This week we had news that secular views being left out of GSCE Religious Studies was a mistake. Of course this has got some conservative commentators backs up. Why should we teach non-religion in classes about religion? To answer that first we should ask why we are teaching children about religions in the first place. Clearly, or at least hopefully we don’t teach Religious Studies in order that children can decide which is the right one, or be told what to believe. We do it to encourage harmony and understanding. So we don’t remain ignorant and all become massive Islamophobes (although I’m not sure that is working out so well).
In light of this, it is very important to educate people about those who have no religion at all. To complete our set of understanding. No one is advocating that Religious Studies classes teach kids that God is imaginary, just that people are made aware of what atheists are all about and why. To neglect this is to leave people open to all sorts of nonsense that gets said about atheists by the religious. That atheists have no morals for example, or that atheists believe in nothing. The only way to counter such misinformation is to educate people. If Religious Studies has a purpose at all, it is to nurture understanding between faiths and beyond to the irreligious. Otherwise there is really no use in teaching it.
I also think that it should not be called Religious Studies, but rather Philosophy and Ethics or some more inclusive title. Again not to marginalize religion, but to encourage an understanding of world views that extend beyond religion and the broader context in which religions and philosophies interplay and relate to each other. Just teaching kids what each different religion believes is not truly insightful. It would serve us all well to learn about the cultural context in which these beliefs evolved. It doesn’t undermine belief in Christianity to learn about Jewish Messianism and the Roman occupation of Judea (and subsequent corruption or perceived corruption of the Jewish temple authorities), but it surely teaches us something about humanity, our history and how we cope with change. We would all do better if we were educated on all different kinds of Philosophies and their cultural and historical heritage, a vital part of that is those who have rejected religious belief in favour of a rational and empirical world view.
This is not a case of sneering liberals wanting to turn your children into God-hating communists. Its about giving the next generation the best possible understanding of what it is to be human, our struggles, and cultural heritage in the hope that it will iron out any prejudice and tribalism. Really, including atheism in Religious Studies should be the first in a step towards teaching a broader humanities subject. Not because we want to remove religion from your children’s lives, but because religion doesn’t have the monopoly on things humans believe and should therefore only comprise a part of their education on the subject.
UPDATE 04/12/2015 – It has been pointed out to me that I was perhaps unclear about my usage of the term atheism. To be clear I do refer to the wider definition that is probably better defined as Secular Humanism that simply atheism—which could apply to religions such as Buddhism. So whenever I use the term atheism in the context of it being taught as part of a Religious Studies syllabus, I mean Secular Humanist views, not just lack of belief in God.
The above title was from a Daily Telegraph headline to one of its recent articles concerning the causes of the outbreak of WW1 and I thought I may take a break from blogging chronologically about leading up to WW1 in order to focus on what I have seen.
If one wishes to discuss the causes, arguably one could stretch this to the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, which was designed to settle the so-called eastern question, i.e., what belongs to what within the context of the end of the Russian-Ottoman war of 1877–1878. Initially that question between Russia and the Ottoman had been resolved through the treaty of San-Stefano signed March 3 1878. That treaty ceded effective Ottoman control of the Northern Balkans and likewise allowed the Russians to increase their political influence upon the region, much to the chagrin of the great powers of the West, namely the British, who felt that an expansionist Russia could put her far-eastern colonies at risk and the Austria-Hungarian Empire who wanted to maintain their own diplomatic influence in the Balkans.
Whilst this treaty was designed to mitigate the effects of San-Stefano and in effect allow the Ottoman Empire to retain control of the Southern Balkans, crucially to my perspective, this treaty also allowed the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be occupied and administered by the Austria-Hungarian Empire through international mandate. In 1908 however, without any legal justification, the Austria-Hungarian Empire decided to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, triggering the Bosnian crisis and a subsequent amendment to the treaty of Berlin in 1909, recognising the Austria-Hungarian Empire’s governance of the region. This amendment denied nationalists within Serbia their ambitions to build a full “greater Serbia”, i.e., want of a restoration of the lands that once belonged to Serbia during the middle ages before the nation was subsumed by the Ottoman Empire.
