Category Archives: Politics

Amazing (dis)Grace

An amazing thing happened in the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s victory was, in large part, the result of overwhelming support from the Religious Right. Trump won 81 percent of the white evangelical vote, higher than George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. An article in the April 2017 issue of New Republic magazine asks: “How did a thrice-married biblical illiterate like Trump hijack the Religious Right?” The article, titled “Amazing Disgrace,” quotes Russell Moore, a leader of the Read more [...]

Trump Supporters Take a Big Hit

Front page article in the LA Times today: "Obamacare replacement hits Trump voters hard."[i] Lower income, elderly voters in rural red states would be the hardest hit. In particular, 60-year-olds making as little as $30K will lose more than $6K/year in subsidies that they received under Obamacare. Most of those folks voted for Trump. But here’s the hilarious part: Higher income younger people in urban areas that mostly voted for Clinton will get more financial help with Trumpcare. Of Read more [...]

A Penny Saved

"A penny saved is a penny earned” ---one form of an old proverb Growing up in a small town in Michigan in the middle of the twentieth century, I heard this proverb frequently, and it always puzzled me. In elementary school, I earned a weekly allowance by performing household chores like mowing the lawn and drying and putting away the dishes as my mother washed them. My income was a quarter a week, and I usually blew it on candy bars and “pop” as we called carbonated soft drinks back then. Read more [...]

Does Trump Have Free Will?

Free Will – do we have it? That has been the subject of many lofty dissertations by theists, philosophers, and yes, atheists like me. The consensus of most nonbelievers, one that I share, is probably not. Decisions made by the brain are based on genetic predisposition, life experiences, and sometimes one or more random inputs determined by the current environment. I shorten it to Nature, Nurture and Random (NNR). Before we tackle The Donald, let me give an example so that we are all on the same Read more [...]

Responsibility

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson Here is another quote that is often attributed to Jefferson, but does not appear in any of his known writings: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”  Even if this is not a direct quote, it clearly reflects Jefferson’s views on the need for active participation by citizens if they are to retain their freedom. Read more [...]

Religious Persecution in the US

According to a Washington Times article, a recent survey shows that 63% of respondents to a LifeWay research survey said that persecution of Christians is increasing in the US. Could that survey be biased? On the LifeWay web site, they describe their business as follows: “LifeWay is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian resources.” That does not mean they are biased, but it makes one wonder about their sample selection. Some evangelical Christians think the so-called “War on Read more [...]

RFRA – Religious Rights vs. Civil Rights

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” --- Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution The original intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was to relieve religious groups from criminal prosecution for religious activities that break laws, like Native American groups who use illegal hallucinogenic drugs in their ceremonies. That seemed reasonable to most people, and the RFRA passed Congress with overwhelming Read more [...]

Five Kinds of Guys

“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” ― Alexandre Dumas, fils From Wikipedia: Expressed in philosophical language, a hasty generalization is a fallacy of defective induction, a conclusion that has been made on the basis of weak premises. Unlike fallacies of relevance, in fallacies of defective induction, the premises are related to the conclusions yet only weakly buttress the conclusions. A faulty generalization is thus produced. In spite of the danger, I am going to Read more [...]

Robert Ingersoll’s Creed

Robert G. Ingersoll is one of my heroes.  He confronted religious faith and showed that it was nothing more than primitive superstition.  At the end of the 19th century, he had accumulated quite a following for what he called "freethought," based on reason, logic and experience.  Sadly, he died in 1899 at 66, far too soon.  He still had much work to do, and nobody of his stature arose to take his place.  His writings, speeches and debates are collected in twelve volumes which can be found at Read more [...]

Abstinence Is Hard

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -Anonymous The author of this proverb is unknown. Some say Shakespeare, but that is questionable. Nobody really knows…and that is good, because it is nonsense. I am immensely fond of my wife, but whenever I used to go on business trips, I did not become fonder. I got horny! Substitute horny for fonder in the above proverb, and it would make more sense. But wait, it isn’t my heart that gets horny. I know enough about my anatomy to know where horniness Read more [...]

