I have just watched the National Press Club featuring the British climate change denier Chris Monckton (you can watch it here) in it’s entirety and came away with the sad feeling that it doesn’t matter how much scientific evidence is presented to some people, if they start out with a preconceived viewpoint then you are wasting your time.
I then stumbled upon Bill Maher’s video that uses humour to explain the real problem well. The ‘we must give equal air time to the crackpots because there’s two sides to every story’ problem I mean.
It’s damn funny to boot…
As the evening of the 2011 Census draws very near, I thought I’d echo the thoughts of many free thinkers and add my two cents worth to the Religion Question discussion.
Not having seen this years’s census questions (we decided to do ours online this year. It will be interesting to see whether the site stands up with millions of hits over a short period of time!) – we can only assume it will be the same or similar to the last one, which looked like this:
Question: What is the person’s religion?
Answering this question is OPTIONAL.
For example, Salvation Army, Hinduism, Judaism or Humanism.
If no religion, mark last box.
( ) Catholic
( ) Anglican
( ) Uniting Church
( ) Presbyterian
( ) Greek Orthodox
( ) Baptist
( ) Lutheran
( ) Islam
( ) Buddhism
( ) Other – please specify
( ) No religion
My thoughts on the question are simple. You are being asked what RELIGION do you embrace/follow not what you BELIEVE.
If you think there may be a god or a god-force or are unsure – please, please tick NO RELIGION. Whether you were raised Catholic, Anglican, C of E or whatever, if you don’t go to church or believe in a personal god that listens to your prayers and decides who lives/dies and when or you have a strong affinity with one of the religions marked – please tell the truth and tick NO RELIGION.
If you are in two minds you are most likely a good person with morals and values – and that doesn’t mean ‘christian values’, it means human qualities that the majority of us have. Labelling them christian or any other religion-inspired term is meaningless.
Australia needs confirmation that this country is secular. Individuals are free to believe whatever they want, but giving the christian right the ammunition to bellow that ‘AUSTRALIA IS A CHRISTIAN NATION!’ will do no one any good…
I have written a few posts about evolution in the past, usually defending the theory, but attempting to convince creationists what evolution is about is really a pointless exercise due to their unwillingness – or inability – to look at or understand the facts presented to them. So, I thought that starting from the beginning and trying to convince some of them first what evolution ISN’T – might be worthwhile. We can only try anyway…
I have taken an excerpt from the excellent writing on the Ebon Musings site, in particular the evolution pages section that presents the argument well. If you have the time, I suggest you read the entire evolution section as it is excellent.
“Some creationists have claimed that evolution is a religion, but this claim too is false. Evolution is well supported by evidence, and all its basic mechanisms can be observed to operate today; unlike religion, it does not require faith. In addition, no one claims evolution is an inerrant doctrine – like all branches of science, it is being constantly tested and refined, and it could be falsified and rejected if the right evidence turned up. No one prays to evolution. Also like all sciences, evolution is theologically neutral. It says nothing, one way or the other, about the existence of God or the supernatural; it does not require divine intervention, but nor does it forbid it. Atheists can accept evolution without believing there is anything more, while theists can accept evolution and believe that their god controls it. Any god can be given credit for using evolution as the method of creation, and indeed, theists of all denominations accept it.
One of the most common misrepresentations of evolution is to extend it beyond its boundaries, claiming it says more than it actually does. The theory of evolution says nothing about the origin of the universe, the origin of the earth or even the origin of life. Evolution concerns itself only with the subsequent development of life once it already existed. The manner in which life first came into being is irrelevant to evolutionary theory, though it is covered in a related field, abiogenesis. (If God had miraculously created the first living cell in the primordial soup, evolution could have taken over normally from there.) The origin of the universe and other cosmological bodies is not biology at all; it is sometimes referred to as stellar evolution, but it is an unrelated branch of science and has nothing to do with the theory first proposed by Charles Darwin.
