I love the Greek gods

In the Odyssey, Ulysses is taken captive by the goddess Calypso who desires to make him immortal. This is after they have sacked the city of Priam and annoyed Neptune who wrecked their ship and killed apart of his men, the rest having been killed by the sun god after they slaughtered his livestock and others still swallowed by the sea at Sirens. He rescinds the offer and begs for his freedom to go back to his wife Penelope, daughter of Icarius, and his son Telemachus.

Minerva, the goddess, appeals on his behalf to the gods for his freedom. Mercury is sent to Calypso with the message that she is to free him and while at it to give him a raft, no ship and sailors so he can be on his way home.

Neptune has scores to settle with Ulysses who had made his son blind, a son who ate a number of his [Ulysses’] comrades when they landed in his cave.

When Ulysses finally gets home, together with his son, the swineherd and one other manservant, they plot a revenge mission to kill a bunch of losers… suitors, who in the period of his absence have been killing his livestock and drinking his wine in an attempt to seduce his wife. The gods, through Minerva, help him in sending all the suitors, the servants who helped them and even the women they slept with to Hades.

The story ends with Minerva brokering a peace agreement between the men of Ithaca some of whose sons were killed in Ulysses’s house and Ulysses.

If only the Judeo- Christian- Muslim god was this interactive, things would be different, don’t you agree.

I loved the book.

Hell again

A post written for atheistenquiry.org where I blog alongside 7 other wonderful people. When you visit say I sent you 😛 as le Ark would say, a fine gentleman the fellow is!

Enquiries on Atheism

I find these two questions that am going to attempt to answer very interesting, if not presumptuous. That said, I will attempt to do them justice.

1.  When you end up in Hell, who are you most looking forward to seeing?  Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Mao Zedong?

2.  If after death your soul finds itself in a place of eternal torment, who will you blame?

Re-read those questions! They are what I call loaded questions, that is, they have several hidden premises in them and we will first try to show what they are then continue to respond. They assumes among other things:-

  • that there is a hell
  • that there is an afterlife
  • that people are resurrected in the form in which they exist now
  • that there is need for eternal torment
  • that we have a soul
  • and that I or other atheists are going to hell

Having identified what yours…

View original post 903 more words

And now to enrage you!

I will just copy the post from avaaz. It has been in my email for a few days now.

By now we’ve all heard this story, but it’s no less shocking: 16 year old Liz was walking home from her grandfather’s funeral when she was ambushed by six men who took turns raping her and then threw her unconscious body down a 6-meter toilet pit.Their punishment? Police had them mow their station lawn, then let them go free!

Liz’s horror story has sent shockwaves through Kenya and now politicians and the police are under pressure to respond. But women’s groups say nothing will truly change unless the government is put under the spotlight. They are calling on us urgently to help ensure justice is done and that Liz’s nightmare marks a turning-point in Kenya’s rape epidemic.

Nobody has been brought to justice — not the rapists, and not the police. Today, we change that. Let’s stand with Liz right now, before her attackers and the police escape.Click below to get justice for Liz and help make sure no girl anywhere suffers this violence:

According to the girl’s mother, after they were set free, the rapists returned to Liz’s home to taunt the family. They acted like they were above the law, and they had good reason to think so. Because of ridiculous bureaucratic requirements, the police logged Liz’s attack as mere “assault” and asked her mother to “clean her up”, destroying key forensic evidence. Now her rapists are free and Liz is in a wheelchair.

Liz’s story is an extreme example of a much bigger problem. Two thirds of Kenyan school girls and half of school boys have been sexually abused. And earlier this year, a landmark court ruling found police guilty of failing to do their jobs and ordered them to uphold Kenya’s strict anti-rape laws. Rape is illegal everywhere, but too often these laws are just not enforced by the men charged with protecting our daughters. Beginning with Liz, we can change that.

The police claim that they don’t have the money or training to uphold the law. But you don’t need much training to know that cutting the grass is no punishment for rape. If we can help ensure these rapists and police are held to account, we can set a precedent that will compel police to treat rape as a serious crime, not a misdemeanour.

Here is the petition

Comic break

They say too much work with no play makes John a dull boy. And since yours truly approves that saying, allow me to introduce the arm chair pontificator who at the moment seems to be up in arms, well on his keyboard, with the Nobel Committee for failing to award him the Nobel in physics for his contribution to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, a research he had nothing to do with! I hope you have a good laugh!

On free will- a question

A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition. ~José Bergamín

Yours truly is a determinist, and in quite a few instances, I have written to try and explain why I think the idea that we have free will is an illusion. In this post I would like to be persuaded that am wrong.

