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Religious Irrelevance

Horse Crossing While watching the riders at a 4-H horse show today (my daughter is a 4-H member), I started considering the role that religion plays in people’s everyday lives. I don’t live in the most religious area of the country (South-Central Pennsylvania), but even so, on my commute to and from work, a total drive time of about an hour, I can count twelve churches, seven church signs at township borders, a church-run thrift store, and up until about a month ago, a “Jesus is the only way to God” billboard… and that’s a drive that’s mostly highway and rural farmland.

Thinking about the social events I attend, the work I do,  and the conversations I have, it’s worth noting how little of a role religion plays, at least on the surface. At the horse show today, it was all fun and games: costume contests, relay races, apple bobbing, and the like. Everyone was having a terrific time, the weather was gorgeous, the horses were all behaving, and the conversations were light-hearted and good-natured. There was no mention of God, no intrusion of religion, no proselytizing… nothing. There were, perhaps, a few gasps of “Oh my God!” when a horse gave an unexpected buck or a rider lost balance enough to give a scare to the crowd, but I saw no bowed heads in silent prayer and certainly no obvious prayer circles, invoking heavenly protection from the forces of gravity on airborne, equine-launched riders.

It was a secular event. Most activities, for the vast majority of Americans, are secular activities: PTO meetings, birthday parties, book clubs, company meetings, family get-togethers, horse shows, sporting events, movie nights, grocery shopping, gardening, housework, fishing… the list goes on forever. The biggest display of religion that you’re likely to find at these types of activities is, perhaps, saying a prayer before eating. Your mileage may vary somewhat depending upon where in the country you live, but generally speaking, religion is only at the forefront at religious events like church services, funerals, and Saturday morning, door-knocking proselytizing by groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Almost all other religious activity is private… personal… internal.

Why, then, does the religious right insist on foisting their religious proclivities on others? Why lobby to ban gay marriage? Why insist on inserting Christian-specific clauses in legislation? Why put monuments of the Ten Commandments on government property? Why put up billboards that go well beyond advertising a religious organization, but condemn anyone whose belief differs from their own?

I don’t know the answer. I can only speculate.

There is, of course, the altruistic ideal of saving the unsaved masses from a lifetime of eternal torment in Hell. Perhaps some are motivated by that, but I doubt if it can account for the massive attempt of the religious right to assimilate all the unbelievers.

I think a more likely cause is the self-righteousness of fundamentalist religion… the unwavering faith that, as believers, they are, indeed, divinely special in the eyes of an almighty creator and are therefore granted unique privileges and special consideration in this world. They are overtaken by the notion that they are favored by God and therefore have righteous superiority and holy authority over the lives of others… and the infinite wisdom and enlightenment of their deity to decide what is best for everyone in public and in private.

Keep in mind that I’m not referring to those believers who quietly go about their business, say their prayers, attend their church services, and are privately devout. I’m talking about the minority of believers who are outward fundamentalists and vociferously insist that the rest of us fall in line, do what we’re told, and worship in the exact way they tell us… and respect their authority. They’re the ones who would turn our country into a theocratic nightmare, banish all non-believers (or “different” believers), and tell the scientists to back up the bible… or else.

They don’t like that religion is irrelevant in almost all the activities in which other people participate. It’s almost as if they’re secretly jealous and want to cover it up by proclaiming their beliefs to be the right ones… the important ones… the only ones. They want their religion to be everywhere, not just in religious activities, but in secular activities as well. If we let them, they’ll do it, too.

…and ruin a perfectly good horse show.

Scientology Convicted of Fraud in France

A Paris court has convicted the “Church” of Scientology of fraud and has fined it over half a million Euros, though the court didn’t go so far as to shut it down and ban it from operating in France. The case has been under investigation for more than a decade, it seems.

Unlike the United States, France doesn’t recognize Scientology as a religion, but classifies it as a “sect.” Some other European countries classify it as a cult, which is probably more appropriate. Interestingly, according to this MSNBC article

Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticized by the U.S. State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.

