Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for the ‘Theology and Religion’ Category

Religiosity as indicator of education system performance

Posted by Dave Bath on 2012-04-29

Increase analytical thinking in individuals and religious belief drops – so at a group level, increasing popularity of the more credulous sects suggests our education system is failing.  But don’t expect that indicator of education system performance to be used by politicians.
 

Scientific American has an interesting article "Losing Your Religion: Analytic Thinking Can Undermine Belief" (2012-04-26) – which seems pretty obvious, but the experiments looked at how analytical training attacks the cancer of religious thinking at the level of the individual.
 

This is trickier than tracking it at the level of a society, but I think the results would hold at the group level, with lower sky-fairy fandom the result of a better education system.
 

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Scopes Monkey Bill – Victory for anti-Science

Posted by Dave Bath on 2012-04-15

"Tennessee Monkey Bill Becomes Law" (Nature News 2012-04-11) reports the continuing death-throeas of Thomas Jeffersons informed and active citizenry essential for democracy, at least in the USA.

The infamous 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial" pitched Tennessee against a teacher who dared to cover Darwin and evolution in class.

The governor of Tennessee has allowed the passage of the ‘monkey bill’, giving public-school teachers licence to teach alternatives to those mainstream scientific theories often attacked by religious and political conservatives.

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Posted in Biology and Health, Education, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion, USA | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Shock – horror – Pell speaks some truth

Posted by Dave Bath on 2012-04-14

Cardinal Pell’s statements on Jewish cultural inferiority and Genesis-as-myth create a storm – because on these things, Pell is correct.

Cardinal George Pell, not my favorite person all all (linkefest below), raised quite a few hackles with comments on the recent Q&A show (transcript here)- and unusually I can see some merit in those statement, on the allegorical nature of Genesis, and the cultural/intellectual inferiority of Jewish nations compared to others in similar times and geographies.

Of course, I do question his agenda, and have quibbles – this is Pell after all!

Jewish Inferiority

Pell labelled Jews "intellectually inferior" – an ambiguous statement, and his apology clarifies (or alters) his statement on TV.  His comment about morally inferior is pretty unambigious.

If Pell did mean culturally inferior, the culture intellectually inferior, then he is absolutely correct.

After all, if doing the "What have the Romans ever done for us" sketch from Monty Python, substituting Jews for Romans, what would he have?  One item – it is the culture which inflicted Abrahamism on the world … the millenia of wars, crusades, fundamentalists and hate … including George Pell himself.

The over-praised King David et al were nothing but the East Med version of the Taliban, violent religious oafs in the hills fighting the culturally literate Phoenicians (such as the Philistines) down on the coast, Philistines who were busy inventing our alphabet (the Greeks grabbed Phoenician letters, and rotated them 90 degrees, and the rest is history, written down).

Abrahamism was an "the particular sky fairy who prefers our tribe and helps us commit genocide and war crimes". The oft-criticized "sword verses" of the Koran are as warm and gentle as fuzzy bunnies compared to the celebrated (yes!) stories in Exodus and Joshua.  Wipe out all the Canaanites when Joshua invaded?" And their, kids, their wives, their cattle, their goats … that’s all good, a wonderful victory, to the Abrahamists.

If being happy about a genocide (whether or not it happens) of the Canaanites, but not happy about the actions of Hitler, isn’t morally inferior, total bigotry, what is?

The same attitude keeps resurfacing with Abrahamism, despite the "softening" to a universal rather than tribal god during the Babylonian exile, exposed to Zoroastrianism.  Oooh, those evil Babylonians, making the exiles a little more tolerant to others!

We get the crusades, we get the bigotry of Pell, we get the violence of Islamist terrorists, we get millenia, at least since the time of Constantine, of Abrahamic "you are subhuman" to people of different color, creed, gender or sexual orientation – oh – and of course, all the Abrahamist nutters who are anti-science.

Oh well, the attitude of Jews to "He who must not be named" does have resonance with a far-less vicious supernatural being familar to all Harry Potter fans.

Compared to the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Sumerians, Phoenicians, … and so many other cultures in the region, what has Jewish culture ever down for us?

