Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dysfunctional religion

A new article in the Journal of Religion and Society debunks a popular myth in Jesusland --- also known as the USA. The story goes that when the residents of a nation believe in some god and divinely-inspired “morality” that the nation will be a better place. There will be less crime, less violence, less immorality and more good, decent people. Well Gregory Paul’s study looked at that claim.

He compared the religious values of well off countries and then looked at the levels of social dysfunctionality. And the results were staggering. While the US had levels of religious beliefs it also had much higher levels of social dysfunction. The more religious one is the more likely one is to be dysfunctional.

Greg argues that many of the advocates of creationism argue that without a belief in a divine creator man sinks to new depths of immorality. I’ve seen some on the loony Right argue that evolution leads to Nazism, crime and bestial behaviour. The born-againer
William Jennings Bryan argued that modern social problems (modern for a hundred years ago) were the result of “preaching that man has a brute ancestry and eliminating the miraculous and the supernatural from the Bible.”

This theory is fleshed out by Greg: “In broad terms the hypothesis that popular religiosity is socially beneficial holds that high rates of belief in a creator, as well as worship, prayer and other aspects of religious practice, correlate with lowering rates of lethal violence, suicide, non-monogamous sexual activity, and abortion, as well as improved physical health. Such faith-based, virtuous “cultures of life” are supposedly attainable if people believe that God created them for a special purpose, and follow the strict moral dictates imposed by religion.”

Now 60% or so of Americans are absolutely bonkers on religion. The rest are still infected with religion but to a lesser degree. Having lived for some time in four different regions of the world I can attest the US is absolutely unlike anyplace else. And that is no longer a compliment. In the US I see a fundamentalist type church almost every few blocks. The absolute worst of religion is the dominant religion in the US. And these people believe “that their church-going nation is an exceptional, God blessed, “shining city on the hill” that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly skeptical world. But in the other developing democracies religiosity continues to decline precipitously and avowed atheists often win high office, even as clergies warn about adverse societal consequences if a revival of creator belief does not occur.”

Now since the average American thinks “overseas travel” means visiting Canada they often have little or no experience of the facts of life in the rest the world. They often assume that “godless” nations are hell-holes of immorality, violence and crime. That, of course is not true. And Greg notes this by comparing studies on levels of religious belief to studies on social dysfuctionality. And the indicators seem to indicate quite consistently that as religious values become more dominant social ills increase not decrease.

Now some years ago I looked at levels of religiosity to levels of wealth creation. What was clear was that as wealth increased the levels of “born-againers” decreased. We know there are studies that show that highly intelligent people are far less likely to be born-again and dunces are more likely. Simplistic fundamentalism appeals more to those unable to grasp the complexities of reality.

Over and over I found that the people who were poor, uneducated and often simply not so bright tended to be more religious than people who had some intelligence, had done well and had some education. The most dysfunctional groups in society were the most religious. And that corresponds with Greg’s study of religious values across nations. I simply looked at religious values within the same nation and found the same trend.

Greg found that the US alone is the one wealthy country with high degrees of faith. Religious nations on a whole are more likely to be third world than first world when it comes to development. God may bless believers but he doesn’t improve their wealth contrary to the claims of the believers themselves. Not only is the US the only developed country with a high level of religion it is also the only developed country with a high homicide level.

Americans not only pray more but kill each other more. Greg also found that “life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity rise.” he noted that “higher rates of religious affiliation, attendance, and prayer do not result in lower juvenile-adult mortality rates on a cross-national basis.” And sexually transmitted diseases have “been curtailed in all prosperous democracies” but in the US gonorrhea among teens “remains six to three hundred times higher....than in less theistic, pro-evolution, secular developing democracies.”

The born again either are no more moral than the secular or they take far less sane precautions when they lust after the flesh. Not only are STDs higher in religious America than in secular developed countries but abortion rates are higher as well. “Increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator, and negative correlation with increasing non-theism and acceptance of evolution; again rates are uniquely high in the U.S.” Teen pregnancy rates have dropped quite a bit in most developed countries and have dropped slightly in the US as well. But “rates are two to dozens of times higher in the US”.

Greg concludes, “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developing democracies. In other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.”