Score negative one for the U.S. State Department.

Though the Paris court couldn’t ban the Church of Scientology from practicing in the country due to a legal amendment that had been enacted shortly before the trial began, there is still hope for a ban because the amendment in question has been changed. This trial is complete, but any further charges brought against Scientology could possibly result in a ban.

Of course, Eric Roux, the Scientology legal representative (from the French Celebrity Center), says the “church” will appeal the decision and stated, “Religious freedom is in danger in this country.” However, I don’t think Mr. Roux understands one of the basic tenants of religious freedom.

You have to be a religion.

Creation Museum – Men In White

men-in-whiteA truly disappointing waste of theatrical technology and flair. As with most of the museum, this “show” was well produced (totally bat s%&t  crazy) but well done. The Men In White were the angels Michael and Gabriel. By putting a “hip” spin on an old story for the sake of youngsters, teachers and scientists are comically portrayed as villainous and silly.

The show starts with a young animatronic girl named Wendy sitting at a campfire pondering her existence and the meaning of life. During her moment of lost contemplation and doubt, Michael & Gabriel show up to raise her spirits. The implication is that without a purpose from God, Wendy is lost, alone and miserable. The angels show up to persuade Wendy that God exists and cares for her and they begin to show her “proof” of his existence.  It is here that the angels begin with, ” …if you use the bible as your starting point Wendy, then everything makes sense!” ANGEL SAYS WHAT?? Imagine if your science teacher started your first class with, ” …if you just take everything I say as fact, then everything makes sense!” From the very beginning this presentation insults the human intellect. Science doesn’t require blind faith and it never suggests a “starting” point.  This is where the “machine gunning” of  “facts” begins.

When you start with the bible everything makes sense like:

1. Marine fossils found on mountain tops? Those mountains were once covered in water from the great flood.

2.Volcanic dust found in ice cores? Just think of all that volcanic ash in the atmosphere after the flood.

3. Similarities in DNA found in the cells of every living thing? Since God created DNA he made it so that all living things could live and eat in the same world.

If you believe in evolution or as the angels call it “goo to you” then none of this makes sense. According to the angels, “…evolution makes no sense without billions of years!”

-Next we move on to discredit radioisotope dating.  This form of dating is flawed because there are too many assumptions required to be accurate, say the angels. Zircon crystals have been found with helium gas in them. This suggests that they are not nearly as old as man believes because the helium gas is escaping to quickly to be millions of years old. This is refuted on the following CHRISTIAN website http://www.answersincreation.org/RATE_critique_he-zr.htm . I highly suggest you read this article. It gets all “sciencey” but it is fascinating and alot more accurate than two white overall clad buffoon like angels.

-Next we learn from the angels that the earth can’t be millions let alone billions of years old because of the salt content in the oceans. The angels (portraying high school students in a science class) smuggly challenge a teacher about the age of the earth due to the lower than they expected salt content in the oceans. This is called EPIC FAIL. This moronic notion that if the earth were millions of years old there would be higher concentrations of salt in all of the world’s oceans is wrong. Wrong for several reasons but once again I would direct you to the following CHRISTIAN website to read the refutation of this quackery. http://www.answersincreation.org/argument/G336_creation_science.htm This article explains that creationist’s salt theories are misguided and fail to account for several factors involving the mechanisms for the removal of salt from the oceans.

-Next up, the crazy dinosaur theory. Our smug little angels tell their professor that in 2005 a T-Rex leg bone was found with blood cells intact and un-fossilized. This obviously means that the leg bone could not be millions of years old, right? WRONG! Again the answers to the BS claim come from a CHRISTIAN website. http://www.answersincreation.org/rebuttal/magazines/Creation/1997/trexblood.htm . In this excerpt there is an email log from the actual paleontologist, Jack Horner, who was chiefly involved in this discovery. He goes on to explain that it is not true and that creationist are grasping at half truths and no facts.

