Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rush Limbaugh is an Asshat

I've always known that Rush Limbaugh was an arrogant ass who believes anyone that disagrees with him is an idiot. He makes fun of environmentalists and global warming despite the growing evidence. He has attacked drug users and cut them no slack until of course he was the abuser with his oxycontin scandal. He supports the agenda of the Right even when it's wrong. He acts as if he is holier-than-thou as most of his right-wing buddies do. But now he has really shown his true colors. Accusing Michael J. Fox of not taking his medications or of 'faking' his Parkinson's in a recent TV ad. Limbaugh not only made the accusation but he also imitated Fox's Parkinson's ticks. Rush Limbaugh has no respect for anyone but himself. If his actions are supposed to be representative of the Conservative Christian Republicans, then their claims of moral superiority are obviously a pile of shit.

Rush Limbaugh you are the definition of an ASSHAT!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Science Education

We’ve all heard in recent news that the United States is losing its edge with regard to science education. Part of the problem has been identified as a shortage of qualified science teachers which results in teachers without a scientific background being required to teach some science classes. Without sufficient exposure to science and mathematics, many students are not equipped to handle the challenges of a science major in college. I submit that there are two other educational issues that also are influencing the decline in science education.
One is the current focus on passing standardized tests, particularly those used to measure performance against the No Child Left Behind act. These tests currently only assess proficiency in mathematics and reading. Science is being left behind to spend extra time ‘teaching to the test’ to make sure that students show progress in the two test areas. Another problem is an insufficient emphasis on critical thinking skills throughout the school system. Too much time appears to be spent on memorizing facts to regurgitate on a test rather than having students use logic and reason to investigate why and how these facts came to be. I don’t blame the teachers in this process; I blame the system that has been established that encourages and perpetuates it.
Our gullibility to believe extraordinary claims without evidence is another problem. According to a recent Gallup poll, approximately one-third of Americans believe in such unsubstantiated ideas as ESP, psychics, ghosts, talking to the dead, and astrology. Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars are spend annually on these pseudoscientific activities. Imagine what could be done if this money were channeled to education or some other worthwhile endeavor.
But where does this gullibility come from? I propose that a good portion comes from organized religion. When the vast majority of Americans are indoctrinated to believe in unseen, unverifiable deities and follow scriptures which reference ghosts, spirits, and demons for which no objective evidence exists, how much of stretch is it to extend this belief to other areas like those mentioned previously. Without a solid background in critical thinking and science, it becomes very easy for individuals to accept all kinds of unscientific claims without question. Fundamentalist sects continue to actively campaign to push unscientific, religious dogma like Intelligent Design into science classrooms even though their claims have been refuted repeatedly and the evidence for evolution, especially the molecular evidence, is scientifically sound. Similar issues can be found with stem cell research and end-of-life issues.
Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in the right to religious freedom. It is only when religion interferes with individual freedoms or in areas that are secular, like public education that I get concerned. And religion is only part of the problem. Until we structure our school systems to teach children not only what to learn, but how to learn through reason and critical thinking these issues will continue to be a problem even without the contribution of religion.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Islamic Extremists: Christianity TimeShifted

Let me say immediately that I in NO WAY sympathize or agree with the actions of the Muslim extremists involved in 9-11 or the Iraq war.

People appear to be so outraged at the actions of the Muslims and condemn the religion as evil. As I've stated before, they may be right if the remainder of the Islamic followers stand around in silence and allow it all to happen. But how different is this from the actions of Christians during the Crusades and in particular, the Spanish Inquisition. The atrocities committed by the Islamic extremists pale in comparison to the barbarism of those "Christian" activities. Do we consider Christianity evil? Well, maybe some of us do, but the vast majority of Americans do not.

Does this leave them (the Muslim extremists) off the hook? Should we look the other way? No, absolutely not. We should continue to pursue the guilty and punish them accordingly. However, those that feel that their religion (Christianity, in particular) and the way it has been spread and defended is so superior to Islam, need to learn a little history. Christianity has committed the same crimes it's just that it got a 600 year headstart.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Death and Christian Extremists

What is it about death and funerals that brings the arrogant, holier-than-thou Christian fringe out of the woodwork? It's not just the public wackos like Pastor Phelps, but family members as well. I believe these people have a right to their opinions, as bizarre or closed-minded as they may be, but it's when and where they choose to express them that I find so frustrating and disrespectful.

Phelps chooses to air his outrageous views about god, gays, and the military at funerals for U.S. soldiers. He and his followers have absolutely no compassion or respect for the families that these brave men and women have left behind. I don't believe in god, but if god exists and if he/she truly feels the way Phelps says, then he/she is no "God" worthy of respect or worship. I believe that Phelps' views are so extreme that it's fair to say that he is truly "touched" - a rare aberration.