As Greg notes “the widely held feat that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

I remember that federal judge Richard Posner, appointed by Ronald Reagan, wrote in his excellent book “Sex and Reason” that violence levels were highest in those countries that were more religious than in nations that were not. That didn’t surprise me when I read it and Greg’s analysis of numerous studies of social problems and religious values shows the trend has remained the same.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Darwin crucified

Now and then the theocrats pushing for state-funded theology course in government schools let the cat out of the bag for a few seconds. Creationism-lite, better known as “Intelligent Design” is supposed to replace front-door creationism with backdoor creationism. The ID advocates, who I prefer to call IDiots, will tell you it’s not really theology. Of course it is. What it isn’t is science!

The issue of state forced teaching of a theological concept is in the courts for some resolution. And this case revolves around the dorp of Dover, Pennsylvania. The school board there pushed the measure through to include IDiotic teaching in addition to real science. The official line for IDiotic ideas is that this isn’t about religion. Right! But one of the men who voted this new regulation into place wasn’t so discreet. He forgot his script.

William Buckingham made the theology of IDiotic thinking clear. He said: “Nearly 2,000 years ago, someone died on a cross for us. Shouldn’t we have the courage to stand up for him?”

I find this actually rather odd. I went to seminary! Yes, it’s true. I graduated from a Christian high school as well. And I’ve read the manual these fundies use in both the Old and New versions. I don’t find this Jesus fellow saying one word about evolution, schools, or Darwin. But supposedly Buckingham thinks that to not teach IDiocy in the schools is a betrayal of Christ.

The ACLU is arguing the opposition and I wish them luck. They say: “We’re fighting for the 1st Amendment, the separation of church and state, and the integrity of schools.” I tend to agree. I would also like to see them fight for the separation of education and state.

Lawyers for the school board have a problem. The courts have already ruled that laws requiring creationism be taught on par with science are unconstitutional. The school board argues that Creationism-lite isn’t the same thing as Creationism-Original because the lite variety doesn’t mention God. Somebody forgot to clue Buckingham in on that since his remarks seem to indicate the contrary.

The fact is that science is science and creationism-lite isn’t science. IDiocy teaches that some forms of life are too complex to have arisen from natural processes. They thus require supernatural explanations. But as one scientist notes that whether this is true or not it “is not a testable scientific concept, and so deserves no consideration in science class.”

The article by Prof. Wade Worthen is quite good but I’m not sure of the url for it so I’ll quote him. He notes that the IDiots present their case as one between design or Darwin. And they argue that Darwin is just a theory and may have problems. But of course even if Darwin were disproved that is not a verification of creationism-lite. Repudiation of one natural theory does not validate a supernatural theory. Worthen writes:

“Science has not described how life arose on this planet. However, science and intelligent design address this unknown in dramatically different ways. Science addresses the unknown by making new predictions and conducting new experiments. Scientists will only reach an explanatory conclusion when they understand how something works.

Intelligent design takes the opposite approach. When confronted by an unknown or an apparent contradiction, intelligent design reaches for the most extreme conclusion possible: “I can’t explain this now — therefore it must be caused by an unknown designer using unknown powers.” They reach an explanatory conclusion precisely when they do not understand something.

There are two paths we can take when we are confronted by the unknown. We can throw up our hands and claim that we will never know, and attribute these phenomena to aliens, gods or other unspecified “intelligent designers.” Or we can test physical hypotheses by experiment. Only this latter process is called science.”

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Keep a hand on your wallet

One of the smaller newspaper in New Zealand is the Taranaki Daily News. But in today's editorial they take on the fraudsters and con men who use claims of the supernatural to fleece "believers".

It notes how Princes Diana consulted with three psychics "and they told her she would find happiness, marry again, have more children and all the usual warm, fuzzy stuff that clients desperately want to believe. Not one of them mentioned anything about a Mercedes."

The paper wrote: "Quite simply, seeing the future – really seeing it, rather than the flukes and educated guesses of which anyone is capable – and talking to the dead are just not possible. It is probably the second oldest profession, but antiquity does not add to its bona fides. Indeed, this far into the age of reason and science, its status diminishes day by day. Its lingering allure, at least among its target demographic, has more to do with a faded genetic imprint, in which our ancestors tried to put all experiences into human-sized packages, than to modern, rational thought. Keeping this perspective, it cannot do much harm. Just remember that when you meet a ghost or a prophet, keep one hand on your wallet."

That's pretty much on the mark.

I remember two incidents with psychics that I found amusing. One woman who claimed to be a psychic and had that reputation was someone I knew. I remember one telephone conversation as she complained about going bankrupt and her partner leaving her. I was tempted to ask her why she couldn't see any of this herself before it happened.

Another time I was listening to a psychic on a radio call in show doing cold readings with the usual techniques. A Hispanic woman called in and the psychic talked around things for a bit and then says: "Does the name Maria mean anything to you?"

I thought to myself that was a pretty safe bet. And normally it would have been. But not this time. The woman said she couldn't think of anyone she knew named Maria. The psychic got desperate. "It could be a friend, someone you work with, a relative. Think hard." Still the woman insisted that she didn't know anyone named Maria. The psychic then pulled out the final trick. "It could be someone in your future" she said as she cut the caller off.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Evolution or central planning.

In Pennsylvania a case will be taken to federal court to test whether creationism-lite (known as intelligent design) can be taught in state schools. An article on MSNBC had this comment: “Proponents argue that the structure of life is too complex to have evolved through natural selection, challenging a core principles of the biological theory launched by Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” in 1859.”

Creationism-lite says that because life is to complex to have evolved there must have been some intelligent being who designed life. The fundamental fallacy is that complexity can only come about by design. That is, by the way, the old socialist argument about economics. i have long contended that the fundamentalists and the Marxists have more in common than they care to admit or acknowledge.

Consider this point made a century and a half ago by Herbert Spencer, the founder of sociology. Spencer said that socialists could not see that the “process of evolution” in man’s economic and social life. No one designed it. No one centrally planned it. Yet there was constant order without the central planner. Spencer put it this way:

“The houses they live in, their furniture, clothes, fuel, food—all are brought into existence by the spontaneous efforts of citizens supplying one another’s wants. ...The roads, the railways, the trains, the telegraphs (this was the late 1800s) are products of combined exertions prompted by desires for profit and maintenance. The villages and towns they pass exhibit the accretions due to private actions. The districts devoted to one or other manufacture have been so devoted by men who were simply seeking incomes to live upon. The enormous distributing organization with its vast warehouses and retail shops lining the streets, carrying everywhere innumerable kinds of commodities has arisen without the planning of any one.”

All this says Spencer is non-governmental. There is no central “creative” force imposing order on chaos. The market economy arose spontaneously. And this is precisely what makes so many people mistrustful of capitalism. Michael Rothschild, author of the under-appreciated book Bionomics, compared market forces to natural forces that are around us every day. He wrote:

“Putting aside the details of genetic variation and natural selection, is it really possible that an unconscious, spontaneous phenomenon could have brought forth a natural world of such awesome diversity, beauty, and balance? We can see it. But it still boggles the mind.
“Oddly enough, the same sense of incredulity underlies the widespread mistrust of free markets. Anyone who thinks carefully about capitalism must ask, How could such a vast and complex system emerge without the benefit of some grand design? Somewhere, somebody must be in charge. How else could, simple, self-interested components coalesce into an immensely complicated, well-coordinated economy? The notion that no one is in control — that economic order spontaneously emerges from the chaotic interaction of millions of individuals and firms — is quite simply, hard to swallow.”

In fact the Soviet defector Arkady Shevchenko said this concept, that somebody must secretly be in charge of capitalism, was ever present in the minds of Soviet officials. He said the Russian officials were baffled by American capitalism. “It puzzles them how a complex and little-regulated society can maintain such a high level of production, efficiency and technological innovation.” The only conclusion they could come to was that “there must be a secret control center somewhere in the United States.”

Now the political Left, ready to dismiss the idea of a divine creative organizing force for the universe, demands that economies be ordered exactly by this centralized principle. Ask them about the rise of nature and they can point out how evolution works. And, no doubt, they are generally correct about this. They can easily grasp the idea that a spontaneous order has emerged all around them. But when asked to accept this principle in economics they sound like the most fervent creationist.

The Creationist will argue that nature could not have evolved as it has. It is too spectacular and incredible to have had an entirely natural birth. They compare nature to a watch and from that false comparison they assume the presence of a Watchmaker. Yet, many of these same individuals support some form of a market economy. The fact that they rarely do so consistently is irrelevant for this debate.

