From the 2011 archives: Religion vs Social Justice

what’s new is that we’re no longer willing to coddle religious sensibilities

if 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t afford to pretend that religion has merit or is a force for good in the world

religion is about diving people between the real true believers and everyone who’s lesser

and since all religions claim to be the one true one, and there’s nothing to recommend one over any other

we need to put them all aside in favour of social justice and equality

Gay Marriage

There is no legal case to be made against gay marriage – the only reason why gays can’t be married in America is religion prejudice.

If marriage is supposed to be good for society in that it encourages people to settle down in socially responsible manner, be productive, raise families and display good civic citizenship – then the make up of any given family is neither here nor there.

Gays and lesbians are law abiding, tax paying, family forming now and have dramatically changed since the 1950’s and earlier when we were marginalized and died young from alcohol or substances or disease or violence – we are not people to be thrown away, but highly educated, creative people who have a place in society – and are deserving of the same access to law and treatment under the law as anyone else who’s a citizen.

If convicted rapists and murderers are entitled to marry then there’s really no legal or moral reason why gays and lesbians can’t marry the person they love.

Every other G20 country has made inclusions for gays within existing marriage laws or because of religious sensibilities, made provisions for the lesser civil union state – lesser because it does not trigger the same scope of rights as marriage.

America was once a symbol of human potential, but has been dragged into the mud as a Christian Taliban Inquisition internally and Crusades 2.0 externally.

Evolution Mythconceptions

Darwin delayed in publishing Origin of the Species because of his wife’s religious sensibilities – but other naturalists began making the same observations – particularly, Wallace, so Darwin had to publish or perish, as they say in the academic world….

 

1. Teachers Should Teach Both Sides

There are tens of thousands of different religious views concerning creation. It is simply impossible for all of these views to be presented. Furthermore, none of the theories are based in science and therefore have no place in a science classroom. In a science class, students can debate where a creature branched off in the tree of life, but it is not right to argue a religious belief in a science class. The “fairness” argument is often used by groups attempting to inject their religious dogmas in to the scientific curricula.

2. Evolution Supports “Might Makes Right”

In the 19th and early 20th century, a philosophy called “Social Darwinism” sprung up from misguided attempts to apply biological evolution to society. This philosophy said that society should allow the weak to fail and die, and that not only is this an ideal situation, but a morally right one. This enabled prejudices to be rationalized and ideas such as the poor deserved their situation due to being less fit were very popular. This was a misappropriation of science. Social Darwinism has, thankfully, been repudiated. Biological evolution has not.

3. Evolution Leads to Immoral Behavior

All animal species have a set of behaviors that they share with other members of their species. Slugs act like slugs, dogs act like dogs, and humans act like humans. It is preposterous to presume that a child will begin to behave like another creature when they discover that they are related to them. It is nonsensical to link evolution to immoral or inappropriate behavior.

4. Most Biologists have rejected Darwinism

Scientists do not reject Darwin’s theories, they have modified it over time as more knowledge has been discovered. Darwin considered that evolution proceeds at a deliberate, slow pace – but in fact it has now been discovered that it can proceed at a rapid pace under some circumstances. There has not been, so far, a credible challenge to the basic principles of Darwin’s theory. Scientists have improved and expanded on Darwin’s original theory of natural selection – it has not been rejected, it has been added to.

5. Evolution is not science because it is not observable

Evolution is observable and testable. The confusion here is that people think science is limited to experiments in laboratories by white-coated technicians. In fact, a large amount of scientific information is gathered from the real world. Astronomers can obviously not physically touch the objects they study (for example stars and galaxies), yet a great deal of knowledge can be gained through multiple lines of study. This is true also of evolution. It is also true that there are many mechanisms of evolution that can be, and are studied through direct experimentation as with other sciences.

6. The Theory is Flawed

Science is an extremely competitive field – if any flaws were discovered in evolutionary theory they would be quickly corrected. All of the alleged flaws that creationists put forth have been investigated careful by scientists and they simply do not hold water. They are usually based on misunderstandings of the theory or misrepresentation of the evidence.

7. Evolutionary Theory is Incomplete

Evolutionary science is a work in progress. Science is constantly making new discoveries with regard to it and explanations are always adjusted if necessary. Evolutionary theory is like all of the other sciences in this respect. Science is always trying to improve our knowledge. At present, evolution is the only well-supported explanation for all of life’s diversity.

8. Gaps in the Fossil Record Disprove Evolution

Actually, many transitional fossils do exist – for example, there are fossils of transitional organisms between modern birds and their dinosaur ancestors, as well as whales and their land mammal ancestors. There are many transitional forms that have not been preserved, but that is simply because some organisms do not fossilize well or exist in conditions that do not allow for the process of fossilization. Science predicts that there will be gaps in the record for many evolutionary changes. This does not disprove the theory.

9. Evolution is a Theory in Crisis

There is no debate in science as to whether or not evolution occurred – there is, however, debate over how it happened. The minutiae of the process is vigorously debated which can cause anti-evolutionists to believe that the theory is in crisis. Evolution is sound science and is treated as such by scientists worldwide.

