The science of God

jesuseinstein

Einstein also said Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame.
Richard Dawkins believes science has pretty much disproved God. But he concedes that 40 per cent of US working scientists are religious believers. In 1916 a survey asked biologists, physicists and mathematicians whether they believed in a God who actively commicates with humankind and to whom we may pray in expectation receiving an answer. Anout 40 per cent answered yes.
100 years later another survey asking the same question found the affirmative percentage was identical. There are thousands of scientists who believe faith and science can live side by side without conflict.
Einstein said a legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist..
Natural science cannot explain why there is something rather than nothing.
Wittgenstein said the big mystery was not how the world is but that it is..
Stephen Hawking said If the density of the universe one second after the big Bang had been greater by one part if a thousand billion, the universe would have recollapsed after ten years.
On the other hand if the density of the universe had been less by the same amount, the universe would have been essentially empty since it was about ten years old.
Why did our universe have this critical density when it was so unlikely by pure chance?

Being religious does not make you better behaved

BEING religious does not make you better behaved, researchers claim.

A new study found ‘no significant difference’ in the number or quality of moral and immoral deeds made by religious and non-religious participants.

The researchers found only one difference – Religious people responded with more pride and gratitude for their moral deeds, and more guilt, embarrassment and disgust for their immoral deeds

Researchers say the find means religious and nonreligious people have more in common than generally thought when it comes to moral experiences in everyday life.

‘To our knowledge, it’s the first study that directly assesses how morality plays out in people’s everyday lived experience,’ says Linda Skitka, a University of Illinois at Chicago psychologist. who co-authored the study, which was published in the journal Science.

The study also found little evidence for a morality divide between political conservatives and liberals.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2759832/Being-religious-does-NOT-make-better-behaved-researchers-claims-make-feel-guilty.html#ixzz3DoGtTbZZ

Guess how much the pope’s cap goes for on eBay!

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

POPE Francis’ white skullcap is selling for close to $130,000 on eBay, and the bidding is still going.

The hat appeared on eBay after an Italian TV show host managed to finagle it out of his holy hands.

The host of the comedy show “La lene” (The Hyenas) got up in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday to stake out a prime, front-row spot in St. Peter’s Square for Francis’ general audience.

As the pontiff passed through his popemobile, the host handed over a white skullcap that matched the one on Francis’ head, the Local reports.

The pope can be seen examining the gift closely before swapping out the old for the new.

Over 120 people have placed bids on eBay for Francis’ cap and, presumably, his spirit.

The hosts say the money raised through the sale will be given to an Italian charity that fights child mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the AFP reports.

The auction closes on Sept. 24.

Another remarkable farewell

chaeley

Charlotte blogged on The Huffington Post UK since 2013 and sadly passed away on Tuesday 16 September from bowel cancer. She wrote one final post that she wished to share with all of her readers. Please take the tine to read it.

I’ve always been a good planner. I like lists and tick sheets, to-do notes and objectives. I’m very good at starting things, but honestly, I am also easily bored and quickly lose interest once the original excitement passes.

I haven’t had the luxury of being allowed to be bored of having cancer. It isn’t something you can just give up if you don’t fancy doing it that day. There isn’t a switch you can chose to turn off one day from the next. At least not for me. From my first day as a cancer patient, I have attended every test, scan and appointment. I have tried every treatment offered, from the standard medical therapies, to eating oiled cottage cheese, having acupuncture and juicing kale. Cancer has become our life. Holidays, haircuts and helicopter lessons have all been timed around good or bad chemo weekends. Danny and Lu, unwittingly as innocent by-standers have had their childhoods protected but also dictated by my various regimes. This is all they have ever known and, I hope, have still managed to turn out to be pretty good, well-rounded, loved and treasured children.

The innocence that we have protected them from has now had to be revealed. Following my birthday, I started to feel ‘unwell’. We ‘popped’ to hospital where the usual set of tests were carried out. Unfortunately, when combined with a recent scan, the results were nothing short of devastating. We were no longer looking at a month by month action plan with a couple of months buffer at the end. I was given days, perhaps a couple of weeks to live. I wasn’t expected to leave the hospital, but somehow, have managed to pull it out of the bag at the last moment and return home, to spend what little time I have with my darling children and loving husband.

As I write this, I am sat on the sofa, relatively pain-free and busy doing my little projects, sorting out the funeral and selling my car. We wake up every morning, grateful I can have a cuddle and kiss my babies.

As you read this, I will no longer be here. Rich will be trying to put one foot in front of the other, to get by, a day at a time, knowing I will no longer awake next to him. He will see me in the luxury of a dream, but in the harsh morning sun, the bed will be empty. He will get two cups from the cupboard, but realise there is only one coffee to make. Lucy will need someone to reach for her hairband box, but there won’t be anyone to plait her hair. Danny will have lost one of his Lego policeman, but no one will know exactly which one it is or where to look. You will look for the latest update on the blog. There won’t be one, this is the final chapter.

And so I leave a gaping, unjust, cruel and pointless hole, not just in Halliford Road, but in all the homes, thoughts and memories of other loved ones, friends and families. For that I am sorry. I would love to still be with you, laughing, eating my weird and latest miracle food, chatting rubbish ‘Charleyisms’. I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won’t have that. I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with Rich. All these things are to be denied of me.

But, they are not to be denied of you. So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.

Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. Don’t settle for less. Find a job you enjoy, but don’t become a slave to it. You will not have ‘I wish I’d worked more’ on your headstone. Dance, laugh and eat with your friends. True, honest, strong friendships are an utter blessing and a choice we get to make, rather than have to share a loyalty with because there happens to be link through blood. Choose wisely then treasure them with all the love you can muster. Surround yourself with beautiful things. Life has a lot of grey and sadness – look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.

So, that’s it from me. Thank you so much for the love and kindness you’ve shown in your own little ways over the last 36 years. From the mean girls in the playing fields who pushed me into the stinging nettles aged six to the bereaved husbands who in the last week have told me what their wives did to help prepare their young children and everyone in between. They and you have all, in some small way helped me become the person I have been.

Please, now use that love for me and pass it to Rich, my children, family and close friends. And when you close your curtains tonight, look out for a star, it will be me, looking down, sipping a pina colada, enjoying a box of (very expensive) chocolates.

Good night, Good bye and God bless.

Charley xx

Clive James embraces death with a poem

THE terminally ill Australian author, critic and raconteur Clive James has detailed his revelations of life and death in an emotional poem.

Japanese Maple

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree

And saturates your brick back garden walls,

So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends

This glistening illuminates the air.

It never ends.

Whenever the rain comes it will be there,

Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.

Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.

What I must do

Is live to see that. That will end the game

For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,

A final flood of colors will live on

As my mind dies,

Burned by my vision of a world that shone

So brightly at the last, and then was gone.

1,500-Year-Old Papyrus is First Document to Mention Last Supper

A 1500-year-old papyrus may contain the earliest reference to the Last Supper. A research analyzing the document in the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library made the discovery.

The papyrus is actually an amulet that contains words meant to protect its owner, said Dr. Mazza.

“This is an important and unexpected discovery as it’s one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context and the first charm ever found to refer to the Eucharist – the Last Supper – as the manna of the Old Testament,” Mazz told the Daily Mail.

The text of the papyrus reads:

“Fear you all who rule over the earth.

“Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.

“For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.

“Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.”

The papyrus contains parts from Psalms 78:23-24, Matthew 26:28-30, and other Bible verses.

Are religious people more charitable? Yep, says survey

RELIGIOUS Australians donate an average 50% more to charity annually than do atheists or agnostics, the latest data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

The average Australian gave $288 to charity in the year to June 2014. Those who identify with a religion gave an average $331 each in the past year—over a $100 per person more than those who say they have no religion.

Among the religious, charitable giving surges by age 25-34 to an annual average of $333 per person, and continues to a peak of $409 among 35-49 year-olds before declining around $35/year at ages 50-64 and 65+.

The average amount given by the spiritually disinclined continues to increase with age, with those aged 65+ giving more on average than their religious contemporaries.

Average annual charity spend of religious and non-religious Australians by age group

charity

Overall, religious Australians say they donated $4 billion to charity within the past year, while reported donations from the non-religious totalled almost $1.6 billion.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“A comparison of the dollars donated does indeed suggest that religious people are more charitable than others. Across all age groups, Australians who cite a personal religion are more likely to have made a donation within the past year than those who say they have no religion. And, across all age groups except among the over 65s, religious donators also give more on average than non-religious donators.

“As the number of Australians with no religious affiliation continues to rise, all charities—whether religious or not—must find ways to inspire genuinely altruistic donations outside religious giving structures.”

http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/5772-donating-to-charity-australians-with-a-religion-vs-non-religious-june-2014-201409022355

Richard 111 finally to get a big funeral

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KING Richard 11 will finally get a big funeral, 500 or so years after his death.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to lead mourners at the televised funeral of King Richard III, found buried under a Leicester car park in 2012.

He will be joined by his equivalent figure in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and representatives of other faiths to bury the Last Plantagenet king.

Richard was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field. According to legend, he usurped the throne from the young Edward V, who disappeared with his younger brother while under their ambitious uncle’s supposed protection.

Richard III is currently the only English monarch without a marked grave after his remains were found buried under a car park in Leicester two years ago. The remains were confirmed as Richard’s by comparing DNA of his descendants.

The burial in Leicester follows a lengthy wrangling between the Plantagenet Alliance, set up by descendants of the family of Richard III who wanted him to be reinterred in York Minster, and Leicester Cathedral and University, who wanted him buried in Leicester.

Judges at the High Court ruled earlier this year that Richard III should be reinterred in Leicester.

The bones of Richard III will be reburied next year in Leicester Cathedral in a coffin made by the woodworker Michael Ibsen, the seven times great-nephew of the last Plantagenet king.

Leicester Cathedral confirmed it would be open for people to pay their respects in the week leading up to the burial.

It will receive the King’s remains on March 22, 2015 and he will then lie in repose for three days. He will then be reburied during a ceremony on March 26.

And from March 28, the area of Richard III’s tomb will be open to the public.

Isis doesn’t deserve to be called Islamic, Australian imams say

AUSTRALIAN imams have called for the term “Islamic” not to be used when referring to the Islamic State (Isis) group, saying it serves only to give credibility to the group’s claims of religious authority.

There was nothing Islamic about its murderous actions, the Australian National Imams Council said, and the phrase “Islamic State” referred to an era when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together harmoniously.

But the militants had misappropriated the terminology for their own political and violent goals.

“Since the Isis group was established we have been very clear about denouncing their lies and betrayal of our faith,” the grand mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, said in a statement on Monday.

“These criminals are committing crimes against humanity and sins against God. Forced eviction, threats of execution and burning of places of worship including churches have no place in any faith.”

But the imams council does not support the federal government’s decision to deploy a 600-strong military force to the United Arab Emirates to provide support for Kurdish and Iraq fighters battling Isis. It says there is a clear link between foreign wars and radicalisation in Australia.

Some 60 Australian nationals are said to be fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The council also warned Muslim Australians not to trust the internet and social media “as some material may have dangerous influences on vulnerable minds”.

“Instead Muslims must get proper religious advice from knowledgeable, respected and qualified imams,” it said.

Pope Francis Warns Against Third World War

POP Francis urged the worldto shed its apathy in the face of what he characterizes as a third world war, intoning “war is madness” at the foot of a grandiose monument to soldiers killed in World War I.

Francis’ aim in recalling those who died in the Great War that broke out 100 years ago was to honor the victims of all wars, and it came at a time when his calls for peace have grown ever more urgent amid new threats in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Standing at an altar beneath the towering Redipuglia memorial entombing 100,000 Italian soldiers fallen in World War I, the pope said “even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”

The visit was also infused with intensely personal meaning. The pope’s grandfather fought in Italy’s 1915-17 offensive against the Austro-Hungarian empire waged in the nearby battlefields, surviving to impress upon the future pope the horror of war.

Before arriving at the monument, the pope prayed privately among the neat rows of gravestones for fallen soldiers from five nations buried in a tidy Austro-Hungarian cemetery just a couple of hundred of meters away.

In his homily during an open-air Mass at the Italian monument, the pope remembered the victims of every war — up to today.

“Today, too, the victims are many,” fallen to behind-the-scenes “interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power,” the pope said.

He lamented that the human toll of “senseless massacres” and “mindless wars” has been met with apathy. Francis urged: “Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.”

Sam Harris wants atheists to get spirituality

PROMINENT atheist Sam Harris says atheists should not ignore spirituality

In his new book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion,” the usually outspoken critic of religion describes how spirituality can be divorced from religion if the human mind is to reach its full potential.

“Our world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn,” he writes in the book, but adds: “There is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture generally admit.”

Harris’ description of his own spiritual experiences achieved through meditation shares common ground with those of religious people. In the most eyebrow-raising scene in the book, he describes standing on the edge of the Sea of Galilee — Jesus’ old stomping grounds — losing his sense of self and finding “a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts.”

Harris writes: “As I stood gazing at the surrounding hills, a feeling of peace came over me..In an instant the sense of being a separate self – an “I” or a “me” – vanished.”

Has Harris found God? No. The prescription, Harris holds, is Buddhist-based mindfulness meditation. A Stanford-trained neuroscientist, Harris is a long-time practitioner of Buddhist meditation. He said everyone can, through meditation, achieve a “shift in perspective” by moving beyond a sense of self to reach an enlightening sense of connectedness — a spirituality.

“Self-transcendence is the foundation of what I am calling spirituality.”

Harris is not the first atheist to suggest nonbelievers should mine the world’s religious traditions for wisdom or beneficial practices. Philosopher Alain de Botton and humanist Chris Stedman have written books that explore the possibilities, and nonbelievers have been flocking to so-called “atheist churches” such as the Sunday Assembly.

We’re off to war (again)

SO we’re off to war (again) in Iraq (again).
At the outbreak of World War I, when patriotism at its peak, the slogan “the war to end all war” was a common catchphrase.

British cabinet minister David Lloyd George, soon to become wartime prime minister, sensed the bitter irony in the statement.. “This war, like the next war,” he
cynically remarked, “is another war to end all war.”

And the next war. And the ones after that. The War to End All Wars did little more than to perpetuate war.

Can we ever hope for world peace? Armed conflict seems the way of the world, not something belong to the tragic past. It is the most deadly plague in history.

Wars between people cannot be eradicated because these wars stem from the war within us. As Martin Luther King observed: “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Nearly all wars are due to the desperate grasping of an ideology, a fight for resources or for power

Is there any righteousness between nations? Probably not.

Not while men and women remain indifferent to the rights of others.

It’s not hatred that is the opposite of love. It’s indifference. And indifference can do more harm that outright hatred.

There’s no point in trying to change the world unless we can make personal changes in ourselves.

Hitler’s childhood home could become museum

Geburtshaus Adolf Hitlers in Braunau am Inn

THE Austrian house where Adolf Hitler was born could be turned into a museum named the “House of Responsibility.”

Hitler was born there in the town of Braunau am Inn in 1889.

Over the years, the building has served as a “bank, workshop, library, school and home for the disabled,” reports Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Today, the building is empty and the Austrian Interior Ministry rents it from a local woman, according to the USC Shoah Foundation.

The site has become a pilgrimage destination for neo-Nazis on Hitler’s birthday, April 20, according to Haaretz.

The idea for the museum comes from Austrian historian Andreas Maislinger, who says the “House of Responsibility” will allow students and young people to do research on crimes against humanity and World War II.

Maislinger has received support from Schindler’s List producer and Holocaust survivor Branko Lustig, according to the foundation.

Braunau am Inn’s town association is expected to support the plan, and Austria’s Interior Ministry is expected to give final approval later this year, reports The Independent.

Eminem’s Rap God sets new world record for most words in a song

EMINEM’S hit Rap God averages more than four words a second across its six-minute running time.

As Billboard reports, Eminem’s Rap God is the holder of thes world record, with Marshall Mathers working his way through 1,560 words in 6’04”, at an average of 4.28 words per second.

The song features a verse about the Columbine High School massacre that had been written for the song I’m Back from the first Marshall Mathers LP, but which was censored from the original release. One section of the song features 97 words in 15 seconds, for an average of 6.5 words per second.

Eminem is one of five new rock and pop record holders in the forthcoming new edition of Guinness Book of World Records. Elsewhere, Metallica become the only band to have performed on all seven of the world’s continents following their gig last year in Antarctica; One Direction become the first act to debut at No 1 in the US with their first three albums; Miley Cyrus becomes the most searched-for pop star on the internet; Shakira becomes the most “liked” person on Facebook; and Katy Perry is the musician with the most Twitter followers.

BEWARE: Here is Eminem’s lyrically explicit video

Dalai Lama: it should end with me

the Dalai Lama

THE Dalai Lama says he wants to be the last to hold the job, and that the nearly 500-year-old tradition of a Dalai Lama heading up Tibetan Buddhism should end on a high note.

The Dalai Lama. 79. has in the past said that the institution has “served its purpose” but was far more explicit to a German newspaper this week:

“We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama . . . Tibetan Buddhism is not dependent on one individual. We have a very good organizational structure with highly trained monks and scholars.”

If he is succeeded by a 15th Dalai Lama, after all, the Dalai Lama said that he would not be opposed to a woman successor — and even thought it could be the better option for Tibet.

And in sports news…

In sports news, Serena Williams thanked Jehovah for her win over Caroline Wozniacki and for capturing her third U.S. Open. Here’s what God tweeted in response, according to Huffington Post:
.

Serena Williams just thanked Me! You’re welcome, Serena! That’s what I do all day! Decide the winner of women’s tennis matches!!!

Reality, Myth, Truth and Lies

REALITY exists, whatever we believe. And sometimes, reality is not always what we think is probable, or likely
Atheists claim that faith in the existence of God is pure illusion. But that in itself is a faith claim.
However, the real illusion is to imagine that the complex nature of our planet could be created by chance, in a few billion years.
The illusion is that human nature is all determined by the environment or genetics, with no choice how a person acts or lives.
It’s a self-reinforcing delusion. that will continue to be believed in the face of contrary evidence.

Many atheists claim the Christ story is a myth conncoted over centuries by unspecified conspiracists for some unspecified reasons.
But for Christianity to have a long-term grip on history and on the hearts of hundreds of millions of people, more than just a myth needs to be involved.
Atheism denies that a God who is very real, alive, and personal, manifested a real, physical, tangible presence within actual history.
Theologian John Haught believes many of the “new atheists” are plainly ignorant about religion in general and Christianity in particular. They are under an illusion.
Asked what he would say to atheists who demand evidence or proof of the existence of a transcendent reality, Haught said:
“The hidden assumption behind such a statement is often that faith is belief without evidence. Therefore, since there’s no scientific evidence for the divine, we should not believe in God.
“But that statement itself — that evidence is necessary — holds a further hidden premise that all evidence worth examining has to be scientific evidence. And beneath that assumption, there’s the deeper worldview — it’s a kind of dogma — that science is the only reliable way to truth. But that itself is a faith statement.
“It’s a deep faith commitment because there’s no way you can set up a series of scientific experiments to prove that science is the only reliable guide to truth. It’s a creed.”.
The traditions of religion and philosophy have always maintained that the most important dimensions of reality are going to be least accessible to scientific control. To believe otherwise is an illusion.
As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: Few people have the imagination for reality. ~

Rewind to sounds that changed the world

walkman

HERE’S AN anniversary we can’t ignore. It’s 35 years this year since bus and train travellers first heard the infuriating tinny sounds of someone else’s music spilling from tiny earphones.

Yep, three and a half decades ago, in July, 1979, Sony launched the Walkman, the world’s first personal and portable music machine.

In this era of digital iPods, the cassette machine seems to have come from the Dark Ages, but it was a sensation at the time.

With the advent of the Walkman, listening to music became a solitary, immersive experience.

Sony chose the name Walkman partly because of the popularity of Superman at the time, but some people think of it more like kryptonite.

The first version of the device had two headphone jacks. That’s because Marsaru Ibuka, the co-CEO of Sony, refused to believe that anyone would be anti-social enough to want to seal themselves off from the rest of the world with a bubble of noise. He was wrong. The second headphone jack disappeared on the second generation of the Walkman.

British commentator A.N.Wilson recently said the arrival of the Walkman marked the exact moment when “one section of the population became literally deaf to the existence of the other half”.

Wilson described the Walkman as one of the biggest blights of urban life.

Before the Walkman, he said, people used to enjoy hearing music on a jukebox in the cafe, or from the transistor radio blaring from the builder’s scaffolding. People used to gather around radios and music listening provided a sort of social glue that crossed the class divide and even bound together generations.

These days, half the world seems to be semi-permanently connected to iPods and iPhones and many walk the streets adrift in their little worlds of playlists, shuffled songs and noisy desperation.

Today’s digital technology is unparalleled in history as a means of communicating with others and as a means of sharing information.

It is ironic that many find themselves increasingly isolated from the presence of other people.

Rallies Protesting Anti-Semitism Held Across Europe

BRITAIN-ISRAEL-JEWS-PROTEST-ANTI SEMITISM

ACCOUNTS of anti-Semitism have risen throughout Europe in the wake of the ongoing Gaza conflict, illustrating a disturbing trend that some say is the worst since the Nazi era.

In the face of synagogue attacks, incendiary graffiti and hateful slogans, thousands have risen up in cities around Europe to protest anti-Semitism and demand swift legal action against perpetrators — calling for governments to “prosecute hate before it’s too late.”.

On August 31 three rallies protesting anti-Semitism took place in three major European cities.

More than 3,000 demonstrators congregated outside City Hall in Frankfurt under the banner “Stand up! Never again anti-Semitism.” Hundreds of representatives from the Kurdish-Israeli Friendship Association also attended, JTA reports, and Kurdish and Israeli flags could be seen flying side by side at the event.

The Frankfurt rally will be followed by a national demonstration in Berlin on September 14 with scheduled speakers German Federal President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.

In London some 4,500 protestors convened Royal Courts of Justice with the same message: “We demand zero tolerance of anti-Semitism.”

In Stockholm roughly 1,000 people turned out to protest anti-Semitism with a Kippah Walk, reportedly attended by leaders from all of Sweden’s major political parties. .

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/03/europe-anti-semitism-rallies_n_5758580.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

The man who wouldn’t be king

cromwell

On this date in 1658, Oliver Cromwell, the notorious Puritan ruler — or great man of history and defender of liberty, depending on your views — died of natural causes. Which is not how many of his opponents died. Cromwell was about as brutal then as the Islamic State is today, especially if you were Catholic, and Irish. But that was then. Also worth noting: when the Royalists returned to power in 1660 they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Hume] a military dictator by Winston Churchill, but a hero of liberty by Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner, and a class revolutionary by Leon Trotsky.

China plans its own ‘Christian theology’

chinachristians

CHINESE authorities say they may try to create a theology based on Christianity – that integrates the religion with Chinese culture and is compatible with the country’s socialist beliefs..

Wang Zuoan, a senior official for religious affairs, says China supports the development of Christianity within the country. But “the construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition,” the state-backed China Daily website reports. His comments came at a conference in Shanghai.

Official 2010 figures put the number of Christians in state-sanctioned churches at 23 million believers, but The Pew Research Center estimated that 58 million Protestants in the country practiced the religion in 2011, along with 9 million Catholics counted the year before. The country also has vast numbers of believers who meet in secret.

Some experts say the total could be more than 100 million.

But China’s ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and relations with the church have sometimes been strained. People are only supposed to worship in places approved by the government, but many underground churches operate in China too.

In Wenzhou – sometimes called China’s Jerusalem, where more than one in 10 people are Protestant – state authorities are cracking down on what they say are illegal church buildings, taking away or threatening to remove crosses at more than 130 Protestant churches and demolishing some entirely, the Taipei Times says. It cites experts and church leaders saying they believe the authorities are alarmed by the quick growth of Protestantism in the area, and are trying to suppress it.
Experts and church leaders say the government, which is skilled at heavy-handed persecution of religious believers, is scared by the massive growth of the Christian faith.

Least educated more likely to leave religion, study claims

Common wisdom is that higher education leads people way from organized religion. But according to a new study, that may no longer be true, Religion News Service reports.

Today, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X — people born roughly between 1965 and 1980 — who are “most likely to leave religion,” said Philip Schwadel, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

His study is published in the August edition of Social Forces.

http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/

Atheism as a Religion: A Book Excerpt

One sacred symbol to atheists is the ‘A’ that symbolizes atheism. Three ‘A’ symbols are prominent in atheism. One ‘A’ symbol was created in 2007 by Atheist Alliance International and has a circle around it. The circle is meant to symbolize the unity of all atheists and the inclusion of all other atheist symbols. As you can tell, not only are these symbols for atheism, there is atheist religious symbolism within them that only atheists or those who study atheism know.

A second popular ‘A’ symbol was created by Richard Dawkins and is a red letter ‘A’ on a right leaning slant. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has adopted this symbol to represent it when they set up monuments to atheism. The third sacred ‘A’ symbol was created by the American Atheists and is placed in the middle of an atomic circle. The organization chose this as their symbol in 1963 to demonstrate their faith that science can save and free mankind. The letter ‘A’ stands in the middle of the atomic sign but rather than meaning atheism, it represents the first letter of the country in which the group is located. This obviously leads to problems since ‘A’ could stand for Austria, Algeria, Australia, and so on, but I suppose they weren’t thinking that far ahead. The Atomic A, as it is known, is allowed on gravestones of U.S. military personnel who are atheists. Atheism is so sacred to some atheists that they want the atheist ‘A’ to represent them to the world after their death.

Many atheists demonstrated just how sacred the symbol ‘A’ is to them in the Christmas of 2013. Since my hometown city of Chicago allows a Hanukkah Menorah and Nativity scene to display on government property during the holiday season, the atheists asked to display their own religious symbol so the government wouldn’t give the appearance to be endorsing one religion or the other. The monument the Freedom From Religion Foundation chose was a giant Richard Dawkins letter ‘A’ which stood 8 feet tall and lit up red at night for all to see. Countless atheists showed respect for the ‘A’ by making a pilgrimage to the site where the ‘A’ was displayed and having their picture taken with the ‘A’ which I’m sure will be kept as a cherished keep sake for many. Still, the giant red A was not enough. They also advocated for their atheist faith by erecting a sign that read, “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The atheist monument is further proof that atheism is a religion and in direct competition with theist religions for followers. Moreover, they have gone beyond telling people what they stand for and actually attack what others believe in. The FFRF sign is incredibly hateful towards all religions and actively tries to demean God and faith. The FFRF and many secular organizations like them are anti-faith, anti-God, and anti-religion. It is not enough for them to have their symbol and state what they believe in, as the Christian and Jewish symbols do. The FFRF must go one further to state what they dislike about other faiths. I just can’t imagine a Christian nativity scene ever placing a sign next to the nativity stating something cruel and hateful towards other religious faiths. For some reason, atheists at FFRF can still sleep at night doing this. This speaks very poorly of the character of leaders and members of the group. The positive message within atheism must be very weak if they must resort to such hateful, negative tactics.

An additional religious symbol is the atheist Darwin fish. The fish was traditionally a symbol of Christianity for early Christians to recognize each other and since many of Jesus’s disciples were fishermen who he would transform into ‘fishers of men.’ The atheists have usurped the symbol to declare their belief that Darwin’s theory of evolution proves God doesn’t exist. Since the fish is a creature from the natural world, it made for an easy transition to a symbol for atheism. Atheist’s display the fish with the word ‘Darwin’ across the middle or with feet on the bottom and proudly wear it on t-shirts and bumper stickers. While it may have started as a parody on the Christian fish symbol, it is now an easy way for atheists to recognize each other, mission to non-atheists, and show their gratitude and respect to the person whose scientific work they believe is the foundation for much of their atheist faith, Charles Darwin.

Many more, less popular symbols exist including the empty set symbol of mathematics, the invisible pink unicorn, and the flying spaghetti monster. As the atheist religion continues to fortify itself certain symbols will likely tend to dominate as they work for uniformity and cohesion amongst all atheists.

Atheists are also installing their own religious monuments across the United States. In July of 2013 the American Atheists erected a monument at a Florida courthouse that had allowed the displaying of the Ten Commandments. Ken Loukinen, an American Atheists director of state and regional operations stated “Christianity has had an unfair privilege for at least the last 150 years. We want to level the playing field by stripping them of privilege, and bringing them to equality with all other ideologies.” The group has said they will erect 50 more monuments in other locations where the Ten Commandments sit on government land. As Ken Loukinen admitted, the monuments are an effort for the faith of atheism to compete with the other religious faiths.

The monument has the atomic symbol with the letter ‘A’ in the middle to represent the group and atheism. A quote on the monument states, “An atheist believes a hospital should be built instead of a Church.” Little do they acknowledge it was religious temples in Greece, Egypt and other places that first served as hospitals, the numerous hospitals built by Christian charities in the United States, and that atheists have yet to build a hospital in the USA. In the article, the atheists are very explicit about where their priorities are: building 50 more religious monuments to atheism. Perhaps a better quote for the atheist monument would read, “An atheist is someone who says they want a hospital in place of a Church, but then settles for erecting a religious monument to atheism instead.” Not soon after this monument was erected, the Sunday Assembly began its cross-country trip across America raising money for…the atheist Church. Atheists may say they want a hospital instead of a Church, but as atheism in practice demonstrates, their first priorities are monuments and places of atheist worship.

This is an excerpt from the newly released book, Atheism As A Religion: An Introduction to the World’s Least Understood Faith, by Mike Dobbins.

Irreverent wits

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THE best bit of unintentional spiritual humor I have heard is the last act of Empedocles, the fifth century Greek philosopher.
He so desired to be thought of as a god, he threw himself into the crater of Mt Etna so he might vanish from the world completely and thus lead men to believe he had achieved immortality.
Unfortunately, the volcano defeated this wish by throwing out one of his sandals.

Another last act story concerns the French Jesuit Dominique Bouhours, who was a strict grammarian – to the end.
On his deathbed, in 1702, his last words were: “I am about to – or I am going to – die. Either expression is correct.”

The best wit is unexpected, even by the one who delivers it.
William Lawrence, a respected American bishop, once came on a man swearing profusely as he tried to remove a flat tyre from the rim.
“Have you tried prayer my good man,” suggested the bishop.
The man immediately fell to his knees, clasped his hands together and lifted his eyes to Heaven.
He then picked up the tyre lever, inserted it and the tyre popped off.
“Well I’ll be Goddamned,” exclaimed the bishop.

Atheists Argue That They’re a ‘Religious Minority’

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A HOLY war is breaking out between an atheist group in Florida and local politicians who reportedly contend that nonbelievers do not qualify under the umbrella of eligible individuals invited to deliver prayers before government meetings.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent Greece vs. Galloway decision that validates invocations at public meetings so long as citizens of all perspectives are invited to pray, David Williamson, leader of the Central Florida Freethought Community, wrote a letter to the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners asking if a member of his organization could “pray” at a future meeting.

“Note that Humanism is recognized as a religion under the First Amendment in numerous cases and excluding a particular faith group from consideration is unconstitutional” he said.

But Mary Bolin Lewis, chair of the commission, reportedly said in a draft letter yet to be sent to Williamson that the atheist group, which is a chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and an affiliate of the American Humanist Association, doesn’t qualify and can, instead, speak for three minutes during the public comment portion at the end of these meetings.

Lewis added that invocations are for members of the “faith community,” according to Florida Today.

Williamson is pushing back, accusing the commission of discrimination and describing the Central Florida Freethought Community as a “minority religion.”

If atheism gets accepted as a religion it will only add fuel to the argument that atheism is a belief system based on faith