In addition to not being a religion, evolution is also not, nor does it pretend to be, a moral guide. Creationists sometimes charge that “if we’re descended from animals, we should act like animals,” but this is an example of a classic logical blunder – the naturalistic or “is implies ought” fallacy. Just because things are some way does not mean that they should be that way, or that it is right that they be that way. It is true that, in nature, there is much pain, suffering and death, even things that seem needlessly cruel. Natural selection can be a harsh and uncaring process, if we insist on subjecting an unintelligent force of nature to a human value judgment. But this does not mean it is right to be cruel and uncaring, just as the theory of gravity does not mean we should push people off tall buildings, or the germ theory of disease does not mean we should not treat sick people. Like all sciences, evolution is descriptive and not prescriptive. It is merely a statement of the way things are, not a statement of the way they should be. And for what it is worth, for every example of cruelty in nature, there is at least one counterexample of love, kindness, or cooperation. Many animals are monogamous, care for their offspring and defend them with their lives. Symbiosis, or reciprocal generosity, has proven to be a very effective survival strategy. Some of our closest relatives among the apes even care for and feed the wounded, sick or crippled among their numbers, displaying an almost human compassion. This is not meant to alleviate the cruelties and violences nature often also displays – it is merely meant to illustrate the uselessness of trying to derive moral rules from scientific theories.”
Fantastic. I can’t do better to explain this. Let’s see what comments we get.
Thousands of kilometres of Australia’s shoreline are being severely affected by the rising sea levels this month. The state and federal governments are frantically organising the army, SES and contractors to begin building the sea barriers that will hold off the flooding of downtown Sydney and other major Australian coastal cities. Regional coastal towns are basically being abandoned due to the sheer scale of the emergency situation.
The millions of people who live on or near the coastal areas of Australia are being forced to evacuate their homes and businesses and the economic and human disaster that is unfolding is too terrible to think about.
The recent flood of refugee arrivals, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands in the last 2 weeks, from our pacific neighbours, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan who are desperately trying to find somewhere to live now that their villages and cities are gone has prompted the imposition of martial law in the Northern Territory this week.
Australians are asking ‘WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED?’ and ‘why weren’t we told?’.
Yes, this is fiction. It hasn’t begun – yet. Scaremongering? No, it is simply what many scientists who are studying the effects of the real possibility of the breakup of the Antarctic and/or Greenland ice-shelfs believe will cause to occur. Not gradual centimetre per year sea level rises – which are bad enough but at least will give us time to protect important coastal fringe areas like major cities – but sudden sea level rises measured in metres or tens of metres.
This article is aimed squarely at those people who (sometimes through no fault of their own) are in the climate change-skeptic camp.
Skepticism is good – don’t get me wrong. Healthy debate and consideration of the facts is what we should all be doing.
But climate-change deniers either refuse to believe the science or have been conned into believing that there is serious scientific debate about whether it is occurring or if it is caused by mankind’s actions.
People who acknowledge that climate change and sea level rise is occurring are not ‘believers’. We are not crackpot ‘greenies’ or worry-warts with nothing better to do than frighten children – we are rational, skeptical people who have looked at the evidence shown to us from the scientific community who are unanimous about the facts.
Look, I don’t care if you don’t believe in evolution or the Big Bang theory or that NASA actually went to the moon – but you must at least acknowledge that if 100% of the world’s scientific community who are actively studying climate change say that the data cannot be interpreted any other way – then you must believe it, as unpleasant or inconvenient as that is to you!
Understand that the ‘scientific experts’ writing books and appearing on TV or trotted out to debunk the science have their own agendas. Either they want the acknowledgment of their peers (who have already worked out that they are deluded and can’t be taken seriously) or are paid by industries and businesses whose bottom lines will be the most affected by carbon taxes or having to behave like responsible entities.
I was walking along the beach the other day thinking how lucky I was to have been born in the fifties and to see all the technological, medical and scientific breakthroughs discovered. To not have to go to war and have the real chance of living well into my eighties and beyond.
Then I thought of those born since the year 2000 and what they will most likely have to go though unless the world acts now. Human beings who will be the same age as me when the sea level rises are having drastic effects on where they live and the weather that they know now will be so different to today.
I guess if you live alone or have no dependants then you could be forgiven – almost – for not giving it much thought.