But then there are those that are less extreme, but just as exasperating. There goal is conversion, not punishment. They don't promote a vengeful god bent on punishing us for the so-called "degenerate" lifestyle of gay individuals. They want to convert all of us to Christianity. Not just Christianity, but their particular view of Christianity as observed at their church. I have been approached by such conversion-bent Christians twice in the past few years. Both incidents involved family members and both in conjunction with funerals.

The first was at home after the funeral for my mother-in-law. One of my nephews approached me with a casual enough conversation about death and religion. It soon turned to a discussion of how I was wrong in my views (I'm an atheist) and how I should accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I don't mind discussions of religion with those with an open mind. In fact, I quite enjoy them. However, I didn't think that this was quite the appropriate time for the discussion. Although my nephew was nice enough during the conversation - in fact, we carried it on over several months of phone and email discussions - it was clear that he was not open minded despite his claims to be. His main goal was to convert me. He sent me a book to review, which I did, and said he would review a couple of books that I wanted to send to him. After several months, he has not read the books. Why? Because his goal was not a dialogue between those of different religions, it was to convert me to Christianity.

The second time was just a few weeks ago and was much more insulting and disrespectful. This time I was accosted by my uncle at my mother's (his sister) funeral. It started out with the typical backdoor way of talking about one subject (in this case music) and sliding the conversation over to religion. He has relatively recently become a "born-again" Christian (similar to my nephew) and largely through the influence of his 2nd wife. He started by assuming that my wife and I do not attend church even though he has so little contact he wouldn't know one way or another. In fact, my wife is Catholic, as are our kids, and does regularly attend church. Of course the fact that my wife is Christian was not sufficient. He had several slightly-veiled derogatory comments about Catholicism which he said freely to my wife. Then when he found out that I was an atheist, he was totally shocked that anyone could think that way. I felt that it was inappropriate to have such a discussion in the funeral home and let him know that he did not want to pursue this conversation with me. You would think that a follower of Jesus would have enough compassion to stop the conversation there. But NO!

My uncle proceeded to follow me up to my mother's casket and continue the conversation. After a few more attempts to show me the error of my ways, he then went to start the whole process over with my brother. When I rejoined the group in the back of the funeral home, he started again. I warned him that he was on very dangerous ground with me, but he continued. If not for another nephew, my uncle may have required stitches that night. I was furious. He was totally oblivious to how disrespectful he had been and was so arrogant in his view of the absolute truth of his religious views. He had no regard for anyone else's views. A few days after the funeral, I sent him a get well card and a letter wishing him a swift recovery from the disease of Religious Arrogance from which he was suffering. I haven't heard from him since.

I just don't understand why these individuals choose the times when people are the most stressed to start their crusades. I can only assume that they recognize our vulnerability at that time and are heartless enough to try and capitalize on it. If these people are accurate representatives of Christians, I am even more grateful than ever that I am not one of them.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pastor Fred Phelps

Asshole of the century!
Enough said.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pat May Be Right!! The End Must Be Near!

Lately, Pat Robertson has been in the news for spouting a lot of vile garbage. Nothing new there. But maybe, gulp...I really hate this....maybe Pat is right... this one time...maybe. There...I said it... hopefully for the last time in my life. Whew...what an awful taste that leaves in your mouth!!

Pat, and even Franklin Graham, have accused Islam of being an evil religion. I wouldn't quite go that far, but they do have a point. When a group that claims to be acting on behalf of Muslim people and following Muslim religious practices continues to use terrorism as a daily aspect of life and virtually NO ONE in there religion condemns them, what are we to think.

If these individuals are not doing Allah's work, then why aren't more Muslims - vast numbers of Muslims - openly reprimanding them for their actions. Standing by and saying nothing makes you an accomplice. I would think that letting a small group paint a negative picture of your religion would piss a few people off, but it seems only a very small few. What can Muslims expect the world to think? More people need to sound off like Dr. Wafa Sultan, but Muslims, not simple people of Middle Eastern background.

When the adherents of a religion stand back silently and say nothing while their religion is portrayed as a violent, evil force, perhaps they are, in fact, speaking loudly. Perhaps what they are saying is that they don't see a problem - that they agree with terrorism.

The deafening silence of this group lends support to Pat's statements. If he's wrong (and I truly hope he is -- I wouldn't want to ruin his losing streak), then Muslims the world over need to condemn the actions of a few and do it LOUDLY and CONTINUALLY. If they fail to do so, then we have to consider the possibility that the religion truly is evil and act appropriately.

As'salam Alaikum