Faith Kills

An excellent letter-to-the-editor of the Richmond, VA Times-Dispatch is worth disseminating far and wide. It can be found here.

Richmond, VA Times Dispatch:

Faith Caused 9/11, And Much Else

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Five years ago, nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans were reduced to burnt dust in the rubble of the Looming Towers.

They were not killed by ignorance or poverty or because “terrorists hate our freedom.” They were murdered by faith — faith in unseen gods, in invisible paradises, in the ancient fairy tales of desert tribes, their myths of creation, sacrifice, redemption, and eternal life. Faith caused 9/11.

Oh how easy for us to scoff at the outlandish, misogynistic beliefs of the 19 “holy warriors”, the shaving of their body hair, the 72 virgins awaiting each assassin, the eerie willingness of these highly educated children of affluent families to slaughter and die for lurid storybook endings in the happily-ever-after.

But were not 300,000 burned at the stake in Madrid’s main square over the course of the Inquisition? Did not all of Europe’s Catholic and Protestant armies slaughter and starve to death one-third of the entire German people in the horrible war of 1618-48, fought over whether the Holy Father or the Holy Bible was inerrant, over whether Communion wafers were truly the very flesh of the Living Lord or just a symbol of his gory sacrifice? And did not our German cousins, in living memory, grind 6 million unarmed men, women, and children into wet mud in the crematoria of Central Europe because of their peculiar pagan faith in an omniscient Fuhrer?

Chosen People, Elect of the Lord, Master Race — on and on, faith in fanciful tales, embellished and handed down for a hundred generations — these are the lies used by priests, preachers, and politicians, by imams and rabbis, since the first witch doctor sought sway over his fellows in a cave at the dawn of our species.

Faith, its arrogant certainties, and its absolute imperatives caused 9/11.

Faith kills.

William Pinknoras. Midlothian.

Faith is the blind acceptance of ideas without concern for evidence and proof. It would have been good to point out the alternative — reason — but Mr. Pinknoras does a great job of identifying many of the effects of reliance on faith, across time and across (most of) the world.

–Ken

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Hard to Imagine

You gotta feel sorry for ‘ol Bill Gates. He has been the richest man in the world since 1998. He’s worth $50 billion now, down from $90 billion in 1999. About being the richest he says, “I wish I wasn’t. There is nothing good that comes out of that.” His reason? “You get more visibility as a result of it.”

Hard as it is to imagine being the world’s richest man, even after dropping $40 billion, it’s even harder to conceive being so put off by the inevitable public awe.

Poor baby….

— Ken

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Wafa Sultan

Wafa Sultan, a courageous ex-Muslim woman who has been interviewed twice on Al-Jazeera television, has justifiably been the subject of various articles and blogs. Typical articles are those by John M. Broder and Mona Charen Both are well worth reading. They note that Dr. Sultan was Syrian-born and Muslim-raised, and that she has come to see the world’s Muslim vs. infidel problems in a different light.

“The clash we are witnessing around the world,” she says, “is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.” Aside from Objectivist writers, I have not seen this level of insight into the current world crisis.

Dr. Sultan said she no longer practices Islam: “I am a secular human being.” Of course, her stand has brought condemnation on herself for being a heretic, and has prompted death threats from Muslims who cannot abide dissent.

I share Mona Charen’s admiration of Dr. Sultan (Mr. Broder does not express an explicit opinion). My lone quibble is with a sentence in her final paragraph. She says, “Sultan doubtless speaks for millions of Muslims who similarly deplore the barbarism that has come to dominate large segments of the Muslim world.” I think rather, if she speaks for anyone but herself, it is for Muslims who, like her, have seen that the barbarism is a result of the religion and who have therefore rejected the religion. My guess is there are few of those.

–Ken

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Intelligent Design in the Classroom

Following his coverage of the court decision in the case of the Pennsylvania school district that had decided to teach Intelligent Design (ID), Harry Binswanger said, “By virtue of the thoroughness of Judge Jones in laying bare the real meaning of ID and the inherent dishonesty of its attempt to pose as science and critical thinking (which he calls “a sham”), the ID movement may never recover.”

In reason, the decision seems a death blow to the ID movement, all right. In the anti-reason of ID’s proponents, however, the Judge’s exposure of the meaning of ID means only that they have lost again this time. The movement will go on in the hope that next time they will find the set of words that will allow them to sneak religion into the classroom.

Born-again columnist Chuck Colson was disappointed by the judge’s ruling, but not “disheartened” and certainly undeterred.

Colson cited Judge Jones’ ruling that the “claimed secular purpose for including ID in the curriculum — improving science education –” was “‘a pretext for the Board’s real purpose’: to promote religion in the public school classroom.” Of the ruling, Colson said, “Now I strongly disagree, but this tells us what has to be done in other cases if we are going to succeed.

He pointed to another part of the Judge’s ruling: “By way of anticipating the reaction to the ruling, Jones emphasized that he wasn’t saying the intelligent design concept shouldn’t be studied and discussed . . . And this is the key: In Kansas and other jurisdictions, the teaching is permitted, not mandated. Always seek an open forum, so all sides can be discussed, and science compared to science.”

So, Colson’s advice to ID supporters: don’t make it so obvious that we are trying to get religion into the classroom. Try to get ID discussed as one of the “sides” in an “open forum” where we can claim it as a scientific alternative to evolution. He does not clarify what he means by “open forum;” presumably it’s wider than simply inviting court action as happened in Pennsylvania.

Colson’s conclusion, directed at his religionist fans: “‘How can I be an optimist,’ you ask, ‘in the face of yesterday’s decision?’ Because I know that if we equip ourselves and do our job, truth will out. We should not despair. Our case is compelling if we frame it carefully, ask the right questions, and expose the claims of Darwinists.” This is an admission that the whole purpose of the ID form of creationism is to destroy scientific evolutionary theory so that faith can be reinstated.

He ends with a suggestion that the faithful call him at BreakPoint, “so we can tell you how to get your hands on material that will equip you well to make a case-a case that is strong and will withstand constitutional challenge.”

–Ken

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Limbo

The Catholic church is conflicted over what happens to infants who die unbaptized. There is a contradiction between two of their beliefs that has lately disturbed the Catholic hierarchy. The problem: do we say that the infant, before baptism, is in a state of (original) sin and therefore will go to Hell when it dies? Or do we say that God is merciful and certainly would not do that to innocent babies?

Traditionally, Catholics have been taught that these babies don’t go to Hell. They go to a place of “natural” happiness (meaning: no direct experience of God) called Limbo. But this has been a subject of contention, with some arguing that the unbaptized baby is not innocent; he is in a sinful state because of Adam’s fall.

Some spokesmen say that Limbo has never been a Church teaching (I was certainly taught it in parochial school) and is not a matter of obligatory faith. So, the church has referred the matter to a committee. Surely the best way to resolve any contradiction?

Of course, when the contradiction involves whether an imaginary God might consign an unbaptized baby to an imaginary Hell, nothing but a committee could reach a conclusion. Surely a thinking individual would file the question in the same folder as the number of angels dancing on a pinhead.

–Ken

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