August 29, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Arriving

Looking out my window, I can tell that this is a bad one. The full force of the storm is not due to arrive here until this afternoon, but I'm already seeing fallen tree branches blowing down the street and trees bending in ways I haven't seen before. We have been told to plan on being without electricity for awhile, so I figured I'd try to post this before I lose power.

It is easy to see how our primitive ancestors believed that storms like this represented the wrath of god. Before meteorology, nobody understood what caused these storms. Their power is truly awesome to behold, and it makes sense that they would have been attributed to supernatural forces.

I was somewhat surprised by articles in our local paper containing quotes from several individuals referring to the "wrath of god," "will of god," and similar attributions. This shouldn't surprise me, but it does. I guess if I experience damage, it is the will of god. Therefore, victims of storm damage must have done something to displease god. Those who are spared must be "right with the lord."

I don't wish storm damage on anyone. I hope that we all - atheists and Christians alike - make it through this storm with minimal hardship. However, if that doesn't happen (and it probably won't), I certainly don't plan on condemning anyone. Rather, I hope I can find a way to be helpful.

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August 28, 2005

Tactics of the Atheist

We atheists need Christians far more than they need us. We are a tiny minority in the United States with minimal political power. In fact, it seems that any politician with a chance of being elected has to distance him/herself from us.

Most Christians in the United States do not consider themselves to be fundamentalists. Many oppose theocracy as much as we do (for admittedly different reasons) and vote for democratic candidates. Many believe that religion should be an important part of one's private life but should not be permitted to intrude into public (or at least political) life. These Christians could be powerful political allies, and they are allies that we cannot afford to lose.

It is time to examine our tactics and make some tough decisions. By continuing to voice our opposition to religious belief, we run the risk of alienating potential support from liberal Christians. Without their support, we are nothing but a group of fanatics that will be easily dismissed by Christian extremists and moderates alike. In fact, our very presence may provide a bridge between the extremist and moderate camps. We must give some attention to how our behavior is influencing how we are perceived and how these perceptions restrict our power.

I will continue to believe that religious belief, even in moderate forms, is dangerous. I will continue to be convinced that the plight of humanity would be improved by a gradual abandonment of religious belief. I will continue to oppose Christian extremism at every opportunity. However, I will be more careful about characterizing all Christians as unintelligent. I will be more careful about lumping all Christians in with the Christian extremists currently running America. Most of all, I will recognize that I have more in common with liberal Christians than they do with extremists. In order to beat the Christian right, we must build connections with progressive Christians. We must emphasize our common ground over our differences.

For some good ideas about improving our tactics, check out Active Atheism.

August 27, 2005

Introducing "Escapee from the Meme Machine"

If the number of requests for listings in the Atheism Online directory is any indication, we are experiencing steady growth in the number of atheistic blogs. One promising new blog is Escapee from the Meme Machine by Lya Kahlo. Check it out.

August 26, 2005

Pat Robertson's Blunder: A Different Interpretation

The blogosphere has been busy analyzing Pat Robertson's statement calling for the assassination of the Venezuela's leader. The general consensus appears to be that he is a Christian extremist of the most extreme and dangerous variety and that his comments should be vehemently opposed by persons of all faiths. Most reasonable Christians want to distance themselves from him, as well they should. I don't disagree with these responses. Robertson is a dangerous fanatic who continues to be the personification of everything wrong with fundamentalist Christianity. However, there are a couple of additional issues that need to be tossed into the analytic mix.

I suspect that Robertson's views, as despicable as they are, are shared by many politicians in the current administration. After all, America has long been in the business of overthrowing, discrediting, and even assassinating foreign leaders who interfere with American business interests. Venezuela has oil. For this reason, we have been meddling in their country for years. When they reject World Bank loans designed to indebt them to us so that we can drain their resources, more extreme measures are considered. This is what W's daddy did in Panama and what both he and W have been doing in Iraq. Under the banner of American imperialism, we have been promoting the interests of our controlling corporations abroad and eliminating opposition. This is nothing new, and in this context, Robertson's comment was not nearly as outlandish as it has been portrayed.

Politics aside, I suspect that a large portion of the American people would agree with Robertson's suggestion if they were provided with 3 pieces of information. First, Venezuela has huge oil reserves. Second, oil (and thus gasoline) prices are going to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Third, Venezuela's political leadership stands in the way of American corporations raiding their oil reserves for our use. Yes, with this information, I suspect that a great many Americans (not just Christian extremists) would agree with Robertson's statement.

So why the angry reaction to Robertson's statement? People don't like the idea of a preacher calling for someone's assassination. When the preacher is Christian, it makes it more difficult for us to distance ourselves from the Muslim fatwas. Nevermind the fact that the Christian bible is filled with tales of violence and suffering. Robertson's statement makes him appear un-Christian in the minds of a great many people.

However, I believe that the reaction to Robertson's statement is better explained by the observation that most Americans do not know how our country really works. They don't understand how the corporations have come to control politicians. They have heard of the military-industrial complex, but they don't spend much time thinking about how this apparatus actually works. The recognition that American policies permit continued poverty and starvation because it is in our economic interests to do so runs counter to our beliefs about what America is supposed to stand for. We don't like to face this realization, and so we turn away. When Robertson (or anyone else) reminds us of it, we react angrily.

Please don't interpret this post as a defense of Pat Robertson. It is not. My intent here is simply to expand the analysis by introducing some issues that I have not seen presented so far.

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August 24, 2005

On the Nature of Truth

For most Christians, it appears that "truth" ultimately boils down to what they believe. They are confident in their beliefs because of what is written in their bible. They are confident that what is written in their bible is true because they believe it is the word of god. For these Christians, belief/faith is taken as evidence of truth.

There is one and only one truth - the one reflected in external, objective reality. Did Karl Rove leak information about a CIA operative to the press? There is only one correct answer, and the correct answer corresponds to what actually happened in order to be called true. The measure of truth is simply correspondence with objective reality (i.e., what actually happened). While there may be multiple interpretations of this truth, only one can be true. Similarly, it is meaningless to talk about subjective or experiential truths. If I ate cereal for breakfast yesterday but strongly believe that I ate eggs instead, I am mistaken. The truth is that I ate cereal, and no amount of belief that I ate eggs can change that. To say that my experiential truth of having eaten eggs is somehow valid is absurd. It may be relevant, but it cannot be called truth.

John never believed in ghosts until he encountered one during a stay at an old hotel. The visceral experience he had during this encounter has convinced him of the existence of a spirit world. "I know it is true because I experienced it for myself." This is the old truth-through-revelation claim that is central to religion. But John's experience does not determine what it true because reality is independent of John and the manner in which he interprets his experience. Maybe John is mentally ill. Maybe John was feverish, under tremendous stress, or simply mistaken. Can his experience be confirmed, verified, replicated, etc.? If not, this cannot be considered anything more than John's interpretation of an event.

Sarah believes that the bible is the literal word of god and should be read from this perspective. She believes that the world is approximately 6,000 years old because of what Genesis says. Moreover, she does not consider this to be a belief at all but pure truth. Volumes of scientific evidence have accumulated that paint a very different picture of the age of the earth. In fact, the scientific community has reached consensus about this. "They are wrong," Sarah insists. She knows "the truth," and her "truth" is not going to yield to contradictory evidence. Again, what Sarah calls truth is based on her belief system and has no correspondence to reality. The fact that she can find others who profess the same belief has no bearing on its veracity. Worse, her continued insistence that her belief is correct in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is the very definition of delusion.

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August 23, 2005

"In God We Trust" Under Much Deserved Attack

Winston-Salem Journal | Petition revives case on motto

While I don't expect a positive outcome in this case given the increasingly conservative (i.e., fundamentalist Christian) make up of the court, I applaud the effort. Having "In God We Trust" on our currency and government buildings is as ludicrous as it would be to replace it with something like "On Unicorns We Ride." We are not a Christian nation, and trusting in something that doesn't exist is delusional. We trust in science. We trust in reason and logic. We trust in our ability to improve our present world.

Separation of church and state is a core American value that must be strengthened.

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August 21, 2005

Pope Links Liberal Democracy With Fascism

The pope has been in the news a great deal lately. First, he is hoping to obtain immunity for ignoring the pedophiles under his control. I wonder how W will play this. Given his fairly obvious desire to merge church and state, I'll be somewhat surprised if he doesn't grant the pope's request. After all, he wouldn't want to appear hostile to religion, would he?

While fascism is something that this particular pope knows a great deal about, it appears that he knows little about democracy. He is making a mistake by equating lack of religious belief with fascism (although I suspect Christian extremists will be happy to hear this).

Now he's calling for increased displays of religion in public as a solution for curbing violence. Yeah, I'm sure that will help.

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August 20, 2005

History Lessons the Christian Right Doesn't Want You to Know

Cover of "Freethinkers: A History of Amer...
Cover via Amazon
In this post, I will present 3 important examples of the impact of Christianity in the United States that the Christian right does not want us to remember. I have selected these examples out of many possible choices because they represent important chapters in American history in which secular Americans played a role and because they can easily be validated from newspaper articles, books, and sermons (yes, sermons) published at the time each event was happening. Thus, the revisionist history presented by the modern Christian right is simply ludicrous.

1. The majority of American Christians opposed the abolition of slavery and defended the institution of slavery as being the will of their god and justified by their bible. The more conservative they were in their religious beliefs, the stronger was their opposition to abolition.

2. The majority of American Christians opposed suffrage. Again, they used their bibles to argue that women should not have the right to vote. And again, the more conservative they were in their religious beliefs, the more vehement their opposition.

3. The majority of White American Christians opposed the civil rights movement. While some Catholics supported the goals of the movement, most fundamentalist Protestants did not. Many of the few White Christians who supported the movement were thrown out of their churches, demonized as atheists and/or communists, and deluged with hate mail from their Christian neighbors.

In each of these cases, we witnessed "culture wars" with secular freethinkers, repressed groups, and select liberal Protestants on one side and conservative Christians on the other. It helps put today's culture war in perspective, doesn't it? It also demonstrates a pattern of fundamentalists Christians being fundamentally wrong on important social issues.

For more information about the distinguished role of freethinkers, secular humanists, and atheists throughout American history, Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism is a great read.

August 19, 2005

Prayer in College Classrooms

Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century pop...
Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century popular image of penitence painted by Ary Scheffer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At three different universities (two state universities and one private liberal arts school), I have witnessed college students praying during class. For the most part, I observed this interesting phenomenon prior to examinations, usually while the professor was preparing to distribute them. Most of the prayers were silent, and I inferred prayer from the bowing of the head, the position of the hands, and the mouthing of "amen" at the end. Other times, the prayer were at least partially audible. Much less common are the few instances I have seen in which the prayers were entirely audible and delivered in a histrionic manner so that other students could easily hear what was being said.

The students who did not pray (the majority in every case) typically either ignored the praying students or laughed at them, sometimes elbowing their peers and pointing out a praying student. Many seemed to regard it as silly as I did. As a student, my reactions included a combination of disgust, pity, and humor. As an instructor, I find the behavior silly but common enough that it no longer provokes strong reactions. I marvel at the arrogance that would lead someone to believe that their god would intervene by helping them do better on an exam.

Movie Preview: This Divided State

This Divided State - Review - Movies - New York Times

This sounds like a good one. If any of you who live outside the bible belt and actually get a chance to see it, I'd like to hear what you thought.

August 18, 2005

Louisiana School Teachers Take Class on Prayer in Schools

The Sun Herald | 08/17/2005 | Teachers take class on prayer in schools

Taking a class to avoid future lawsuits sounds like a reasonable idea. If one assumes that continued ACLU actions have been necessary because individual teachers are ignorant of the law, a class might help.

Rather than explaining that prayer in schools is not appropriate, we read of the superintendent saying, "We can still pray but we just have to follow certain rules." Specifically, it is okay for a student to pray silently as long as it is not disruptive. Although it is not stated in this article, I would assume that this refers to prayer initiated by the student and not the teachers or administrators.

Do I have a problem with this? Surprisingly, no (and not just because I my recent salvation by the miracle of the Hawthorne tree). If an individual student chooses to pray silently in school, he or she should be able to do so. After all, silent prayer is no different from any other thoughts a person might have. We can't ban silent prayer any more than we could ban sexual fantasies about one's classmate! This has absolutely nothing to do with religious freedom; it is about the freedom of one's own thoughts.

What about silent prayer groups during school? This is a much more complicated issue because this is where peer pressure and the exclusion of religious minorities may kick in. It is difficult to set general policies on this issue. The use of publicly funded school facilities for religious activities is clearly unconstitutional. However, I have no problem with a group of students deciding to have an informal silent prayer session during lunch as long as it is not disruptive.