-The angels just can’t quit. Next we find out from these two brainiacs that the earth’s decaying magnetic field would indicate that life could not have survived millions of years ago. This is again refuted at http://www.answersincreation.org/argument/G811_creation_science.htm . The angels are referring to a scientific article written by Thomas Barnes. It has been all but publically laughed at by theoretical scientists and bears no scientific weight.

-Next…lack of super nova remnants proves a young earth, say the angels. No, it doesn’t. http://www.answersincreation.org/malone_supernova.htm . I hate to keep linking after every point but since the creation museum didn’t use any real science to make their point, I figured I should.

With about thirty minutes of research on the Internet I have found tons of articles scientifically refuting everything said in this absurd display of purposeful ignorance. The men in White should be taken away and locked up by …men in white jackets. The most disheartening part of this “program” was the fact that children were in the audience being “taught”. Shame on the creation museum and shame on the parents who made their children sit through this glaring display of  stupidity.

I am a believer… and an atheist.

I just read this post by vjack on Atheist Revolution and agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment, so I thought I’d pass it along. He writes concerning the labels we use to define ourselves, specifically relating to atheism.

A choice quote:

And how dare any religious person give me the load of crap about “How can you be an atheist? I can’t imagine going through life not believing in anything.” I believe in plenty of things.

As do I. As do I.

Putting the “Good” Book in Context

god fire

I have had many theological discussions with Christians and inevitably at some point during our discussion the comment, “you’re taking the meaning out of context” is dropped. I think that a contextual understanding of the bible and Christianity is important also. Let me take this opportunity to try and put the bible and Christianity in it’s proper context.

There is plenty of terrible un-Godlike behavior in the new testament, but for sure it is easier to quote better examples of God’s loveless actions from the old testament. I have had people tell me, “…well yeah that’s the old testament but the new testament is much more peaceful”. I will be taking quotes for most of this article from the old testament.  I will be doing so because the old testament is particularly brutal. If you are a Christian and you believe the inspired word of God is infallible (and you have to), why does it matter that only the brutish old testament is mentioned? Having been written first, it has the distinction of being perhaps more timely and therefore more accurate (disbelief appropriately suspended) to the events that it describes.

Let’s start with the bronze age’s answer to Las Vegas, Sodom and Gomorrah. God was not happy with the evil taking place in the twin cities so he decided to rain down upon them “burning sulphur.” This is odd and cruel at the same time. Odd because if you were God, do you think burning sulphur would be the best way to completely wipe out two cities? Cruel because it involves burning men, women and children. Wouldn’t a 30 mile wide plasma beam be more efficient or at least more humane? It’s also a lot more cool than… burning sulphur.  Keep in mind bronze age construction had advanced from an earlier technique of packed clay walls to actual bricks made from mud.  Mud bricks don’t burn well, in fact heat is what is used to dry them. Weird God would choose such an incredibly inefficient way to smite people… unless the bible was written solely by men who didn’t know what a plasma beam or anything else more advanced was than… burning sulphur. Hard to keep this story any more in context than that.

Next, let’s talk about God’s quirky sense of humor. Just imagine if you had a neighbor whose name was, oh I don’t know, ahhhh… Abraham. Let’s say some “guy” showed up at Abraham’s house one day and put a gun to Abraham’s head and tried to force him to kill his son, ahhhhh… Isaac. Then right before Abraham did it the “guy” stopped him and said “Wait! I just wanted to see if you’d do it!”  Would we think this “guy” was funny, smart, all knowing, all powerful, peaceful, kind, or loving. No, we’d think this “guy” was vicious, cruel and twisted. I think you get the point. If God was omniscient, he would have already know what Abraham was going to do or he’s just a malevolent jerk who gets off on yanking mankind’s chain. Not very Godlike… unless God was a creation of mankind who from time to time does suffer from these character flaws. Hard to keep this story any more in context than that.