Serbia for its part would go on to be a key player in the set of Balkan wars that played out just before the First World War. In the conclusion to the first Balkan War, Serbia practically doubled its territory, through expanding southwards into Kosovo and Macedonia. In the second Balkan War against Bulgaria, it consolidated these gains. This was perhaps enough for the govt but it certainly was not enough for the nationalists who were embedded within the army, such as the nationalist group “The Black hand” who had already possessed a track record for changes in Serb foreign policy through political terrorism, such as the changes in foreign policy caused by the assassination of King Alexander I for not being too belligerent enough with the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and also because he married to someone whom the Black Hand thought had a dangerous influence upon society.
But the Serbian govt wasn’t represented by terrorists and officially expressed little desire for war between itself and the Austria-Hungarian Empire in 1914. And this is what made the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand by the “Black hand” so tragic in retrospect. It wasn’t the first time that a major figure had been assassinated by nationalists either; In 1908 a Ruthenian nationalist murdered Andreas Potocki, the governor of Austria-Polish province of Galicia which was also contested for influence by both the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia. In this case however, the assassin was handed over and no war came about. Evidently the Galician and Sarajevo assassin events were clearly different. As of yet I have not seen anything to suggest that Austria-Hungary had suspicions that the event in Galacia was a state sponsored act of terrorism whereas with regards to Serbia they clearly did. On July 23 1914 Austria-Hungary presented to Serbia an extremely harsh ultimatum to Belgrade with the addition that a response should be delivered from Belgrade within 48 hours. And, although Serbia did say they would comply with most of the ultimatum, most wasn’t enough. On July 28 Serbia Austria-Hungary declared war and was invaded and so WW1 formally began.
It is then that the systems of entangling alliances both sides of the War had kicked in. Russia mobilised against Austria-Hungary as a response to the former’s ominous treatment of Serbia, but there was no declaration of war. Germany responded by declaring War on Russia anyway on August 1, and then on Belgium and France. Britain had an entente with France and a guarantee to Belgium that had existed since 1839 which promised, in short, that the British would go to war with whoever shall attack Belgium. On August 4 1914 that country happening to attack Belgium was Germany, and subsequently the British declared war on the Germans.
The above presents the history of the beginnings of World War 1 that I am sure most would be familiar with, and in this summation, German blame for WW1 is implied. But is this the most explicit of finger-pointing? What I will present you now are two recent articles centered around Max Hastings who has a new book coming out, who seems very much in the explicit finger-pointing camp, stating that the central powers are mainly to blame for WW1.
In addition to Germany’s foreign policy on its southern neighbour, whom she vowed to stand by like a knight “in shining armour”, and the subsequent reaction to this from Vienna as pointed out in these articles, another point I’ve seen is that the German rationale for aggression in the west was detached from Austria-Hungarian aggression against Serbia. Indeed, part of the reason Germany said on August 3 that it was going to war with France was that because the German city of Nuremberg had earlier been bombed by French aircraft, (this bombing raid seems a nonsensical story).
So, for all the above, how much relative blame should we point to Germany and Austria-Hungary? You tell me.
(PS: With regards to the Greater Serbia that the nationalists there wanted and their base being the medieval kingdom of Serbia, I am actually writing this on the anniversary of the Battle of Blackbird’s Field, which took place just 3 miles north of Prishtina in Kosovo in the year 1389. For the Serbs, it was at most a Pyrrhic Draw, in the long term it began a slow decay and splinter in Serbian Anti-Ottoman political elite, although that being said, it did take another 132 years for Belgrade itself to fall into Ottoman hands with that city finally being captured in 1521. However because of the losses on the Ottoman side this battle is often seen as delaying Ottoman advance into the rest of the Balkans, thus this battle forms part of the modern Serbian pride in that medieval kingdom. This is the Gazimestan monument, located on the modern day battle-site.