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'Face of Jesus' on Hawthorn Tree

BBC NEWS | England | Southern Counties | 'Face of Jesus' on hawthorn tree

Looks like I've been wrong all these years. This will be my last post to this blog because I'm converting to the most extreme form of fundamentalist Christianity I can find. This was the sign I have been waiting for. There really is a god, and this miracle proves it. Praise Jesus!

August 17, 2005

Christians Mix Faith, Business

Top Stories - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington

This article reminded me that I need to pay more attention to where I shop. If I ever encountered anything this bad, I would certainly take my business elsewhere. As it is, I try to support atheist/agnostic businesses when possible. See

August 16, 2005

Why Tolerate the Hate?

Why Tolerate the Hate?

Very interesting article here. Multiculturalism insists that we should tolerate all diversity, but I tend to agree with this author that there must be limits. Religious extremism is dangerous, whether it is radical Islam or fundamentalist Christianity. While I would certainly prefer to see religion fail due to the spread of rationality, intelligence, and compassion for others, it is difficult to remain hopeful that this will happen soon. Because of the threat posed by extremist groups, it just might be time to consider alternatives. Of course, I'm not expecting much while the American president and majority of congress are Christian extremists.

August 15, 2005

The Book of Job

holy bible
How many subjects can you think of that require apologetics, an entire discipline devoted to the mental gymnastics of convincing people that a book does not really mean what it says, that obvious contradictions really aren't contradictions, or that believing what one wants to be true is better than believing what is true? Yeah, I can only think of one as well.

In the book of Job, one of the many books contained in the bible some Christians regard as "holy" in spite of its contents, we find a nice little story about some sort of god and the devil torturing Job as part of a bet to test his faith. The god character, who is supposed to be the good one here, lets the devil kill Job's family and do all sorts of other terrible things to him. This is the god we are supposed to worship?

We are told repeatedly that this god can do anything, so it clearly has the power to stop the devil from committing such vile acts against Job. We are told at least as often that this god loves us. Assuming that this love extends to Job too, we must wonder why love does not seem to be associated with kind treatment. Is this is the "kind" and "loving god" we are expected to embrace? No thanks.

A god like this goes a long way toward explaining why some Christian extremists seem so bloodthirsty, but it teaches an even more important lesson. Put whatever spin on the story you like; to my mind, it exposes "moderate" Christianity for the danger that is is. Regardless of how you interpret it, the inescapable conclusion is that even those who call themselves moderate or liberal Christians claim to believe in this evil god. And yes, manipulating others by deliberately causing them tragedy just to see how they will respond is evil. This is your god? You can have it.

August 14, 2005

Atheists Face Discrimination Culture: Atheists claim discrimination (8/2/05)

From the title and tone of this article, it appears that the author is surprised that atheists could possibly "claim discrimination." I suppose this shouldn't be surprising considering the conservative nature of the source. Regardless, it is good to see some attention given to the issue of discrimination against people who choose not to believe in magic, superstition, gods, or other ridiculous notions. Intelligence is devalued in American society, and yet we wonder why our children are getting dumber.

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August 12, 2005

Falwell Says "Vote Christian;" I Say "You Need a History Lesson"

Falwell is at it again, calling on his supporters to "vote Christian" in 2008. He and his fellow Christian extremists clearly need a history lesson. If the founding fathers had intended to make America a Christian nation, they could have done it quite easily. Instead, they went out of their way to avoid such a mistake.

The establishment clause gets all the attention today, but there are other historical facts that make the framers' intent even clearer. First, the Constitution was modeled after Virginia's 1786 Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. With this legislation, Virginia stood apart from many of the other states by formally separating church and state. The framers could have used any of the other models (some which resembled theocracy), but they chose this one.

Second, article 6 section 3 of the Constitution states, " religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." In other words, persons may not be barred from public office because of their religious beliefs or the lack thereof. The Christian extremists at the time opposed this on the grounds that it permitted Jews and Catholics to hold office. This same section permits "Oath or Affirmation," showing that swearing on the bible was not a requirement for office.

Third, the word "god" does not appear in the Constitution. Today's Christian extremists claim that this omission happened because god's role was self-evident and did not require mention. However, there was considerable opposition at the time to the deliberate exclusion of god. The historical record clearly shows that this was an intentional decision that sparked great controversy. In other words, records from the time demonstrate that modern extremists are attempting to distort history when they make their claims. America was founded as a secular nation. This decision was controversial then just as it is now.

