Magi Mike's Blog

Another WordPress blog about politics and religion

Posts Tagged ‘Religion

Hindus/Moslems Have Less Pre- and Extramarital Sex than Christians/Jews

leave a comment »


Christian/Jewish and Hindu/Moslem Attitudes Towards Sex: Which is Stricter?

A new study, co-authored by Amy Adamczyk, associate professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Brittany Hayes, a doctoral candidate, analyzed data on premarital and extramarital sexual behaviors in over 30 developing countries around the world. It was inspired by Amy Adamczyk’s earlier work where she observed the differences in HIV/AIDS infection rates between predominantly Christian and Moslem nations in which Moslems had lower infection rates than Christians. Differences in sexual behaviors may help explain why Moslems tend to have lower prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS than residents of other countries. Adamczyk said:

One of the most surprising findings was that religious affiliations have a real influence on people’s sexual behaviors. Specifically, Moslem and Hindus are significantly less likely to report having had premarital sex than Christians and Jews. One of the novelties of our study is the analysis of behaviors rather than attitudes. While a lot of research attention has been given to understanding differences between the major world religions in adherents’ attitudes, much less attention has been given to understanding differences based on behaviors.

Moslems’ lower likelihood of premarital and extramarital sex is related to their commitment to, and community support for, strict religious tenets that permit sex only within marriage. But Islamic cultures influenced the sexual behaviors of all residents, even people who were not Moslems. Religion tends to have a more powerful effect than restrictions on women’s movement in many Moslem countries.

Written by mikemagee

27 October, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Religious Interest Falls in the USA. Voters Do Not Know Romney is a Mormon Not a Christian

leave a comment »

I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.

Joseph Smith


Mitt Romney has to Face Questions about His Religion in the USA Elections

A Pew study released found that many Americans do not know the religious faiths of President Obama or presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. A third of Americans do not know that Romney is a Latter Day Saint, a Mormon! The Mormons have conservative views, especially on gender and homosexuality, and are intolerant of members’ questioning official teachings.

The United Church of Christ, President Obama’s church of choice, is more liberal on these issues. Unlike the Mormons, the UCC is not centralized to the extent that the Mormon sect is. It is not uniform across congregations because doctrinal issues in the UCC are left to the congregations, not to a central institute as is the case with the Mormons.

17 percent of Americans say Obama is a Moslem. In 2008, Americans were likely to correctly identify his religion as Christian. Political opposition to Obama as president aimed to remind voters of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. But Pastor Wright’s supposedly racist remarks actually showed them Obama was Christian.

The separate Pew Research Center “American Values Survey”, which polled more than 3,000 adults nationwide, found that approximately one in five Americans don’t have a religious affiliation at all—the most ever documented. It also found that 32 percent of the latest adult generation have doubted the existence of God—double the number of those who felt the same way just five years ago.

This survey found increased tolerance for difference in every age, religious preference and political group. The new generation is known for wanting to distinguish itself from its peers—to stand out so to speak—by adopting unorthodox ideas.

Criticisms of Mormonism

The doctrine of the Mormon Church separates it from Christianity according to the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant religions, all of which descended from Jesus Christ and his apostles. Mormons had no apostolic succession by which the holy Spirit is passed from priest to priest from the original apostles, could not have been involved in the Nicene Creed, and Mormon cosmology with its plan of salvation including pre-mortal life, baptism of the dead, three degrees of heaven, and exaltation by which humans may become gods and goddesses on a par with Jesus is alien to Christian thought.

Critics have questioned the legitimacy of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of LDS, as a prophet as well as the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexism and paedophilia. Evangelical Christians argue that Smith was either a fraud or deluded.

Written by mikemagee

11 October, 2012 at 8:57 pm

The Religion of Sensible Men

leave a comment »

The historian, J A Froude, told this story in his essay, A Plea for Free Discussion (1863):

“What religion are you, Mr Rogers?”, asked a lady once.
“What religion, madam? I am of the religion of all sensible men.”
“And what is that?” she persisted.
“All sensible men, madam, keep that to themselves.”

Would that Christians were sensible men, like Mr Rogers.

Written by mikemagee

8 July, 2012 at 12:53 am

Killing Darwin to Accommodate Cow Country Christians

leave a comment »

The evangelical cow country messiahs since the nineteenth century say: “If you meet Charles Darwin in your travels, kill him”.

