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Posts tagged ‘Atheism’

Shut up because the views must be the same

A guest blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy is doing a series of posts about treaties and the United States’ Congress’ powers and the ability to enforce them.

Rather than offer my own views on that subject (which is way beyond my expertise, in part because IANAL), I’ll instead draw attention to a curious contradiction among many in the religious right wrong. In concerns the United States’ Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2), which reads as follows:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The people in the religious right wrong use this section to argue that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, if ratified by the US Senate, will somehow threaten “parental rights” or homeschooling or other such stuff. (As every other country [except Somalia, which hasn’t signed] shows, such claims are nonsense, but showing why is beyond the scope of this post). In other words, they are required to believe that any international treaty overrules whatever laws are in force in the US, even if Congress legislating in that area would be ultra vires (beyond its powers).

The religious right wrong also believe that the US is founded as a Christian nation. This is in spite of the Treaty of Tripoli, which the US Senate unanimously ratified over two centuries ago. The relevant section is Article 12, which reads as follows (spelling and wording in original):

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In other words, the religious right wrong believes that treaties overrule law when they provide rights to children, but not when they refute the Christian nation myth.

Those two positions are contradictory. One cannot rationally believe both. If they truly believe that the US was founded as a Christian nation and that the Treaty of Tripoli does not apply, then they can forever shut up about the UNCRC overruling any other law and threatening parental rights. If, by contrast, they believe that the UNCRC does overrule other laws, they then can shut the fuck up about the US being founded as a Christian nation.

Hmm….

Let’s juxtapose this (via) and this.

Link farm – seed planting edition

In no particular order:

Reasons for unbelief

The New Statesman asked several prominent atheists why they don’t believe in God, and then compiled their responses. I really like this one from human rights activist Maryam Namazie:

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped believing in God. Having been raised in a fairly open-minded family in Iran, I had no encounter with Islam that mattered until the Islamic movement took power on the back of a defeated revolution in Iran. I was 12 at the time.

I suppose people can go through an entire lifetime without questioning God and a religion that they were born into (out of no choice of their own), especially if it doesn’t have much of a say in their lives. If you live in France or Britain, there may never be a need to renounce God actively or come out as an atheist.

But when the state sends a “Hezbollah” (the generic term for Islamist) to your school to ensure that you don’t mix with your friends who are boys, stops you from swimming, forces you to be veiled, deems males and females separate and unequal, prescribes different books for you and your girlfriends from those read by boys, denies certain fields of study to you because you are female, and starts killing in­discriminately, then you have no choice but to question, discredit and confront it – all of it. And that is what I did.

Fundies might deny it, but in reality fundamentalist Islam, Christianity, Judaism, et al. are more alike then you think. Patriarchal religion has slowed the progress of women’s rights throughout history, and getting rid of it would be a huge step forward.

Prepare to get a new keyboard, folks

From the Onion: NASA Completes 52-Year Mission To Find, Kill God.

It’s too funny.

Why the separation of church and state matters

It’s events like these two that show why the separation of church and state is important.

First, a Palestinian barber is facing imprisonment or execution for advocating atheism (via):

A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down.

The case of the unlikely apostate, a shy barber from this backwater West Bank town, is highlighting the limits of tolerance in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority — and illustrating a new trend by authorities in the Arab world to mine social media for evidence.

Residents of Qalqiliya say they had no idea that Walid Husayin — the 26-year-old son of a Muslim scholar — was leading a double life.

Known as a quiet man who prayed with his family each Friday and spent his evenings working in his father’s barbershop, Husayin was secretly posting anti-religion rants on the Internet during his free time.

Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for “insulting the divine essence.” Many in this conservative Muslim town say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.

The rest is after the jump.

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On afterlife consequences

Abrahamic religions often hold that there is some sort of reward or punishment in the afterlife. These are, of course, heaven and hell. They hold that if you do or don’t do certain things, you’ll go to hell and burn in sulphurous hellfire for eternity. Similarly, they hold that if you do do or do not do certain things different things, you’ll be in paradise forever.

In a similar vein, other religions believe in karma. They hold that if you do or don’t do certain things, you’ll come back as pond scum or the like. Similarly, if you do do or don’t do certain different things, you’ll stop reincarnating and achieve Nirvana.

Recall how many of those religions emphasize the desirability of in–conversion. They often try to get you to convert by emphasizing what will happen to you if you don’t convert; that is, bad things will happen to you. To you. Notice who the emphasis is on. You. This is therefore immoral.

Why?

Because it’s selfish, that’s why. Belief in afterlife punishment or reward causes people to be motivated by a selfish desire to avoid something bad happening to them (such as burning in hellfire forever) and to get something good to happen to them (such as living in heaven). It causes people to directly consider what happens to them. Although it might indirectly influence someone’s interactions with others (for example, you’ll burn in hell if you aren’t nice to other people) it still ultimately motivates based on what happens to the actor. A truly good person would be good purely for the sake of being good; they would need no other motivation. When asked, “What is in it for you?” they would reply “Nothing, but I’m being moral anyway.”

I have thought of a few possible objections to my conclusions. Hence, I’ve taken the liberty of preemptively debunking them. And that is after the jump.

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