It is nice to see that the Falwell story is receiving some attention in the media. The public must be reminded of the lengths these Christian extremists will go to in order to distort history. Without their distortions, they would have a much harder time claiming that we nonbelievers are somehow un-American.

Giving credit where credit is due, the historical information cited in this post was obtained from Freethinkers : A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby.

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August 11, 2005

Virginia Court Upholds Law Requiring Pledge in Schools

Court upholds law requiring Pledge of Allegiance in schools -

I just ran across this disturbing news. Evidently, schools can force children to recite "One nation under god," and yet it is the Christians who are being persecuted.

Is Atheism the Answer?

Lightning over Oradea Romania zoomDefinitions of atheism vary, but most of us who use the label to describe ourselves would agree that an atheist is someone who lacks belief in gods. For some, it involves the belief that gods almost certainly do not exist (i.e., "strong atheism"). But for most of us, this is not necessary. Our position is that we have not yet been presented with sufficient evidence to support a belief in gods. If that were to change, we'd modify our position on the question of gods.

Admittedly, some people use atheism to refer to all sorts of things that extend well beyond its definition. A common example includes the rejection of anything supernatural (i.e., angels, demons, ghosts, miracles, etc.). This more expansive meaning is probably better described as "naturalism," "materialism," or a related term, but this can be debated another time. My focus for this post is on whether atheism is really where most of us are (or should be).

August 10, 2005

Meet Your Local Atheist - Voice of San Diego

Regional Talk - Voice of San Diego

This is a great article. In fact, this is probably the sort of thing we need to take every opportunity to do - educate the public by dispelling myths. Atheists are people too.

August 9, 2005

What If Religion Isn't the Core Problem?

Cover of "Confessions of an Economic Hit ...
Cover of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
As atheists, it is easy for us to see religion as being responsible for a great many world conflicts, considerable pain and suffering, etc. But what if this is only part of the story? The more I have read on politics and economics, the more I find myself questioning whether religion is truly the central problem facing humanity. Shocked? Me too.

What if the central problem facing humanity is imperialism (exemplified by the U.S.'s continuing quest for world dominance, use of manifest destiny, heartless globalization, and the like)? We invade other countries to preserve our oil supply. We engage in covert military and economic operations to ensure that less wealthy nations will remain indebted to us and that leaders who do not favor our national interests are eliminated. Our decisions are guided by what we see as our economic self-interest and do not reflect any genuine concern for human welfare. For example, we have no real incentive to end world hunger because it gives us continued leverage over other nations.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins compares America's role on the world stage to that of a mafia don. I'd like to take this metaphor a few steps beyond where he leaves it. Imagine American imperialism as the personification of a mafia don. He is holding a double-barreled shotgun. One barrel is patriotism. A blast from this barrel and the American people start chanting "USA! USA!" waving flags, saying things like "love it or leave it," and generally acting like morons who blindly support our government no matter what it does. We are better than any other country! We deserve to have the best of everything, and screw everybody else! As an American, it is my right to drive that massive SUV and to hell with anybody who says otherwise!

The second barrel of the gun is religion. You saw that coming, didn't you? A blast from this barrel and the American people are up in arms to protect their precious "culture." But what is their culture really? Consumerism. Believe what the pastors tell you, and never ask why they are so often Republican. People from other religions are simply obstacles that get in our way. Praise god, and turn off that intellect! God speaks through Bush and Cheney, so fall in line. How are we supposed to behave after 9/11? Go shopping. By purchasing things that we have been convinced we need, we can avoid confronting any hard truths about the terrorists' motives.

Under this model, religion and patriotism are powerful tools used to maintain the power of the corporate-run government (what Perkins calls "the corporatocracy"). Maybe those of us who get so worked up over religion are missing the big picture. Maybe the real problem is how religion and patriotism are used to manipulate people to serve the imperial interests.

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August 7, 2005

The History Channel on Hell and the Devil

English: Detail of work Heaven and Hell includ...
English: Detail of work Heaven and Hell including Devil/Dragon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm watching the History Channel again because they are showing a special called Hell: The Devil's Domain, which I couldn't resist. It turned out to be very interesting. So many thoughts...

According to the scholars (and I use the term somewhat loosely here), the Christian bible actually doesn't say much about hell. The clearest notion appears to be that hell is a state of separation from the invisible superman in the sky.