Now, Exodus 2:29-30 :

At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

Does anything here strike you as odd? Yeah I know, “why should God kill the children for the wrongs of their parents?”. Sure that’s unforgivingly evil, but that’s not even the “odd” part. I’m talking about killing the firstborn of the livestock! The livestock? Here is context for you. Throughout the bible, God has penalized mankind by killing his children and/or his livestock. In an earlier article I quoted Leviticus 26:21-22.

If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins.  I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted.

God sure has a thing for killing livestock… or does he? Seems to me far more likely that mankind in the bronze age recognized how valuable livestock was to the other bronze agers of the time and decided to use livestock as leverage in the good book. Sounds again like mankind was truly doing the story telling here. Hard to keep this story any more in context than that.

I could go on…but I think it is clear that contextually these stories and most likely the entire bible, were man made from start to finish. How modern day rational people can’t see that the bible is riddled with un-Godlike, but very human, behavior is astounding to me.

…Sometimes a burning bush, is just a burning bush.

Ignore Probability & Logic, Just Take It On Faith!

funny-picture-1142018091Let’s suppose you had knowledge of an impending storm that had the potential to destroy everything in its path. This very same storm was 24 hours away. What would you do to spread the message to your family, friends, and neighbors? You might phone them, email them, drive to find them or tell everyone you know to spread the word. All rational, sensible actions to take. Would you quietly call just one person and tell him to secretly meet you so that he could pass your message on for you?

This is exactly what we are meant to believe God did. With our eternal salvation on the line, God chose to speak in secret with one person at a time (Moses, Abraham, Joseph Smith, etc.) in order to spread the word. Convenient that for most of God’s or his minion’s appearances there weren’t many or any witnesses.

We are told that Jesus was born by an immaculate conception. Says who, Mary? How difficult would it be for a woman who may have bore another man’s child without the knowledge or, I’m assuming, consent of her husband to lie? Is this really that difficult to believe? Remember this was the bronze age, a time period filled with illiterate and ignorant people ruled more by superstition than reason. Imagine further that to keep up the subterfuge upon his birth, the child is told he is the son of God and was born from a virgin mother. The lie becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Am I suggesting this is what happened? No. I don’t know and neither do you or anyone (I’m talking to you Christians) who suggests they do. I do believe that this is FAR more plausible a foundational story for Christianity than Jesus being born of a virgin mother, curing the blind, walking on water, dying on the cross and resurrecting three days later thereby washing away all my naughty deeds. This leads us to the title of this article, religion is a setup.

Why would a God purposely put into motion a set of circumstances so preposterous, so witness-less, and then penalize mankind for not following it blindly; and by blindly, I mean just on faith. Think about it. If you were going to hold people eternally accountable for their actions, wouldn’t you at least give them reasonable assurances that what they were being asked to do was what you truly intended for them to do? You wouldn’t leave your true meaning shrouded in mystery . Your expectations would be clearly defined and verifiable.

You would never couch something so important in riddles and decades old hearsay. If there truly was an all powerful and all knowing God, he/she wouldn’t either.

Ray Comfort: Tasteless Religious Businessman

Michael Jackson Commemorative BillI have written several articles about Ray “The Banana Man” Comfort. Most of them have in one way or another dealt with him being obnoxious, ignorant, egotistical or all three. This article deals with his utter lack of taste.

Since Michael Jackson died there have been an abundance of jokes at his expense circulated around the Internet.  Some of them are really funny. Hell, I’ve told a few to friends. Was I in bad taste? Maybe to some but I’m not a Christian minister like Comfort. I also will not be profiting from the telling of my jokes.

Comfort’s, Living Waters Ministries, is currently selling these adorable dead Michael Jackson tracts on their website. That’s right folks step right up and purchase your “commemorative million dollar bill” tracts.  Yep, one stop shopping, tasteless religious propaganda and snake oil all on one convenient website!

All joking aside this is incredible. Not only does Comfort shamelessly use Michael Jackson’s image to promote his agenda, he’s PROFITING from it.

The million dollar question: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman …etc.,etc.”

