Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gun control

I recently realized that my blog has become, or rather always has been, exclusively about religion and this was not my original intention. I wanted to have a blog about all of the important issues including politics, science, religion, culture and society; religion being but one of the many. I believe that I will maintain an almost exclusive interest with religion upon this blog, for that represents my personal interests well but I would like to introduce some politics.

A fellow atheist asked a group of us what our views were regarding gun control, I was the first to respond stating that I do not have a solid stance and that the issue is far too complex to say “no guns” or “guns for everyone.” But as the dialogue continued and as I read along from the sidelines I witnessed the discussion become increasingly ideological and I began to see that I did, in fact, have some solid views regarding the issue. The dialogue became a debate largely between an individual that, though passive, owned a gun and claimed it was merely for protection. There were then two dissenting voices claiming that owing a gun for any reason let alone for protection was extravagantly unjust. Both sides had begun to regress into fairly indefensible and irrationally extrapolated hyperbole. The discussion had ceased being rational and was now becoming just as diabolically ideological as the religious extremists around the globe.
Here is a quote from one of the anti-gun advocates: “Then why not carry a conceal weapon wherever you go? Why draw that line? Do you have a bomb shelter? Do you wear a mask to protect yourself from airborne toxins?” – Obviously going too far. Owning a firearm for protection against armed assailants and intruders seems fairly different from owning either a bomb shelter or an airborne toxin mask. This quote is but one minor example of the rhetoric that was being waged from both sides, it had also become somewhat emotionally charged.
I then decided that I did have something to offer the discussion. This is what I had to say:

“I am most likely never going to own a firearm and I don’t really see the necessity for an individual to own one but those that are going to argue into the abyss of pettiness and insignificance that one should never own a weapon for any reason seems both trivial and frivolous. If you do not like guns, that is great do not buy and own a gun but it seems disturbingly anti-American and anti-libertarian to infringe upon ones individual and private life in such a gratuitous way that is not adequately justified. It seems morally condescending and is analogous to the complaisant patronizing that the “morally superior” religious extremists continually engage in.

I do not care for destructive machines of death, which firearms most certainly are, but I also see the necessity of them in the military and police forces and I surely believe that it would be unconstitutional to revoke the rights of an individual due to the moral outcry and contemptuous ideology of either the religious right or the utopian left.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Scientific progress despite religion

In the past I had come across a blog that had written a piece about evolution and its beneficial impact on humanity. Undoubtedly and most unfortunately some religious zealot full of pious indignation decreid the piece and began to spout religiousity as if his very stream of consciousness had began to retch uncontrolably. I then posted a moderate and unbiased response that refused to scrutinize or even consider the vitiole that permeated his mindless rant, which was most likely not his own but a regurgitation of what he had been indoctrinated to believe and say by his “religious leaders.”

This is what I said:

Science has provided humanity with such ‘natural miracles’ as modern medicine and all of its discoveries such as antibiotics, the development of vaccines, modern techniques of surgery, anesthesia, pharmacology, and biogenetic engineering. I could go on and on about the great discoveries, inventions, and innovations that are the direct product of science but that would encapsulate far too much space. Science has improved and impacted virtually every aspect of our lives and not even the pious Amish are able to avoid modern science and technology. The religious zealots that decry evolutionary science and modern psychology surely wouldn’t dare decry the innovations produced from such sciences. Through evolutionary biology we have developed advanced sciences such as genetics, phylogeny, and increased our knowledge within virtually all other sciences such as molecular biology and theoretical psychology. Evolution has extensive support for it through most of the various sciences; there are volumes upon volumes of scientific research and testing that support evolution through sciences such as biology, paleontology, archeology, geophysics, geology, theoretical psychology, genetics, planetary science, and phylogeny to simply name a few. To decry either evolutionary science or psychology is to illustrate ones inherent ignorance and inability to reconcile ones ‘faith’ with that of science (how dejected).Now in light of all that science has provided humanity what has religion given us? The answer to this will undoubtedly vary from person to person but the best they can assert is that religion provides comfort and the hope that life will be better in a suspected afterlife. The real answer is that the best religion has given us is a blind and misguided sense of the world, the worst it has given us is continual bloody “holy wars” as in crusades, pogroms, and jihads; it has fostered hate, bias, ignorance, slavery, murder, genocide, tyranny, poverty, and evil (to use religious language). Religion has effectively improved absolutely nothing where as science has and will continue to do so despite religious opposition.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Violence and Peace