It commemorates those Serbs who fell in battle. It was also where the late dictator Slobodan Milošević made this notorious speech
As I am sure you may be all aware, the centennial of the Great War, “the war to end all wars” is looming ever closer. And to mark the occasion, it has been decided that I should commission a series of short posts (such as the one you are reading) to mark the events that led up to it, so here goes. And perhaps what better way to begin this series by marking the signing of the Treaty of London, which was signed on this very day as I type, 100 years ago. A treaty that marked the formal ending of the First Balkan War! What you see below is a map of how what the Balkans looked like, after this Treaty and to commemorate the signing of it, what I am going to do in this post is give you a very basic guide to the territorial changes for the Balkan nations as a result of the first Balkan War. Of course, if there’s anything you feel that I have missed, feel free to point it out to me.
Crete was allowed to become formally unified with mainland Greece in accordance with the latter’s demands for “enosis”. Note this: officially the enosis took place during December 1913 with the ceremonial raising of the Greek flag at the city of Chania.
The Treaty of London also confirmed Albania as a independent state in the eyes of the western powers, but this didn’t mean all its peoples belonged to it. Instead, its borders had to be decided by an international commission due to the fact its neighbouring states in the Balkan league also had substantial Albanian populations. And it was this that meant Kosovo (whose inhabitants are mostly ethnic Albanian) would come into the fold of the Kingdom of Serbia, for example. So one can easily guess Albanians have a mixed opinion of this treaty? For a brief time (until WW1) the ancient port of Vlorë was made the new capital and its politics resembled a western style monarchy, lasting until 1925 when Albania became a republic.
As for the Kingdom of Serbia, it got from the war and the Treaty of London a practical doubling of its territory, through expanding southwards into Kosovo and Macedonia, although the Kingdom was frustrated by not having a slice of the Adriatic coast. This, with a growing Serb nationalism and dreams of all the Serb peoples united under one single state, was not healthy. And this nationalist dream included all the Serbs residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina which at the time was under the jurisdiction of the Austria-Hungarian Empire through it being annexed in 1908. This dream would go on to have ramifications with regards to the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, But I think I can save this for another time. I would also like to note that Serbia also shared its spoils in the region of Sandžak with Montenegro and thus the latter got a slight expansion of its territory.
As for Bulgaria, it got territorial expansion to include Black and Aegean sea coastal regions thus becoming the largest of the Balkan nations, as you can see on the map, yet was left physically weak due to it’s large role in securing the Balkan league’s victory over the Ottoman Empire
And finally? Perhaps one should spare a thought for the suffering peasants of Macedonia who did not get any independence! Instead, their land became a flashpoint of conflict between especially Bulgaria and Serbia over who should own what part of it. But I think I might just save my thoughts about the second Balkan War for another time.
Another day, another documentary purporting to educate us all on “hidden truths” about the USSR when in reality, the “hidden truths” have been known about since even before the collapse of the USSR. This time however to the interests of all of us secularists and atheists, the entire emphasis on the film being “Militant Atheism, in the Former Soviet Union”. (Watch the trailer)
For those who haven’t kept up to date with his ramblings, Banana-man has decided to write a new book titled “The Beatles: God and the Bible” (sounds really exciting). Now i know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover but in this case i can infer at least that stylistically there could be much carried over from an earlier screed titled “Hitler: God and the Bible” (which I’m not going to review unless someone mysteriously sends me it as a Christmas present) in that Comfort’s using “Historical Character X” only to disseminate his own evangelical nonsense regardless of whether or not said evangelical nonsense has anything to do with said Historical character. With the latter book i mentioned, as you all may remember, he turned it’s intellectual comments into a short 33 min video which i proved the case to be. In that video he basically equated abortion to the Holocaust and added in to the mix that Hitler was not a christian by using quotations of dubious origin. Because that obviously helps his evangelical message. But even if we somehow accept that Hitler was Anti-christian anyways it would still remain the case that the comparison of the Holocaust to Abortion (which was the main point of that film) is silly, especially in the context of what the Nazis actually did with regards to the subject as i pointed out.
I mention all of this because Ray Comfort’s made a brand new movie, based upon his latest evangelical work which i guess in the spirit of the last one, i have to review right?
As you can see from the title of this essay, I will be writing here on a matter of some importance, regarding the current climate of US politics which will connect to the recent events concerning Paul Ryan’s nomination by the Republican Party to run for Vice-President of the United States. And also, a rebuttal to some common arguments often made in his defense, as I understand them, because of course, many such people exist. I invite those members of the League of Reason forum who are from (living in) the United States in particular, to give me some feedback on this topic.
