27 May 2014

The Cosmic Teapot

Along the lines of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is Bertrand Russell’s Cosmic Teapot. If you have never heard of this concept, here it is.

Russel's cosmic teapot has a posse
Russel's cosmic teapot has a posse (Photo credit: psd)
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. It is customary to suppose that, if a belief is widespread, there must be something reasonable about it. I do not think this view can be held by anyone who has studied history. Practically all the beliefs of savages are absurd. In early civilizations there may be as much as one percent for which there is something to be said. In our own day…. But at this point I must be careful. We all know that there are absurd beliefs in Soviet Russia. If we are Protestants, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Catholics. If we are Catholics, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Protestants. If we are Conservatives, we are amazed by the superstitions to be found in the Labour Party. If we are Socialists, we are aghast at the credulity of Conservatives. I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold. I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions.
Is There a God? by Bertrand Russell (commissioned-but not published-by Illustrated Magazine in 1952) 
Even with those who profess no religious belief there are concepts that are used over and over in an almost religious way.
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12 May 2014

Suffer not a witch to live?

I was discussing the subject of my spiritual path the other day with a co-worker. She brought up some of the tired arguments about not being a Christian or a follower of YHVH. I really wish I had remembered this little paragraph.
A bible from 1859.
A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Romans 8:2. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." This means that whatever has happened before is now forgiven, and we no longer handle these issues in the same way. This reflects New Testament teachings, by the way. It's not enough to simply bully other people when you pick and choose certain passages that meet the requirements of your own personal prejudices. You're either all in, or all out. And if you're in, then we have to accept that this silly nonsense about killing people who follow a different path is no longer appropriate. Which would kind of be following this biblical passage: "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8.)
--In Response to "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live."
It amazes me how many people claim to have read the Bible and how few understand what they read.
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07 May 2014

Suffering Children and the Christian Science Church

April 1995 | The Atlantic Online

I am one. Most people who have heard of Christian Science know one thing about it: Christian Scientists do not "believe" in doctors.More accurately, Christian Scientists do not believe in medical science, or what they call "materia medica."

He had braces on his teeth (Christian Scientists often accept dental care), and his hair was cut short.

His grandmother, Ruth Wantland, who lived nearby, and his father were Christian Scientists.She wanted to move with her children and her new husband to Pennsylvania, but James Wantland wanted his children to stay with him.Gayle Quigley, who had been raised as a Christian Scientist but had left the faith after her remarriage, told the judge that she wanted her children to be provided with mainstream medical care and not just Christian Science treatment.

His treatment had consisted of the prayers of his father, his grandmother, and a Christian Science "practitioner," or Church-appointed healer, Ann McCann.

Within the past decade criminal convictions have been obtained in California against two sets of Christian Science parents who allowed their children to die without medical treatment.

The Mother Church was built in 1894, at the behest of Mary Baker Eddy, who was for years known to her followers as Mother. Along with the Bible, it became the foundation of Christian Science.

The Mother Church, from another perspective
The Mother Church, from another perspective (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During the 1960s and 1970s a number of Christian Scientists occupied powerful positions in the federal government, as judges and as directors of the FBI and the CIA. H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, both Christian Scientists, used their influence as top aides in the Nixon White House to shepherd a bill through Congress which extended the copyright of Eddy's Science and Health (its full title is Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures) for an extra seventy-five years.

In recent decades the Christian Science Church has succeeded in most states in establishing the right of Christian Scientists to deny their children medical treatment. Lobbyists have encouraged state legislatures to enact laws that protect Christian Scientists from prosecution for child abuse or neglect.

The Church refuses to release any figures on its membership, but in 1989 a Church official told the Los Angeles Times that there were roughly 7,000 Christian Science children in this country. No national studies on the mortality of Christian Scientists have ever been done, but smaller studies have pointed to a high mortality rate among Christian Scientists--for example, among the graduates of Principia, the Christian Science college.