I recently encountered a few atheists that were rejoicing in the church burnings that have made the news recently they went so far as to celebrate violence itself. I was taken aback by the ignorance and aggressiveness that was on display and even encouraged.
One individual claimed that they have always wanted to burn down a church and now they see how easy it is, they claimed that the news was "fucking awesome" and that all churches should be burned down. In response I said:

While I am completely unimpresed by religious belief and find what goes on inside a church to be lame I completely denounce arson. Burning down Churches is a very destructive and negative thing to do. If it turns out to be atheists then we have all been tainted by the morose actions of one or a few individuals. Who ever is going around and burning down any building for any reason is a criminal and an idiot, I really hope that this cannot be linked to atheism.

There was then discussion about violence and there were individuals claiming that they enjoyed violence, that it was necessary and that they would not hesitate to be violent. I then said:

I have found no reason to resort to violence and I find no reason for anyone else to do so. The only situation that I could foresee myself using violence would be if I, or those in my company, came under violent attack and physical force was needed to counter the situation.
Violence is a manifestation of our primal instincts and animal urges that should be overcome. We are afforded a highly advanced conscious awareness that is unequaled within the animal kingdom, we would do well to actualize our potential and harness our characteristics to the fullest extent possible. Violence is a characteristic of our lesser evolved ancestors and those that embrace such depravity have not yet fully grown into the human race. Humans have the ability to abolish needless and senseless violence and when one does not do their best to rid themselves of such animal behavior they endanger everyone.
To me violence is a form of irrational ignorance and I deplore both irrationality and ignorance so it is natural that I oppose violence. Being a secular humanist I believe that violence is never the answer and that one should use the power of their mind to resolve conflicts. We cannot afford to accept mindless violence and aggressive animal behavior.
While we deplore the violent Muslim reaction to the Muhamad cartoons we must also deplore the burning of churches. We must oppose not only religious violence but violence against religion, both are unacceptable. We need to promote peace, acceptance, tolerance and intelligence; only then will we know anything of true freedom.

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov

“You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.” – Noam Chomsky

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein

“Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.” – Victor Hugo

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” – John Lennon

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hindu extremism

I have noticed that many atheists, nonbelievers and secularists spend a good deal of time rebutting the irrationality of the religious. Here in the US and abroad the majority of attention is given to Islam, Christianity and Judaism (in that order) but I have always maintained that all religion regardless of it’s inherent passive neutrality is just as capable of producing extremism as are other religions.
All religion, despite its apparent passiveness, is just as capable of extremism, hatred, intolerance and violence as any other religion. Many people believe that religions such as Hinduism are exempt from this extremism and I have been doing some work illustrating the falsehood behind these notions. I have found some very depressing evidence of religious extremism all over the globe and from every religion imaginable. Hinduism is apparently more than capable of producing its own form of extremism; I read a case of some extreme Hindus killing another Hindu for having killed a cow and then stating that the life of a holy cow is worth more than that of a Hindu and then sited quotes from Hindu religious texts. Hinduism is also built upon a very decrepit caste system and there is unbelievable chauvinism within the religion. I just wanted to throw Hinduism into the mix for a change so here is a good article I found, it’s a little old but sadly there is not much coverage of Hindu extremism in the media, which is very biased and potentially dangerous. The article is from The Washington Times:

(If the above link does not work use this one: