Charges initiated against the Pope

Finally, somebody is bringing the Pope to the International Criminal Court. That lousy excuse for a human being should have been hauled off to jail a long time ago.

According to the Irish Times, 23 Feb 2011, Charges initiated against Pope for crimes against humanity,

Their charges concern “three worldwide crimes which until now have not been denounced . . . (as) the traditional reverence toward ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has clouded the sense of right and wrong”.

They claim the Pope “is responsible for the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats”.

They allege he is also responsible for “the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-Aids infection exists” and for “the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes”.

They claim the Catholic Church “acquires its members through a compulsory act, namely, through the baptism of infants that do not yet have a will of their own”. This act was “irrevocable” and is buttressed by threats of excommunication and the fires of hell.

It was “a grave impairment of the personal freedom of development and of a person’s emotional and mental integrity”. The Pope was “responsible for its preservation and enforcement and, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his Church, he was jointly responsible” with Pope John Paul II.

Catholics “threatened by HIV-AIDS . . . are faced with a terrible alternative: If they protect themselves with condoms during sexual intercourse, they become grave sinners; if they do not protect themselves out of fear of the punishment of sin threatened by the church, they become candidates for death.”

There was also “strong suspicion that Dr Joseph Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his church and as Pope, has up to the present day systematically covered up the sexual abuse of children and youths and protected the perpetrators, thereby aiding and abetting further sexual violence toward young people”.

I love the charges leveled against "His Holiness".

The focus should be on the charge of aggravating the spread of HIV amongst people who heed his word with religious conviction and, even more importantly, aiding and abetting child rape in his churches. The third charge is almost impossible to indict the Church for since almost all religions do it to different extents.

I wonder what punishment would prescribed for committing "crimes against humanity"? Personally, I think death is almost too easy for that sanctimonious piece of shit.

I really hope that human justice be upheld in this case. But it seems somewhat unlikely... am I being too pessimistic?

Godless, Dan Barker

When I wrote the entry titled your Inner Fish way back in 2009 about the book by Neil Shubin by the same title, I intended to do the same with every book I would have acquired since then. That plan obviously fell though - it didn't happen at all. So let's see I can revive that a bit.

One of the books I acquired in 2010 is Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists, by Dan Barker.

As I am already an atheist when I read the book, some portions were pretty much preaching to the choir from my view. For a religious reader though, in particular Christians, will get loads of information about this preachers deconversion from Christianity.

The book is divided in to 4 parts. The first part, Rejecting God, provides the story, Dan Barker's life story from being a Christian to becoming an atheist. The second is called "Why I Am an Atheist" and it deals mainly with the arguments against god. The third chunk is about "What's Wrong With Christianity". And lastly, "Life is Good!" ends the book with his adventures as an activist and his thoughts about atheism.

Amongst the chapters, I enjoyed the ninth one titled "Dear Theologian" the most I think.

Here's an excerpt from "Dear Theologian" where Dan has God writing to a theologian about the problems He faces. This one is regarding the idea of atonement by the death of Jesus Christ.

Beyond that, it is entirely incomprehensible to me why you think I would accept the blood of one individual for the crime of another. Is that fair? Is that justice?" If you commit a felony, does the law allow your brother to serve the jail sentence for you? If someone burglarized your home, would you think that justice was served if a friend of the burglar bought you new furniture? Do you really think that I am such a bloodthirsty dictator that I will be content with the death of anyone for the crime of another? And are you so disrespectful of justice that you would happily accept a stand-in for your crimes? What about personal responsibility? Should I welcome believers into heaven who avoided the rap for their own actions? Something is way of kilter here.
Chapter 9, Page 153

I also like this bit about hell and omniscience. This should matter but it doesn't seem to faze any believer...

How would you feel if you had brought some children into the world knowing that they were going to be tormented eternally in a place you built for them? Could you live with yourself? Wouldn't it have been better not to have brought them into the world in the first place?
Chapter 9, Page 151

The final chapter of the whole book, "Life and Death Matters" is one that I found most meaningful. Here's one nugget:

"If there is no hope of eternal life, then what is the purpose of life?" is a question we atheists often hear. My response is that there is indeed no purpose of life. There is purpose in life. If there were a purpose of life, then that would cheapen life. It would make us tools or slaves of someone else's purpose. Like a hammer that hangs on the garage wall waiting for someone to build something, if we humans were designed for a purpose then we would be subservient in the universe. Our value would not be in ourselves. It would exist in our submission to the will of the toolmaker.  That is slavery to a master, or infant dependency on a father figure. Besides, if there is a god, what is the purpose of his life? If he doesn't need a purpose, why do we? Doesn't a father need to have had a father? A true father does not want the child to remain forever subservient, finding purpose in pleasing the will of the parent. A true father expects the child to become a peer, with its own purpose, even if it disagrees with the parent. If I raise a child who is eternally dependent on me for meaning, then I am an inept parent.
Chapter 19, Page 344

This one is about meaning of life as well.

In the booklet, Craig writes that belief in God makes a difference because " If God does not exist, then life is ultimately meaningless." Well, yes, Bill, life is ultimately meaningless, and we should not want it any other way if we value life. If you have to resort of the rhetorical device of appealing to the reader's dissatisfaction with reality, fear of mortality and a desire for something "ultimate", simply assuming that such wishful thinking confers automatic credibility or dignity to the larger question, then you're admitting that your basic evidences for a God are no strong enough to stand on its own. You don't need any reasons at all, with that logic. You can simply say, "Being a mere mortal mammal makes me feel unimportant, so I'm going to believe in God."

Truth is truth. It shouldn't matter what any one of us wants to believe. The fact that life is ultimately meaningless does not mean it is not immediately meaningful.
Chapter 19, Page 347

Okay, one final bit about "salvation".

We atheist possess "salvation" not because we are released from a sentence, but because we don't deserve the punishment in the first place. We have committed no "sin". Sin is a religious concept, and in some religions salvation is the deliverance from the "wages of sin" -- which is death or eternal punishment. Sin has been defined as "missing the mark" of God's expectations or holiness, or "offending God," so it follows that since there is no god, there is no sin, therefore no need of salvation. How much respect should you have for a doctor who cuts you wit a knife in order to sell you a bandage? Only those who consider themselves sinners need this kind of deliverance -- it is a religious solution to a religious problem.

If salvation is the cure, then atheism is the prevention.
Chapter 19, Page 355

For atheists who are well read on arguments against god and Christianity, this book won't provide you much new information but it will be an entertaining read. For life-long atheists, the first part might be valuable too.

Letting Go of God -- Julia Sweeney

A beautiful and entertaining monologue by Julia Sweeney, Letting Go of God.

That's just the first of 13 videos of the entire monologue. Click here for the whole playlist.

Reviewing the Integration Controversy

It seems that the controversy has died down. The Straits Times did a review titled "Reflections on being Muslim and S'porean" today (10 Feb 2011) wherein it published several commentaries, that ran in Berita Harian and Berita Minggu (both sister newspapers for Malay audience), which were written in response to MM Lee's comments regarding Muslims and social integration.

While I didn't agree with every point made in those commentaries, it was heartening to see that these responses were more measured and rational - engaging in discussion instead of dismissing it - and not of the "OMG, you're offensive - I don't want you around" variety.

One particular commentary by Maarof Salleh (BH, Feb 3) gladdened me. It was the one titled "Understanding the integration controversy".

Numerous criticisms poured in, many claiming that MM Lee was insensitive. Unfortunately, the criticisms were mostly emotional and defensive.

When the dust has settled, hopefully there will be more detailed, sensible, wise and intellectual debates.

I love this part of the commentary. Finally somebody echoing my views expressly from (presumably) within the Muslim community.

The same author goes on to point out the core message of MM Lee's comments which were completely overlooked by some earlier responses. He also notes that MM's suggestion of relaxing religious observance was essentially idealistic - this I do agree with.

For instance, MM Lee is concerned about religious overzealousness. This warrants careful consideration.


I see MM Lee's views as touching more on the issue of social cohesion, which is necessary for a young and pluralistic nation such as Singapore. Enforcing social unity by asking people to be less strict in their religious observances, although a rational argument, does not guarantee success.

The other commentaries all address the issue of Muslim social integration from their angles. But it is obvious that the general theme for most of the commentaries is that people need to be more mature or rational and deal with the criticism as such.

I like this little bit from an excerpt too.

Issues of language, race and religion are usually sensitive. Even followers of the same religion have misunderstandings and conflicts due to different views.

What is disconcerting is that some external parties try to wade into the controversy to take advantage of the situation.

I think this might be a quick swipe at some Malaysian leaders. Nice.

This is probably the end of the "controversy". And this will possibly be the last entry about this issue as well.

The Status of Knowledge

This is probably one of the better videos I've seen addressing the status of knowledge with relation to the method of science. Created by AntiCitizenX, this video addresses the issue of why beliefs should be grounded on empiricism.

The most important message is this: Without empirical evidence, any claim may be rejected on that basis however "logical" it may sound. 

Logic alone is insufficient - Evidence is the ultimate arbiter of truth.

QualiaSoup has previously created a video addressing this same topic from another angle.

The ideas presented in these videos are important and far-reaching when properly understood. Too little people care about this - so, please do care.

False prophets

A new video by TheThinkingAtheist on End Times predictions.

Like the video says, would any of these "prophets" admit they are wrong when their predictions are falsified by the day passing by like any other day? 

Throughout history, plenty of doomsday predictions have been made and EVERY one of them never came to pass. When will these loonies learn? And when will the morons who believe them ever learn?

Yet there is still such morons walking the Earth today. What a tragedy.