The show makes it quite clear that the modern images of the devil and hell with which we are all familiar were actually invented well after the time of the bible as a tool for the church to recruit followers. They talk about the early church finding symbolic references to the devil in the bible, even where he had not really been mentioned. Although hell and the devil were not mentioned all that frequently in the bible, their images came to dominate Christian art during the middle ages. The church even used these images as a way to demonize their opponents (e.g., Jews, Muslims, etc.). Thus, we see the intolerance for which Christians are so well known reflected in their art.

While most Christians appear to believe that hell is a metaphor, there are evidently some Christian extremists believe that hell is a physical place that is actually located in the center of the earth. I love it! I wonder why they don't oppose oil drilling. It seems like they'd be concerned that it would eventually let the devil climb up and run wild in the streets, causing people to have sex or something.

In modern times, I am convinced that belief in hell primarily serves three related functions. First, it scares little kids and feeble-minded persons into becoming Christians. It continues to be a powerful recruiting tool, as persons without critical thinking skills can be sucked in quite easily. Second, it provides Christians with a huge boost in self-esteem because it allows them to condemn others while feeling superior. Because they are "saved," they are better than you. Third, the concept of hell provides Christians with an excuse to treat others like dirt without feeling guilty. This is just an extension of the second function. If you disagree with them and are thus going to hell, it becomes easier to devalue and even dehumanize you. They can excuse their cruelty because you had your chance and are a lost soul. If their god is going to punish you, they might as well start. When their efforts to recruit you fail, look out.

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August 5, 2005

Interesting Conversation

While at work today, I was part of an interesting conversation that I figured I should share. A new co-worker (who started today) was talking with me and another co-worker. He was talking about how glad he was to be starting this job and explaining how sometimes life just seemed to provide exactly what was needed at the right time. He said something like, "I was writing in my journal a few weeks ago, and I was asking the universe to provide me with an opportunity for change. The next day I got the call (about the job)." My co-worker explained how happy we were to have him joining us and how desperate we had been to find him. Then she said something about how one of our other co-workers (the one who had found the new hire) "must have a direct connection to god." As I reeled and tried not to throw up (I had no idea that this co-worker standing before me was like this), the new guy calmly explained that he prefers to address the universe as it is more consistent with his Native American heritage. Something tells me that I'll get along with this guy pretty well.

The Inquisition: A Proud Chapter in Christian History

I have always been fascinated by the phenomenon of mass hysteria and the ease with which a mob mentality can develop, leading people do commit the most despicable acts against their fellow man. History brings us many examples of this, but two which I find most intriguing are the Inquisition and the witch trials. Naturally, both involved Christianity, and this should be no surprise given the bloodthirsty god described in the bible.

When I can find the time, I'd like to read up on the Inquisition. It strikes me as still being very relevant today given the rhetoric coming from the Christian extremists. If anyone has found any good books on the subject, I'd appreciate some recommendations.

August 3, 2005

Book Review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

I just finished Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, and I give this book my highest possible recommendation. This is not a book about atheism or religion, but it is a book about how the world works. Few books have impacted me more than this one - I actually felt emotionally drained each night after I put it down.

The book is basically an autobiographical account of a man who was employed by the corporate world and sent to various developing countries to deliberately indebt these countries to the United States so that our corporate-imperalistic government (what Perkins refers to as a "corporatocracy") could enslave them. Specifically, he provided drastically overinflated economic forecasts so that huge loans from the World Bank could be justified to employ U.S. contractors (e.g., Halliburton) to build infrastructure projects in poor countries with desirable natural resources. The loans were intentionally so large that they could never be repaid, providing the U.S. government (basically owned by the multinational corporations) with leverage to move in and take the natural resources (e.g., oil).

At some level, I think that most of us realize that the world works this way. However, I was ignorant of the specific mechanics involved. I think this is the first book I have ever read that made me feel physically ill, depressed, etc. and yet determined to keep reading. Highly recommended, but will never look at the world in the same way.

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August 1, 2005

Christian Exodus

.: Corvallis Gazette-Times :. News

Since I live in the south (Mississippi), I have only one thing to say in response to this story...Noooooooooooooooooo! The last thing we need here are more Christians! Doesn't this sound like they want another civil war? Of course, the rest of you are applauding this idea as a way to rid yourselves of your Christian extremist problem.