The spectacular nature of a evolving, ever-changing, spontaneous market is something they are willing to accept. Ask them how language came to be and many of them will again point to evolution and spontaneous order. After all no one has centrally planned any of the languages widely used in the world today. Esperanto, one attempt at a planned language, remains an oddity. Language as spoken by all the people’s of the world arose spontaneously. No one planned it. No one designed it. No one manipulated it. But there it is working just fine for billions of people in every nook and cranny of the world.

Ludwig von Mises made exactly the same argument regarding the evolution of money. Money arose spontaneously, directed by the nature of the market. People started out trading goods with one another. But this was inefficient since you had to have precisely what the other person wanted and they had to have precisely what you wanted. Often such trades would be inefficient. For instance you might want a loaf of bread and the baker might want a table. But you didn’t feel comfortable trading one table for one loaf of bread. Yet if you took the 50 loaves of bread you felt fairer you would end up with 49 loaves going to waste.

So people started looking for something that would have specific characteristics that could be used as medium of exchange. The nature of what needed to be accomplished determined the nature of what would eventual become a medium of exchange. First, it had to be desirable. Horse manure was not highly desirable and would not work. Second, it had to be divisible. This was to avoid the problem of trading a table for more bread than you could consume.

Humans used various forms of money. Some even used sea shells but the fact that they were relative plentiful made them problematic. A certain amount of scarcity was needed otherwise unscrupulous individuals would “inflate” the money supply to everyone’s detriment. Gold and silver were eventually the money of choice. Individuals could easily carry it around, it could be coined into small or larger amounts and people desired them. The function that money had to fill eventually determined what was used. I will note that in recent centuries the idea of spontaneous money has been replaced with the concept of centrally planned money — thus the use of paper and all it’s potential and real problems.

Now I can understand why some people are not able to comprehend the idea of spontaneous order. In spite of it surrounding them on a daily basis. Everyone knows that in most of the world farmers grow what they want, in quantities that they themselves determine. They sell it at prices they find acceptable or stop producing. Other random individuals purchase those products and market them in various ways to various people. Again no one dictates to them who sells what vegetable at what time in what location. No one issues orders to consumers laying out their purchases for the week. There is virtually no effort to co-ordinate the distribution of food. Yet in every market economy food is everywhere and very, very few people ever go without.

Other nations have tried to impose a creative order by organizing food production for the “sake of the people.” They put “people before profits”. They certainly ended up with a system where there were no profits. But they also ended up with nations where there was no food. It happened repeatedly in the Soviet Union and under Mao in China. And it is happening today in African nations where agriculture is rarely left to market forces and where marketing boards and central plans proliferate.

Darwin explained how natural orders evolve. Such order is not unusual at all, as some creationists want us to believe, but entirely expected. Ayn Rand once made the point to Phil Donahue that a “disorderly universe” would be impossible. In fact the orderly aspect of nature is not a proof for a Watchmaker at all. If there were a case to made from nature for the presence of a Divine Creator then it would be the existence of a disorderly, chaotic, contradictory universe. The only kind of universe that could have evolved was an orderly one. Order is what we expect when a central planner is not playing his game with people.

The idea that markets and societies can evolve spontaneously makes perfect sense to me. Ideas that work are copied by others while ideas that are failures are neglected. In fact bad ideas must always be promoted at the point of a gun in one sense or another. Now what is bad or good is simply determined by what is consistent or inconsistent with reality. Markets work because they are consistent with reality. Central planning fails because it isn’t.

This simple, yet profound, concept is enough for me. It explains why markets work. It explains how language evolved. It explains why individuals, each seeking their own good, are required to work with one another in co-operation. It explains why certain moralities lead to good things and other moralities lead to bad things. It tells me that the universe is understandable without having a central planner in the sky or in the capitol.

Now I assume that any advocate of the market should understand spontaneous order. But I am baffled by why any such individuals need a Creator to explain everything else. And I’m equally baffled when I see advocates of evolution demanding centralized planning for economies as a whole. Certainly the evolutionary principle is satisfactory in explaining both the natural order and the natural economic order.