Pace the ninth century Buddhist master, Lin Chi, for cow country Christians, it is more important to eliminate their challengers as Devils than it is to face up to them as humans, notwithstanding the Ten Commandments. The reason is that they know they have no answer for them, so it is far better to eliminate them! Darwin proposed a theory of evolution, and because Christians are better at eliminating people than their ideas, they have ever since called it Darwinism—so for 150 years Charles Darwin has been the chief Christian Devil. Sadly for the evangelical messiahs, the theory of evolution has been so successful that Darwin no longer stands alone, defended by a solitary bulldog—he has innumerable bulldogs, or Devils as those with the ghastly antennae call them.

Carl Safina, a MacArthur fellow, and adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, writes in The New York Times:

Equating evolution with Charles Darwin ignores 150 years of discoveries, including…

  • Gregor Mendel’s patterns of heredity—which gave Darwin’s idea of natural selection a mechanism, genetics, by which it could work
  • the discovery of DNA—which gave genetics a mechanism and lets us see evolutionary lineages
  • developmental biology—which gives DNA a mechanism
  • studies documenting evolution in nature—which converted the hypothetical to observable fact
  • evolution’s role in medicine and disease—bringing immediate relevance to the topic.
Carl Safina

Which is to mention the most obvious additions and improvements made to the theory. So “Darwinism” as a word for the theory of evolution is so misleading it is no longer correct. The theory of evolution is not the guess of one man as the cow country messiahs pretend, and nor is it one theory, but it is a series of related hypotheses, each of which has been thoroughly tested and not found wanting. The theory of evolution encompasses all these ideas and ones not mentioned, so that it stands on several legs, all of which are solid and sound.

Almost everything we understand about evolution came after Darwin, not from him. He knew nothing of heredity or genetics, both crucial to evolution.

Carl Safina

Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, discovered that in pea plants inheritance of individual traits followed patterns. His religious superiors tried to “kill” Mendel, burning his papers posthumously in 1884. But Mendel’s “genetics” complemented Darwin’s natural selection and exlained how it worked yielding the “modern synthesis” in the 1920s. James Watson and Francis Crick using Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction data obtained in Maurice Wilkins’ laboratory, then made a huge advance by proposing the correct structure of DNA, the molecule that shows how variation and inheritance happen.

Safina decided all this constituted a good enough set of reasons for us to do the evangelical holy joes’ job for them:

Making a master teacher into a sacred fetish misses the essence of his teaching. So let us now kill Darwin.

Charles Darwin didn’t invent a belief system. He had an idea, not an ideology. The idea spawned a discipline, not disciples. He spent 20 plus years amassing and assessing the evidence and implications of similar, yet differing, creatures separated in time (fossils) or in space (islands). That’s science.

Carl Safina

Darwin got an amazing amount right considering he did his work without knowing any of this, and before even microbes had been discovered, and medical men still had no idea what caused disease, when ships still had sails, when railways were a novelty, and long before the Wright brothers had defied gravity to fly the first aeroplane, before even Neanderthal man had been found and named, and even before the South had seceded from the Union, let alone that Lee had surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse.

Indeed it was before the cow country messiahs even had a cow country!

Video: Evolutionary Study of Religion—David Sloan Wilson

leave a comment »

Christian Imperialism and the Wickedness of the West

leave a comment »

Christianity took 300 years before it was accepted by the Roman emperor, Constantine, as his administration’s preferred religion, a few decades before it officially became the Roman state religion in 381 AD, when Theodosius’s edict banned paganism and enforced belief in the Christian Trinity. The Christian church was triumphant. The task now was to convert the world, a task that suited Roman imperialism. As Christianity was the religion of Rome, Christians were Roman citizens. Christian faith was now identical to loyalty to Rome. Faith was no longer the practical morality of loving kindness taught by Christ but was patriotic loyalty, like the worship of the emperor. Devotion to God had become a political principle uniting the people of the empire by equating the Church and the state, as many Americans do today.

By the thirteenth century, the Fourth Christian imperialist Crusade (1198-1204 AD) had resulted only in the sacking of Constantinople, a rich Christian city, the rival to Rome in the eastern empire, and increasingly Christians were turning from Catholic Christianity to the heresies of Catharism and Bogomilism, Christianities untainted by imperialism, and therefore much closer to the Christianity of the apostles.

