April 20, 2014

Zombie Jesus is Risen

Sweet Zombie JesusThe phrase "He is Risen" inevitably shows up this time of year in the form of Christian propaganda, and it has always grated on me. Thus, I figured I might as well mock it with the title of this post.

Christians have co-opted a number of holidays, creating their own mythology around them to great effect. We atheists should be able to do the same minus all the religious nonsense, of course. And this is exactly what we have done with Zombie Jesus Day.

The notion that Zombie Jesus returns each year on Easter Sunday and prowls the Earth devouring brains is a great story on which to base a holiday. It is fun, and it mocks the absurdity of the Easter story while containing a great metaphor (i.e., Zombie Jesus devours brains in much the same way Christianity seems to). What's not to like?

We all need an excuse for silly fun from time-to-time, and the growing popularity of Zombie Jesus events suggest that this particular one may be here to stay. And to the Christians who get upset over all the silliness, I'll just point out that the myth of Zombie Jesus really isn't any stranger than what you believe. And of course, we recognize that ours is a myth too.

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

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April 18, 2014

Zombie Jesus Weekend is Finally Here

Zombie Jesus at Mama's Royal Cafe

You might think I'd have grown tired of the Zombie Jesus meme by now, but you'd be wrong. I continue to be fascinated with the zombie genre and the notion that someone who returns from the dead is in fact a zombie. I also continue to think that a belief system that is both irrational and destructive might have earned a bit of gentle mocking.

Today is Dead Jesus Day, and I enjoyed the day off work. Actually, I still worked but did so from home, and that beats the hell out of having to go to work. The day did kind of creep up on me this year. I've been so busy that I almost forgot that this is Zombie Jesus Weekend.

Things may be a bit quiet around here since I'll likely be out celebrating some of the more bizarre local festivities. So here's hoping that you and yours have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. And as always, be sure to escape the superstition with your brains in tact!

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April 17, 2014

Atheism and the Decline of Religion in the U.S.

United States
United States (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)
There is some evidence that certain indicators of religiosity appear to be going through a slight decline in the United States. That is the good news. The bad news is that the size of the apparent decline in most of these indicators is quite small and tends to be limited to comparisons between generational cohorts (e.g., the so-called Millennials aged 18-29 vs. other generations). And the really bad news is that some of us (and I can find fault with myself here too) seem determined to spin the numbers as being far more meaningful than they probably are.

No Use for the Christian Bible

Here are some highlights from the American Bible Society's State of the Bible 2014 poll, one of the more recent surveys you have been hearing about around the atheist blogosphere:
  • There was a slight decline in the number of people listing the Christian bible when asked about "holy" books between 2011 and 2014. In 2011, 86% of respondents mentioned the Christian bible as compared with 79% in 2014.
  • 50% of Americans surveyed strongly agree that the Christian bible "contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life," and this percentage is essentially unchanged from 2013 and 2011.
  • 50% of Americans surveyed indicated that the Christian bible has "too little influence" in U.S. society compared with only 16% who said it has too much influence. The number believing it has too little influence has decreased slightly since 2013 (i.e., declined by about 6 percentage points).
  • Millennials are "far more likely than average" to say that the Christian bible has too much influence on society "(30% compared to 50% of all adults)." The number of Millennials saying that the Christian bible has too little influence (30%) has declined from 44% in 2011.
  • In spite of the numbers reported above, 26% of respondents indicated that they have never read the Christian bible.
  • 30% of those surveyed said that the Christian bible is the "inspired word" of some sort of god and "has no errors, although some verses are meant to be symbolic" while another 23% view it as "the actual Word" of some sort of god and insist that it should be taken literally, "word for word." Only 18% "express strong skepticism of Scripture..." These numbers were all stable over time, except for the number saying the Christian bible is "just another book of good teachings" is now 18% compared with 11% in 2007.

April 15, 2014

Technology Undermining Religion

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Farsi Wikipedia for the 13th week, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even though we all benefit greatly from technology, we are also quite fond of complaining about it. It is becoming almost cliche to complain about how technology is supposed to make our lives easier but has instead introduced all sorts of new problems that end up detracting from how we live. There is some truth to this, at least in the sense that technology has become something besides a tool for simplifying the way we do tasks. It has transformed the way we live, and some people have found these transformations to be rather negative. Just look, they say, at how the technology of the Internet has undermined the hold of religious belief on our society.

I think that part of the reason we complain is that we are quick to take technological advances for granted. Once we become accustomed to them, we no longer perceive them as remarkable. At least, not until something happens that leads us to reflect on just how remarkable some of our modern technology is.

A few months ago, I found myself in my car late on a Sunday night careening through what little traffic there was. I was I had one hand on the wheel and one on my dog, who was laying on a towel covering the back seat and covered with blood. So much blood. I tried to call the vet, but of course they were closed on Sundays (Jesus and all). They had given me the name of an emergency vet, which was naturally located about as far away as possible while still managing to be located in the same town. I was heading in that direction as quickly as I could but had no idea where it was. I was close to panic.

April 13, 2014

Easter is Coming, Churches are Advertising

easter
I scanned the image to the right after it showed up in my mailbox last week in the form of a slick 5x7 postcard. The back is an invitation to attend Easter services at the largest Southern Baptist megachurch in the town where I live.

Based on the quality of the thick card stock and the colorful, glossy image, I have to assume these were not inexpensive to print and mail. It seems like something far more positive than boosting their attendance for a day could have been accomplished with this money. Then again, I suppose increased attendance would likely lead to increased donations.

How cynical of me! Aren't they doing this mostly to spread the "good news" in which they claim to believe? Maybe. I'm not quite ready to rule that out as a possible explanation. But more and more, I find myself suspicious that most Christians living in the United States today do not genuinely believe much of what they claim to believe. At least, very few seem to live their lives as if they believed much of what they say they believe. This often looks like hypocrisy, but I suppose it could be something else. Perhaps Christians find strength, social acceptance, or other benefits from their claims of belief.

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