Since the death of Jackson they are actually promoting the sale of these tracts by calling them, “commemorative”. As much as I don’t care for Comfort’s smarmy way of pointing fingers at sinners on street corners, even I did not think he was capable of stuping this low. Truly shameful. I guess Comfort forgot Matthew 21:

Matthew 21 -And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,  And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Look out Ray Comfort. If Christ does come back  (disbelief suspended) I think he’s heading right for your ministries.

God Hates Children

God told me to!

In the Indian village of Solapur, residents mark the birth of a new child by tossing the newborn from a 50 foot Muslim shrine onto a sheet below. The bizarre tradition is over 500 years old.

God has ordered some pretty despicable things to be done during his tenure over mankind. The destruction of entire cities, blights, plagues, multiple smitings, disease, pestilence, and genocidal floods. It’s an impressive resume by any mass murderer’s reckoning to be sure but there’s more! God loves to torture and kill children or gutlessly order his minions to torture and kill children.

Every night on the evening news we hear about murder, rape or any number of brutal crimes being committed.  Horrible to be sure but society does become immune. Rarely is the water cooler abuzz with talk of any but the most disgusting of these crimes, unless a child is involved. Our society finds, rightfully so, that crimes such as this involving children are of the most heinous nature. It’s a fact that more often than not, child predators are the first to be beaten or killed by their fellow inmates once incarcerated. Even criminals agree that these choice individuals are fair game for a rather rude introduction into our penal system. God help himself should he ever take up residence within the American penal system, for he would certainly be due a beating.

God has always had a special place in his heart for children. I suppose that’s why he at times singles them out for his own particular brand of cruelty and barbarism. Jesus may “love the little children” but God…not so much. Here’ s some of God’s greatest hits:

  1. In the name of God, Jewish males have the grand fortune of being subjected to ritualistic genital mutilation.
  2. Children who fall ill are medically neglected by those of the Jehovah’s Witness cult.
  3. Children are tossed off buildings in parts of India for good luck.

These are examples of a modern day misinterpretation of God’s will by man, you say? These are not actions that God would ever have endorsed, you say? Nice try. These are actually rather “meek and mild” examples of God’s depravity. We can look to God’s divinely inspired instruction manual, the bible, for some of his most horrid and genocidal greatest hits.

    Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. If you beat them with the rod, you will save their lives from Sheol.
    (Prov. 23:13-14)
    Pardon me if I don’t begin singing, “My God is an Awesome God”. God is not only in favor of strict discipline but he fully endorses all out beatings.
    From there Elisha went up to Bethel.  While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him.  “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!”  The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord.  Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)
    God  only knows what he would have done had the small boys taken his name in vain. Maybe he could have resurrected them and killed them twice. …”my God is an awesome God”…(keep singing, keep singing).
    If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins.  I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted. (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)
    NO, not the cattle!! Yes in God’s eye the loss of children is equated with the loss of one’s livestock.
    I could continue in this same vein, citing example after example of God’s pitiless hatred for those who are weak and guiltless but I think you get the point. I haven’t even begun to touch on all of the instances where God ordered the death of children for the inequities of the parents or their parent’s parents. God’s big on generational smiting.
    A society can often be judged on how it treats its weaker members. How a civilization treats its handicapped or helpless children can tell you a lot about that civilization’s foundational morality.  Christians love to suggest that God provides society with a moral compass and that atheists are immoral. Well I don’t kill, mutilate or maim helpless children. I don’t order others to do what I don’t have the guts to do myself, while holding eternal damnation over the heads of my witless  accomplices and I don’t worship anyone who does.
    If these forementioned acts are the acts of the loving Christian God then I want nothing to do with him or his ignorant, mentally retarded followers who would support such cruelty. Make no mistake, to be a Christian means you DO support these acts. The bible is allegedly the inspired word of God and is therefore infallible. You simply CAN’T be a Christian without believing God is omniscient and  omnipotent. If you truly consider yourself to be a Christian you are a willing supporter of all of these vicious decrees.
    …”my God is an awesome God”…(keep singing, keep singing)

More Trouble for Texas Education

schooldesk Texas just hosted a long, drawn-out debate about science standards (specifically pertaining to biology and evolution) which resulted in a mixed bag of results. Some major points were made in favor of actual science while other points in favor of non-science (ie… creationism) were slipped in as minor addendums to the policy.