Then came the early modern rush to colonize the world with the pope’s blessing! The Spaniard, Juan Gires de Sepulveda, claimed its justification was how grave people’s sins were, and the rudeness of their nature—reasons why the Indians’ position was to be servants of sophisticated people like the Spanish. He wondered how we could doubt that these people—so uncivilized, so barbaric, contaminated by impieties and obscenities—had been justly conquered by such an excellent, pious and most just king as Ferdinand the Catholic and by such a most humane nation, excellent in every kind of virtue!

Of course, the most humane nation, excellent in every kind of virtue, with such excellent, pious and most just Christian kings, called Presidents, is today the USA. Yet, the United States itself grew out of a colony of Europeans exploiting native Americans and imposing European Christianity upon them. They freed themselves of their European masters but sought and now, with no moral hesitation, still seek to impose their own will on others. Latin American theologian Ismael Amaya writes on American missionary Christianity:

Much of the motivation behind the colossal effort to support the gigantic missionary enterprise around the world, is the conviction that God has raised America—especially Anglo-Saxon America—as the vessel of redemption of the world.

American Christian missions are both products and purveyors of American culture. Now the US invades other countries willy nilly and steals their resources in the name of the God, whom they always invite to bless them whatever sins they commit, and a democracy commonly cited as imperial justification for war—though they themselves are not at all democratic but ruled by a rich oligarchy. They set up a constitution democratic and secular in form and practice only to surrender it to the verbal gymnastics of professional clergymen and politicians.

Curiously, in early Christian thought based on the bible (as the Christian commentator, Lactantius, observed), the west was considered as evil, and the east good. Now in the eyes of most of the world—all those whom the US cannot buy or intimidate—that is not merely metaphorically but is demonstrably true, though western propaganda attempts to portray the western world as good and the rest wicked.

Christians revived duallism, with Satan the wicked half and Christ the good half of it, but the west no longer takes its moral stance from the good God. Christians have been tricked into adoring the wicked God, and now do it with chilling enthusiasm. Traditionally, the good God is the metaphorical God of light, the God of Dawn and the coming day, who since time immemorial, has therefore been considered able to see everything in the forthcoming day. He has foresight. The wicked God is the God of dusk and darkness, who cannot see ahead for he is the advancing darkness. The god of darkness and night only knows what has already happened.

Good differs from evil in the use of foresight. Good people who adopt the morals of the good God differ from the wicked ones in having foresight, and personally using it. Good people can see the consequences of their actions and do no ill. If wicked people can do the same, they justify their wickedness, or they assume they can do no wrong. An imperial religion demands justification of this kind, and is incompatible with kindness and consideration. The practical morality of Christ is incompatible with imperialism and conquest. More…

Dawn or Dusk?

Ernst Mayr on Evolution and US Ignorance

leave a comment »


My book (What Evolution Is, 2001) attempts to explain evolution. I don’t need to prove it again, evolution is so clearly a fact that you need to be committed to something like a belief in the supernatural if you are at all in disagreement with evolution. It is a fact and we don’t need to prove it anymore. Nonetheless, we must explain why it happened and how it happens.

Ernst Mayr, 1904-2005


Ernst Mayr was a long lived and very eminent biologist, who based his thinking on the theory of evolution, just as all successful biological scientists must. He was interviewed by, just a few years before he died and was asked:

“How do you account for the fact that in this country, despite the effect of Darwinism on many people in the scientific community, more and more people are god fearing and believe in the 8 days of creation?”

To which he replied: “You know you cannot give a polite answer to that question”.

The Edge interviewer insisted:

We appreciate impolite, impolitical, answers.

So Mayr replied, saying:

They recently tested a group of schoolgirls. They asked, “Where is Mexico?”. Do you know that most of the kids had no idea where Mexico is? I’m using this only to illustrate the fact that—and pardon me for saying so—the average American is amazingly ignorant about just about everything. If he was better informed, how could he reject evolution? If you don’t accept evolution, then most of the facts of biology just don’t make sense. I can’t explain how an entire nation can be so ignorant, but there it is.


The Reason a Whole Nation can be Ignorant is Religion


In the Dark Ages, Europe was called Christendom. It was under Christian dominion, and few people could read because the Christians neglected all scholarship, and the whole of classical learning in favour of devotion to God. Only clerics were supposed to be able to read, and what they were supposed to read was devotional writing, especially, of course, the bible, although it was available only in Latin. Many monks could not even read their bibles, and simply learnt passages off by heart to mumble their way through Mass, which was also given in Latin. A few scholarly monks could read and write, and are now famous—they are remembered for it! They were, of course, the teachers of the ordinary clerics, who didn’t bother to do their lessons. So it continued for 600 years.

