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Post 0

Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 9:12amSanction this postReply
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Mr. Manfred;

                          I've seen this excellent documentary too.
            
Curiosity:  I´ve just came up to know a new neologism or portmanteu looking for Bill Maher position about religion and        
                  found "apatheism" which is a linguistic blend of the words (aphaty and theism/atheism).
                 
                  For what I understood it's the position that: "maybe there is a God or maybe there isn't, though I just don´t care."
                 
                  I think it's a middle of the road neologism within agnosticism and atheism, so you can spare the 
                  inconvenience of calling yourself an atheist in front of your audience.
                
                  Here are some links for those intersted:
   
    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-apatheism.htm             
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200305/rauch           
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism

                 
                 Thank you Manfred for this article!!!
                 Un saludo desde Argentina.


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Post 1

Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 1:15pmSanction this postReply
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I haven't seen this yet, but this intrigues me enough now to want to. Maher has never struck me as someone who would include the 'Social Scientologists' on his list of whacky religious movements. I will be surprised if he doesn't keep his focus only on what the 'other' whacky religions sell.

If so, then he's participated in the age old tradition of religions smearing as irrational only what competing religions are selling in the endless 'War of the We.'

If not, then, well, I'll be truly surprised.


"To THINK and not to take what popes, priests, monks, pastors, religious teachers and leaders of the Islam, rabbis, gurus, etc. etc. press continually through menaces, fear, condemnation into the people's mind."

...and social scientologists, circularly railing against 'anti-social' thought. Now, class, pick up your Sociology hymnal, and repeat after me, "This is what sociologists beleive:..."

Favorite drinking game: pick up any sociology textbook, and every time you come across "so-and-so believed..." or "Schmegfield countered..." or "Blumentwerp implied..." drink a shot of beer and sing out "Halleluleah, Brother, bring on the soft science, and praise the conciousness of all conciousness that is beyond all mere local contingencies, and sees all from above!"





(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 4/16, 1:22pm)


Post 2

Saturday, April 18, 2009 - 3:19amSanction this postReply
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The United States of America appears to be the original model where on can admit that religion and government run neck and neck in the benevolence department. Both structures falling victim to propoganda of the time and committing grave mistakes. This makes one wonder who is setting the standard for ones rational self interest.
 Santa Clause still roques and STOP does not really mean 'squeal tires on pavement'.  Get it.


Post 3

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 2:25amSanction this postReply
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Oh please!

Such texts as this essay are old and moldy.  And as a matter of fact, completely factually wrong.  Only a few religions, or sects within religions emphasize as their prominent perspective that life on earth is a dreary time of waiting for and being tested for the afterlife.  Most religions - as they are actually practiced by real people - are more or less joyous or at least function as a social support club, and many, many people have benefitted over the ages from the support of religious communities.   

"These people do not emphasize the magnificence of life and our individual uniqueness, but only tell us that THIS life is just a stage to prepare for the real life that comes after death. People gulp it down hook, line and sinker, and, since once we're dead these rulers and High and Mighty don't have to prove anything, they can go on promoting their deceits."

Quite wrong - I mean  I think this essay is being written about a civilization on some other planet.  Even Islam recognizes the magnificence of life, and that recognition becomes more intensified as one goes through the list, except for as I noted above a few odd relgions and sects - they are not statistically significant. 

Religious people are more or less average, but they do have their religious events, such as: 1) weekly services - these can be a bit boring, but can also be meditative and medical science in the West has now recognized the benefits of meditation for good health. 2) weddings - in virtually every religion these are joyous events and often very large parties with much food, drink and live music.  What more do you want, fireworks? 3) births/baptisms - again, joyous events often accompanied by parties.  4) Special Holidays, like Christmas and Easter, Diwali and Holi, Eid, etc.   Always big parties, food, drink and live music.  A lot of musicians and caterers make a nice piece of change from religious holidays - they're good for the economy.

