Tungtide

Posts Tagged ‘atheism’

Quickie

Posted by tungtide on October 2, 2008, 8:16 am

If only it were this easy:

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Simplicity

Posted by tungtide on August 18, 2008, 11:21 pm

Rarely have I seen such a clear and well-worded response to those who claim atheists function solely to attack god. BGH of The Information Paradox says it best.

I cannot rail against that which I disbelieve. I can only rail against the actions of those who use their belief as motivation to infringe on my rights.

Still, despite the irrationality (and my poor transition), more than 50% of adults in a recent survey said that they believe god could miraculously save a terminal patient when all medical information claimed the opposite. I understand the desire to see a loved one recover, the belief that they will somehow get better. I even understand that doctors and nurses need to be patient and understanding with the variety of beliefs in this country. I wonder, though, what the cost might be. A brain-dead patient in a hospital consumes resources (food, IV, equipment, staff time, etc.) that could easily be redirected to help another (as much as I hate to say it this way) more viable patient. On top of that, a prolonged hospital stay does nothing but rack up bills that are either covered by the family or by the insurance. The family can easily be bankrupted by the excessive costs, while the insurance companies will pass the costs along to the living.

Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that doctors cannot refuse to treat gay and lesbian individuals based on religious objections. The case involved fertility doctors that began treating a lesbian woman but refused to perform the actual artificial insemination. The lawyer for the clinic had this to say:

“The Supreme Court’s desire to promote the homosexual lifestyle at the risk of infringing upon the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion is what the public needs to learn about,” said Tyler, who leads the nonprofit Advocates for Faith and Freedom in Murrieta, Calif.

My initial concerns about the ruling were cleared up after reading the statement. No one would be batting an eyelash if the doctors refused to treat a hispanic patient because of her race, or a Jewish patient because of her religion. Freedom of religion allows you to believe what you would like, but not to use that as a justification to treat other people differently. The doctors in this case are offering a service. They must either offer the service to all individuals or none. It is unethical to charge different rates for different groups, and it is just as unethical to refuse to treat a group.

The closest parallel that I could think of is the ongoing kerfuffle about pharmacists and birth control. Pharmacists who believe birth control is tantamount to abortion will refuse to fill prescriptions for the pill. The result is a prescription held hostage by religious belief. Certain loopholes in the law (as far as I remember it) allow the pharmacist to transfer the prescription to another pharmacist or pharmacy that will fill the order. In some cases the pharmacists were refusing to transfer the order and holding it in limbo. While I’m unsure about the legality, I would think that a pharmacy that opposed birth control would simply not carry it, and would not accept the prescriptions in the first place. This would simplify the process and allow all parties to get what they needed. Then again, in some rural areas there is only one pharmacy (others may be 50-100 miles away and have the same objection) and this would effectively deny the patient of a legally prescribed medicine. Guess simplicity isn’t the answer.

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No Explusion

Posted by tungtide on August 15, 2008, 1:15 pm

I’ll keep this short. Webster Cook, the student who unintentionally started the whole sequence of cracker-related shenanigans, has been cleared of all “charges.”

I’ll link to the Friendly Atheist version and leave it at that. Back to studying.

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Lazy Update II

Posted by tungtide on August 6, 2008, 2:03 am

This is more of a link dump than anything else. (It is almost 2am right now and I still can’t sleep).

Over at Friendly Atheist, Hemant linked an article from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It details the difficulties that the FFRF’s new legal intern faced growing up as a Jehova’s Witness. She lived in fear and oppression before finally gaining the courage to step away.

On the eve of my sixteenth birthday, I called the police. After obtaining a six-month restraining order against my father, I sat in the car, in front of the courthouse, with my maternal grandmother, while my mother attempted to console my father.

Her tale is one that details the negative impact that religion has on families and the growth of children.

Six months later, after six months of peace and quiet and tranquility, I got down on my hands and knees in front of my mother and pleaded and begged her not to let my father back into the house. She said no. She chose him, because she thought that’s what Jehovah wanted her to do.

Her mother chose to live in an abusive, unhealthy relationship that was harmful to her children, all in the name of religion. I was truly at a loss for words by the end.

Second, I have a link from The Information Paradox where author Pariahjane has a simple request

Her post is in response to an attempt to update the “Conscience Clause” for pharmacists who are unwilling to dispense birth control due to religious objections. In recent years (I’m too lazy to find links right now) there have been cases of pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions and holding those prescriptions without transferring them to another pharmacist or pharmacy to be filled. Currently it is illegal for a pharmacist to refuse to transfer the prescription. They must allow another willing pahrmacist fill the order.

In areas with limited pharmacies and/or limited public transportation, an updated conscience clause would allow these pharmacists to completely (and legally) restrict access to birth control.

Pharmacists, just like everyone else, are entitled to their beliefs. They are not, however, allowed to use their position as a means to promote their own world view.

Finally, I’ve added links to three more blogs on the right. PhillyChief’s You Made Me Say it, The Exterminator’s No More Hornets, and (((Billy))) The Atheist. With the exception of Billy, I’ve been reading the other two blogs for a while now. I got into a discussion with those three in the No More Hornets comment section, so I’ve decided to shamelessly plug them.

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Book Reviews

Posted by tungtide on July 31, 2008, 1:22 pm

As part of the ongoing development of my disbelief I felt that it would be a good idea to see what other, more prominent, members of the community are writing. Over the last couple months in the limited free time that I have, I’ve read three atheism-related books: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehta (see Friendly Atheist).