It seems that the shenanigans are now heading over to the subject of American history.

Outside “experts” (quoted because obviously some of them aren’t) reviewing the Social Studies curriculum in Texas evidently want to make changes in the history classes. As this article in the Wall Street Journal states:

Three reviewers, appointed by social conservatives, have recommended revamping the K-12 curriculum to emphasize the roles of the Bible, the Christian faith and the civic virtue of religion in the study of American history. Two of them want to remove or de-emphasize references to several historical figures who have become liberal icons, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall.

This is beyond absurdity. These are people who are obviously driven by a fundamentalist agenda that want to insert their religious dogma into, it seems, every aspect of public education in an attempt to force it down the throats of our children. Not only do they want to indoctrinate their own children with their baseless beliefs, but they want to indoctrinate everyone else’s children, too.

There are some voices of reason involved in the issue, fortunately.

But the emphasis on Christianity as a driving force is disputed by some historians, who focus on the economic motivation of many colonists and the fractured views of religion among the Founding Fathers. “There appears to me too much politics in some of this,” said Lybeth Hodges, a professor of history at Texas Woman’s University and another of the curriculum reviewers.

However, if the science debates were any indication, some on the Texas Board of Education (think McLeroy, who thankfully is no longer the board chair) think that there needs to be someone who stands up to these real experts. It seems they think we can’t have experts making determinations about issues relating to their fields. That would evidently be crazytown.

In that one little WSJ article, there is so much infuriating ignorance. Here’s a small sampling.

  • The conservative reviewers say they believe that children must learn that America’s founding principles are biblical. For instance, they say the separation of powers set forth in the Constitution stems from a scriptural understanding of man’s fall and inherent sinfulness, or “radical depravity,” which means he can be governed only by an intricate system of checks and balances.
  • “The foundational principles of our country are very biblical…. That needs to come out in the textbooks.”
  • “We’re in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it,” said Rev. Peter Marshall, a Christian minister and one of the reviewers appointed by the conservative camp.
  • Reviewer David Barton suggests swapping out “republican” for “democratic” in teaching materials. As he explains: “We don’t pledge allegiance to the flag and the democracy for which it stands.”

Evidently, David Barton is ignorant, not just of American history, but of the different between “democratic” when used to refer to a form of government and “Democratic” when used to refer to a political party.

This nonsense has to stop. Texas, because of its size, has a huge influence on the textbook market, and the crass, ignorant, fundamentalist proselytizing by these right-wing school board members and their advisors is hurting not just children in Texas, but children across the country. I wrote recently about how education is the key to overcoming theistic intrusion into our government, schools, and private lives… but I specified that it needs to be real education, not this kind of god-soaked, ideological make-believe that some of the Texas BOE are proposing.

Texans should be up in arms over this.

(thanks to Hemant at The Friendly Atheist)

Religion, Criticism, and Education… Oh my!

Science education Atheists tend to deliver a lot of criticism of theology, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or some other flavor. We find fault with the resurrection of Jesus, the winged horse of Muhammad, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the Holy Trinity, and a myriad of other theistic claims made by these religions. We debunk their holy books, criticize their faith-based messages, argue against their primitive views of morality, and generally demand evidence for their extraordinary claims.

All of these issues, however, rest on one basic foundational principle of theistic beliefs… that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent god exists and has always existed without a creator of its own.