And in between these religious events the individuals carry on for the most part as they would whether they were believers or not.  Although, actually, statistics seem to suggest that religious people commit fewer crimes than the non-religious, and this is easy to see just by watching MSNBC's series "Lockup", which gives a lot of good looks into American prisons and interviews with prisoners.  Most felons are not religious people.  Prisoners, being mostly atheists, are very difficult to manage, creating a lot of unnecessary problems for the guards and eah other.  These atheists are not only a burden to society by way of the crimes they commit, but also because they drive up the cost of their incarceration.  Any prison warden will tell you that the small group of prisoners who "turn to Christ" ( in India I assume they turn to "Krishna") are the least troublesome, and in many cases prisoners who were previously very troublesome, and therapy-resistant, have been pacified by religion.

Facts, actual facts of everyday life, draw a very different picture than the hyperbolic complaining of religion haters.  In fact, the huge difference between actual facts on the ground and the way that religion haters misrepresent reality suggests something is not quite right.  It is almost as if claims are being made that ripe mangos are bitter.  Huh?

For those a bit weak on history, no war has ever been fought over religion.  All wars have been fought over land and sometimes other material resources, or perhaps a woman.  The Mughals invaded Hindu India not because they wanted to convert them to Islam for the glory of Allah, but because 1) they were being chased by other Mughals, and fled to India 2) India is a gem - a fantastic piece of land, and there were many very beautiful women there.   If India looked like the Gobi Desert then it is unlikely there would have been much fighting over her.  The soon-to-be-no-more Tamil Tigers are fighting over land in Sri Lanka, not religion.  And guess what -- it's a pretty nice piece of land they're fighting over.  Would anyone fight for Saudi Arabia if it was only sand, without oil?  Oh, there are always kooks, but for the most part no one is going to get all that worked up over a sandy desert.   And so the Saudis may make statements against Israel, and maybe they are secretly  funding Hamas (although I doubt it), but I really can't believe that Saudis really care all that much what happens to the Palestinians - they are not losing sleep over the matter.  Why?  Because they are rich beyond belief and preoccuppied with their wealth.  After the initial involvement of some Saudi nuts on 9/11, few if any Saudis were going to Iraq to fight for Allah.  The foreigners going to Iraq to fight for Allah were miserably poor souls from Syria, Yemen, Libya and Pakistan, and some other 'stans,  who were likely not much more than mercenaries - and chunks of money are given to the family of suicide bombers. And the fact is that many suicide bombers were known to be mentally ill before they were recruited - their family was likely glad to be rid of them and get some money in the deal as well.  People can be made into killers with some chicanery and anti-depressants.

Shall I go on?  Was WW1 or WW2 about religion, or the American Civil War?  All were about land.  What about all those wars and battles in Classic and Hellenic Greece - not a one was about religion.  All were about land and trade routes and such.  And Rome waged significant war throughout the Mediterranean and Europe for the sake of Empire, not Jupiter.  Was Alexander the Great on a Crusade?  I have never heard that claim made against him. The War of the Roses - about land.  And of course "about land" also means "about power", as one has no power without land.  And I'm sure pursuit of power can be a motivator for war, even if one already has a lot of good land.  Pursuit of power - egoism - has likely caused a lot of wars (hint: Napoleon)

But don't many of the large religions of today admonish egoism and pursuit of power? Yes they do.  And so, again, facts on the ground paint a different story than that tired old "religion has caused so many wars" broken record playing on a $5 dollar record player from Kmart. 

Shall I go on?  Bangladesh fought a war with brother-in-Allah Pakistan, and was aided in winning the war by the Hindus - that was a weird one.  And to this day India has made no moves on Bangladesh, though she could take it with one hand tied behind her back, while sleeping.  But then, who would want it, really.  Again my thesis is supported - Bangladesh has sovereignity because no other nation, or ambitious man, wants that swampy thing.  Rwanda Genocide...not over religion, rather, over land and privledges. And the insanity currently raging in the Congo - not over religion.  Actually, looking at Africa, the facts are that Christians have played an important role in helping to bring peace and limited prosperity.  The archbishop of Zimbabwe has been very courageous and effective in his criticism of Mugabe.   

