On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.That finding might surprise some, but not Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, an advocacy group for nonbelievers that was founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”
Monthly Archives: September 2010
The religious message is “less clear when you wear an Om and you have no idea what it means,” says Prothero. “Smooshing the Buddha together with a cross and star of David has a clearer message of someone who is spiritual and doesn’t belong to one religion.”He adds that even though all of these symbols may be floating through the fashion world on shiny gold bangles or set with diamonds, people should be religiously literate and know what the symbols they’re wearing stand for. “I’m torn. Sometimes I do get annoyed when venerable religious symbols get dumbed down, but when has it never been like that? Besides, all religions are just different paths up the same mountain.”
Of course, those who claim that the world’s religions are different paths up the same mountain do not deny the undeniable fact that they differ in some particulars… It is to deny that those differences matter, however. From this perspective, whether God has a body (yes, say Mormons; no, say Muslims) or whether human beings have souls (yes, say Hindus; no, say Buddhists) is of no account because, as Hindu teacher Swami Sivananda writes, “The fundamentals or essentials of all religions are the same. There is difference only in the nonessentials.”This is a lovely sentiment but it is untrue, disrespectful, and dangerous.
Intelligent people who hadn’t gone to college began to feel a great hole in their lives, and those who had gone could usually be relied upon to hide from them what is all too sadly the truth: they really haven’t missed all that much. Paul Goodman, the 1930s radical who became something of a guru during the student rebellions of the late 1960s and early ’70s, used to enjoy saying that all going to college meant was that in doing so a person showed how badly he or she wanted to succeed in society as currently constituted. Going to college entails a large expense, lots of useless work, and the acceptance of endless onerous, preposterous trivialities, all of which, Goodman liked pointing out, showed that any young man or woman who was willing to put up with this nonsense could be expected to put up with the even greater nonsense of boring and meaningless work later in life. College, in this view, functioned chiefly to turn out useful, moderately high-level drones, finely honed tools of capitalism.…Of course, undergraduate education is only ostensibly about producing the sound paper on T.S. Eliot or the Renaissance or the Reformation. What it’s really about, or at any rate is supposed to be about, is the development of young minds, teaching them how to think independently, how to combine common sense with proper skepticism, the whole given a fine texture by the attainment of an at first widened and later (after college, acquired on one’s own) greatly deepened culture. But what percentage of the 65 percent of Americans who regularly participate in one form or another of higher education do you suppose derive anything resembling such things from their education? I would set it at somewhere between 1 or 2 percent, though that may be too generous. Most people come away from college, happy souls, quite unscarred by what has gone on in the classroom. The education and culture they are presumably exposed to at college never lay a glove on them. This is the big dirty secret of higher education in America.This doesn’t mean that their having gone to college isn’t worth it. Not at all. On a strict accounting, a college education, expensively priced though it nowadays generally is, probably pays off as well as any investment. Endless studies show that young men and women who attend college earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more over a lifetime than those who, for one reason or another, do not go to college. Why should this be so? For the same reason that degrees in journalism, master’s degrees in business, and other (shall we politely say?) not strictly necessary degrees make for success: because, that is, people who have already paid for these overpriced appurtenances wish others to do so, forming a (not so) little group of those who have already pledged the fraternity.
Via PZ, this is funny:
In western countries in particular, a few years ago beards were often confused with a segment of society that reflected rebellion, namely the “hippy” movement of the 60’s and 70’s. It was felt that we should not in any way resemble those that reflected an attitude like this, or the drug culture that went along with it. We have to separate ourselves from that, and to have a beard a few years ago could be confusing, especially to an older generation of people at that time that were especially repulsed at the conduct of those of the younger generation. Even though we are some 30 or 40 years removed from that situation that existed during the late 60’s and early 70’s, it has been proven by experts that some people on some subconscious level do not trust a man with a beard. The underlying message that some get from a beard is that if you have one, you have something to hide, as if you are hiding behind the beard. I have even heard that idea expressed in sales courses that I have taken for secular activities. Beards are discouraged by some sales trainers because of the subconscious message that some people receive from a person with a beard, and some feel that a person without a beard generally speaking has a more professional appearance than a person who does.…In the 1950s, in the the USA, beards were widely unpopular among the general public and most men who wore one were immediately perceived as beatniks (and later, hippies). In that American, Cold War climate, a young man who didn’t sport a military-esque brush cut and bare chin was out-of-hand labeled a communist or homosexual.
Paul, the apostle, said something similar in 1Cor 11:14 about long hair being a dishonor to a man… Obviously Paul’s words were intended for his militant Roman contemporaries. That society started the cropped military haircut and clean-shaven face to keep lice to a minimum and avoid giving an enemy something to grab, in a skirmish.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but the perpetually aggrieved Bill Donohue is a steaming, whistling little teakettle of a man, forever boiling over one thing or another. What is it this time, Bill?
The pope did not go far enough. Radical atheists like the British Humanist Association should apologize for Hitler. But they should not stop there. They also need to issue an apology for the 67 million innocent men, women and children murdered under Stalin, and the 77 million innocent Chinese killed by Mao. Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all driven by a radical atheism, a militant and fundamentally dogmatic brand of secular extremism. It was this anti-religious impulse that allowed them to become mass murderers. By contrast, a grand total of 1,394 were killed during the 250 years of the Inquisition, most all of whom were murdered by secular authorities.
Yawn. Same old, same old. I’ve heard this so many times it’s starting to sound in my ears like the way adults talk in the Peanuts TV shows: Mwuh mwah muh mwah mwah mooah. Hitler an atheist? Nope. Stalin and Mao primarily driven by radical atheism? Pick your favorite response.
But let’s leave Mr. Donohue to his angry jitterbug on the stove burner and take a closer look at the more interesting theme here. One thing all three of those famous monsters actually had in common with Christianity was a belief in the teleological progression of history toward utopia, as well as in the redemptive, cleansing power of blood and violent sacrifice. Biblical scholars are united in saying that Jesus, assuming he actually existed as a historical person, was just one in a long line of Jewish apocalypticists. I know they don’t tend to emphasize this in devotional readings for some reason, but the entire point of his ministry was to prepare anyone who would listen for the coming end of the world, with violent retribution for all whom he felt deserving, followed by endless paradise. Since then, whether it’s based on visions of heaven, the classless society, or living in perfect harmony with nature, this idea that the ends justify the means pops up repeatedly throughout history. Utopia is waiting just around the bend, right after we get through the great purification by flood, fire, earthquakes or mass murder. It honestly has nothing to do with religion or the lack thereof. It’s an abstract concept of perfection that isn’t exclusive to anyone in particular.
As I’ve said before, I expect that we’re in for some hard times in the next few decades as the glory days of life in America fade further into the past, and we face choices over how far we’re willing to go to maintain our privileged position in the world, especially as nations like India and China look to get some of our standard of living for themselves. Perhaps some more equitable, balanced lifestyle will be the end result of our downward spiral, but human nature being what it is, I’m not optimistic. And because of that, I don’t see any reason to gleefully anticipate the chaos and upheaval that may come. Hell, I’d be happy to be wrong. For me, a rule of thumb is that if you’re so attached to your ideological convictions that you would rather see widespread suffering on a massive scale than to have to revise those convictions, if you can envision that sort of suffering while feeling smug over having accurately predicted it, you might just be the kind of zealot we’re talking about here.
With 17½ hours of work adorning my body, I’ve spent a fair amount of time hanging out in tattoo parlors, seeing some, uh, interesting artwork on some, uh, interesting people. But via Radley Balko, this link contains some of the funniest and/or most horrifying imagery I’ve ever seen. Most definitely, do not click through if you’re on a work computer.
Even the anti-chic can be made chic. A Canadian magazine, Adbusters, became somewhat famous for ridiculing the need to be chic. It is now one of the chicest journals around–“underground chic,” as it were. If you are not aware of this publication, you are definitely out of it, and not as good as the people who are aware of it and read it on a regular basis. You are leading a diminished, unchic life.This brings us to the causes of chic. If it really is as frivolous as it looks, why are we all doing it? Why does all of life finally boil down to high school? Alfred Adler, the psychoanalyst whose major concepts were “superiority complex” and “inferiority complex,” argued that the two were intimately related: the desire to be superior masked a deep sense of inferiority. If I care that much about being chic, it must be because I know, on some level, that I am terribly unchic. And this feeling of being inadequate, which dates from infancy, can finally never be overcome; which means that chicness is infinite: you can never be chic enough. Malraux was right: we never grow up.
Violent J learns how the infotainment sausage gets made:
To be honest with you, at one point—and this is what’s insane—they took my response to one question and edited it so I looked like I was responding to another question. And what’s scary to me is that this is Nightline. This is a respected piece of American journalism, and they were full of shit. That just makes me think, 90 percent of what I watch is full of shit. I couldn’t believe what they did with us, with the $10 million thing. He was so clever, the way he was saying, “No, no, no, Violent. I never said that, Violent.” It’s so clever what he’s doing—it was so clever! Then they had me sitting on the edge of my chair to make it look like I was getting mad. In reality, that was my response to another question. It was just so clever the way they did that.
Let me emblazon it here, in bold type, for the record: GAY PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. Period, full stop, the end, roll credits. Therefore, it logically follows that they should be able to pursue any form of employment they want, even in, say, the military.
Singing sensation Lady Gaga threw the full weight of her stardom Monday behind efforts to repeal a US ban on gays serving openly in the military, decrying it as “against all that we stand for as Americans.”…”Equality is the prime rib of America,” she told the crowd. “But because I’m gay I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer.”…”Doesn’t it seem to be that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is backwards?” she asked, observing that gay soldiers who “hold and harbor no hatred, no prejudice, no phobia, are sent home” while “homophobic” troops remain on the job.“If you are not honorable enough to fight without prejudice, go home!” she said in her fiery 20-minute speech before hugging veterans who had been dismissed by the US military because their sexual orientation was disclosed.
As odd as it may seem, Michael Vick may be the best thing that ever happened to the pit bull. He gave the forum to discuss this and make it possible to get the message out there that these dogs are not what they’ve been made out to be in the headlines, that they really are just sort of dogs. And a lot varies from each one to another and then how they’re raised and socialized and all of these issues that go around them. You can find the sweetest, most loving pit bulls in the world and you can find other dogs that are as mean as you want.