Genesis Is Myth

Pell comments on the Adam and Eve myth as a religious story rather than literal truth caused another storm, with a different group of extremists.

Anybody with at least half a brain knows that it’s myth, but does Pell have any choice given his other statements over the years justifying dogmatic bigotry?

There are two conflicting creation stories in Genesis, both can’t be correct, both cannot be literally true, and if Pell picks one over the other, he must give his reasons for that – a level of Biblical scholarship that would undermine the entire tome – the bigotry of Leviticus and the rantings of Paul.

But Pell knows his flock, the lambs-to-the-slaughter, and the other mob who cite biblical verses as authorization to be bigots, won’t have that scholarship.  No harm done to his agenda as far as he is concerned.


See Also:

  • Q and A transcript of Pell’s comments (ABC, 2012-04-09)

    • Cultural Inferiority

      GEORGE PELL: Normally you go to a busy person because you know they’ll do it and so for some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews. They weren’t intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or the…

      TONY JONES: Intellectually?

      GEORGE PELL: Intellectually, morally…

      TONY JONES: How can you know intellectually?GEORGE PELL: Because you see the fruits of their civilisation. Egypt was the great power for thousands of years before Christianity. Persia was a great power, Caldia. The poor – the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck. They’re still stuck between these great powers.

      TONY JONES: But that’s not a reflection of your intellectual capacity, is it, whether or not you’re a shepherd?

      GEORGE PELL: Well, no it’s not but it is a recognition it is a reflection of your intellectual development, be it like many, many people are very, very clever and not highly intellectual but my point is…

    • On Genesis as Myth

      TONY JONES: So are you talking about a kind of Garden of Eden scenario with an actual Adam and Eve?

      GEORGE PELL: Well, Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world.

      TONY JONES: But it isn’t a literal truth. You shouldn’t see it in any way as being an historical or literal truth?

      GEORGE PELL: It’s certainly not a scientific truth and it’s a religious story told for religious purposes.

  • "Cardinal Apologises for describing Jews as intellectually inferior" (The Age, 2012-04-13)
  • "Adam and Eve? That’s just mythology says Pell" (The Australian, 2012-04-10).
  • Other Posts on Pell
  • "God the Interview – A Club Troppo Exclusive" (Club Troppo, 2012-04-12)


Posted in Politics, Science and Tech, Theology and Religion | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Oldies but goldies kept out of our schools

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-28

Crap happens.  It has always happened.  It always will.  So why aren’t our education systems giving to people some of the best means of dealing with that crap? Tools that never age, are easily available, cheap, and nobody has ever really criticized in the last couple of millenia?

Even fixing up the biased Christianity in our schools, replacing it merely with comparative religion and ethics classes: good, but not good enough.  We need to provide kids with the tools for consolation and strength, the classical personal philosophies of the likes of Marcus Aurelius.

It’s deprivation, deprivation bordering on abuse.

Over the last couple of years, contact with a few of old uni friends has been re-established – and a couple of them have been having a hard time.  Intelligent folk, decent, crap from the fates, from spouses, from family courts … and there is one bit of advice that seems to have done the most good – and started doing good almost straight away:

Seriously, check out wikipedia on "Meditations" and Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor who wrote it, check out his wikiquotes, and remember this guy had the weight of the known world on his shoulders, and despite later (unprovable) diagnoses as suffering from depression, ruled pretty damn well, and his notes on how to view the world and the crap happening allowed him to rule well.  Have a browse, and if some of it rings true, get yourself the Penguin translation and open it at random – each paragraph stands on it’s own, so even if depression is hitting your cognition as you say, it’s in easy to digest bite-sized pieces.  Then come back to me if you want more of the Stoics and the Epicureans.

Well, usually within a day I’m getting emails that are "Wow!  Never knew this stuff – I mean, I’ve seen him as, you know, the good emperor in ‘Gladiator’, but …"

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Posted in Australia, Education, Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

Dummies Guide To Mass Murderers

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-24

Unless you are part of that demographic-to-be-ignored, the latte-sipping bleeding-hearts, both left and small-l-liberal, here is a quick guide to labels and policies regarding mass murderers, or assassins of your own prime minister:

Demographic: Swarthy Moslem White Lefty Latte Sipper White Christian Anti-Moslem Righty Swarthy Ultra Orthodox Jew Righty
Psychology: Evil Mad Mad Mad
Your Ideology: Evil Mad and Dangerous Irrelevant because of insanity Irrelevant because of insanity
Punishment: Execute or incarcerate forever without trial Criminally insane ward in a prison Criminally insane ward in a prison Imprison
Others in the demographic: Kick them out of the country, don’t let any more in, or subject them to security agencies bullying. Make them shut up, and especially don’t let them speak in schools or mass media.. The Right Stuff Patriots
Assumption next atrocity is from the demographic: 99% 1% 0% 0%
Assumption the demographic’s policies will destroy civilization: 100% 100% 0% 0%

 

Personally, I’d classify all four as mad, and where frank psychosis is incomplete, the evil results come from improper education, incitement by others in the same demographic, and twisted readings of the texts of the ideology.

In other words, things that could be largely prevented by a combination of decent community mental health services, and an education system that gives fair exposition of all texts used by nutters as pretexts for action, stressing the humanity in those texts, and showing how the inhumane parts should be deprecated.

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Posted in Australia, International, Language Use, Law, Media, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | 1 Comment »

Pastor No-Allah and the Press Conference

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-02-04

Pastor Danny No-Allah, again in the wake of disasters causing much cost and misery, gave out a press release proving not only that his deity exists but that his direct line to the Big El is completely without the bugs of worldly telecoms providers (with atheist shareholders – glitches are only to be expected).

The amount of water falling on Australia is a clear demonstration of the power of our prayers a little while ago, when the nation was afflicted by drought.  It proves I’m the Voice of The Lord currently incarnated in Australia.

No-Allah’s usual detractors point out that there could be some truth in this – No-Allah is a destructive windbag, something consistent with No-Allah’s leanings to primitive Judaism rather than the love and tolerance preached by Jesus.  One of them gave an explanation:

Look at Psalm 29, it’s pretty clear that it’s a storm god, a bit of a crib from the older stories Abraham grew up with, the ones about Enlil, the sky-fairy who did the hard work flooding the world wiping out the population except for the household of Utnapishtim/Noah – check out the Gilgamesh Epic for the pre-Abrahamic origins of that story.

As usual, No-Allah’s theological sophistication, insight and logic was on display:

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Posted in Australia, Humor, Politics, Theology and Religion | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Reaganomics, Bogan Xtianity and Climate

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-12-30

US environment policy statements from 30 years ago might explain much of climate policy today.

Even back in the Reagan years, at the start of the rise of the political influence of the xtian right, policies and statements of senior politicians explicitly supported the idea that environmental destruction is ordained by god and even a desirable policy outcome.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, International, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion, USA | Leave a Comment »

Jesus would like atheists more than Xtians

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-07-15

What’s the bet there is a negative correlation between deism and desire for compassate Oz policy for boat people?

The two-thirds majority that approve the Gillarbbott policies on asylum seekers is pretty much the same number that admitted to Christianity in the census. (see wikipedia)

While there are doubtless some non-hyprocritical Christians out there, it’s hard to accuse those godless latte-sippers of being the ones without compassion for the downtrodden, because the godless types are (unfortunately) in such a minority.

So… on the face of it, pick a random person who claims belief in a skyfairy, and more than likely the person is a hypocrite about compassion.  Makes you wonder whether you can trust anything else they say.

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Posted in Australia, Civil rights, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | 2 Comments »

Holiday Hit

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-04-03

Zombie Dei

Posted in Humor, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

Fear the god-fearing society… tax churches punitively

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-22

I guess we should have a punitive tax on churches for the trouble they cause the same way there is a punitive tax on cigarettes!

The 2 minute MSNBC report pretty much says it all… apart from the anchor-blonde’s tone giving a hint at how the US public will view (or more correctly, not view) the evidence. (HT: Pharyngula)

Unfortunately, Pharyngula’s PZ Myers’ post didn’t point to the source papers… so you can go into the gory details of the sampling and data yourself via:

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Posted in Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

Perspective – Bitchy climatologists v Pederast priests

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-21

Climate-action denialists try to pull down the edifice of climatology because of a few bitchy emails between competitive scientists, and a single error (but hardly a fundamental one that invalidates all other data) in a huge report.

