Thursday, July 29, 2010

I pledge allegiance...

The ongoing debate over the Pledge in schools has caused a lot of outcry from the Christian ranks. They claim removing the recital of the Pledge from schools is another attempt to undermine the values upon which they believe this country was founded. Those who wish to remove this tradition from the daily routine of the classroom don't object to a show of patriotism and respect, they only take issue with two words: "under God." The answer to this seems simple- why not revert to the original version (1892), or at least the 1923 version:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Notice the conspicuous absence of those two pesky words. Maybe this country wasn't founded on the ideals that some claim. Maybe they would be surprised to learn that a writer of another great document in our nation's history, Thomas Jefferson (Declaration of Independence), was in fact, an atheist.

So let's dispel this delusion that to be patriotic one must be Christian. I believe the most patriotic position is that of tolerance and freedom of choice, the opposite stand of mainstream Christian voices.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CCC: Earthquakes 101

RR: "Welcome class, to Earthquakes 101 here at Christian Community College. I'm your professor, Reverend Rick. Today we will be discussing the earthquake in Haiti. 6 months ago, a devastating earthquake left Haiti in a pile of rubble. We will look at how and why this terrible disaster happened."
Independent Thinker: "I know how earthquakes happen, Rev Rick. They are the result of shifts in tetonic plates."
RR: (Completely ignoring IT's comment) "The Haitian people made a deal with Satan and have been worshipping darkness for generations. God sent visited this devastation upon them as punishment for their evil ways."
IT: "Isn't Roman Catholicism the national religion of Haiti?"
RR: "That's just a cover-up by the government to hide their voodoo rituals from decent society. Moving on, God unleashed his wrath on the Haitian people in the form of this terrible earthquake. Can anyone tell me why God is angry at them?"
Brain-Washed Student: "Because God is a jealous god who has commanded 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' and wanted Haitians to stop worshipping Satan and spirits?"
RR: "That's right, BWS. This was a warning. If they don't change their ways, they might be wiped out like Sodom and Gomorrah."
IT: "Sounds more like a pouty kid trying to get attention than an all-powerful god to me. What did he do, stamp his foot and make the earth shake? That sounds way more likely than plates under the earth's crust shifting."
RR: "I don't appreciate your tone, IT. I'm assigning you a research project to assist in tomorrow's lecture."
IT: "Research, seriously?"
RR: "I want you to look up statistics on earthquakes. Find out how many occur each year, their strength and the amount of damage. I want to show the class how rare a quake as massive as this are and what a record number of people died and how as the world moves farther away from God, there are more and more quakes."
The next day...
IT: "My research shows that earthquakes are random events with magnitudes and frequencies all over the board. While there does seem to be a bit of an increase in recent years of stronger quakes, this is likely due to natural processes. Although this particular quake was quite strong, the USGS lists over twenty of a stronger magnitude world-wide since then. The extreme damage incurred in Haiti is due to poor structural integrity and large population of the urban Port-au-Prince area. Most other quakes occurred in less populated areas and/or in places with stricter building standards."
RR: (obviously surprised at the facts differing from his theory) "Thank you for your research, IT. Moving on, let's take a quick peek at next week's topic: 'Hedonism in Hollywood: Why California is prone to Earthquakes'. Class dismissed."

Author's Note: This fictional college scene is based on an actual conversation I had with my father, a lay minister, after his relief trip to Haiti. For further research, please visit to see a year-by-year breakdown of quakes world-wide. This post in no way intends to make light of the suffering of victims of this and other natural disasters.

Religious Education: An Oxymoron

So I heard an ad today for a Catholic school on the radio. They were explaining the consolidation of the schools in a local district and said how they hoped they could "keep your children in the Catholic education system." I found this interesting. Imagine if you heard an ad that went like this:
"Send your children to us to learn dead languages, superstition and dogma. Our classes will fully prepare them for a future of fear and guilt."
I suppose it would appeal to those who have no wish to communicate in a global market or understand the emerging science of a new millennium. As a mother, however, I would prefer to give my child the best possible educational foundation for her future. I want her to know that there are microwave signatures at the center of the universe, clear evidence of a big bang. I hope she chooses a language class that will be useful, maybe something Asian since there are such rapidly growing economies in China and India. I want her to grow up full of curiosity: I want her to look at the stars and wonder how many have already exploded into supernovas before their light reached us, not simply say "Wow, God made it so pretty."
I guess my point here is that religion would have us believe that a supernatural being made everything and would rather we didn't ask how. That is in direct opposition to the goals of education.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

a link to check out

This story from NPR is a wonderful (although very upsetting) example of why I blame organized religion for the vast majority of the problems in this world.

Give it a read, do your own research, and return to discuss.


Hello. If you are here, you probably fall into one of two categories. You may be one of those devout types of any flavor looking for people to harass or use as examples. Or you may be one of those who prefers actual evidence on which to base their ideas. If you are belong to the former group, you are welcome to keep reading, and who knows, you might learn something. If you belong to the latter category, you are a minority in this country. Depending on the source, estimates for our population average around 3% of Americans. So welcome to a blog full of science, reason and independent thought and completely deviod of magic, superstition and cat pictures with grammatically incorrect captions.