Many atheists spend time refuting the existence of a god while at the same time acknowledging that it’s not possible to prove the nonexistence of said entity. The refutations generally come in two main forms: pointing out the complete lack of any credible evidence and dismantling apologetic arguments (such as the cosmological argument). Many of the apologetic arguments consist of so much circus-like, semantic, hoop-jumping that they really should be dismissed out of hand for their absurdity, but we still go through the mental exercise of pointing out the fallacies or refuting the (attempted) logic or issuing counterpoints to invalidate the conclusions.

If the existence of a god cannot be proven (or even demonstrated), then why do we need to continually debunk the other theistic claims of specific religions? Why do we have to repeatedly explain how the biblical flood didn’t happen? Why do we need to point out flaws in the bible? Why do we need to show how the Qur’an is riddled with statements demanding violence? Why do we need to present evidence for evolution… again? Why do we need to do any of this since its validity all rides on the existence of a supernatural, all-powerful deity whose existence cannot be proven, demonstrated, or sometimes even coherently defined?

If there is no god, theistic religions are bunk.

Whatever the biological or psychological need is that nudges humans toward superstitious beliefs, it works fairly well. Most people believe in a god of some sort. Most people are brought up believing in a god, indoctrinated from birth to believe in, not just a deity, but in an entire system based upon stories of miracles and supernatural wonders that defy all rational understanding. It’s a system that can rarely be dismantled simply by attempting to remove the foundational block of god-belief. In most cases, the only way for it to be taken apart is from the top down, starting with the doctrinal beliefs.

The goal, for me anyway, isn’t to rid the world of religion. The goal is to keep religions from being forced upon unwilling recipients, be it via government intrusion, corruption of education, or imposition of archaic moral philosophies. I don’t care if John Q. Public believes in a deity. I care if he lets that belief affect decisions that effect me. I care if he wants to base public policies on unsupported religious doctrine instead of rational thinking. I care if he wants to impose his 1st-century view of morality on me and my family. I care if his religion dictates to me what I can and cannot do.

Most religious folks can handle this just fine. Their day to day living and decisions are based on societal norms and they don’t go around preaching to everyone they meet about how Jesus is the only way to be saved from eternal damnation. They’re generally friendly, fun, trustworthy, and enjoyable to be around. Many don’t even discuss religion except when they go to church on Sunday. It’s just not that important them in a social sense.

Sadly, the religious loud-mouths ruin it for them. From self-righteous abortion protestors to fire-and-brimstone evangelists to morally dubious right-wing politicians who attempt to push biblical policy into our political system, religious fundamentalists are a significant cause of atheists’ vociferous criticisms. And since asking them nicely to keep their religious ideology out of the political system tends not to work, the only way to combat their insidiousness is to speak out, often and loudly, against their theology… and since saying "there is no evidence for your god" tends not to work, the only way to block their religious tentacles from insinuating themselves into our government is to debunk their dogma… debunk their holy books… debunk their claims of biblical truth… debunk their muddled, 2000-year-old ideas of morality.

That’s what we have to do now to maintain our religious freedoms, but how do we keep the situation from continuing ad nauseum? How do we make sure that our children, and our children’s children, don’t fall prey to the same ideological black hole into which we are threatened to be pulled?

Polls show there is an inverse correlation between education levels and religious belief. It would seem that the best approach to stemming the tide of religious fundamentalism and its attempts to creep further and further into our governments, our schools, and our private lives is better education. Real education… education that includes not just memorization of numbers and historical facts, but tools for critical thinking and problem solving.

We need to teach our children to have a sense of wonder and curiosity about the universe instead of settling for the unenlightening answer of "God did it." We need to show them how science is the best way we have for understanding how things work and how language and communication skills are key to spreading knowledge. We need to help them learn the tried and true methods for evaluating evidence and reaching conclusions. We need to teach them that it’s okay if the facts leads somewhere new. We need them to understand that claims of truth require evidence. We need them to learn… learn… learn.

Until then, we’re destined to continue in the fight against superstitious ideology that fundamentalists want to impose on us. We’ll keep debunking, keep criticizing, keep educating, and keep learning… until we have dismantled the ivory tower of theistic dogma.

…from the top down.