But if you have children or grandchildren, have you ever stopped to think about the consequences to them of the current generation of adults doing next to nothing to ensure that they have a life at least as good as yours?
No? Well know that they will hate you one day – and that is certain…
When I first heard about the recent opening of the ‘Church’ of Scientology’s Melbourne Headquarters building recently, I was frankly, stunned.
With the recent calls from Australian senator Nick Xenophon and others to have the organisation’s tax-exempt status revoked, not to mention the on again-off again promise of a judicial inquiry into Scientology – I had thought that investing here would be not all that wise.
Prime TV cheered me up no end though – did you watch Andrew O’Keefe’s interview with the spokesperson, Virginia Stewart, last Sunday? Check it out at the Seven Network Weekend Sunrise site (it’s still in the archive, scroll down and find the ‘Scientology Invasion’ video). The poor woman had no idea that they were playing clips of the cartoon about L Ron’s science fiction story during the interview – you know, the one about Xenu and the spaceships, volcanos and DC3′s – yes, that one! We nearly fell out of bed laughing! Viewing the video is probably only available to Australian viewers, but you never know, some kind soul might upload a copy to YouTube…
Scientology proclaims they have gained more members in the last year compared to the previous ten years – I frankly don’t believe this for a second. The New York Times ran a story claiming the group has less than 25,000 members in the USA while the ‘church’ was claiming millions. This business is in it’s death-throes pure and simple. Spending up large building impressive (on the outside) centres and ‘churches’ in one of the few countries that actually recognise them as a church is for all for show. Anything to reel in hundreds more suckers – but I think Australians are more savy than that.
Anyway, it all got me thinking again about the definition of the word ‘cult’ and if blogging about it could help to save at least one poor sod from 1. blowing all his or her money and 2. losing their families when they finally realise the huge mistake they have made in believing this business organisation can help them in any way.
There are of course, many websites about cults around, but I thought I’d just have a go at writing my own definitions without referencing any (or even looking them up) from my own life experiences.
Cults come in many guises – the one common thread is that the intent of them all is one of two objectives – and sometimes both. Money and control.
If you think that you may be one the way to being ‘sucked in’ to a possible cult, look for these signs that point to a church or pseudo-church being a cult:
1. the group appears very interested in money – mainly yours. From modern ‘mega churches’ who tell you that making money is what Jesus wants you to do – meanwhile they ask for a large slice of your monthly wage to support their large outlays on entertainment and church leaders salaries – - – to the likes of Scientology who take the whole process of fleecing members to a fine art.
2. the group seeks to control who you speak with and associate with, especially family members not in the group. Ensuring that only their views are listened to ensures that members and prospective members can’t think for themselves and make sound judgements based on facts. It made me laugh listening to the Scientology spokesperson saying ‘we encourage people to think for themselves. Just come in and see for yourself.’ … yeah right. The Exclusive Brethren is another group who take this even further by shunning all contact with ‘outsiders’.
3. discouraging members to leave by various means – again, Scientology has been shown to break families without any conscience whatsoever but other groups do this this to a lesser or greater extent. The reason is of course, that all these groups have shrinking memberships – regardless of what you are told.
4. use of violence and threats on members is the last aspect of these groups that I can think of. This is about one thing – control.
In summary then, if you are lured by the promises of ‘a new modern religion’ that might be just what you are looking for – do think long and hard about it.
By all means, go and see for yourselves, but remember one important tip: keep your brain in gear!
Ask questions and compare the answers with other people’s experiences later – use Google to find opinions and don’t just accept the first one you find that confirms what you believe. And don’t sign anything or agree to free courses or personality tests. In Scientology’s case, just remember their e-meter is just a skin resistance measuring device. Your answers to questions that may be a little embarrassing for example, will cause a meter deflection. It’s just a very crude lie-detector that’s all.
Finally, if you are in a cult and want out – there are organisations out there that can help you. Pleae, please don’t assume that you are on your own and in a no-win situation, you aren’t – there are people ready to listen and to help.
Thanks to Save Civilization.org for the great cartoon I borrowed!