See here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/tax-cuts-for-the-rich-on-the-backs-of-the-middle-class-or-paul-ryan-has-balls-20110407
Indeed, it’s relatively well understood that Republican candidates of various sorts have somewhat of a history of backing ethically and/or logically indefensible positions, and it seems from a cursory scan of his views and proposed policies (I am unsure if I comprehensive catalogue of his and Romney’s views is available) that a vote for Ryan&Romney will result in a rather alarming series of (likely stupid) policy-decisions, namely: anti-social-welfare, so-called “cut-throat”-capitalism, plutocracy, and (perhaps) legislated religious instruction of some manner, though let’s hope not…
Perhaps his economic stance is not all that surprising, when he is apparently an apologist of Ayn Rand‘s political philosophies:
“‘Public welfare’ is the welfare of those who do not earn it; those who do, are entitled to no welfare.” Ayn Rand (in Atlas Shrugged, 1957)
Economics aside, on the social front,he has also stated that “[He] believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health. He was a cosponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a federal bill defining fertilized eggs as human beings, which, if passed, would criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.”
And this is just the one the one issue that immediately springs to my mind. Not to mention his views on drugs, gay-rights, and climate change, among other things, and I doubt that he accepts the theory of evolution, somehow, and it seems likely that all of these views are going to affect his policies in some way or another.
And while I realise that Obama has shown himself to be rather inept when it comes to economic issues in general, I haven’t seen any solid evidence that either Ryan or Romney are a significant improvement, and his “published plan” is risible indeed. I don’t believe (as he clearly does, and as a great many of his supporters do); that Obama’s actions are slowing economic prosperity. Because for a start, the most atrocious drop in credit over the last 70-80 years or so will take (likely) years yet for everyone in the United States to creep out of, and that would include almost everyone who makes some impact, e.g. home-owners, consumers (obviously), big and small business entities alike, and of course banks, etc. And with the developments in e.g. housing, I can almost guarantee that consumer-demand will improve. Owing to increased equity that buyers and sellers will use for improvements and suchlike. At this stage it’s hard to tell what will happen exactly.
Obama’s … populist ideologues (or seemingly so); have caused quite a lot of controversy in recent months, and are likely to last until November, but of course, when someone complains about this, it’s worth reminding them that in a first-world democracy such as the United States, the governing body of the state is (at least in principle); supposed to respond fairly to the needs of the population, if that makes adequate sense. And this is where the 99 per-cent come in, though bear in mind that I am referring to the “really existing” 99 per-cent, not the politically fanatical so-called“99 per-cent”.
First, I would like to start a serious discussion of taxes; which may then be continued in the Blog of Reason comments-section; for those of you who have chosen to read this far in, and are interested. And of course this is because the issue of taxation has become a somewhat urgent issue of late, especially in the campaigns. I have some distant family living in the eastern United States, who I have been in communication with via the internet for a significant number of weeks, regarding this topic, as I was curious at the time, and they gave me some much needed information. Suppose, for example, you earn between $6,000 and $7,000 per year, on a net of (for the purposes of argument, again); $25,000 amounting to approximately 26% federal tax rate. As far as I am aware (correct me if I am wrong on this): Mitt Romney’s effective tax-rate was 15%.
Though I should add: workers who are self-employed of which there are a great many get to take that 15 per-cent anyway, meaning a horrid obstruction to any potential job-makers who isn’t already in the “Tea Party” mindset, as many of the US Republicans are. The evidence all seems to point to the fact that the smaller and less recognised business-entities take on markedly more workers than any other business-category (or group) does; yet the majority of the tax-burden tends to be bestowed upon individual operators with little to no available capital to contribute.
To say nothing of this being grotesquely unfair (not to mention profoundly stupid, and anti-competitive) it seems flagrantly obvious that the Democrats (flawed as their own policies may be at present in many regards); do have a valid point when they speak of these disparities, and the fact that huge businesses have succeeded in almost completely externalising the costs of maintaining the infrastructure on which their financial survival depends, to the poor and the workers. Specifically, people who don’t have obscenely expensive legal and accountancy departments to help them horde their earnings (capital) after having already effectively circumnavigated income-taxes on capital-gains as almost all distinguished Republicans tend to do. And still I wonder if Romney & Ryan’s visions of so-called “business-amicable” tax codes work as a means of increasing the rate of productive investment? Merely type “Reaganomics” into any search-engine, so that you can see what I mean.
An equitable and evenly distributed tax-burden (“pay your fair share” encapsulates this theory, I feel), would not be inherently anti-business. It would be sound, fair, and logical. I must stress that the issue is not about being anti-corporation, or anti[/i[-big-businesses. It’s about being pro-fairness. What’s more, is that criticising Obama for not having a jobs-plan as many have done, and as Paul Ryan’s superior (Romney) has done is nonsense too! After all; we could critique possible [i]flaws in his plan, but one does in fact exist, as the above-linked article points out.
“In his news conference, Romney emphasized four ideas in his plan: expanding domestic energy production, working out trade agreements with Latin America, cracking down on China and cutting the corporate tax rate. These are all reasonable ideas. But working out trade agreements takes a long time. Getting the Keystone oil pipeline up and running takes a long time. Rewriting and implementing a new corporate tax code takes a long time. Changing China’s policies takes a long time. It’s difficult to see how any of these ideas creates a substantial number of jobs quickly.
Obama also tends to emphasize four parts of his plan: increasing infrastructure investment, hiring more state and local workers, doubling the size of the payroll tax cut and adding a new set of tax cuts for small businesses and companies that hire new employees. Two of those policies imply directly hiring hundreds of thousands of workers. The other two move money into the economy immediately. It’s easier to see how these policies lead to more jobs and demand in the short term.
In terms of the deficit, the Obama administration has put forward a specific set of ideas mostly by eliminating itemized deductions for wealthier Americans to pay for its plan. The Romney campaign has not yet said how it will cut corporate and individual tax rates without increasing the deficit.
In a sense, what’s really interesting about the Romney and Obama plans is that they don’t conflict with one another. Obama has a set of ideas for boosting job creation now. Romney has a set of ideas for long-term economic growth. You could implement all of Obama’s 41 bullet points and all of Romney’s 59 bullet points simultaneously. There’s nothing about increasing infrastructure investment that keeps you from cutting corporate taxes, for instance.”
“Paul Ryan has been a fan of sequestration for his entire career in the House. He has repeatedly called for discretionary spending caps backed by a sequester. On August 1, 2011, he got what he has always wanted. Now that the sequestration might actually take place he says it’s “not good government.””
… And so forth.
Now onto the issue of medical costs:
Net cost relative to the true medical expense(s) should remain relatively stable for the foreseeable future at least, from much of the evidence that I’ve seen. At least, the overall expense of the health-insurance system in place should go down. I’ll bet that in order to get good employees, businesses are off-setting the lack of insurance with higher wages in at least some cases, in all probability. And while it is indeed mostly accurate, that the ACA requires additional coverage(s) for various reasons, remember that kids (or their parents) will have to pay into the system to get coverage for them or the kids, and apparently the point of that was (1) so that these same people would not go uninsured, and/or (2) such that they make few withdraws on the healthcare system, which was supposed to remunerate costs for insurers!
It is equally accurate that insurance-industry/industries’ (over)reaction to ACA was (or is) also a large contributing factor. Yes, there is a real market uncertainty, and insurers need to insure themselves against that (ha!). But the increase in insurance-provider(s)’ profits since the passage of PPACA have been breathtaking, even as insurers themselves have caused or increased deductibles and cut-payouts, etc. That’s what they call a “parlay”, as far as I know…. hmm…
In fact the covering of…25 or 26 year-olds for example, is obviously going to cost something. The ACA requires them to be on a plan, but doesn’t force their parents to take them. So the end-bearer of the decision will have to be made amongst families themselves … as with most things in the “science” of economics, estimates fluctuate somewhat wildly depending on which numbers you trust, but here’s one that puts it at 2.5 “M” (million). What complicates matters is also the fact that existing conditions are enormous by comparison. Here for example, a Forbes contributor claims that… err… “adult-children” (?) inclusion causes merely 1-3% increases in premiums.
When it comes to government’s role in controlling large sectors of the economy, it’s worth keeping in mind that insurance, at least as it is in the US, is rather like a banking entity. You can only seem to find a loan (insurance) when you don’t need it (or access to much medical care) and unfettered, unregulated capitalism of the kind supported by Republicans like Mitt Romney and now Paul Ryan, proved itself insufficient to fix the problem either. It is time that the United States joins the rest of the first world with regard to healthcare.
The insurance companies are on-the-whole; usurious to charge vastly more than is actually necessitated by the increase in their operating expense. Insurers must all have at least some idea of what will happen to their overall expenses upon the time when they are forced to cover all of the people to whom they had previously denied coverage previously (for very well-studied reasons, indeed)! They’ve denied people coverage because they knew what the costs would be.
At this rate (no pun intended) we could very easily see a re-run of what happened with Pell Grant: educators simply ended up raising tuition at a rate commensurate with that payable by the average pupil, and thus direct health-care providers could do the same …but that’s another story. Also slightly troublesome is the fact that it is actually illegal in the US for healthcare providers to do some extremely simple market-research. It is illegal for e.g. an allergist or a dermatologist to even ask what any given competitor(s) charge for equivalent procedures.
And as for the actual costs, here is something I found quite easily off the internet:
A remaining question is whether other aspects of the ACA might also have contributed to the premium increase. Kaiser argues, plausibly, that the two factors it considered were the most direct link between the ACA and 2011 premiums. But perhaps there were indirect links as well?
I expect we will hear critics of the ACA make exactly that argument in the days ahead. Somewhat surprisingly, though, the first example I found came from the Administration. Writing on the White House blog, health adviser and deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle pins some of the blame for higher premiums on insurance companies overestimating what their costs would be:
[list][2011 health insurance] premiums were generally set in 2010, when insurance companies thought medical costs would be significantly higher than they turned out to be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the health insurance employer cost index (a measure of the price of health care services) was the lowest it has been in over 10 years in the first half of 2011. Additionally, some insurers assumed that the Affordable Care Act would dramatically raise their costs.In the end, both assumptions were wrong, but insurance companies still charged high premiums and earned impressive profits. Wall Street analysts’ review of results from the first quarter of 2011 found that 13 of the top 14 health insurers exceeded their earnings expectations, with profits that were over 45 percent higher than estimated. (emphasis added)
DeParle thus believes that the ACA did lead to higher premiums in 2011 beyond what can be explained by direct cost increases, but only because insurers overreacted. In other words, the ACA did cause premium increases beyond what can be explained by costs (since insurers would not have made the mistake about ACA costs otherwise), but the ACA doesn’t deserve the blame for those premium increases.[/list]
Look at the outlier in the above graph, Norway. A country that spends more on universal-healthcare than any other country that has it and still almost a third less (per recipient) than the US. There are obviously a plethora of reasons why nations that do indeed have universal healthcare may fare better or worse than others, but think about it logically: all of them, are spending half as much per-person than the United States is, on GDP and healthcare! Not to mention that judging by these countries’ average life-expectancies, they’re receiving somewhat improved treatment to that of the US in several important respects, and as such; I’m sure that they (countries with universal healthcare) are all VASTLY more productive, as well. (If you look at the list linked here, notice that the three countries ahead of the United States all have a more productive healthcare-system. Whether these are correlated is not clear, but I would think so). In summary, universal healthcare while expensive is clearly not nearly as expensive as its absence, and the US is an archetypal example of what happens in its absence….
The above map shows, in green, countries that administer some sort of universal health care plan. Most are through compulsory but government-subsidized public insurance plans, such as the UK’s National Health Service. Some countries that have socialized and ostensibly universal health care systems but do not actually apply them universally, for example in poverty- and corruption-rife states in Africa or Latin America, are not counted.
What’s astonishing is how cleanly the green and grey separate the developed nations from the developing, almost categorically. Nearly the entire developed world is colored, from Europe to the Asian powerhouses to South America’s southern cone to the Anglophone states of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The only developed outliers are a few still-troubled Balkan states, the Soviet-style autocracy of Belarus, and the U.S. of A., the richest nation in the world.
Some weeks ago, I watched Paul Ryan’s Vice-President Acceptance Speech (VPAC); and it seems to offer some horrifying prospects indeed, for America. The mere thought of this man being a mere heartbeat away from occupying the Oval Office (Romney too); is quite scary indeed. A line from William Shakespeare’s Richard III keeps echoing in my brain “Woe to the land that’s govern’d by a child!” I am tired of his cliched and grossly rhetorical approach, and as far as I could see, he laid out no discernible outline plan detailing his “solutions”. And after watching Romney’s acceptance-speech sometime afterwards, I cannot help but speculate that the “Grand Old Party” would be significantly better equipped with Condi as their candidate. Innumerable vapid banalities on “the ‘promise’ of America”, and so much outworn, tedious elocution about what it means “to be an American”.
I found this segment in particular to behighly disturbing:
“And I will guarantee America’s first liberty, the freedom of religion.”
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet.”
“My promise is to help you and your family.”
So…legislated Christianity (as I highly doubt that either Romney or Ryan intend to protect the Wall of Separation, or indeed the establishment clause), and uncritical denial of anthropogenic-climate-change….
So far as I can tell, that’s just about it. And the events observed since then on this topic, have been less than appealing as well. I’m struggling to see anything other than destruction to come out of these events, if these people are elected to public office (as President and Vice-President)… if there are any point that need clarification, or for example, their chances of being elected (may be discussed); please do so…
I believe i have caught our little Romanian friend being … lets just say “economical with the truth again”! Remember his ranting about apparent “atheist myths” in which the examples provided in that League of Reason thread at least turned out not to be so? Well he made a little video about it which what, is it meant to be another thing? Anyways one of the first things he pointed out was an atheist group misquoting Thomas Jefferson, which to be fair is a legitimate complaint. Seeing as I raised it too (in these forums). It may be useful to just keep it in mind.
With regards to the latter point, it seems our friend cannot quite hold himself to quite the same standard he uses to judge others (its hardly news to some I know). He recently made a video critiquing a Zomgitscriss video about “disproving god”, an expected enough thing for a theist to do right? I’m not going to dispute Vyck’s main case against Zomgitscriss here, that is not my Forte. I’ll leave that to someone else, if they dare.
What this post adressess instead is just one point of the video, perhaps a minor point yes, but one nonetheless. He asked about 1:25 into the video “why so angry?” to paraphrase before bringing up this obviously meant to be “suggestive” quotation as an answer:
“We shall unleash the Nihilists and Atheists, and we shall provoke a formidable social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to the nations the effect of absolute atheism, origin of savagery and of the most bloody turmoil.” – Albert Pike’s letter to Manzini (August 15, 1871.)
Just recently I discovered various videos of Dawkins, Hitchens and Dennett on YouTube (surrounding the AAI). They echoed opinions that are similar to mine and are quite harsh in their views on religion. I rediscovered this stance for me just recently again after a long time on hiatus. Now my experience is this: arguments on the ‘crimes’ of religions and their negative views are often met with justifications and relativizations; It is suggested that a position as mine is driven by hatred and intolerance.
There is the old question: How much tolerance for the enemies of tolerance?
Also recently, I found a documentary on the German church-critic Karlheinz Deschner (unfortunately not in English yet). It was titled: “the Hatefilled Eyes of Karlheinz Deschner’. The documentary is some kind of meta-discussion on his body of work which is, alas, not yet available in english, either. He basically wrote for 30 years, alone, on the “Criminal History of Christianity’ in 10 Volumes (!), currently writing the tenth and last one. Hopefull the whole is translated when he is done.
The title “the Hatefilled ‘¦’ is a quote of one of the Christian interviewees, who also appears in regular public TV sometimes. It reflects how some of the other Christian participants think. They are quite obsessed in trying to find a reason for Deschners engagement, trying to pull Ad Hominem Arguments against him. Deschner on the other hand is a rather gentle (very) old man, speaking softly and supports his work with tons of supportive evidence. He will probably not witness how his work is received and it may appear to him that it happens what the other side wants: that his book just collects dust (one of the christian interviewee says so).