The theologically minded who argue for “intelligent design” are in war with a major premise of the free society. Freedom means the absence of a central planner. If one can not have order and a complex society without “intelligent design” then one can not have freedom. If a complex universe needs an intelligent designer then a complex society and complex economy would need one as well. At it’s core these people, by attacking the concept of spontaneous or evolved order, are attacking the concept of spontaneous or free markets.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why are we "wasting our time"?

A good question was asked in our comments section. (By the way a couple of the more vitriolic comments were deleted as I will do if they cross the line of common decency. I also note that I made it clear that if one is Jesus freak this is not the site for them so if they get easily offended—meaning fundamentalist in most of the cases—they really shouldn’t be here. I don’t visit their sites and whine and don’t see why they should visit mine and whine.) Let me answer that question in more detail.

Stanley, who says he’s a Christian but who seems to be a reasonable fellow unlike the other vicious Christians who have already posted here, asks me why if god doesn’t exist I post messages about him. I gave a reply in the comments section. But I think Stanley raises a fair point and that his question and my reply should move to main page because of that.

My reply is basically that Stanley needs to check his premises. I didn’t bother to address god at all. That would make as much sense as talking to the Easter Bunny. I am addressing the dangers of religion.

God is not threat to me or to anyone. Nor am I worried about UFO abductions for instance. But the belief in a deity can often be dangerous and not just to believers but to others as well. Some of the most vicious people around justify their viciousness on the basis that they are on a crusade from some deity.

Some of them range from the deadly to the cruel to the merely absurd. The men who hijacked air planes on September 11 and killed thousands by crashing them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon are examples of the vicious. They are genocidal. No surprise as many religions are inherently genocidal. The Old Testament, revered by Jews and Christians alike, is filled with supposed genocidal orders from the deity of that book. I won’t recount the hundreds of thousands of people ordered to their deaths by this god but anyone with even slight knowledge of the Old Testament knows it is there. Of course if we believe the stories there we’d think that Jehovah killed the entire human race at one point except for Noah and his family. If he did that would make him a worse killer than Hitler. But I don’t think he did.

We have the vile Rev. Fred Phelps as another example. He is a Calvinist fundamentalist. He so hates homosexuals, like the typical fundie, that he thinks his god is killing American soldier in Iraq because the US won’t throw gay people into jail (yet). He and his congregation are going to the funerals of American soldiers with vile, hateful signs and picketing families in their moments of grief. They have also picketed with signs that say "Thank God for 9/11". That is pure hatred. But this is not atypical. Many religious people are easily capable of such hatred.

Other beliefs are just absurd but can still be deadly. People who refuse to take their children to hospital when severely ill are an example of this. Some are Christian Scientists (who are neither Christian nor scientists) who think that Divine Mind will heal their children and that death and sickness are a delusion. Others are faith healing Pentecostals who say that doctors are a sign of disbelief and who trust “Doctor Jesus” to heal their children. The good doctor can’t be sued for malpractice since he’s not around but if he could he’d have gone bankrupt long ago. These people kill their own kids with faith.

We have all sorts of other cases as well. So this is not about gods or the supernatural per se. It’s about how people who believe such nonsense act in the real world and how they can hurt others and themselves. If they only inflicted their pain on themselves they would be an amusing diversion at worst. Unfortunately many of them are so infected with their supernatural beliefs that they have no hesitation on hurting others, some intentionally and some unintentionally. In other cases they merely want to use the state for force people to accept theological ideas be it through “intelligent design” rubbish in the schools or “faith based” initiatives funded by the federal government in the US.

That needs to be challenged. I do not advocate restricting the legitimate rights of people merely because they believe the absurd. In fact I will defend their rights even though they would be the first to deny me mine. And while believers of any stripe are welcome to read the site they should know they do so as our guests. Now I know some of them have no inkling as to how guests should behave. So I will clue them in. Keep your comments polite and keep them on the topic or you will be evicted, at least your comments will be.

I spoke to some atheist friends who were joking that a dozen of so atheists should go to a church and one at a time challenge them for teaching nonsense. My thought was that this is silly and wrong. It is wrong because when one walks into someone's church, place of business or home you do so as a guest. You know that a certain decorum is expected from you. To intentionally violate that expectation merely because it was no stated explicitly in a contract is no excuse. It’s rude and ill-mannered. I say the same thing about atheists who go to Christian web sites and harass them.

I think atheists should be better examples of how civilized people behave. So if the comments I’ve seen so far (from both sides but not referring to Stanley here) are an indication of how it will be I am serving notice that they will be deleted. You believers in any fantasy of a religious kind should remember you are guests here. This is not public property.

A shop is open to the public but not public property. A blog is open to the public but not public property. No one has a “right” to use this forum for their own messages except by the permission of it’s owner. Just as no one would have the right to determine what products a public shop must or must not sell. I know I’m asking something difficult for the fundamentalists who have already come here but respect the property of others. I honestly don’t anticipate you will do that. That requires that you must respect others as fellow human beings. And I am sure you are incapable of doing that. But we’ll see if I’m wrong or proven right. Only a trail of deleted comments, or the absence of them, will prove otherwise.

Papal rat zingers gays

Before the aptly named Cardinal Ratzinger got elevated to the position of the imaginary earthly voice of an imaginary god he was known as the pit bull of the Vatican.

He ran the modern equivalent of the Holy Inquisition. In fact his office was the direct descendent of the Inquisition.

And he’s off on another Inquisition. This time he’s imposing new antigay attitudes on the Catholic Church. It’s his church. He leads it, not god. So I guess he has the right to do with his con what he wants to do with it. But it will cause some real problems for Catholics.

Ratzinger, now going under the pseudonym of “Pope Benedict XVI” (the sixteenth! he sure wasn’t very original in picking a new name was he?) has decided that anyone who is gay, whether celibate or not, is not allowed to be a priest.

The New York Times says that the document issuing this order is finished and will be released by this Ratzinger fellow in the next few weeks.

The document will reverse a previous tradition which said that celibates of any sexual orientation could be priests. That’s not good enough for the Rat Zinger. He’s out to purify the church.

But the new rule will only apply to anyone entering the priesthood not to those currently in the priesthood. That is necessary since the church doesn’t want to be priestless or reveal the extent of gay priests. Church inquisitors have been instructed to visit all 229 Catholic seminaries in the US to enforce the rule.

Actually the rule should save the church a lot of money. If fully implemented they certainly won’t need 229 seminaries anymore. They could probably cut the number in half.

The president of the American National Federation of Priests’ Councils, Robert Silva, said that he believes “some men will choose to leave, because if they don’t, it would be like living a lie.” I would think all Catholics do a bit of that just by being Catholic. But I do know what he means.

The grand inquisitors will be searching the seminaries for “evidence of homosexuality”. Some things they might consider looking out for are:

1. Priests with decent haircuts.
2. Any priest who gyms at least 2 a week.
3. Barbra Streisand records.
4. Priests who love to be priests because they like the frocks.
5. Priests who know show tunes.
6. Any priest who recognizes the name: Jeff Stryker.
7. Any priest that the women in the congregation feel safe being around.

That’s a good beginning. Of course the church is doing this to scapegoat homosexuals for the church’s crisis with covering up for child molesters. It’s harder to pick them out so they pick on homosexuals instead. This also buys into the popular prejudice of religious paranoids that the two groups are one in the same.

But one priest said that the priests being charged as molesters are not mainly the priests who entered the priesthood before the 1980s but after when it was more open to accepting gay priests. He said: “These were people from the old closeted days.”

Nor is it true that all Catholic seminaries around the world became more open to gay priests. This was mainly a US phenomenon. Yet these scandals have erupted in country after country even in those where no such loosening up took place. And the priest is right. If you look at the cases that are coming to light they are not so much cases of men arrested for molestations that took place in the last few years. Many of these go back 30, 40 or 50 years.

The No God Zone

Here it is out in the open. A blog for atheists. We will not pick on any one religion. We oppose all of them equally. We will suffer no fools even if they are sincere, well meaning and "compassionate".

Our goal is to discss the absurdities of religion and the supernatural.

So if you are a Jesus freak easily offended by a dose of reality this is not your site. If you think crystals can heal you, that the star guide your destiny, or that a wise, all caring, deity resides in some celestial paradise looking down on us kindly, they you will hate this site.

If you are an advocate of human reason, believe in the sanctity of the individual, that life is important because it is not etermal, that this world matters because a future one does not await us, then you will like the site.


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