Posts Tagged Mark Twain

New Poll Suggests That Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality

BeliefInGod (1)A new Pew Research Center report found that, worldwide, many people believe that it is necessary to believe in god to be a moral person.

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, the clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in god to be moral and have good values. This position is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East – both of which are – incidentally, or not – regions experiencing some of the highest murder and violence rates.

At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in god is essential to morality.

In the Middle East, roughly seven-in-ten or more, such as Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Lebanon, agree that god is essential to lead a moral life.

The irony, of course, is that countries that experience the highest rate of such things as overall violence, bigotry, intolerance, rape, misogyny, oppression, racism, subjugation and thus various degrees of civil and human rights violations – all of which are, unequivocally,  immoral –  exhibit the highest percentage of people who believe that belief in god is essential for morality/

Let’s do a round-up of all these moral entities:

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India’s capital city of New Delhi, which is one of those countries where the overwhelming majority, 70%to be exact, believe it is necessary to believe in god to be moral and have good values, had 1,121 rape cases in the first eight months of 2013 alone. And these are only  the reported and registered cases and in one city alone. The actual numbers are probably much higher as not all rape cases all reported for obvious reasons.

Also interesting to note is that between 2004 and 2010, Indians have committed the second most rapes in the world, right behind the United States.

Belief in god a source of morality, indeed. I can just see the morality shining through everytime a believer in India rapes someone.

Looking at the Pew poll it is painfully obvious that the countries whose populations assert belief in a god as a condition for morality , are, in fact, some of the most violent, murderous and  thus immoral countries in the world. In fact, one could assert that the more religious a country is, the more violent, homicidal, criminal, intolerant  and immoral.

In Pakistan, which has one of the world’s highest homicide rates, a whopping 98 percent of respondents tied morality to religion/belief in god.

Venezuela, a country where 80% of respondents tied morality to god, had 24,000 murders last year, rendering it one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

Brazil, where 86 percent of respondents believe that religion/god breed morality, is the most dangerous country in the world based on murder rates alone (i.e not including assault, attempted murder, rape and other types of violence and/or crime), followed by our shining beacon of morality, India and then Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and the United States – all of which are countries where the majority (United States, Mexico) and overwhelming majority (70% and above, such as Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa) believe that one does need god to be moral.

Uganda, which recently made homosexuality illegal and punishable with life in prison, is another shining haven for morality where 89 percent of respondents polled believe that religion is necessary for morality.

Again, it is interesting to note how some of the most self-proclaimed pious countries in the world exhibit some of, if not the, highest rates of violence, murder and all sorts of other notably immoral behavior.

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It is also interesting to note that the survey found that people in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in god to have good values than people in poorer countries do, indicating that poverty, and with it ignorance, may be linked to religiosity.

Interesting to note, however, is that two countries stand out as clear exceptions to this pattern: the U.S. and China. Americans are much more likely than their economic counterparts to say belief in god is essential to morality, while the Chinese are much less likely to do so.

It is painfully obvious that belief in god does not produce morality and that, in fact, quite the opposite appears to be true, namely that belief in god – and with that I mean most notably the god of Abrahamic religions that is plaguing most of the nations in this poll,  even though this can be said about the concept of god in general –  creates anything but tolerant, loving, charitable, merciful, honest and thus moral people.

When you are intolerant and bigoted, when you rape, murder, subjugate, oppress and engage in all sorts of heinous acts, you cannot claim to be moral. In fact, you are blatantly immoral. By suggesting your god or religion makes you moral while you pull another dead body off your street, you are not only markedly immoral but also delusional and deeply ignorant.

It is very ironic, as well as a testament to the sad state of affairs, that given the above, it is atheists who are the least trusted entities in this country (and world-wide as it would appear) aside from rapists.

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poll by the Federal Bureau of Prisons concluded that only 0.209 percent of prisoners identified themselves as Atheists, far lower than the more than 39 percent of prisoners who identified as Catholic.

Morality Independent of Religion

Theists believe that morality is intelligible only in the context of religion and that humans have essentially no  internal compass telling them the difference between right or wrong, or moral and immoral. In the view of the theist, one needs religion to be able to distinguish right from wrong, moral from immoral, good from bad.

Reality does not support such a ridiculous assertion.

As Christiopher Hitchens remarked ”Our knowledge of right and wrong is innate in us. Religion gets its morality from humans. We know that we can’t get along if we permit perjury, theft, murder, rape, all societies at all times, well before the advent of monarchies and certainly, have forbidden it… Socrates called his daemon, it was an inner voice that stopped him when he was trying to take advantage of someone… Why don’t we just assume that we do have some internal compass?”

