In case you need to be reminded that religious doctrine is ever-changing, yet consistently arbitrary. Serious people will be debating the “true meaning” of this ruling regarding ugly rubber shoes for centuries to come.

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists. Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests.  
 
Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.  
Gone are the days when Nigerian pastors were satisfied with flying (never mind economy class) business or first class on their travels to win souls. Now they need a jet and signed copies of the Forbes magazine to shoo us (mere mortals) out of the way to reach their half starving flocks faster?
A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a "fairy story" for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking has said.  
 
In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain's most eminent scientist said there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time.  
 
Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, shares his thoughts on death, human purpose and our chance existence in an exclusive interview with the Guardian today.  
 
The incurable illness was expected to kill Hawking within a few years of its symptoms arising, an outlook that turned the young scientist to Wagner, but ultimately led him to enjoy life more, he has said, despite the cloud hanging over his future.  
 
"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first," he said.
Christopher Hitchens was scheduled to appear at the American Atheist convention, but had to cancel because of his illness. He sent this letter instead.
Fertility Goddess Asherah:
Posted by dorian in gods 7 years ago
Was 'God's Wife' Edited Out of the Bible?  
 
Some scholars say early versions of the Bible featured Asherah, a powerful fertility goddess who may have been God's wife.  
 
Research by Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, unearthed clues to her identity, but good luck finding mention of her in the Bible. If Stavrakopoulou is right, heavy-handed male editors of the text all but removed her from the sacred book.
Are Muslims Terrorists?
Posted by Darwish in gods 7 years ago
A website to help answer the question, "Are Muslims terrorists?"
My Faith My Voice
Posted by Darwish in gods 7 years ago
Who We Are  
 
My Faith My Voice is a grassroots effort by American Muslims from across the country looking to present their voice on issues affecting Muslims and Islam in America. It is an independent network of individuals that collectively claim no affiliation to any one organization or school of thought.  
 
What We Do  
 
My Faith My Voice serves as a platform for you, me or any one else who wants to reach out and talk directly to America. Through video clips and online social media outreach, we serve to make the voices of the grassroots available to those who choose to hear them.
What Egyptians Really Want
Posted by Mac in gods 7 years ago
Among highlights from the Pew poll:  
 
• 49% of Egyptians say Islam plays only a "small role" in public affairs under President Hosni Mubarak, while 95% prefer the religion play a "large role in politics."  
 
• 84% favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith.  
 
• 82% support stoning adulterers.  
 
• 77% think thieves should have their hands cut off.  
 
• 54% support a law segregating women from men in the workplace.  
 
• 54% believe suicide bombings that kill civilians can be justified.
26 pages of inside information from film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis.  
Before becoming Scientology’s spokesperson, Davis was a senior vice-president of the church’s Celebrity Centre International network.
 
 
“I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”
A photoblog dedicated to highlighting the conditions of womens prayer spaces in mosques (i.e., masjids).  
 
From the author:  
"Why create this photoblog? Simply because the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “None of you truly believes, until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”  
 
Judging from my own experiences and those of others (just look at the comments on The Penalty Box post) there is a need to advocate for better conditions and prayer space accommodations in our mosques."
Churches Find End Is Nigh
Posted by dorian in gods 7 years ago
Residential and commercial real-estate owners aren't the only ones losing their properties to foreclosure. The past few years have seen a rapid acceleration in the number of churches losing their sanctuaries because they can't pay the mortgage.  
 
Just as homeowners borrowed too much or built too big during boom times, many churches did the same and now are struggling as their congregations shrink and collections fall owing to rising unemployment and a weak economy.  
 
Since 2008, nearly 200 religious facilities have been foreclosed on by banks, up from eight during the previous two years and virtually none in the decade before that.
Picture this: millions of followers gathering around a central shrine that looks like a giant UFO in elaborately choreographed Nuremberg-style rallies; missionary outposts in 31 countries from Germany to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; an evangelist vision that seeks to promote a "world morality restoration project"; and a V-Star program that encourages hundreds of thousands of children to improve "positive moral behavior." Although the Bangkok-based Dhammakaya movement dons saffron robes, not brown shirts, its flamboyant ceremonies have become increasingly bold displays of power for this cult-like Buddhist group that was founded in the 1970s, ironically, as a reform movement opposed to the excesses of organized religion in Thailand.  
 
Yet, despite the pageantry, the inner workings of this fast-growing movement are little known to Thailand's general public, and certainly to the rest of the world, though its teachings loom large among the legions of devotees. The veil of secrecy parted briefly in late 1999, when two top Dhammakaya leaders were charged with embezzlement in what many considered a political ploy to suppress the temple's growing power. The charges were dismissed in 2006 after the former abbot and a colleague returned some land and nearly 1 billion baht ($32 million) to temple control.
It being 25 years since L Ron croaked (or abandoned his body to continue his researches on a planet in a distant galaxy, which is what Tom Cruise and John Travolta believe, and Jerry Seinfeld, Van Morrison and Sharon Stone used to believe, or at least are believed to believe or have believed) it seemed only fair to read Dianetics and a bit of L Ron’s other stuff – Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 and the Ole Doc Methuselah stories from Astounding magazine – to see how he might have done it.  
 
And the answer is: it’s a complete bloody mystery, and not just because Dianetics is obviously nonsense. Everything is obviously nonsense. What are you telling me? When the gentleman loves the lady very very much, he climbs on top and is excused into her? And she lets him? And then there’s a baby? Excuse me? It’s ridiculous. All of it. God, Allah, Elohim, Mithras, Zeus, atoms, quarks, the Higgs boson, genes, gravity, germs: all b*llocks. All, to put it another way, stories. We may think that supersymmetry or, even more scarily, M-theory are somehow truer or more real but that’s because most of us can’t see that mathematics is another language for telling stories in – indeed, stories in which the most important thing, just as in Athenian tragedy, is not that they are necessarily true but that they are internally coherent.  
 
So what’s egregious about Dianetics? Never mind that it’s b*llocks. We’ve dealt with that. Why is it more b*llocks than Christianity? Why is it such a mad idea that we are actually the – I’ve probably got this wrong but it’s late and because of reading Dianetics I think I may have gone mad – invisible spirits of Thetans from a different galaxy, struggling with an accretion of spiritual vegetative matter which needs to be removed with constant application of money and a thing called an e-meter which doesn’t actually do anything except cost over $4,000, which is a pretty good return on a sort of Wheatstone bridge made from around £20-worth of components you could get from Maplin? And when that’s all done, you’re in the clear and can go on to some kind of new life.  
 
> further down an interesting comment by a mr. helix barkaway
Hate E-mails with Richard Dawkins
Posted by dorian in gods 7 years ago
He reads some of his hate mail. An excerpt from the video entitled "Richard Dawkins Answers Reddit Questions," which can be found on from the RichardDawkinsDotNet channel.  
 
a jolly good laugh