On Human Cloning

Recent advances in stem cell research have reopened the controversy that has surrounded the issue of human cloning.[i]  There is widespread opposition throughout the world to the reproductive cloning of a human being. Many countries have enacted laws prohibiting it. The UN struggled with the issue for years and finally enacted a non-binding Declaration on Human Cloning in 2005, calling for a ban on all forms of human cloning “inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection Read more [...]

Why is the Vatican a State?

[This was written a few years ago when the pedophile priest scandal was at its peak.  The scandal seems to have died down, but the questions that were raised have not gone away.] The central office of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, is considered a nation.  No other religion is accorded this honor.  Why does the Catholic Church deserve such recognition? This is not a matter of great antiquity or longstanding tradition.  It happened in 1929, less than ninety years ago.  The hallowed figure Read more [...]

Who Gives More To Charity?

Conservatives frequently claim that they give more money to charities that help the poor than liberals do. Is it true? I did some digging and came up with some numbers. In 2010, individuals and their estates gave over $290B to charities.  By far the largest category, (35%) of all charitable giving went to churches.[1]  That’s over a hundred billion dollars. The next largest recipient was educational institutions at about $40B. White evangelical Christians are big contributors to their Read more [...]

Quotes by Victor Stenger – One of my Heroes

Victor Stenger was a physicist, author, philosopher and a religious skeptic. He wrote several books, including “God: The Failed Hypothesis” Subtitle: “How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist.” I have read most of his books, and had a few conversations with Vic via Email. I found him very approachable and friendly…just like his books, which are written in a direct, no-nonsense style. Sadly, he died in 2014, suddenly and unexpectedly. Here are some quotes from his books and writings. “In Read more [...]

Religious Right – Defender’s of Women’s rights?

This was written before the last Presidential election, but it still applies to the current political situation. The Virginia state legislature passed a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound probe inserted into their you-know-what before they could have an abortion.  Governor Robert McDonnell called it the “women’s right to know bill.” The idea is to force the woman to hear the heartbeat of the fetus, obviously with the hope that she will then change her mind about the abortion.  Read more [...]

Pre-Game Prayers…Another View

Not all Christians think public prayers are a good thing.  I read a very moving piece by a devout evangelical Christian who had an experience that not many US citizens will ever have.  Gary B. Christenot was in the military and was assigned to a base in Hawaii.  The small town where his family was assigned housing was predominantly Chinese and Japanese immigrants, but the family was able to find a small Baptist church that filled their needs.  Most of the other churches in the town were Buddhist Read more [...]

Kneeling is a Mortal Sin

This was written a few years ago, but it’s still good for a chuckle. The Catholic Church here in Orange County, California has yet another controversy to deal with along with their pedophile priests.  In an LA Times article today, I learned that kneeling can be dangerous to your spiritual health.  The pastor at St. Mary’s By the Sea in Huntington Beach has decreed that parishioners should not kneel after the Agnus Dei.  After a number of people defied this and continued to kneel, he declared Read more [...]

Home Schooling

Some people do not like what their kids will experience in public schools, so they educate them at home.  Is this good or bad? First, I must admit that I have some bias here.  I come from a long line of schoolteachers.  Most of my family…my mother, and most of my brothers and sisters and their spouses have been involved in the teaching or administration of public schools. Can an amateur teach a child all the things that they will learn in public schools?  I suppose it is possible.  Read more [...]

Big Brother is a Schizophrenic

“And Bert, well I just guess that Bert is typical of the kind who complain about "Big Brother" while asking the same big brother to fix all of their problems.” The above comment was posted in a thread that I was participating in recently. My first response was to reject it. And then, I thought some more and decided that the commenter was correct. But the problem is, Big Brother is a schizophrenic, a clear case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I love the good things that government does, and Read more [...]

On Separation of Church and State

"It is true that the literal phrase 'separation of church and state' does not appear in the Constitution, but that does not mean the concept isn't there. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." What does that mean? A little history is helpful: In an 1802 letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson, then president, declared that the American people through the First Amendment Read more [...]