Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Indeed - What are the 'methods' of faith?

From a NYTimes OPED...

David J. Gross, director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical
Physics in Santa Barbara, Calif., and co-winner of the Nobel Prize in
physics, told me in an e-mail message, "I have more confidence in the
methods of science, based on the amazing record of science and its
ability over the centuries to answer unanswerable questions, than I do
in the methods of faith (what are they?)."

Most people realize that a persons view of the universe - even the
'small' one each of us encounters day-to-day - should be governed by a
kind of 'basic scientific method'. Rational thinking of this kind
keeps you from walking off the top of a tall building, stepping out
into traffic, etc.

However, most Americans also believe 'faith' to be another window into
reality. Never mind that NONE of its "predictions" can be verified or
tested. They may be comforting -- as belief in Santa Claus is
comforting to a child -- but that doesn't make them true.

The ability of otherwise rational people to compartmentalize like this
is fascinating to me. Holding onto mythological and fantastical
beliefs must have imbued homo sapiens with some type of evolutionary
advantage ... at some point... or maybe it was a spurious result of
our complex brains.

In either case, using two distantly opposite methods of discerning
reality to navigate the world is at the cause of our problems today.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More secrets ...

White House visitor logs are public documents, a federal judge ruled Monday, rejecting a legal strategy that the Bush administration had hoped would get around public records laws and let them keep their guests a secret.

The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration, which has fought the release of records showing visits by prominent religious conservatives.

Is there nothing this administration won't do to keep the most mundane of its activities secret?
I guess I'd be embarrassed too if the likes of the Rev. Hagar and Falwell paid visits to my office...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seer Stones and Other non-sense

I'm growing more and more frustrated with the state of election-related dialog in this country... It's normally completely inane, but the entire discussion around Mitt's 'beliefs' has me flabbergasted.

Why is a discussion of religious belief off limits? Why are these beliefs immune from rational discussion? If someone where to expound on the virtues of channeling dead relatives, you can be assured the ridicule would essentially bar them from holding elected office. Similarly if someone believes the world is flat that would also disqualify them from holding office. However, the beliefs of a man who aspires to the highest office in the land are danced around as if questioning them violated our highest laws.

For instance, Mormons believe that Joe Smith, their founder, used "Seer Stones" to receive a revelation from god. Well, many others who lived during he era also used seer stones... and other such nonsense.. in scams designed to separate farmers and other folks from their money. In fact, Joe himself used the same stones as a "money digger" before 'god' decided to redirect his enterprise:


In the early Latter Day Saint movement, seer stones were used as method of divination and played a significant role in its history and theology. Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, owned several seer stones from his earlier career as a "money digger." [1] Other early Mormons such as Hiram Page, David Whitmer and Jacob Whitmer also owned seer stones. [2] Seer stones are mentioned in the Book of Mormon and in other Latter Day Saint scriptures. James Strang, who claimed to be Joseph Smith's designated successor, also unearthed what he said were ancient metal plates and translated them using seer stones.

What people believe matters. If they believe fantastic things about our universe they should be questioned on it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mitt Romney's windy, worthless speech. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

Hitchens put it succintly -- Mitt Romney's windy, worthless speech. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine:

"A long time ago, Romney took the decision to be a fool for Joseph Smith, a convicted fraud and serial practitioner of statutory rape who at times made war on the United States and whose cult has been made to amend itself several times in order to be considered American at all. We do not require pious lectures on the American founding from such a man, and we are still waiting for some straight answers from him."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Power in the hands of fools

My hope for the future of mankind ebbs each day... At least each day I read stories like this.

A country that can try and convict someone of "insulting religion and inciting hatred" for naming a teddy bear is simply not civilized.

There is no way to deal with the stupidity induced by religion. Those infected are simply lost. The only thing we can hope to do is stop the infection from spreading to children. Unfortunately, parents feel it necessary to inculcate their children before they can recognize this foolishness for what it is: