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Chill Out, Faith Heads Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Afghanistan, Allah, Christianity, faith, football, God, Hinduism, Islam, Jesus, Malaysia, politics, reason, religion, soccer, United States.
6 comments

It seems almost too coincidental, but two latest stories show yet again how blind religious beliefs can blind your sense of judgement.

The first story relates to the “Allah football” incident in Afghanistan. Apparently the US military has been dropping football (i.e soccer) balls in the country with the intention of giving the children something to enjoy. Those balls are nicely decorated with flags of different countries, as well as the name of Allah written on the balls. This caused great offence to some Afghans, and a demonstration has been held, because the use of the revered word “Allah” is very sensitive in Islam. Says one Afghan MP:

Afghan MP Mirwais Yasini said: “To have a verse of the Koran on something you kick with your foot would be an insult in any Muslim country around the world.”

I suggest the brothers and sisters of Islam chill out. Respect and sensitivity run both ways, so take a step back and understand the fact that the US military comes from a different culture, so at least tolerate these sort of mistakes (in fact religious-related “mistakes” like this should not be offences at all – but that is another story). Of course, I’d imagine that the protesters are a minority and the Afghan politicians may be using this incident to their personal advantages, but the point is, only religion can blind people people’s rational thinking and commonsense.

“Allah football”

The second story relates to the “Jesus cartoon” incident in Malaysia. A newspaper published a cartoon of Jesus holding a cigarette and what seems to be a beer can, and so some Christians and even some Hindus, both minorities in Malaysia, are not pleased, because if Muslims can get angry and therefore special treatment at a cartoon depicting Muhammad, then this case deserves the same treatment from the Islamic based Malaysian government. Consequently the offending newspaper outlet has apologised. Again, this issue involves complicated ethnic politics, but the point is the same: only religion, on its privileged pedestals, can cause such silly incident.

Needless to say, the second story reminds us of the horrible, silly and unfortunate case of the Danish prophet Muhammad cartoon case not so long ago – and the deaths and economical damages the whole drama unnecessarily caused.

Muslims, Christians, and even Hindus in this case – can you stop quarrelling amongst yourselves and behave in a civil way?

“Prophet Muhammad cartoons”

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The End of Faith – West of Eden Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Africa, book review, Christianity, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, George Bush, God, politics, rationality, religion, Sam Harris, sin, stem cell, United States.
1 comment so far

After writing a chapter critising Islam, Harris proceeds to deliver assaults on the religious influence in the West, in particular in the USA political scene.

Harris goes on his attack with a plethora of disturbing examples, which includes a list of influential members in the government such as Dr. W. David Hager of FDA, General William G. Boykin of Special Forces, Tom DeLay of The House majority leader, Antonin Scalia of Supreme Court Justice – and “facts of this sort can be cataloged without apparent end…”.

All this is rather terrifying. Why? Because one would expect that in a civilised society – US being the only superpower in the world – reason and common sense should be the norm. But no, powerful men in the politics are making decisions more or less based on blind personal religious beliefs.

Harris goes on to attack the idea of “victimless crime” in the US – behaviours that cause no harm to anyone yet are punishable. Examples include prostitution and viewing obscene materials. He asks:

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Positive Support for Atheist Congressman Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Posted by henry000 in atheism, faith, God, Pete Stark, politics, religion.
1 comment so far

A US congressman has recently become the first in record to publicly admit his no god-belief. Rep. Pete Stark of Fremont has broken the atheism public taboo stating that:

“When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being,” Stark said. “Like our nation’s founders, I strongly support the separation of church and state. I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social services.

It is really a brave and commendable gesture for Stark to publicly announce his personal religious belief (or non-belief) under the current political climate. Apparently it is only a generation ago that it has been said that such a statement would have been a political suicide.

A few days later, instead of receiving threats and nasty comments as I expected, it is delightful to know that Stark has receive great positive support for his religious inclination. Even the negative responses have been “polite and reasonable”, and “all in all it has been a pleasurable experience”.

Admittedly this has dampened the stereotype I have on the general public in the US – probably not many people expected this sort of supportive reaction. Together with the fact that Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion” has been one of very best seller on the NY Times for more than half of a year (and similarly for Sam Harris’s book “Letter to a Christian Nation”), we can be more and more confident to conclude that there is a large – and quiet – number of atheists out there, who are silently responding to the religious driven political scene that has characterised the US today.