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A Reading From Bertrand Russell’s The Scientific Outlook

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 01-03-2015

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Mirrored from AWResistance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcEhlKBBtso&list=HL1390522401 The speaker in the video is Alan Watt. Other notable books of inter…

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A 10-Hour Walk Through Paris Wearing a Yarmulke Yields… Not Very Much in the Way of Overt Discrimination, Actually

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 19-02-2015

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Was I watching the same viral video as the writer for the New Zealand Herald did?

Zvika Klein, a reporter for Jewish news outlet NRG, silently walked in the city for ten hours wearing a kippah — also known as a yarmulke — on his head and a tzitzit (knotted ritual tassels). … He spent a day in Paris with a bodyguard while photographer Dov Belhassen documented the day using a GoPro camera hidden in his backpack. …

And the shocking hidden camera footage shows antisemitism is rife in the French capital as he is seen harassed and intimidated.

I don’t doubt that anti-Semitism, especially by Muslims, is very real, and it shocks the conscience. It took me no time at all to remember the murder of a rabbi and three young schoolchildren in Toulouse three years ago; and of course there was last month’s terrorist bloodbath that claimed the lives of four Jews at a kosher Paris deli. Last July, pro-Palestine demonstrators in Paris repeatedly attacked Jewish shops and a synagogue, while chanting “Gas the Jews.” Hateful graffiti is frequently spray-painted on Jewish property in France, from cars to gravesites.

But the negative moments that Klein experiences during his 10-hour walk, which he distilled into a 90-second YouTube summary, are by themselves hardly enough to make the case that anti-Semitism is “rife” in France. Most of the interactions are ambiguous; the perceived insults opaque and even a little mystifying; and it’s rarely even clear whether the sentence snippets caught by the microphone are directed at Klein, or happen to be part of some street-tough dialog between bystanders.

I also kept wondering what would happen if you flipped roles. If the video-recorded walk was instead undertaken by a man in Muslim garb traipsing all over Paris, what would we see?

What if the marathon walker wore no identifying marks at all — would 10 hours of traversing various neighborhoods, including rough ones, yield hostile remarks and an act or two of (possibly intimidating) street machismo? I think yes. No different than L.A. or Rio or Johannesburg.

That’s not to minimize the experience of French Jews, who have good reason to feel embattled much of the time.

But let’s not forget that it’s often no picnic for Muslims either: within six days of the Charlie Hebdo massacre,

There [had] been 21 reports of shootings and grenade throwing at Islamic buildings, as well as 33 cases of threats and insults, said Abdallah Zekri, president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

Point of order: the “grenades” were blank shells. I wish people like Zekri wouldn’t try to make it sound worse than it already is.

Anyway: Tribalism — very much including the religious kind — is the hardiest stuff that humans know how to build. People are, on the whole, pretty bad at overcoming it, if they can even bring themselves to try.

Maybe Klein has some work to do in that regard. In the article that accompanies his video, he writes,

Welcome to Paris 2015… where keffiyeh-wearing men and veiled women speak Arabic on every street corner.

We’ll have to take his word for it, as keffiyeh-wearing men appear to be absent from his video.

So are the worst examples of anti-Jewish bigotry that he reports in his article. For instance:

Walking into a public housing neighborhood, we came across a little boy and his hijab-clad mother, who were clearly shocked to see us. “What is he doing here Mommy? Doesn’t he know he will be killed?” the boy asked.

If there’s footage of that encounter, I’ve been unable to find it.

But more to the point, what if there were “keffiyeh-wearing men” all over Paris? Turn that statement of Klein’s around, and you get a Muslim grumbling with the exact same latent hostility and horror that, in Paris, there are “yarmulke-wearing men” everywhere you look. Klein would no doubt consider the latter remark beyond the pale; so why isn’t isn’t the former?

He does ultimately demonstrate that in-group/out-group bias is alive and well – but maybe not quite in the way he intended.

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Bertrand Russell ::: A History Of Western Philosophy ::: 317 Hume

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 16-02-2015

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A History of Western Philosophy is a 1945 book by philosopher Bertrand Russell. A conspectus of western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the …

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So That’s What Happened To God’s Plentiful Blessings

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 08-02-2015

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Science for the win, courtesy of the Onion:

[A] study released Thursday by the University of Texas Department of Astronomy found that the majority of blessings from God burn up while passing through Earth’s atmosphere. “We discovered that due to the thickness and density of the gases surrounding our planet, 80 percent of God’s graces will completely disintegrate by the time they are about 75 to 100 kilometers away from the surface,” said professor Donald Northcote, adding that his team’s observations suggest that roughly 19 million of the Lord’s blessings vaporize in the mesosphere on any given day.

“Even the largest and most generous of God’s gifts will be reduced to many minute fragments of His original intention during the journey, and the rare blessing that reaches the ground will be much smaller than it was in Heaven.”

Occasionally, though, God’s messages get through loud and clear, as evidenced by this Onion report from 1998.

For as long as he can remember, 7-year-old Timmy Yu has had one precious dream: From the bottom of his heart, he has hoped against hope that God would someday hear his prayer to walk again. Though many thought Timmy’s heavenly plea would never be answered, his dream finally came true Monday, when the Lord personally responded to the wheelchair-bound boy’s prayer with a resounding no. …

Said Angela Schlosser, a day nurse who witnessed the Divine Manifestation: “An incredible, booming voice said to Timmy, ‘I am the Lord thy God, who created the rivers and the mountains, the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars. Before Me sits My beloved child, whose faith is that of the mustard seed from which grows mighty and powerful things. My child, Timmy Yu, I say unto you thus: I have heard your prayers, and now I shall answer them. No, you cannot get out of your wheelchair. Not ever.” …

Now that Timmy has received an answer, Christians the world over are celebrating his story as a stirring testament to the power of faith.

Beautifully wicked and delightfully waggish, the Onion’s God-coverage rarely disappoints.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Bertrand Russell ::: A History Of Western Philosophy ::: 101 The Rise of Greek Civilisation

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 15-01-2015

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A History of Western Philosophy is a 1945 book by philosopher Bertrand Russell. A conspectus of western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the …

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Bertrand Russell ::: A History Of Western Philosophy ::: 307 Francis Bacon

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 07-01-2015

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A History of Western Philosophy is a 1945 book by philosopher Bertrand Russell. A conspectus of western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the …

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The Guy Who Taught Us “How Stuff Works” is Ready to Explain Why God Doesn’t Work

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 06-01-2015

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In 1997, the aptly-named Marshall Brain began a website that became a phenomenon: How Stuff Works. For years now, he’s been the guy who explained the inner workings of things we take for granted.

Now, he’s applying that same skill to religion.

His new book is called How “God” Works: A Logical Inquiry on Faith (Sterling Ethos, 2015):

You may not know this, but Brain is the same guy who created the website Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? And in the excerpt below, Brain talks about why God isn’t in the limb-regenerating business and what we should take away from that:

Millions of people pray to God every day to cure their diseases, solve their financial problems, help them win in Las Vegas, and so on. Christians behave in this way for many reasons: Because so many other people talk about answered prayers; because prayer is a big part of the culture; because of the many statements in the Gospels claiming that God will, in fact, do something as a result of prayer.

Imagine a Christian named Ashley who would like to be intellectually honest with herself. Her desire is to understand what’s really happening with prayer — to understand whether God is actually answering her prayers, or whether her “answered prayers” are in reality simple coincidences. For Ashley, there is an easy way to discover the truth: She can pray in a situation where there is no chance for coincidence to occur. Since coincidence has been eliminated, the only way for the prayer to be answered is for God to actually answer it.

Let us imagine that we, as critical thinkers, wish to formulate an extremely simple and extremely benevolent experiment to test the efficacy of prayer for Ashley. We take Christian veterans who are amputees and we start a program to actively and intensely pray for them. Christians gather together to ask God to spontaneously restore the lost limbs of veterans. We do not pray for prosthetics, or for surgeons to graft on donor limbs, or for medical science to develop a revolutionary new stem cell therapy or gene manipulation. We ask God to spontaneously replace amputated limbs today using only the power of prayer.

What happens if Jesus, who is supposed to be God incarnate, who is supposed to be perfect, omniscient, and incapable of lying, says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name” in a book that the majority of adults in America claim to be literally true? In that case, a critical thinker reasonably expects Jesus to do what he says he will do. We expect Jesus to regenerate amputated limbs in the same way that Christians claim Jesus is eliminating cancerous tumors. There really is nothing else to expect in this situation unless one or more of God’s attributes are false.