Consider this an open invite to anyone who usually reads this blog but is afraid to comment because some of the views expressed here are too strong. I want to be persuaded, though there are no prizes to be won at the end. It is just an opportunity for those opposed to determinism to plant doubt in my belief.

I have indicated am open to persuasion, but this will not sell.

Fire away!

Atheist bashing! How atheism became a religion in all but name.

Yours truly happened by a post[ link will be provided at the end] that decries the zealotry of New atheists. Since the author, Frank Furedi, a sociologist, author and commentator and a former professor at a university also identifies as humanist, yours truly, will assume we don’t have to bother ourselves with definitions and go into the heart of the matter. He begins his post by reminding us there was a time when it was dangerous to be an atheist, though, we there are places in this day and age where apostasy is punishable by death.

He writes,

Where atheism was once depicted as a dangerous and subversive creed, today it is often portrayed as an enlightened outlook that perches on the moral high ground.

and this is where yours truly begins to see a problem. If the moral superiority he mentions is the demand that religions do not be given special treatment in the public square, or the claim that when the church and the state were in bed together, people were unhappy and miserable or that many lives have been lost in the name of religion- then atheists have a valid claim. Whenever it has been said that atheistic regimes have committed similar atrocities, the question that must be settled is whether this leaders killed or had others killed for their disbelief in the existence of gods for I think it is that question alone that atheism answers to. I could be wrong on this and I would like to persuaded that atheist regimes have killed others for not believing in god and if this is proven as true, then the atheists can have no high ground against the church they condemn.

He continues

But what is often overlooked is that the growing cultural affirmation of atheism has been paralleled by a big transformation in its meaning.

and I know you all want to know what this change in meaning reflects. He tells us

atheism takes itself very seriously indeed. With their zealous denunciation of religion, the so-called New Atheists often resemble medieval moral crusaders.

And how do they do this? It is by arguing

that the influence of religion should be fought wherever it rears its ugly head.

and this is partly true but doesn’t reflect the gamut of the argument. The argument here is that religion, any specific religion for example Catholicism cannot insist that assisted suicide, contraceptives or stem cell research shouldn’t be conducted because it is against Catholic doctrine. No! And it is this that those Frank identifies as NA decry and I think he would agree too. Opposing the clamour for special treatment of churches in the public square, for example tax exemption, doesn’t in any way make the atheists zealous. It is for the benefit of everyone that the public square be free of religious influence as much as is humanly possible for you never can tell which would be the next religion at the helm and whether they will approve of your brand of faith!

I don’t know how the arguments and claims of atheists verge on hysterical and irrational. To refuse to admit that religion causes harm is to ignore the testimonies of the many people who have left faith and have documented how the process of deconversion was painful and how they still feel the after effects of religion in their relationships.

His next issue appears is with the language adopted by New Atheists for he writes

the language used by atheist moral crusaders avoids the theological vocabulary of the religious. Instead, it prefers a more scientific-sounding narrative, demonising religion through the idea of medicalisation

and how do they do this? He tells us

In this vein, Richard Dawkins has described religion as a form of child abuse in his book, The God Delusion, and in other writings. He claims that instructing children about hell damages them for life. He claims that ‘religions abuse the minds of children’ and says ‘we should work to free the children of the world from the religions which, with parental approval, damage minds too young to understand what is happening to them’.

which makes yours truly wonder whether his problem is with Dawkins or New Atheists. That aside, I think, any teaching that leads to indoctrination whatever the source is not good for children. As a sociologist he must be aware of how hard it is to get people to change their thinking on matters such as religion or culture that were adopted in childhood when they were least able to analyse the questions in a rational way. It must be said there are those who for different reasons do not feel that they were damaged for good by religion but there are those who do and to deny this is to claim that those saying this are lying and I don’t think Frank intends to do that.

I think, Frank would agree that if one random fellow went to him with a narrative like the one found in the bible of a man living in fish for three days,  would consider that person mad and would recommend counselling. The fact that these stories are believed by many people do not now change the position that it is similar to a delusion and if it is the language he has a problem with, I don’t know how we can help this. I don’t think he would have a problem with believing WLC to be delusional in believing there was a zombie apocalypse as described in Mathew and that another is in store for the future. Let us be fair to the New Atheists, whoever they are, for why should Frank while decrying them for using medical language in describing belief go ahead to quote persons who I guess are believers. He writes

Father Leo Booth, in his book When God Becomes a Drug, warns of becoming ‘addicted to the certainty, sureness or sense of security that our faith provides’. John Bradshaw, one of the leading advocates of the American co-dependence movement, has produced a self-help video titled ‘Religious Addiction’

Am actually at a loss here for what has this got to do with New Atheists or the claim that religion could be described pathologically? And if it is the language that is the problem, I would expect that he would be generous enough in showing us some light in how he thinks these matters would be addressed. I can hazard a guess that there will be a shift in how these matterss are handled. I know this is possible drawing from experience in how people living with AIDS/ HIV or disabilities are referred to now compared to not long ago when the language used to refer to such groups was out-rightly discriminatory and encouraged stigmatization in many societies.