Atheists don’t need the crutch that is religion to understand what moral behavior is and how to apply it to their lives. In fact, humans don’t need the crutch that is religion because recognizing that positive inputs lead to positive outcomes is common sense.

On the other hand, the morals of religious people are elicited out of them by instigation of fear and shame and punishment and the wrath of god, messiahs, prophets and hell.

Religious people often ask the atheist “but how do you define moral behavior when you have nothing to guide you and tell you what that moral behavior is?”, as if atheists where these mindless shells devoid of deductive reasoning and moral principles and could only be whole and moral if told by something or someone else what that morality is. As if atheists were incapable of making that distinction themselves by virtue of being a human being with a functioning brain.

There is just something deeply insincere about someone who believes they need to be good because some elusive divine power says so and not because they genuinely believe that being and doing good is better for all of us – whether some perceived divine entity endorses it or not.

If you are a good, moral person because you are afraid to be punished in the afterlife or go to hell, then you are selfish and only doing “the right moral thing” to dodge the bullet. But it means so much more if you are a good person because you really believe that by being good, being generous, giving, understanding, tolerant, charitable etc. the world will be a better place and everyone around you better off.

top rapists

Moreover, and as has been illustrated above, being religious is nowhere near a guarantee that its followers and perpetrators will actually lead moral lives. On the contrary, one can expect to find some of the most immoral people in places that make the biggest claims about god and religiosity.

As Greg Epstein, the current Humanist and Chaplain at Harvard University noted, “sociologists have recently begun to pay more attention to the fact that some of the world’s most secular countries, such as those in Scandinavia, are among the least violent, best educated, and most likely to care for the poor.”

Given the violent and bloody history and facts surrounding religion, it is quite ironic of religious people to argue that morality and a sense of what is good or wrong cannot, or could never, have existed without religion.

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Why Keith Olberman Got Fired Again

Keith Olbermann, former host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, from where he was eventually fired, faced the same music again yesterday when Current TV decided to let him go as well, stating that their values of “respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to [their] viewers” were  “no longer reflected in [their] relationship with Keith Olbermann.” They did not make any mention of any specifics or what might have precipitated their decision to can Olberman who will be replaced by former New York governor and CNN host Eliot Spitzer.

I must say I was shocked and saddened when they fired him so unexpectedly last year. I always knew that he was quite an opinionated person who did not shy away from saying it like it is, but he never crossed the line or divulged in tasteless banter or in any other way comprise the integrity of his show and the viewers. Yes he was outspoken and passionate – and I hate having to say that in this apologetic tone as if it was a liability – but he was never rude or unreasonable.  I especially loved his insight and willingness to swing a heavy hammer to the privileged and demand they cough up their fair share. So needless to say that it was really strange to me that they fired him so promptly. He wasn’t even given the opportunity to say goodbye, he was just booted.

Olbermann’s firing from Current yesterday leaves much of the same bitter aftertaste in my mouth. His position at Current was supposed to be his triumphant return to television in tatters. After his bitter departure from MSNBC, Current sought to make him the centerpiece of its rebranding as a progressive news network.

It was not long, though, before the tensions between Olbermann and his superiors exploded into the open. In January, his sudden absence from Current’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses led to open warfare between the two sides. Olbermann fired off a statement saying that he was “not given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions,” adding, “They know it and we know it. Telling half the story is wrong.”

There were also reports that Olbermann was incensed by repeated technical problems with his show, and miffed that he was not being given a greater say in deciding which shows were going to precede and follow his.

All this of course just seems to be nothing but a ruse to get rid of Olberman whose direct approach on a lot of liberal causes don’t stomach too well with Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, the founders of the network.

A few things have been swirling around that could have given us all a clue as to the fat of Olberman on Current:

1.) Comcast became a partial owner of Current
2.) Keith’s background during taping kept going black, lights kept fading out on him, and audio would be sketchy at his “new” desk
3.) Keith did not host the NH primaries for Current
4.) Jennifer Gandholm, former Governer of Michigan, was lauded and courted by Al Gore, on Chenk’s program. Jennifer, looked and acted as if she swallowed a cheshire cat, and her behavior of overt aggressiveness with the two men, made me think she was going to have a big role in Current soon.
5.) Jennifer has her own heavily promoted show, non-stop ads, huge new layout, all the cameras, big TV screens, etc…and Jennifer covers the NH primary; surprise!
6.) Keith, once again is forced to table “Worst Persons” and his absences are growing.
7.) Rumors are surfacing about Keith being in dispute with Current, but Keith has a nasty cold and bronchial cough and had to take time off; he was still sick upon his return

Why Keith Olberman was Really Fired

The problem, if one can call it that, is that Olberman wants to rake his opponents over the coals,  which he is very good at, and which, frankly, his opponents largely deserve. Al Gore, on the other hand, wants to play  “nice” with his opponents, which is most definitely not Olberman’s (or mine for that matter) style, not to mention detrimental.