The situation in the USA now is getting similar to how it was in the fifth and sixth centuries in Europe when classical scholarship and even cleanliness was being discouraged as vanity by the clerics. The modern clerics, right wing pastors interested more in money than morals, oppose modern learning, like the theory of evolution, and large numbers of Americans follow them in decrying evolutionary theory and science in general. The outcome can only be bad—a parallel with medieval Europe. The USA cannot possibly remain the leading technological nation while teaching religious dogmata rather than modern science. Already the USA is falling completely behind countries like China and India, and is in a state of economic collapse.

Americans have to decide whether they want to retain the leadership they established over the twentieth century, or rapidly fall into a vainglorious yet worthless piety ending in the destitution of a new Dark Age.

The US is falling into dereliction

Written by mikemagee

17 October, 2011 at 11:25 pm

26 percent of Atheist Scientists are Spiritual, but What is Spiritual?

leave a comment »

It seems that new research from Rice University has found that more than 20 percent of atheist scientists are spiritual. 72 of the 275 natural and social scientists interviewed said they have a spirituality that is consistent with science, although they are not formally religious. If this is the measure quoted as 20 percent, it is actually 26 percent!

Elaine Howard Ecklund, assistant professor of sociology at Rice, is the chief author of the study which she conducted with Elizabeth Long, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Rice. Ecklund says:

Scientists hold religion and spirituality as being qualitatively different kinds of constructs. Spirituality pervades both the religious and atheist thought. It’s not an either/or. This challenges the idea that scientists, and other groups we typically deem as secular, are devoid of those big “Why am I here?” questions. They too have these basic human questions and a desire to find meaning. There’s spirituality among even the most secular scientists. These spiritual atheist scientists are seeking a core sense of truth through spirituality—one that is generated by and consistent with the work they do as scientists.

Apparently these scientists see both science and spirituality as part of their individual quest for meaning without faith that can never be final. Their spirituality is congruent with science and separate from religion. Spirituality is open to a scientific journey requiring empirical evidence, religion demands the “absence of empirical evidence”.

The terms scientists most used to describe religion include “organized, communal, unified and collective”. The terms used to describe spirituality include “individual, personal and personally constructed”. All of the respondents who used collective or individual terms attributed the collective terms to religion and the individual terms to spirituality. Ecklund said:

In their sense of things, being spiritual motivates them to provide help for others, and it redirects the ways in which they think about and do their work as scientists.

The spiritual scientists saw boundaries between themselves and their nonspiritual colleagues because their spirituality facilitated engagement with the world around them. Such engagement, according to the spiritual scientists, generated a different approach to research and teaching. While nonspiritual colleagues might focus on their own research at the expense of student interaction, spiritual scientists’ sense of spiritualty provides nonnegotiable reasons for making sure that they help struggling students succeed.

Much of the comment on the study by the authors is waffle. What is valid in it is not original, and what is original is not valid. It really is not surprising. The lead author seems to have done the research under a grant of $283,549 from the John Templeton Foundation to study “Religion and Spirituality among Natural and Social Scientists at Elite Research Universities”, and must have felt under pressure to find something to please the sponsor.

The researchers seem to have used the results of the research to define what they mean by spirituality, rather than defining the terms they wished to study first. Thus, it is a curious finding that only the science professors who do their teaching job properly are spiritual. It seems to mean that conscientiousness is at least one facet of spirituality. If so, the nonspiritual teachers could never get tenure, and so selection would push up the ratio of these mysterious spiritual ones in any science faculty.

In fact, the word “spirituality” defies definition, it is so meaningless. Etymologically it derives from the Latin for “breath”. Breath relates to life for which breath is essential in mammals, including humans. It is an early metaphor for life, actual breathing life, and came to be associated with an immaterial entity that gave life to inanimate matter. Thus God made Adam of clay and “breathed” life into him! The life that God has breathed into him and all of us is literally “breath” or spirit (spiritus).

Thus to accept the concept of spirituality is to accept a dualism that science can find no evidence for. When there is no evidence for any proposed phenomenon or hypothesis, the null hypothesis is that it does not exist, not that it does exist. That is scientific skepticism.

Some scientists might not think about these things too much because they are irrelevant to the practice of science, so some might not have strictly coherent views on spirituality. Even more so, given that the term, quite apart from its linguistic origins, is now so widely interpreted that no two people ever are speaking about the same spirituality. Proof is the discussion that the report of this research generated. Approaching 200 comments submitted showed it superbly. Few posts were talking about the same thing.