Yet we know, with certainty, that prayers for the restoration of amputated limbs will never work. Amputated limbs are never restored through prayer. Every thoughtful, intellectually honest person knows this.

It doesn’t matter how many people pray, how sincere they are, how devout they are, how much money they give to the church, or whether a priest is involved. Nothing ever happens when we pray to restore amputated limbs.

So why won’t God help amputees by restoring their lost limbs? Does God hate amputees? Is God discriminating against amputees? Is there something about amputees that locks them out of God’s prayer answering circle?

These are valid questions, but they are not the correct questions. This is the question a critical thinker asks: Does God answer any prayers? The critical thinker then forms a hypothesis: Every answered prayer of intercession is nothing more than a coincidence. The critical thinker then looks for evidence to support this hypothesis:

  • The situation with amputees provides evidence that is clear and unambiguous: Prayers to restore amputated limbs never work. In fact, every prayer fails when the possibility of coincidence has been eliminated like this.
  • Try praying big instead of praying small. Instead of praying to cure one case of rabies, pray to God to completely eliminate the rabies virus worldwide overnight. Note that big prayers like these never work. Again, the chance for coincidence is eliminated.
  • When the answer to a prayer could be a coincidence, and statistical analysis is performed, it becomes clear that every “answered prayer” is in fact a coincidence. Religious people do not win lotteries more often because they pray to win. Religious people do not get cured of
    diseases at better rates because their friends pray for them. And so on. The evidence is concrete, consistent, and unambiguous. There is voluminous evidence indicating that belief in prayer is a superstition, and no valid evidence at all indicating that prayers of intercession work.

You can perform experiments yourself, in your own home today, to prove that prayer doesn’t work as described in the Bible. Critical thinkers use the evidence to understand the truth about how the world works.

So why do billions of people on Earth today believe that prayer works? Why is religious inspirational literature filled with thousands of examples of “answered prayers?” What’s happening is simple: Believers, because they lack or ignore critical thinking skills, do not look at evidence correctly. Or they completely ignore evidence. For example, believers fail to take coincidence into account when evaluating prayer’s efficacy, using confirmation bias to make note of the prayers that “work” while ignoring all of the prayers that do not.

How do Christians typically handle the unambiguous evidence that amputees represent? They might come up with rationalizations to try to explain why statements in the Bible are untrue for amputees. Or they might try to explain why amputees are somehow different from other people. Or they might simply get angry and storm away so they can ignore the evidence completely.

To see the reality of prayer, simply read what the Bible says and listen to what Christians say about prayer. Then pray for anything that cannot happen by coincidence. Pray for amputees to see their lost limbs spontaneously regenerated. Pray for an immediate, worldwide end to all cancers and other illnesses. Pray to fly like Superman. If there is no possibility for coincidence to influence the outcome, the number of answered prayers will always be zero.

How “God” Works is available in bookstores and online beginning today. And don’t forget to listen to our interview with Marshall on the most recent episode of our podcast!

Reprinted with permission from How “God” Works published in 2015 by Sterling Ethos, an imprint of Sterling Publishing. Text © 2014 BYG Publishing, Inc.

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Bertrand Russell ::: A History Of Western Philosophy ::: 118 Knowledge and Perception in Plato

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 28-12-2014

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A History of Western Philosophy is a 1945 book by philosopher Bertrand Russell. A conspectus of western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the …

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Christopher Hitchens in conversation with Salman Rushdie – June 8th 2010 (FULL VERSION)

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 27-12-2014

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Full version of this discussion between Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie.to celebrate the publication of Christopher’s memoir Hitch-22. Event Date: Ju…

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Comedian Bill Burr on How He Shed His Faith

Posted by admin | Posted in Anti-Religion | Posted on 26-12-2014

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Comedian Bill Burr‘s latest special on Netflix is called “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way” and more than a few of you have mentioned this bit he does about religion. There’s nothing particularly new as far as comedy goes, but it’s always fun to hear someone on a large stage talking about his religious deconversion and what led him to that moment:

(Thanks to Kyle for the link)

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