Wanting to “play nice”, however, is precisely what the problem is with the Democrats in Congress (and the White House), and why little has gotten done in the past four years to benefit the middle class: Obama wants to play nice with Republicans.  Over the past four year, more often than not, he has continuously been giving in to the credence of their cut throat policies that only benefit the 1% at the expense of everyone and everything else; he has been pushing for  bipartisan politics in a Congress that mostly loathes him and where they have so little respect for him as a person and the office of the Presidency that he occupies that they yell “you lie” while he is addressing Congress. In fact Obama took playing nice so far that the Republicans conned him into extending the much loathed tax cut for the wealthy – the one thing he had vowed during his campaign he was not going to do. It was so bad they even got him to apologize to the UK for having criticized BP for the devastating oil spill it was responsible for and which since has left the Gulf in shambles.

Yes, BP was responsbile for the spill and Obama ended up apologizing to the UK for saying that BP was responsbile for the spill. The fuckery went so far that even US legislators, such as Rep. Joe Barton from Texas, ended up apologizing on Obama’s behalf for the $20 billion escrow account that his administration asked BP to create for paying out damages in the case.

These are just a few examples of the kind of nice play folks like Al Gore and Obama have been engaging in during some futile attempt to somehow do what exactly….gain the sympathy of conservatives, make them understand? To reason with them? To show that they are reasonable?

The truth is, however, that you can’t ‘reason’ with conservatives who – out of principle – say that up is down when Obama says so; just as you can’t reason with irrational people.  Al Gore, of all people, should already know this from the way he was treated for his global warming documentary.

Yet here we got Keith Olberman who – official reasons for his dismissal aside – is being basically fired because he has been refusing to play along when conservatives once again stepped forward to take a long shit on the majority of the American people and their causes to enrich the pockets of banks, corporations, oil companies and millionaires.

I like Keith Olberman. He stands up for the truth and justice; he wants things investigated, explained and straightened out to better humanity. He champions the cause of those who otherwise may not have a voice.  He is their advocate. And he says those things with conviction and valor.

One cannot deny his passion in this regard. In a way he might be feeling the anger of those people whom he defends so definatly for. He is very unapologetic and quite relentless about it but he is also fair.

He is also not afraid to continue standing by the things he said and believed to be the truth even if it means he is not being popular or liked. That is a rare quality. We have entirely too many sheep in this world who think it is just really cool and classy to be giving credence to everyone’s outlandish, often ignorant views that are detrimental to society and human kind.

Current prides itself in being a progressive news outlet, but they are not really progressive if they are letting Olberman go for essentially being too progressive and liberal. The fact that he got canned twice now tells me he probably refused to cave in  and is a really awesome guy who wont relinquish his beliefs to be polite to people with destructive and sinister notions.

My take on this is that if the Establishment approves of you and likes you, you know you are doing something wrong. As Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

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Kirk Cameron Joins the Ranks of Washed-Up Celebrity Bigots

The fuckery of religious people, much like stupidity, has no bounds. Aside from the majority of the general population –  that I frankly don’t really expect much out of – now also politicians, entertainers and even washed up celebrities have fallen for the Dark Side (religion and all the liabilities thereof) and they continue interjecting the darkness onto all aspects of everyone’s life, falsely calling their perpetuation of bigotry and hatred,  “freedom of speech” and “freedom to religion.”

The latest example of public figure bigotry (for today that is. New, famous bigots seem to pop up every other day), is Kirk Cameron – former child star and teen heartthrob of the popular TV sitcom Growing Painsevangelical nut job extraordinaire and current washed up celebrity tool for bigotry with nothing worthwhile to his name for the past decade but religiously themed movies and advocating far-right Christian evangelical causes.

Kirk Cameron, before the fall

A couple of years ago, he distributed 50,000 copies of an altered version of Darwin’s On the Origins of Species at dozens of U.S. universities to convince students that what they really need in life is not knowledge and facts, but myth, fairy tales and bigotry. His altered version  contained an introduction explaining  “Adolf Hitler’s undeniable connection” to the theory of evolution, and highlighting “Darwin’s racism” and “his disdain for women.” Cameron’s edition also exposes the “many hoaxes” of evolutionary theory, while presenting a “balanced view of Creationism.”

