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June 18, 2009

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Russell Redux

June 18, 2009

Frankly, however, the aspects of Russell’s thought that I consider most relevant still to people today concern his politics and his writings on morality. Unlike many progressives during his lifetime, Russell recognized early on that the communist regime of the Soviet Union was a disaster for its citizens and for humanity at large, and was accordingly publicly very critical of it. In a typical fashion, here is how he managed to attack the Soviet revolution and the Catholic Church in one paragraph:


“One who believes as I do, that free intellect is the chief engine of human progress, cannot but be fundamentally opposed to Bolshevism as much as to the Church of Rome. The hopes which inspire communism are, in the main, as admirable as those instilled by the Sermon on the Mount, but they are held as fanatically and are as likely to do as much harm.”

I have never had the chance to read much of Russell except for a multi-pound volume titled “History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day,” which I still have not finished but hope to by year’s end (I think I’m up to the Renaissance). However, anyone with the philosophical gust to write a book titled “Why I Am Not a Christian,” in 1927, deserves to be saluted for his willingness to offer up an unpopular world-view when blasphemy was still a crime in some parts of the Western world (an unfortunately re-emerging trend).

Thanks to Dr. Pigliucci for pointing our Russell’s contributions.


A Picture’s Worth Thousands of Votes

June 18, 2009

Blogger Loft965 offers proof that the Iranian elections were rigged:

“Two screenshots Iranian state-run television illustrating the apparent decrease in votes for candidate Mohsen Rezaee over a four hour period. The upper picture shows Rezaee with 633,048 votes at 09:47; the lower shows the same candidate with 587,913 votes at 13:53 later that day, a decrease of 45,135.”

Is the presence of a theocracy an automatic inducement for fraud, assuming the theocrats in power believe they are serving some “greater good” by cheating

Obviously, the urge to cheat in elections is not limited to government type — it’s been done in democracies and in communist states. However, one wonders if those who think they are representing a god in government fail to see the wrongness in their actions since they believe they cannot do wrong.


Quote of the Day

June 18, 2009

MarkTwainBed“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

– Mark Twain


This I believe…for now

June 17, 2009

I have just posted a new page on the blog titled “My Beliefs.” Feel free to read through them and comment — agree, disagree, call me a free-thinker or hell-bound heathen. Let’s discuss. Keep in mind like the rest of my body, the beliefs produced by my limited brain will likely change in minor ways (most of these are pretty solid) over time.


When will religions stop advocating violence?

June 17, 2009

Christian minister David Bayly seems to give tacit support of killing in the name of religion in the following sermon on the heels of the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller (who was killed at his church).

Bayly said:

* Violence is not always wrong. Killing is not always forbidden. Opposition to abortion does not obligate us to oppose all forms of killing. In saying this I make a biblically defensible statement. God has given the power of the sword to the state so that it may judge and execute judgment. This is true internationally and locally. Condemnation of the vile sin of abortion, the murder of an infant, an innocent, in its mother’s womb is not the same as the death penalty, properly applied.

* Nor do I believe that Dr. Tiller’s killer necessarily acted inappropriately as self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. Like the couple who boldly went into the tent before the congregation at Peor and were immediately killed by Phinehas, Dr. Tiller’s bold practice of the indefensible, his brazen boasting of his practice rendered judge and jury superfluous. He was self-accused and self-convicted.”

During a time when any person dedicated to peace and kindness should have naturally condemned Tiller’s murder, this supposed follower of Jesus Christ chose to say “Well, maybe Tiller got what he deserved.” What a violation of the trust that should be implicit in the relationship between a religious leader and his congregation. So much for “Love thy neighbor.” Replace that with “Feeling lucky, Punk?”


Finding Meaning Outside of Theism….

June 17, 2009

This video provides an interesting response to those who ask the non-theist, “How can your life have meaning without (fill in the person’s chosen religion)?

I resonate deeply with astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “sermon” in the video about forming a connection with the cosmos. That defines non-theistic religion for me.