faith. There is no grey area. Islam is very clear in what it promotes.

Finally, Dawkins is not unhealthy marginalizing a minority group. This group people are so wholeheartedly defending, just like any other religion, is – if left unchecked – the cause of a lot of misery, death and marginalization of people – even their own people.

Religion has many ugly parts and often it does not matter what that religion is. Just look at what the Zionist regime of Israel is doing to the Palestinians whose land they stole. They treat them no better than the Nazis treated the Jews some 80 years ago.  Save for concentration camps (that we know of) Israel is maybe just a notch better than the Nazis and their systematic and inhumane way of annihilating a peoples. And why? Because Jews think they are god’s chosen people (based on a book they themselves wrote) and thus have divine backing of their atrocities.

When you think you hold a privileged position in society vis a vis other human beings and when such a belief is “backed” by some holy divine book,  then the doom of the entities at your mercy is sealed. How do you argue with and rationally have debates with entities who think they are better than the rest of human kind and have divine backing of all their actions, no less?

When people criticize atheists for Islamophobia, it is often out of ignorance about what Atheism is. If you understand what Atheism is and what informs an Atheist, you don’t go running around saying they are Islamophobes. Atheism dislikes all religion. I have just as many critical things to say about Islam as I have about judaism, Mormonism, Catholicism or whatever other religions are out there.

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Lauryn Hill Can’t Be Rich the Right Way

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Lauryn Hill will be spending the next three months in the slammer for tax evasion. She made some $1.5 million a few years ago and didn’t pay the taxes on it. A modest earning by today’s entertainment industry salaries, if you ask me. One and a half mill is what Jay Z spends on booze and diamond-dust baby powder for Blue Ivy Carter.

Apparently being part of the 1% wasn’t enough for Hill, so she claimed that as a black person she is somehow entitled to not paying taxes. Right.

Memo to Lauryn Hill: when you are a fucking millionaire, you get yourself a fucking good financial advisor and team of lawyers and start getting into the whole hide-your-assets-through-loopholes thing. This is what all 1%ers do and now that you are no longer a slave (to poverty), you gotta get into this whole legal tax evasion thing, girl.

Obama worked hard to maintain that privilege for folks like you. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you wasted it all by actually paying your taxes?

Hide your money in offshore accounts, donate to a church you  created and take a tax deduction, say your prized horse makes you feel better about yourself and tax deduct it as a medical expense. I mean shit, if you play it right, you are probably even owed money back from the government. That’s how 1%ers remain the 1%. And you gotta get into it.  Look at all those Wall Street execs, Congressmen,  even presidential candidates: they are all doing it right while you keep doing it all wrong. But I guess that’s the nouveau rich person in you.

Regardless. When you have money you don’t just not pay taxes – that’s stupid and obvious.  You invest some money in a bunch of pros who help you to legally not pay them.

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