A couple of weeks ago, he stepped into a firestorm of controversy when he appeared on Pierce Morgan explaining that he believes that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “ultimately destructive.” He said: “I think that it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”

On the issue of marriage equality Cameron remarked, “Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve — one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.

After his deluge of unfounded insults and bigotry, Cameron actually had the nerve to complain about how unfair it is all  to him actually, since he doesn’t get to just freely express his “opinion” anymore and gets judged for them and how religion is so much under attack, making it really hard for him and the rest of the Evangelicals to express their bigotry and ignorance unhindered. He was complaining that liberals and atheists (the religious Rights’ favorite fall guys acting on behalf of Satan apparently) were trying to restrict religious freedom and were interfering in peoples’ lives and their right to religion.

Yes, dear readers, there is nothing like an unembarrassed hypocrite from the Right. It is certainly hilarious (I am hemorrhaging on the inside) that he should criticize Darwin for his alleged “disdain for women” when it has been Evangelical Christians like Cameron that  have been debasing and degrading women for centuries and continue to do so even in the year 2012; the Blunt Amendment, which would let employers opt out of a new federal health-care mandate for their employees if they have religious objections and the Abortion Ultrasound Bill, which requires women to undergo a medically unnecessary and invasive transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion and which was signed into law in Virginia on March 7, 2012, are the latest examples of the kind of respect and esteem religious people have for women.

But it hasn’t all just started this year. Last year alone, more than 1100 reproductive health restrictions were introduced in all 50 states. Restrictions to abortion rights skyrocketed to record levels in 2011, nine states reduced funding for family planning, Texas reduced its reproductive health budget by 66%, six states passed restrictions on family planning funds and New Hampshire prevented planned parenthood from recieving Tittle X funds. (Source: Think Prgoress).  All these laws are solely and exclusive based on religious grounds.

So you understand that I find it both laughable and insincere for Cameron and religious people everywhere to complain that government interferes with them and tells them how to conduct their lives.

Religious Infestation

But the buck doesn’t stop there. Religion is permeating and infesting public life and policy on all levels. Ohio Exit Polls from the last GOP candidate election revealed that for over 80% of Republican voters in Ohio it matters that a candidate shares their religious beliefs. These voters are in stark agreement with the Taliban on this one.

And make no mistake about it: all candidates – in both parties – have been constantly trafficking in religious pandering. Even President Obama, who is a smart man, said, – with a straight face – that “I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I am redeemed through him.”

Kirk Cameron spreads the love

He is a better actor than I thought if he is able to say something so stupid and truly outlandish with a dead pan expression. It is like saying “I believe that the pink elephant circling the orbit died for my sins and I am going to make public policy decisions based on said pink elephant in orbit.”

I don’t think people understand the extent to which such answers are utterly scandalous and detrimental for this country.  That only 18 percent of Republican voters in Ohio say that they cast their votes without any religious prejudice at all is frightening. And the fact that no one seems to see that is even more disturbing.

The media are only interested in which candidates these people vote for, but there is no headline saying that religious bigtory is rampant among Ohio voters, which is what the real cause of contention should be.  Why? Because the media, just as the majority of the general population,  consider it perfectly acceptable, and a given,  for presidential candidates to have to discuss their religious beliefs when campaigning and answering questions about government.

Alan Alda, who played California Republican Arnold Vinick on The West Wing  said in fiction what I wish our real politicians and law makers,  including our President, had said in real life:

I don’t see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won’t all lie to you but a lot of them will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So, every day until the end of this campaign, I’ll answer any question anyone has on government, But if you have a question on religion, please go to church.”

Bigotry Trying to Pass as Freedom of Speech

I must say that in  way, it pains me to see Kirk Cameron, one of my teen celebrity crushes from back in the day, having fallen so deeply and so irreversibly into the claws of religious bigotry and with it hatred and the complete annihilation of common sense and intelligent thought. What’s worse, he thinks that there is no problem with what he is doing and saying because, after all, we live in America, which bigots seem to have mistaken for carte blanche to spread any amount of unfounded bullshit and hate speech they want against any group.

When Cameron stands up there, on TV, saying that he believes homosexuality is destructive to society, the kind of message he sends is very clear. This is no longer about him expressing his views on an issue, this is him instigating violence and hatred and it is irresponsible to do so in a time where teens who try to come out, are being bullied and harassed and driven to suicide in some cases.

Words have consequences and the word of people in the public sphere have even bigger consequences, because a lot of people hear them. Cameron’s instigation of hatred, which he and everyone defending him is trying to brush under the carpet as just harmless expressions of opinion, has very real life consequences, ultimately rendering him an irresponsible person.