Back to India - only a teency handful of crazy tribals go on the rampage (often liquored up with todi) and pillage and burn Christian villages - most Indians prefer to get along.  Analysts note that the rampages suspiciously precede important elections.  Also, note that rarely if ever do the Christian villagers in India retaliate.  Their religious embrace has made them less warlike, not more warlike. And the tribals - not much religion there, just some animism and a few vague Hindu notions.

Buddhists - not very aggressive, but they can be in some cases.  But note that the Sinahalese (mostly Buddhists) in Sri Lanka really did try to find peace with the LTTE, for 20 years they tried and tried and tried.  But eventually enough is enough, you know what I mean?  Sort of like the American Civil War.  In fact, what the Sri Lankan military is doing right now as I write is a nearly exact equivalent to the campaign waged by US Grant in the American Civil War, although with less slash and burn.  Oh yeah, US-Mexican war....land.

And what if Nietzsche was right, that conflict is inevitable because it is dictated by the way the laws of physics work through biologic entities, and the reasons given for a war are inconsequential.  It was his contention that wills or collective wills will eventually actually seek conflict as part of the evolutionary process, war being the highest form of all hygienes?  Poor Fritz, his books have been read by tens of millions, and yet he never saw a penny of it.

So, I must ask those who embrace this silly old idea to do two things 1) conduct a careful and honest study of all known wars and conflicts, or as many as you can, and determine the real causes for the war - what was the prize?  Go back to at least 3000 BC with your study.  2) As you will discover that religion played at best, only an epiphenominal role in a small percent of war, then you must ask yourself why did you embrace this fallacious notion?  What is it in you, or your past, that is the cause for this distorted worldview?


Lastly....

So, Bill Maher implores us to THINK.  Um....have you ever noticed that most of his audience is stoned?  But regardless of that, who can define what "Think" means?  That's a vague word.  Unfortunatley, if a word does not refer to a concrete object or easily definable motion, or a simple adjective or adverb, like red or fast, then the word has a vague definition.  All that Bill Maher means by "Think" is, "adopt my worldview"....because unless one did adopt his worldview, he would accuse the person of not thinking.  That's the imposition of a logical fallacy.  And actually, it's facism and bigotry.

On the other hand we could define the word "think" and then we could determine who is and who is not "thinking".  But agreement on the definition of the word would never be reached, because the various factions would want the word defined in a way that made them look good or right or just or enlightened, while making the other faction look unjust or stupid or whatever.  Such an enterprise is impossible and so why bother.

Furthermore, even if "think" was defined, we all have to think towards goals.  Thus, "thinking" or "mental activity" only serves the pursuit of goals, and no one really knows why they have the goals that they have, though they may like the goals they have.  And even furthermore, we know that people can be brainwashed and hypnotized and such (that's how advertising works) and so how can we trust "thinking", since once we are brainwashed we "think" the implanted goal is one that we 'thought" up ourselves.  Did I determine that I wanted new wheels on my car, at $100 each, or did the manufacturer of the wheel put that thought in my head via the advertising agency?  I say that latter.  Oh sure, we can try to see behind the curtain and learn to be wary of advertisers.  But who among us has not been seduced in some way, and will be again?

When there are no goals, there are no thoughts.  All thought is goal-oriented - even the engagement in silly fantasy thinking has as it's goal anxiety reduction.  Where do the goals come from?  To what extent might genetics serve to steer our goals?  And so on.   Only a fool trusts his/her thinking.  Of course that was the Buddha's opinion.

I say that to not quesiton one's thinking, one's goals, is to be rather vain: "my thought is right and good and does not need questioning...becasue I have had it."  That's so silly.   Thoughts come and go almost chaoticly and generally in response to the environment, which includes other people.  Thoughts may only be reactions, and never actions.  As far as I can tell, they are only reactions.  Who hasn't ruminated?  How does a rumination start up?  One minute it's not there, the next, it is!
Wow, thinking is  like magic!!!