It is a pity that the even more damning, more evil, universally recognized, and self-admitted phenomenon of pederast priests, which belies the claims that Xtianity leads to improved behaviour of individuals, doesn’t cause those climate-action denialists to demand that those organizations who have protected pederasts, or at least, despite supposedly intensive training been unable to make them decent people, be pulled down, be given no special protected status within civilized societies.

Why is that?

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Posted in Environment, Science and Tech, Society, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

I may have to anti-strike in protest

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-20

If those papists in Canberra declare a national holiday because Mary McKillop is given some Roman gong… THEN I’M TURNING UP FOR WORK ANYWAY.

I’m beginning to smell a KRudd/Abbott lovefest, religious patriotic jingoism replacing everyday patriotic jingoism as the first refuge of scoundrels.

Mind you, from the policies coming out of Canberra these days, I think KRudd’s more partial to Bob Santamaria than Mary McKillop.

(p.s: I would celebrate if Father Bob was made Pope.)

Posted in Australia, Politics, Theology and Religion | 2 Comments »

Why most of us look at evidence and action arse-about

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-10

A very thought provoking paper on why people do not want to, and therefore reject, overwhelming scientific concensus, has just been released on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN): "Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus" (2010-02-07) with the lead author from Yale Law School.

It posits and tests the idea that your worldview will make you, near-instinctively, reject evidence based on whether the actions guided that evidence would conflict with your worldview.

Putting it a bit simplistically, libertarians hate the science of climate change because it demands action involving regulation, and supranational concerted action, while lefties, viewing big business as intrinsically untrustworthy, will not credit any evidence that nuclear waste can be managed.

We are all screwed, unless there are enough people who have the intellectual discipline and inclination to make evidence-based decisions.  The number of "people-of-faith" (e.g. base their lives on the idea that evidence is less important than other drivers) in the world means that evidence will hardly get a look-in, so evidence-based politics and consequence evidence-based policy will remain a pipe dream (unless we convince those with imaginary sky friends to be internally consistent and pray rather than seek medical help).

An agonizing crash of human civilization and population is inevitable unless we get rid of both theists and libertarians (hopefully by educating them properly rather than a pogrom).

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Posted in Australia, Education, Environment, International, Philosophy, Politics, Science and Tech, Society, Theology and Religion | 2 Comments »

Another miracle

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-23

With saints declared because of a medical success rate (among those that pray to the saint for a cure) equivalent to waving a dead chicken, and the same people often claiming miraculous appearances of religious figures in mundane objects such as a fried egg or squirt of sauce on a pie, it worth noting a miraculous appearance of a "virgin mary" in something that actually IS medically effective.

Virgin Mary miraculously appears in a condom

A catholic condom?

Yep… a condom… you’re guess whether used or just unwrapped.

And you can almost see the baby Jesus nestling up to a shoulder.

Hat tips to Friendly Atheist via Pharyngula

Posted in Humor, Theology and Religion | 1 Comment »

Sexism and SOIFdom

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-21

Hat-tipping and riffing on Robert Merkel at LP, it seems no wonder that Slaves Of Imaginary Friends (SOIFs, pun with serf intended) tend to the "conservative" view that women should be homemakers, and furthermore, that if we want a society improved by rational policy, at least a couple of generations of males should be primary care-givers, particularly during the years when vulnerable brains can be poisoned, resistant to the idea of evidence-based action.

With 4 women as SOIFs for every 3 male SOIFs, and with more women as primary care-givers, the next generation is pushed into becoming SOIFs.  If this continues, we are doomed.  This depressing statistic may be related to either the gender gap in students and practitioners of the hard sciences (cause, effect, or self-amplifying feedback loop), and may also be related to the traditional and unfortunate low status of women in conservative societies, mirroring the popularity of early Xtianity among slaves.

Does it also reflect the popularity of fad diets, the relative frequencies of body images contrary to reason and evidence?  The resistance to accepting evidence in these things shares much in common with SOIFdom.

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