Scientology

I’m not fan of religion.  I consider all of them creepy and weird, if not potentially very harmful for a variety of reasons.  Even so, religion and “weird beliefs” in general are among my favorite topics of discussion.  How great for me, then, that I host an internet radio show and podcast, Strange Frequencies Radio, that is all about digging into this kind of stuff!

Recently, my friend Bobby and I talked to Mark Bunker about Scientology.  Mark runs the website XenuTV and is an ardent and educated critic of this particular cult.  I now know why Scientology doles out only a little information about it at a time to their adherents.  Hearing so much of it at once from Mr. Bunker was mind boggling!

Scientology may be creepy and weird, but their practices are also terrifying.  If you would like to learn more about it, or just want to hear from someone as knowledge as Mark Bunker, check out this interview we did with him and be sure to check out his website as well for a wealth of further information.

http://strangefrequenciesradio.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/episode-206-mark-bunker-on-scientology/

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Kirk Cameron’s Dark Age Thinking

The following article appeared in my “Soupernatural” column in Issue #10 of The Bent Spoon Magazine.  For other interesting topics in the world of the weird, download  any issue COMPLETELY FREE by visiting http://www.thebentspoonmag.com

Homophobia has been in the news a lot lately.  Republican presidential contenders such as Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have each taken stances against homosexuality and gay marriage that have bothered many.  And basketball star Jeremy Lin wears a wristband manufactured by Active Faith, a company with ties to Lakewood Church and the anti-homosexual views of its pastor, Joel Osteen.  It seems that, where negative sentiment about homosexuals is concerned, religion plays a vital role.

That pattern continued when Kirk Cameron appeared on Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show Friday, March 2nd, to promote his documentary, “Monumental.”  Cameron has long been outspoken, both in his faith in the Christian concept of god, and his contention that being gay is sinful.  So, once again, during the interview, the Dark Age thinking in his head poured out of his mouth.

When asked by Morgan his thoughts on gay marriage, Cameron first attempted to evade the question.  But that is not really surprising.  He must know, as do people like Joel Osteen, that when he discusses his anti-gay views in public, he is surely going to take criticism.  They must also be aware that it causes a number of gay people a great deal of emotional distress – particularly those who are Christians themselves, or who have been shunned by their fundamentalist Christian family.  Of course, that never seems to prevent them from saying, “No comment,” does it?

No.  Instead, Cameron opened his yap and talked about how being gay is not only “unnatural,” but also “destructive” to society.  It is the kind of homophobic speech one has heard before; typical not only in its hatefulness, but for its lack of basis in any kind of factual reality.

Homosexuality occurs in a large variety of species in the natural world.  At least 450 by some counts.  Attention Kirk Cameron:  that makes homosexuality natural.  Please stop using your ridiculous and antiquated logic to justify your own homophobia.  The idea that gay people exist may bother you, I really don’t know.  But taking this unsupportable and demonstrably untrue stance is futile.

Many are also interested in what history books he has been reading that teach homosexuality has led to the destruction of societies.  The Bible he believes in as the word of god certainly isn’t a history book.  But then, nor does it even count homosexuality in violation of the Ten Commandments.  So, even if God exists, He doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with gay people.  He just keeps on creating them.  So then, which responsible history book shows how the presence of gay people caused society to crumble around them?  Never happened, folks.  And Cameron knows it.  This, in my opinion, is nothing more than another weak attempt to reconcile his own personal problems with the homosexuality in the world he sees as being diametrically opposed to his values.

Now, of course, Kirk Cameron has the right to his beliefs, and the right to speak his mind.  But so, too, do people who find his beliefs disgusting.  Cameron’s supporters are angry at those knocking him because he is, as they say, “only expressing an opinion.”  They say he has Freedom of Speech.  He does, indeed.  What he does not have, however, is a Freedom from Criticism.

Kirk Cameron and his supporters would be wise to learn the difference.

NOTES:

* A clip from Kirk Cameron’s appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS4OqDvhprA

What Atheism is and is not

I’m not the loudest, most abrasive atheist in the world.  I’d be willing to bet that a lot of people who know me in person have no idea that I am an atheist at all.  It simply isn’t something I go out of my way to talk about.  Mostly because I don’t like arguing and, from what experiences I have had, religion is something best left out of most polite discourse.

Still, if the subject comes up naturally, or I am asked, sure, I will talk about atheism.  If someone wants to know what my beliefs are, or what I don’t believe in, I’m happy to explain.  But in this case, I feel compelled to write something because I am tired of hearing educated people misrepresent what atheism is so they can score a quick point with their social circle.

My friend Thad is a Mormon, and he recently posted a link to his Google+ page of a Mormon testimony as written by geophysicist Jeff Wynn.  Thad and I have had great conversations about Mormonism, his beliefs, and how they have been misconstrued by the public.  We have had disagreements over matters of faith, certainly, but it has always been respectful, and that is why I’ve appreciated the dialogue so much.  But Wynn’s comments disappointed me because they are so clearly uneducated:

In my junior year as a physics major at Berkeley, I realized that the belief system of an atheist had at least as many unproven assumptions as—and fewer explanations than—the belief system of any adherent of faith. Explain the Anthropic Principle, or what preceded the Big Bang. The unprovable idea of a Multiverse? That won’t even pass for a theory, much less a scientific hypothesis—it’s untestable, so by definition is not science.

So which is the more assumptive, i.e., non-scientific belief system?

Jeff Wynn is a fine scientist, I’m sure.  But what he exhibits here is lazy intellectualism.  Atheism is the rejection of belief in Gods.  Atheism is not itself a belief system, nor does it have a set of worldviews one must adhere to or assume.  It is, in fact, the null hypothesis.

I am an atheist for the same reason most any other atheist is – I’ve examined the arguments for the existence of God and find them unconvincing and, often, logically invalid.  Show me evidence that God exists, and I’ll change my mind.  Can the same be said of a believer?  Science has been explaining the things God was said to be responsible for for years, and yet their belief persists.  I have many Christian friends, for instance, who say that their beliefs are a matter of faith and, as such, they will not change their mind no matter what the evidence says.  Isn’t this the very definition of being close-minded?

It is certainly true that I don’t know what happened before the Big Bang.  Neither does Mr. Wynn.  I can say that scientists are working on it, and may eventually have an answer.  But for him to therefore insert a God without evidence is lazy, and yes, exactly the type of unproven assumption he appears to dislike.  It is the same, tired “God of the Gaps” argument that theists have been clinging to for years.

As far as the Anthropic principle and ideas about a Multiverse go, I don’t know enough to comment much on them.  I know the Anthropic principle is more of a philosophical argument, and that the Multiverse idea is one that is being highly contested and debated in scientific circles.  Wynn makes the mistake of assuming these scientific ideas are presented as tenets of atheism and then railing against them to make his case.  Not true.  But then, it’s much easier to knock a Straw Man down, isn’t it?

Wynn, of course, is not alone in misconstruing atheism to hold themselves up.  Many Christians I have known say such silly things as, “If you’re an atheist then you can’t have morality”  Or “Oh, you’re an atheist, so you must believe in nothing.”  It’s all very weak, but a testament to their lack of understanding of what atheism is.

Lately I have been a little more open about my thoughts on God and religion.  I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve at least taken the time to educate myself and can defend my position of non-belief.  If we’re going to discuss these matters, each of us should have an understanding of the other’s point of view, wouldn’t you agree?  So all I ask of people like Jeff Wynn is that they find out what atheism is before they open their mouth and remove all doubt of their ignorance on the subject.  If you don’t want to read informed articles or books on the topic and would prefer asking someone who considers themselves to be an atheist, I’d be happy to help.  Just drop me a line.  I’m not going to argue with you or go out of my way to convince you that you’re wrong.  I’m much too easygoing for that.

Okay, that’s enough out of me.  Good seeing you.