Both Dawkins and Hitchens are written for an audience that already agrees with them. They take a fundamental stance (not to be compared to Fundamental, as in the belief structure) that assumes atheism should be the default position and continue from there. Dawkins is patient and reasonable in his arguments, avoiding confrontation when necessary, working to build a case that supports atheism as viable world view. Hitchens is more combative and while moderated somewhat in the book, he’s more likely to be forthright and offensive to those who disagree. I’m not saying that either of those books are bad. They do cater to a specific audience and are not likely to be well-received as tools of conversion (if that’s your ultimate goal).

Mehta’s book is different in a very good way. He takes his role as a friendly atheist seriously as he chronicles his journey visiting various churches around the country. The purpose of his initial eBay auction was to see if he was missing something in Christianity after leaving behind Jainism to become an atheist. Hemant enters these churches with an open mind and a notepad, characterizing the good and the bad of churches large, small, and mega.

Again, not a tool for conversion, but rather a great conversation piece. This is the kind of book that can help atheists and Christians understand their common ground and dispel many of the misappropriated beliefs placed on each group.

All in all I would recommend I Sold My Soul on eBay over the other books.

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Stand Up, Do Something

Posted by tungtide on July 29, 2008, 12:38 pm

Richard Wade, one of the authors at Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist site has written an excellent post on why the Christian population is seen as accepting the views of the loud-mouthed minority in their ranks. It’s because there are not enough people standing up to denounce these sorts of actions.

For instance, why aren’t you picketing outside The Christian Action League of North Carolina and other institutions of faith-based hate in every city? When atheists protest such things they’re dismissed as, well, atheists. If six Christian churches did the same protesting wherever it occurs it would be big news.

It is as much the responsibility of the believers as it is of the non-believers to stand up for justice and equality. Whether I believe in him or not, whether he was fictional or not, Jesus preached a message of tolerance, acceptance, and equality. This message is supposed to shape the actions of Christians and the way they interact with the world.

And Mary called me a hater 🙂

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The End of A Cracker

Posted by tungtide on July 24, 2008, 1:15 pm

It’s over and done with. I hadn’t initially planned to post again about the whole PZ Myers and the Eucharist issue, but he made a couple of important points in the process. He has indeed “defiled” a blessed communion wafer, as well as the Koran, and a copy of The God Delusion.

What caught my attention was that he’s been able to remain objective on the issue despite death threats, threats against his family, calls for his job, and a general attempt to defame him.

By the way, I didn’t want to single out just the cracker, so I nailed it to a few ripped-out pages from the Qur’an and The God Delusion. They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet. You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanities’ knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality. You will not find wisdom in rituals and sacraments and dogma, which build only self-satisfied ignorance, but you can find truth by looking at your world with fresh eyes and a questioning mind.

I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

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Separation Anxiety

Posted by tungtide on July 22, 2008, 2:55 pm

The story of Matthew LaClair is one of disappointment, courage, hope, and despair. Details can be found here (Via Friendly Atheist). In summary, Matthew had an 11th grade history teacher using the classroom as a pulpit for his religious views. Matthew disagreed with the use of a public school classroom for this purpose. He recorded a number of lectures and brought the issue to the attention of the administration. Despite having the law and recordings of the events on his side, there has been a rift in the community. He’s lost friends, and received a death threat.

It’s been two years now, and the town is still divided on the subject. The teacher, Mr. Paszkiewicz is still teaching at the high school (and also runs a local church youth group). On the whole, the town seems to have sided with the teacher’s blatant disregard for the law. An article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazatte News follows up on Matthew’s story (via this post on Atheist Revolution). It appears that no one has really learned a lesson:

“I could have sued, but that wouldn’t have helped,” said Mr. LaClair, who wants to write a book about his experience.

“If I won the case, I’d only get money. There would be no satisfaction because, even to this day, they (school officials) just don’t understand why I made an issue of what happened in those classes.”

Matthew displays a stunning level of maturity in the face of some small-minded individuals.

“I don’t have any problem with what he believes in,” said Mr. LaClair, who spoke yesterday afternoon at the annual summer outing of the Greater Worcester Humanists group. “But I do have a problem about him talking about his religion in a public high school and trying to convert his students.”

I would been unable to do anything along the lines of Matthew when I was his age (ignoring for the moment that I was Christian at that time).

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Atheist Blogroll

Posted by tungtide on July 21, 2008, 3:50 pm

I’ve joined up with MoJoey’s Atheist Blogroll as a way to better interact with the community and as a way to increase traffic to my site. (It would probably help if I were updating more frequently).

The link to the blogroll is over on the left-hand sidebar (as of the time this post was written). There’s a scrolling list of members that can display below the image, but I can’t get the php code to work correctly. I’ll keep at it over the next couple days.

New (real) posts coming shortly.

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Updates to Old Posts

Posted by tungtide on July 7, 2008, 6:24 pm

Rather than leaving well enough alone I have kept up on a few of the topics covered in my older posts.

The 11-year-old Romanian girl who was raped by her (now missing) uncle has been granted the right to an abortion despite the protests of twenty religious groups.  I originally covered the topic here.

In More Than Unnecessary Violence I linked to the Pakastani Heretical Girl and her blog posting on violence against medical students. Unfortunately (and for reasons I don’t know) she has shut down her blog. The link in the old posting will be deactivated since it no longer connects.

Finally, Sean the Blogonaut, mentioned in Overreaching was NOT arrested in Sydney despite wearing his atheist hat (update 7/8/08: I forgot about the hoodie, such a glaring oversight should really be corrected). Probably for the best.

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