10. Evolution is ‘just’ a theory

Scientifically speaking, a theory is a well substantiated idea that explains aspects of the natural world. Unfortunately other definitions of theory (such as a “guess” or a “hunch”) cause a great deal of confusion in the non-scientific world when dealing with the sciences. They are, in fact, two very different concepts.

11. Natural selection gives organisms what they ‘need.’

Natural selection has no “intelligence” – it can not tell what a species needs. If a population has genetic variants that are more suited to their environment, they will reproduce more in the next generation and the population will evolve. If a genetic variant is not present, the population will most likely do – or it will survive with little evolutionary change.

12. Natural selection involves organisms ‘trying’ to adapt

Organisms do not “try” to adapt – it is natural selection that enables various members of a group to survive and reproduce. Genetic adaptation is entirely outside of the power of the developing organism.

13. Evolution means that life changed ‘by chance’

In fact, natural selection is not random. Many aquatic animals need speed to survive and reproduce – the creatures with that ability are more suited to their environment and are more likely to survive natural selection. In turn, they will produce more offspring with the same traits and the cycle continues. The idea that evolution occurs by chance does not take the entire picture in to account.

14. Organisms are always getting better

While it is a fact that natural selection weeds out unhealthy genes from the gene pool, there are many cases where an imperfect organism has survived. Some examples of this are fungi, sharks, crayfish, and mosses – these have all remained essentially the same over a great period of time. These organisms are all sufficiently adapted to their environment to survive without improvement.

Other taxa have changed a lot, but not necessarily for the better. Some creatures have had their environments changed and their adaptations may not be as well suited to their new situation. Fitness is linked to their environment, not to progress.

Nina adds that “fitness” is not about physical fitness, but rather it means suitability to the environment and the ability to adapt to changes in the environment, which could include being able to take advantage of new food sources, resist disease or evade a new predator. or adapt to a change in climate……

15. Evolution is a theory about the origin of life

The theory of evolution primarily deals with the manner in which life has changed after its origin. While science is interested in the origins of life (for example the composition of the primeval sludge from which life might have come) but these are not issues covered in the area of evolution. What is known is that regardless of the start, at some point life began to branch off. Evolution is, therefore, dedicated to the study of those processes.

article sourced from:

Global Secular Humanist Movement

 

religionophobia

If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t afford to pretend that religion has merit or is a force for good in the world. We must no longer be willing to coddle religious sensibilities.

Religion is about dividing people between the real true believers and everyone else who’s lesser than; and since all religions claim to be The One True One, and there’s nothing to recommend one over any other – we need to put them all aside in favour of social justice and equality. Secular law under which everyone is equally deserving and has equal access to the law.

People are afraid of Islam because of the anticipated violent response and Christians complain bitterly about their sensibilities not being catered to because we know that they don’t respond violently. It’s as if western Christians are jealous of the fear Islam is inspiring because Christians know they can’t get away with a violent response – and this suggests that if they could get away with it, that they would respond violently.

Christians live in the secular world which will not tolerate religious violent protest – while Islamics tend to live in theocratic countries where such public expression of their intolerance is acceptable, even mandatory.

But the reason that Christians don’t, is because they live in a secular society not a theocratic one. They have things to lose in a secular society that are just not considerations in theocratic ones. Christians would lose their freedom and possessions for behaving violently – they would lose their affluence and influence – which is an important distinction.

In secular society, anyone can prosper – and it’s that prosperity that makes people behave and adhere to the rule of secular law.

Christians are entirely free to behave violently, they are just unwilling to do so for fear of legal consequences – so they turn their response to censorship and shoe horning their religion into the secular law. Which, if successful, would turn the western secular society into a theocracy, in which everyone loses much, but especially non-Christians or the not righteous enough or right kind of Christians.

So, it comes down to Christians wanting to be able to live in a Christian theocratic society were they are not mocked or they are at least able to respond to the mocking with violence.

And, athiests are people without theism, full stop, no replacement. Some may go so far to say that there’s no god, but that’s farther than atheism is, which is to be simply without faith – people who argue that atheism is anything else is attacking strawmen.

We are all atheist to all religions except for the one any person believes in and full athiests go that one more than believers do. Believers are atheist to all religions, save the one that they were most likely raised in, perhaps one they later were drawn to, but one nonetheless, while full atheists have none and no more.

The mechanism that’s at work for people to not mock those that we can reasonable predict will respond with violence is not fear, but rather, safety and concern for life.

We in the west are not the ones who bear the burden and cost of Islamic riots – people over there pay the cost of our mockery. We do not wish to cause needless suffering, loss of life and/or damage to infrastructure.

Moreover, atheism is rejecting theism and as such, has no need for martyrs when atheism is based in reason and logic. Having no need of martyrs, means that atheism does not attract the fanatic element that is common for religion.

Another key difference between theism and non-theism. Non-theism is about living and living well – while religion is about death and the afterlife – and so martyrs are needed, even mandatory.

If people can’t see that logic and reason are the basis and means for a good life all on their own, if they cannot understand good from bad morality and resultant behaviors, if they cannot see that the quality of life matters more than quantity of life….

Then I guess the rational, free thinking, skeptical, logical people need to keep doing outreach and education – to keep fighting that best of all fights – the fight for life, for liberty and equality – must continue.

Or there’s no point to human existence, if we can’t continually improve our lots and civilizations.