It seems, though, that a lot of people did think that a spiritual experience was a personal—subjective—sense of awe. It is this sense of awe that many scientists who are not a bit religious may be willing to describe as spiritual. It has nothing to do with religious belief, and the attempt of religions to hijack it as the presence of God, or whatever, is typical religious dishonesty. It is almost invariably a sense of awe at Nature or something natural, like a childbirth. Francis Collins, the head of the NIH, says his “Road to Damascus” experience came when he suddenly came across a frozen waterfall, an awesome but entirely natural phsnomenon. It should have strengthened his desire to investigate Nature, rather than stimulating his return to God. However, the wonder of human architecture, say, as in the spectacle of the interior of a cathedral, can induce it too. That was undoubtedly the objective of the medieval bishops in building such wonderful buildings.

Perhaps Professors Ecklund and Long will do a much more thorough study with a more representative sample, proper definitions, and greater objectivity. Let’s not hold our spiritus! A Templeton Prize might be awaiting.

Written by mikemagee

10 May, 2011 at 9:27 pm

The Warfare of Science and Religion Today—Brian Cox

with 3 comments

Brian Cox by Vincent Connare

Brian Cox, the celebrity particle physicist and professor at The University of Manchester, says at Science and Religion Today that he’s fighting maniacs not religion. Brian is the former rock star astronomer who presents science and astronomy features on TV.

There is a lot of goodwill toward scientists among the religious communities in this country. I met the dean of Guildford Cathedral when I was an atheist on a panel and we… became good friends. I also recently got invited to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s house because he liked “Wonders of the Solar System”. Rowan Williams is a very thoughtful man. If you want to move society forward in a more rational direction, religious leaders can be useful because they share that view.

Brian Cox admits he considers it quite acceptable to be anti-Creationism—his anti-maniac—but being “anti-religion is not helpful”. Maniacs ignore all the scientific evidence that the world was created more than four billion years ago, and choose to believe—on no more evidence than that someone told them the bible is the word of God—that it says the world was made only 6,000 years ago. It is all right to say such a one is an idiot, or is insane, but trying to wage an atheistic war against all religion is an effort that ought not to be made.

One imagines that there must be more to justify Cox’s position, but this blog does not give it, so it appears there as a rather poor argument. Maybe the battle need not always be fought whenever a scientist meets a cleric, but it is only a polite suspension of battle orders for social reasons. Brian has met a couple of pleasant clergymen who are not as strident as the Discovery Institute at plugging Genesis, so we ought to abandon essential scientific principles in future contact with such nice old codgers. Old fashioned Church of England clergymen still consider nice to be part of their job description. Anglicans used to be generally nice, they were famously tolerant, but now the Evangelicals have taken over!

Brian Cox is skipping differences that cannot be reconciled between science and religion as world outlooks:

  • Religion requires gullible people to be able to sell nonsense. Science requires skeptical people to question everything.
  • Science honestly deals with the material world of observable phenomena, and the consequences of it. Religion is no different, but dishonestly pretends to deal with a fancied supernatural world, and invisible things.
  • Science only considers acceptable what has been repeatedly tested and confirmed. Religion tells tall stories such as that of the eternal life after death, as if they were absolute truth, though no clergyman knows these stories to be true. Again, it is dishonesty.

Had Brian tried engaging his clerical chums in a serious discussion of metaphysics, epistemology and ontology, he must inevitably have ended up exasperated. They can no longer admit that much of the allegedly ancient parts of the bible—Christians seem to believe the bible is God’s timeline, like a divine diary—is mythical, and indeed has been shown to be substantially the same as even older myths from other Ancient Near Eastern countries like Babylonia. Their members, already getting thin on the ground and increasingly fundamentalist and intolerant force them to spout the inerrant line, or try to hedge their bets so as not to offend one side or other of the battle within Anglican ranks.

Brian Cox should take care whom he trusts. Many an innocent traveler has walked along a lonely road with someone they did not know, and woken up sore, cold and walletless. The footpad might not be the present Archbishop of Canterbury or Bishop of Guildford, but to think that men who put their own trust in a figment, and opportunistically will take the most convenient line to keep their congregations rather than correcting their false ideas, will not metaphorically mug you is pure naïveté.

Written by mikemagee

4 April, 2011 at 9:27 pm