December 15, 2008

Fox News Mocks Atheist Bus Campaign: “Need a hug? Go to church!”

Posted in atheism, christianity, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , , , , at 2:53 pm by Bram Janssen

Here’s a toe-twister for you. Once again, this makes me so happy we don’t have anyhing like Fox News here in The Netherlands.

Apparently, the Christmas spirit should extend only to fellow Christians:

November 28, 2008

Dinesh D’Souza’s nonsensical remarks on “the absentee God”

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, evolution, intelligent design, Sociology tagged , , , , , , , at 1:31 pm by Bram Janssen

So I’ve been reading this blog by someone about his journey from Young Earth Creationism to Evolutionism. This means he still believes God has a hand in evolution, but I can’t blame him, reading about his personal history with religion. Go read it, he has a knack for writing.

Anyway, I have a couple of things to say about his post, where he defends remarks by Dinesh D’Souza as being “speculative, but still good.” I’ll reproduce them here. Dinesh D’Souza :

Here is the thrust of Hitchens’ point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this? . . . The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever been born is approximately 105 billion. Of this number, about 2 percent were born in the 100,000 years before Christ came to earth. “So in a sense,” [Erik] Kreps [of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research] notes, “God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. If He’d come earlier in human history, how reliable would the records of his relationship with man be? But He showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world’s population, so even though 98 percent of humanity’s timeline had passed, only 2 percent of humanity had previously been born, so 98 percent of us have walked the earth since the Redemption.”

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything “good” about this quote. Two percent of 105 billion might not sound like much, but it’s still hundreds of millions of people. Didn’t these people have souls? Also, the human race nearly went extinct at one point, where was God then?

I mean, Hitchins wasn’t playing a numbers game at all- he commented on nearly 100,000 years of people dying of things like predation, petty deceases or injuries, childbirth and a real tough life in general. All of which was spent in a complete ignorance of the true and only God, worshiping false idols instead. Hitchins made a very human point, which D’Souza turned into a mere numbers game. This is very peculiar to me, since it’s usually D’Souza who likes to wave the religious banner of humanity and morality in his discussions.

One more point: He showed up just in time? This argument is so skewed it’s laughable. By the time He ‘showed up’ there were numerous civilizations, religions and cults around with centuries of traditions. Seeing how humans love to cling to traditions and world views, God should have known this was asking for conflict.

Also, the population boom came and is still going on, and still most of the people born in this prosperous time either never heard of God or don’t worship Him. Someone in God’s PR-Campaign messed up, apparently. A campaign that He never needed to organise if He had just revealed Himself in the earliest times when there were mere thousands of people on Earth- and had continued to do miracles to this very day, especially to atheists like Hitchins or me.

November 25, 2008

Thomson Lectures On The Science Of Religion

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:54 pm by Bram Janssen

J. Andersen Thomson gives a good scientific and psychological lecture on the human, biological side of religion. It puts religion into a testable, scientific perspective, which is a nice relief from the usual sociological and historical arguments. It compares religion with audiovisual tricks of the brain, group mind as well as human cognition. Recommended material.

Found at richarddawkins.net

December 20, 2007

Dutch Christian Committees “offended by blasphemous advertisements”

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, intelligent design, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , at 2:00 am by Bram Janssen

Several days ago, the news got out that several Dutch Christian organisations filed official complaints at the address of the Dutch “bureau for codes of conduct in commercials” (honestly, I don’t know what the official translation ought to be, so here’s the literal one) due to franchised electronics warehouse “Dixons” disrespecting Christian faith.

The franchise distributed commercial prints depicting the Three Wise Men navigating by TomTom and baby Jesus listening to ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ on an iPod in his crib. According to spokesman Bert Dorenbos these depictions are: “Dangerous, especially during Christmas time.” If you can read Dutch, here’s the original article.

Now, I’d like you to consider this and ask yourself how this is different from Islamic outrage over comic portraits of Muhammad in a Scandinavian newspaper. The only difference I can think of is the intensity in the revulsion felt by the offended religion. In fact, I think there is no difference at all. Both situations are equally outrageous and truthfully: the only “dangerous” thing in the whole situation is giving these Christian organisations credulity.

What’s more: where is the danger in these depictions anyway? What’s offensive? I don’t get it. Because it is blasphemous that Jesus might listen to a Christmas song on an iPod? Give me a break! It’s not as if he is trying to get friendly with the mule or anything. Now that would be a decent reason to take offense.

Why did I say it was dangerous to give these Christians credulity? Well, for the plain reason that they are trying to establish that Christianity needs to have a special place in Dutch society. Such a special place, in fact, that it is deemed to be a major breach of common decency to harmlessly depict a Shepherd playing a video-game. What these organisations are lobbying for in this manner, is that society should not be critical of Christianity, however trivially, because it would hurt their personal feelings. And hurting anyone’s feelings is bad thing, don’t you agree?

Well, Bert Dorenbos, you are hurting my personal feelings. Even though I am not too fond of Dixons, I feel offended by the organisations you speak for, for trying to insert small-mindedness into society. For trying to stop us from being critical of a religion that needs to be criticised like never before. For trying to promote Christianity as a clique beyond reproach and mostly– for playing on people’s fears by playing the card that says: “criticizing religion breeds hatred in society.” After all, people, wasn’t Theo van Gogh killed for his blatant critique on religion (Islam), wasn’t Ayaan Hirshi Ali forced to flee the country for the same reason?

For these reasons, I want to hurt your feelings. I want to be critical of you, so that hopefully, it will dawn on you that you are being small-minded and patronising. I don’t mind you and your Christian conviction, however, what I do mind is that you can not keep it to yourself. Instead, you try to tell me, an atheist, and any other person who might ever get the idea to say something “dangerous” about your faith should keep their “blasphemy ” to themselves. I will not shut up. I repeat: I will not shut up. I will never stop criticizing people with small minds and hypocritical agendas.

Amen.