Atheists are blamed for being selective on whom they express their ire against. He writes

[..]although it claims to challenge irrationalism and anti-scientific prejudice, it tends to confine its anger to the dogma of the three Abrahamic religions

and he is partly right but as I said before he ignores the fact that in most of the western world, to which I guess he gets all these atheist writings, it is the Judeo- Christian- Islam lot of believers that each of us are confronted with on a daily basis and it is these three that insist to have a say on every public policy wherever they are the majority. The Hindu community in my country is so small and so quiet one may actually think they don’t exist. They pose no threat to public harmony but if they did, I would write about it. Atheists have condemned the ongoing terror posed by Buddhist monks, in areas where they dominate, against muslim minorities. To want us to put the Vedas or the Gita in the same breadth with the Quran or the Bible is to be blind to the great divide between how the Easterners sees man and his place in the universe and the narratives by the Middle Eastern god. Yours truly should be found guilty as charged for preferring the gospel of Buddha to the New Testament any day.

I don’t know if what he writes about spiritualism and mysticism is true. He writes

Since the New Atheism is culturally wedded to the contemporary therapeutic imagination, it is not surprising that it has adopted a double standard towards spiritualism.

I don’t know about you, but as for yours truly, to talk about spirits and to talk about god fall in the same class. They are words that to me have no meaning. And don’t get me wrong, for a great number of people these words seem to carry so much weight. I just don’t see it that way, sorry!

When he mentions Voltaire, he ignores to tell us that he, Voltaire, when in 1761 published the Testament by Jean Meslier, published a a grossly distorted “Extract” that portrayed Meslier as a fellow-deist and entirely suppressed Meslier’s anti-monarchist, proto-communist opinions, a document that can be described as the first atheistic treatise in modern times and which was so critical of religion, all religions and its influence in the Europe of his time.

He is right that the idea of atheist temples is abhorrent to most atheists but to claim that atheists shouldn’t meet as the religious do is to be guilty of insinuating that, because we have rejected the idea of god[s], we no longer need communities. How could this be when we are just as human as the next believer except of course that we lack a belief in phantoms, ghosts and gods? Why deny our humanity?

I therefore don’t see how he could justify the claim that

in all but name the New Atheism has transformed itself not only into a secular religion but into an intensely intolerant and dogmatic secular religion.

unless he supplies us with what the dogma he refers to is and what rituals and associated practices go with it. Unless he can do this, we would consider a baseless attack on atheists.

He says, and yours truly agrees, that

As a humanist, I am distressed by the corruption of the idea of atheism

but this isn’t done by atheists simply because atheism answers to one question and one question only. Beyond the question of the belief in existence of gods, you can’t deduce whether I like eggs or not.

When he writes towards the end of his article

Genuine humanists are critical of the influence of creationism and of religious fanaticism. Yet while attempts to reverse the separation of church and state are always a cause for concern, the real challenge facing humanists today does not emanate from organised religion. Rather, it is now often secular movements that promote the idea that human beings are powerless, vulnerable and victims of their circumstances

am a bit at a loss for I don’t see how atheists are at fault here. I don’t know what secular movements promotes the ideas he mentions and I would like to be enlightened.

Again when he writes

So instead of the religious belief in original sin, today we are confronted with the therapeutic claim that children are easily damaged and scarred for life. All the old religious sins have been recast in a secular, medical form. People are no longer condemned for lust but rather are treated for sex addiction. Gluttony has been reinvented as obesity. And envy and avarice have been rebranded as illnesses brought about by our ‘addictive consumer society

I don’t see how atheists are at fault.

Since this post is already longer than they usually are, I intend not to say anymore but to quote Meslier writing about religion in 1725. He writes

I saw and recognized the errors, the abuses, the vanities, the follies and the evilness of men. I hated and despised them, but I didn’t dare speak of them during my lifetime. I will at least say them upon dying and after my death, and it is in order that they be known that I make and write the present Memoire so that it serve as a evidence in support of truth to all those who will see and read it, if they deem it appropriate.

And if Frank or anyone else is going to expect us to wait till our dying moments to point out the faults of religion as we see them in our days, he is grossly mistaken, especially, living at a time where at every corner there is a church and one can not surf through broadcast before he is bombarded with religious channels asking for your money or time for miracles to happen in your life. No we shall not be cowed and for this we can’t apologise. Accuse us of other crimes but don’t tell us to keep quiet!

How atheism became a religion in all but name