Monthly Archives: February 2011
Yesterday, I watched this excellent documentary by the BBC about ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers who dedicate their lives to repopulating parts of the West Bank.
It’s a very vivid portrayal of the tension and intense hatred on both sides, and I very much recommend that you watch the whole thing.
What really stood out for me was the conversation between journalist Theroux and a young man [YM] near the end of the documentary:
[YM]: This is our land. You can come and kill us and do whatever you want. We are going to stay here. We are going to die for this country.
[Theroux]: And kill for this country?
[YM]: If necessary, yes. I don’t know if mentally I can do it, but by the law of God, you are supposed to do it. You told me you’re an atheist. Do you like it?
[Theroux]: A lot. It’s very comforting. It’s very comforting to know that there’s no one up there looking after me.
[YM]: It’s comfortable… sure. I think it’s a–you forgive me already right?–a stupid way of life. What are you here for? You think you came from a monkey? Everyone likes to think there’s a big thing behind us, not that we are here just to work, get money, feed our children, and die, and that’s it. You are supposed to be a good man. You are supposed to work for God, not just for yourself.
Of course, the ironic thing is that we’d probably all be better off if we only worked, made money, fed our children, and die. We’d be better off if we didn’t have a great voice in our head calling for us to steal property and kill those in our way. And if you really are going to claim that you, another evolved mammal, actually can comprehend the commands of God, perhaps you should keep it private (or at least announce it with a great deal of embarrassment).
But as long as Israel and Palestine remain racially divided entities founded on the premise of different promises from God(s), there will never be a harmonious society that fully respects human rights.
Therefore, the inspirational thought(s) of the day will be reflections on the purpose of life by none other than Mr. Hitchens:
If atheists wrote religious Facebook status updates, it would be something like this:
Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett. They are the Enlightened Truth, the Path Away from Darkness! In times of struggle, let me hear your wise words that proclaim the GLORY of science. So let us praise Reason! Hear its love and its infinite and perfect wisdom. Forgive us, Science and Logic, for although we are nothing compared to your holy name, we will study your Word and live a life of Righteous anti-godliness.
In the name of Darwin’s ghost, Amen.
And then my friends would comment:
Thank you for your comforting words. They mean a lot to me.
Reason is truth! Yes!
I would get approximately 20 likes.
Amazing, but there’s a graph at the end of this video that breaks my heart.
A very intriguing person calls into the Atheist Experience. Matt Dillahunty says some things that I think are worth more than a moment’s reflection.
It is less than a week to Darwin’s Birthday (February 12), and I wanted to write about the significance of Darwin’s ideas on secular thought. Too bad I have three midterms and a paper due this week. For now, you will just have to enjoy a clip from this documentary:
You may also think about coming to my school’s Darwin Day celebration.
As you all know, this a great blog with no secular bias whatsoever, which is exactly why I want to show you the religious perspective on inspiration. My last post demonstrated the incomprehensible size of stars and how they should humble us, but this is how Christians view the exact same thing:
So he gets a nice sinking feel, huh? And all our false feelings of importance? They come from sin, right?
Remember that this is coming from a religion that for centuries insisted that we really were at the center of the Universe, that we were really the special creation of God completely separate from animals, that everything was tweaked just right for human life.
But let us forget about that. The guy is a Christian, and he claims to be humbled by the awesome size of stars in the Universe.
He’s so incredibly humbled that he, while holding the Bible in one hand, can probably answer the following:
1. Whether God certainly exists or not.
2. How many Gods there are.
3. Whether this God cares about what happens in some negligible nanoscopic alley in the Universe.
4. Which God, out of the millions that humans have believed, is the one true God.
5. Whether or not God really chose to save us by sending Jesus to some backwards part of the Middle East.
6. Whether there is an afterlife or not.
7. What the afterlife consists of, and what thoughts and beliefs (or rituals) you must have to get there.
8. Who you may have sex with.
9. What divine instructions God gave thousands of years ago.
10. Which parts of the Bible are literally true, and which ones are metaphor.
11. Whether God really answers prayers.
As a human being, I maintain that anyone who even remotely claims that they have the answers to some of the questions above are, at the least, extremely suspect and, at worst, complete frauds. The obvious fact, of course, is that anyone who claims to know with some clarity all or most of the answers above are claiming things that human beings cannot possibly know.
This is exactly why I don’t want to see my President having breakfast with people who make a living out of making the claims above. I especially don’t want to hear him saying how faith is about being humble and understanding the limits of your own knowledge.
The problem with faith is that it makes people so incredibly, unbelievably, astronomically, and galatically arrogant, while at the same time making them not realize it.
The inspiration of the day, therefore, comes from Carl Sagan:
We live on a hunk of rock and metal that circles a humdrum star that is one of 400 billion other stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy which is one of billions of other galaxies which make up a universe which may be one of a very large number, perhaps an infinite number, of other universes. That is a perspective on human life and our culture that is well worth pondering.