I am tired of this country having fallen into a stupor of anti scientific ideologies and anti intellectual mentalities under the  guise of fair play and equality. Religious people, and religious people alone, are solely responsbile for the decline in education and knowledge. Rick Santorum, who is a potential presidential candidate, homeschools his children out of fear that the outside world might actually teach them reality and facts instead of the fairy tales and made up crap he and his pious doormat of a wife teach them.  He fears knowledge and ideas that emerge in a college setting so much that he is, literally, holding his children hostage at home, depriving them from access to it, because any idea that does not conform to the narrow lens with which he views the world is considered dangerous.

Religion is the Poison of the Mind, the Killer of Innovation and Philosophical Suicide

Charles Darwin - Religious peoples' Antichrist

While I strongly believe in the “live and let live” mantra and that everyone is entitled to believe in whatever they want to believe in (Jesus, Mohammed, Santa Clause, the Eatser Bunny), I feel that I can no longer just sit by idly and politely nod, thus giving credence to the misinformation, ignorance, and lies of religious people and their followers, because there is an inherent and palpable danger in doing that.

There is nothing honorable and polite in giving credence to insanity. If my actions allow for the truth to be suppressed and for fallacies to take its place and influence everyone else’s life, then my actions in that regard need to change, which means speaking up against religion.

Kirk Cameron believes in things that a fifth grader’s textbook could disprove. He is dangerous because his faith is not just confined to his personal realm, but it is infesting society. He is advocating it on TV, in schools and he is judging others based on his skewed beliefs. He believes that facts and knowledge are secondary, if not irrelevant, to god and the fairy tales spewed in the Bible.

When a child makes up an invisible friend, we smile and think it is really cute. But when an adult does pretty much the same thing, we call it faith and elevate that fictional person in their mind to some kind of authority figure; the divine.

Subsequently, the person with said holy invisible friend in fairy tale land wants everyone else to conduct their lives according to this fictional reality they have created, no matter how detrimental, and any opposition or criticism is called foul play and infringement upon their right to religion.

And as long as us intellectuals, us logical and intelligent people, remain pushovers, people like Cameron (and Santorum, Gingrich, Romney and the other 250 million living in this country) will continue the infestation and contamination of the public sphere with their backwards, unfounded, bigoted religious beliefs.

Out of fear to be branded intolerant, religious people have been given far too much  leeway to continue spreading ignorance, bigotry, anti-intellectualism and misogyny.

Alas I would rather be a logical beast than an uneducated sheep, because there is nothing glorious or heroic or even admirable in giving credence to the kind of thinking that has ultimately proven detrimental for society.

The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying. And neither Rush Limbaugh, Kirk Cameron, Rick Santorum, or anyone really, has a right to use their words to incite their cult-like followers to act out against others whom they happen to disapprove of and/or disagree with because their views don’t conform to their religious views.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Being anti abortion and making it into law is respecting an establishment of religion.

Saying that gay people are sick abominations and should not get married because marriage is defined as between a man and a woman according to god, is respecting an establishment of religion.

Demanding that stem cell research be defunded because using microscopic cells of an embryo in the fridge is murder and against god’s plan is respecting an establishment of religion.

Santorum demanding that people only have sex for procreation and ought not to use contraceptives because it goes against god’s plan, is a law respecting an establishment of religion.

Demanding that they teach Creationism and Intelligent design in schools to make religious people feel better is respecting an establishment of religion.

Wanting school prayer is respecting an establishment of religion.

Degrading a woman into being transvaginally probed to shame her into carrying a pregnancy they don’t want to term because aborting such pregnancy goes against your religious beliefs, is respecting an establishment of religion.

Free speech does not apply to this. Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not  free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.

Why the fuck do religious and non religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion.

It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them.

Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card – which they completely misinterpreted and misrepresented as shown above.  For far too long, religious people have put us intellectuals and rational people, the atheists, on the defense where we have to, time and again, guard against and explain ourselves to these delusional fools.

It was about time, however, that they started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry. No one should have to sit by idly and politely nod when these people take humanity down a dangerous path.

Kirk Cameron is a delusional, severely ignorant fool who is so blinded by his faith that he doesn’t even recognize how detrimental his actions and words are. He seriously considers calling an entrie segment of society destructive as his inalienable right and in a very un-christlike manner, his message is not, as he have us believe, of love, but of hatred. This is not the kind of mindsets we should embrace and condone for the sake of politeness.

As Mark Twain said “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

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