Alan Perlman's Blog – June 2012 Archive (21)

On Religious Repression

“I object to having to attend chapel 40 times before I graduate in order to earn a degree, sir.  I don’t see where the college has the right to force me to listen to a clergyman of whatever faith even once, or to listen to a Christian hymn invoking the Christian deity even once, given that I’m an atheist who is, to be truthful, deeply offended by the practices and beliefs of organized religion…I do not need the sermons of professional moralists to tell me how I should act.  I certainly…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 28, 2012 at 10:30am — 4 Comments

The Cult of One Billion - Is It Already Too Late?

“Those who love God are not always the friends of their fellow men.”

Robert Ingersoll

“When I think of all the harm [the Bible] has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.”

Oscar Wilde

“I find it necessary to wash my hands after I have come into contact with religious people.”

Friedrich Nietzsche



Voltaire was right for his time, but would be wrong today if he said “Christianity…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 24, 2012 at 8:00pm — 27 Comments

Evil: A Secular Humanist View

"The Devil gets up to the belfry by the vicar's skirts."

Thomas Fuller, 1732

 

"It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak."

Eric Hoffer, 1954

 

“Every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor.”

Emerson, Essays: First Series, 1841

 

“Much of the important evils…are those which [people] inflict on each other through stupidity or…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 24, 2012 at 1:00am — 5 Comments

Reason Day

“Civilization will not attain to its perfection, until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.”

Emile Zola



On the summer solstice, there is more light than on any other day of the year.  Light is a metaphor for knowledge, so let us set aside at least one day a year to intentionally do one thing to advance the light of reason.  Read a book, join a secular group, write a letter to the editor, give a talk, have a thoughtful discussion,…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 21, 2012 at 7:48pm — 10 Comments

RSVP to Carly's Bat Mitzvah Invitation (Not Sent)

The mailed invitation to the presumed induction of the daughter of my first cousin to Jewish adulthood read “We cordially invite you to celebrate with us on the occasion of the bat mitzvah of our daughter Carly Sarah on Saturday morning, the Twelfth of November, Two Thousand and Eleven at Nine Thirty in the morning. Congregation Adath Jeshrun…Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.” 

Apparently it’s more dignified to use no numbers and capitalize everything, as if it were 18th…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 21, 2012 at 12:02pm — 4 Comments

Question for messianic believers: And then what?

“An inch away, total darkness.”

Zen saying



"If you believe in judgment day, then I have to seriously question your judgment."

Bill Maher

“Prepare for tomorrow by doing your best today.”

Life’s Little Instruction Calendar, Volume V

 

Religious radio and TV are great sources of amusement for me.  I love to watch the strutting, sweating televangelists spouting their childish BS…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 20, 2012 at 9:00am — 16 Comments

Atheists and God-talk: Towards God-Free Language

Elsewhere in A/N, there’s a portal devoted to freeing your speech of God-references.  This is a worthwhile endeavor.  Our speech must reflect who we are.  But our language (and probably every language) is littered with references to gods.  What should we do? 

As a linguist (PhD, U. of Chicago), I’ve pondered this question for years: certainly any self-aware unbeliever is aware of the extent to which God-talk pervades even the atheist’s speech, not to mention that of the CNN anchors…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 17, 2012 at 8:00pm — 12 Comments

Secular Wisdom for Humanists

Introduction

If secular humanists don’t look to God, the Bible or the Quran for their wisdom, where do they get it?  From other human beings, of course.  It turns out that people have been thinking and writing for a very long time about how to live a good life.

I’ve noticed that many of the same ideas keep showing up, across geography, history and culture.

The following collection provides practical advice about how to think, behave, and regard others,…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 15, 2012 at 2:30pm — 8 Comments

Let's All Get Spiritual! The Many Meanings of "Spirituality"

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men.”

Confucius

 

I recently heard some women discussing a “women’s spirituality group.”  They wanted to determine whether there was such a thing as “female spirituality”?

It’s impossible to say, since no one can really be sure what someone else means when he/she uses this word.

Spirituality is very popular these days.  Everybody wants to be known as “spiritual.”  That’s not…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 14, 2012 at 6:00pm — 2 Comments

A Secular-Humanist Definition of "the Soul"

“I always wondered how much my soul was worth.  So when Cinemax asked me if I’d go on camera to interview soft-core porn stars on the set of its new series, ‘Sin City Diaries,’ in return for $2,000 and a free night in Las Vegas, I discovered that my soul was worth some amount less than $2,000 and a free night in Las Vegas.”

Joel Stein



In other writings I have defined two of the most vague yet most powerful religious buzzwords – “God”…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 13, 2012 at 2:00pm — 8 Comments

An Atheist's Definition of God -- and Why People Still Believe

“Men make themselves believe that they believe.”

Montaigne

 

“The idea of God is the sole wrong for which I cannot forgive mankind.”

Marquis de Sade



What does it mean to “believe in God,” as 95% of the population professes to do? As an academically-trained linguist and a secular humanistic Jew, I’ve thought about this question for many years and listened to how people answer it. I’ve collected several…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 12, 2012 at 3:00pm — 11 Comments

On Jewish bigotry

“Society attacks early, when the child is defenseless.”

B.F. Skinner

“Civilization will not attain to its perfection, until the last stone from the lst church falls on the last priest!”

Emile Zola

“…Jews are taught that the belief in one’s own religion or way of life does not in any way require the corollary that others are wrong. . . We do not seek to convince, convert, or oppress others,…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 11, 2012 at 1:00pm — 7 Comments

The Ignorance of Religion

"Mystery [the divinity of Jesus Christ] is made a convenient Cover for absurdity."

John Adams

 

"Every other sect suppos[es] itself in possession of all truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong: like a man traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, tho' in…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 10, 2012 at 11:30am — 5 Comments

In memoriam: Jimmy Heimlich

“An inch ahead, total darkness.”

Zen saying

“I turned to speak to God

About the world’s despair;

But to make matters worse

I found God wasn’t there.”

Robert Frost



Indulge me (once again) by considering this post (originally posted on www.thejewishatheist.com on Dec. 12, 2011) to be cathartic and therapeutic.  A little…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 9, 2012 at 3:29pm — No Comments

Jewish Atheist takes on sacred cow -- forgiveness

The latest eruption of forgiveness worship almost made my breakfast erupt from my stomach.  Dear Abby (Keene NH Sentinel, 3/7/12) printed DECIDE TO FORGIVE in its entirety, and to give the enemy his due, I will do the same:

Decide to forgive, for resentment is negative. Resentment diminishes and devours the self. Be the first to forgive, to smile, and take the first step And you will see the happiness bloom on the face of your human brother or sister. Be always the…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 8, 2012 at 2:11pm — No Comments

Bible's undeserved respect goes on and on

“Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable.”

H.L. Mencken

Infidel, n.  In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does.”

Ambrose Bierce

“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.’

Isaac Asimov

“Our Bible reveals to us the character of our God with minute and remorseless…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 7, 2012 at 8:29pm — 7 Comments

On Death and Christopher Hitchens

“If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.”

Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great

“There is nothing that is too obvious of an absurdity to be firmly planted in the human head as long as you begin to instill before the age of five by constantly repeating it with an air of great seriousness.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

“Hardest of deaths…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 7, 2012 at 10:40am — 6 Comments

(By no means the last word) On Jewishness

 

A professional colleague and email buddy makes some comments on Jews, then adds:  "I hope my philo-Semitism doesn't seem condescending or questionable.  I've read some Jewish writers who abhor it."

Well, if guys like, say, Philip Roth or Saul Bellow resent lionizing the Jew, I know why.  Jews are liable, like every group, to selective observation,…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 6, 2012 at 1:54pm — 4 Comments

The cat, the flashlight, and the fragility of science

“Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.”

Hippocrates

“If the kind of God exists who would damn me for not working out a deal with him, then that is unfortunate.  I should not care to spend eternity in the company of such a person.”

Mary McCarthy

“Prayer  is like a rocking chair: It’ll give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”

Gypsy Rose Lee

If I…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 6, 2012 at 1:45pm — 4 Comments

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?"

“The Bible.  That is what fools have written, what imbeciles command, what rogues teach, and young children are made to learn by heart.”

Voltaire

“CHRISTIAN:  One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.”

Ambrose Bierce

“The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all…

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Added by Alan Perlman on June 2, 2012 at 1:10pm — No Comments

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