Stuff that will annoy the religious and/or superstitious

9 August, 2011

I’m just throwing out for your delectation a few links that caught my eye in recent weeks.  The common theme is that they challenge the views of our religious or superstitious (is that tautological?) brethren.

Kim Harris (link here) is entertaining (in a nicely grumpy way) on Astrology:

…when Frasier Crane introduced the aura-sensitive Daphne Moon to his crowd he did it with the following semi-gallantry: “This is Daphne, everybody. She’s psychic and we’ve decided to find it charming”  ……… Just as Philosophy begins where Religion ends, and Chemistry begins where Alchemy ends, so Astronomy begins where Astrology ends. Like Theology, astrology is a sovereign waste of time. It is the purest bobbins. Pants, drivel and mental vom just about sum it up. It is the Piers Morgan of pastimes.

A. Z. Myers and his Pharyngula blog has a Wikipedia entry:

Eventually, Myers summarized his stance by invoking “Blake’s Law“, which he named for the blogger who first codified it. Blake’s Law is an adage that frequent Pharyngula commentator Blake Stacey formulated in 2007, based in concept on Godwin’s Law. The law states:   In any discussion of atheism (skepticism, etc.), the probability that someone will compare a vocal atheist to religious fundamentalists increases to one.    As has become the tradition with Godwin’s Law, the person who compares the atheist to a religious fundamentalist is considered to have lost the argument.

Myers also featured in the special New Statesman survey where Andrew Zak Williams, having earlier asked various public figures why they believe in God (see here) turned the floor over to well-known atheists to explain why they don’t (see here).   Myers didn’t pull his punches:

Religious beliefs are lazy jokes with bad punchlines. Why do you have to chop off the skin at the end of your penis? Because God says so. Why should you abstain from pork, or shrimp, or mixing meat and dairy, or your science classes? Because they might taint your relationship with God. Why do you have to revere a bit of dry biscuit? Because it magically turns into a God when a priest mutters over it. Why do I have to be good? Because if you aren’t, a God will set you on fire for all eternity.

In the same feature, Richard Dawkins has a go at Cherie Blair, who had contributed to the earlier article:

Equally unconvincing are those who believe because it comforts them (why should truth be consoling?) or because it “feels right”. Cherie Blair may stand for the “feels right” brigade. She bases her belief on “an understanding of something that my head cannot explain but my heart knows to be true”.  She aspires to be a judge.  M’lud, I cannot provide the evidence you require. My head cannot explain why, but my heart knows it to be true.  Why is religion immune from the critical standards that we apply not just in courts of law, but in every other sphere of life?

From Ambrose Bierce‘s Devil’s Dictionary:

Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. 

Finally, (at least for now), Steven Weinberg addressing the Conference on Cosmic Design, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C. (April 1999):

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

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