And so I note that some of the most humble and careful and considerate human perspectives throughout all of history have come from religious traditions.  And look at what happened after King Ashok converted to Buddhism - he stopped waging war across the length and breadth of India and began a campaign of social spending.  What a nice guy he turned out to be!   And the Christians in southwest India (who have been there since Thomas the Apsotle baptized them) have created a wonderful little jungly paradise with a much higher literacy rate than the rest of India and better prosperity.  And today a large percentage, perhaps the largest percentage of slumdogs in India (street kids) are rescued and rehabilitated by Christians, most notably those despicable Catholics, and they don't even require the children to convert!  www.ashalayam.org
  
By the way, Objectivists and others can donate to my charity that supports street kids in India, by going to www.streetkidsupport.org, but really, I don't expect to get much in the way of donations from any non-religious persons.  Most people, including most Objectivists and atheists would rather spend $30/mo on dog food or weed or beauty treatments or porn or extra fattening food or new wheels or extra cell phone features than help a needy little slumdog.  Anyway, its not your problem, right?  Let the Indians deal with it. But you would probably not help much if you lived in India.  That is how people are, regardless of religion, although the religious do give more.  Religion is not a significant problem for humanity, humanity is the problem. 

I suggest to those with a religious antagonism that causes distorted fact collection, assimilation and communication: Something has happened in your past to make you bitter.  An atheist can be an honest atheist and report as factually as possible about the world around him/her, but many atheists are not very honest and in misreporting facts they are revealing a past, unresolved trauma.

Cheers

(Edited by Teresa Summerlee Isanhart on 4/21, 2:59pm)


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Post 4

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 8:27amSanction this postReply
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Rob,

I won't try to go into the same long detail, but I think that while you offer many astute observations, you miss one really big point. Yes, many, most... maybe all of these wars were about land and power, but what was the justification used in most to enlist people into the fight - religion. Unthinking, blind faith religion, promises of redemption and glory, fanned righteous intolerance of 'heathen' religions - these devices are what not only made most of these wars possible, but contributed to the absolute savagery displayed time and again, throughout history.

I won't disagree that there are some ideas promoted by many religions that are, in fact, positive values. However, values are not derived from religions, they are only occasionally recognized by religions because they are anchored in reality and they resonate with finer human instincts. The moment that values are divorced from reason, and rational thought, they lose their anchor, and any number of false values can be presented in their place. The danger of religion is that it can be made to say anything.

If it is the facts that make you bitter, then maybe blaming humanity will make you feel better. Denying the unadorned nature of humanity, however, will not change the facts. It is a self-deceit that will only make you miserable.

jt

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Post 5

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 8:28amSanction this postReply
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Post #3: Troll alert.
(Edited by Glenn Fletcher on 4/21, 8:29am)


Post 6

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 8:45amSanction this postReply
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Bangladesh is a terrible example. You clearly haven't spent 30 seconds in Bangladesh.

The Old Men In Robes run that place and its people. It's nominally secular civil government runs little. India -created- Pakistan and East Pakistan, now Bangladesh via Partition, to isolate the hated lowest of the low caste muslims from the hindus. They aren't about to take the muslims 'back, via war or anything else.' They plunked what is now Bangladesh down at the exit of their sewage disposal system, the Ganges. 140 million live in thrall to 'hartals' and 'kitchen fires' and women as chattel and religious based ignorance. Gangs of religious thugs regularly enforce the hartals (national religious strikes)by tearing victims out of rickshaws and murdering them in the streets. The newspapers the next day dutifully carry the tally of how many religious thugs murdered how many victims for violating the religious strike. The nominally secular civil government begs its people to ignore the hartals, to 'modern up' already.

Bangladesh -is- a religious war, on its own people, and they're losing.









Post 7

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 3:13pmSanction this postReply
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Oh, come on, Glenn!  We haven't had a troll like this in a long time.


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Post 8

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 3:49pmSanction this postReply
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Teresa,
You're right.  I was saying "Come and see the troll!"


Post 9

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 4:18pmSanction this postReply
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Step right up, folks! 

Would anyone be upset if I rejected future posts from this individual?


Post 10

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 4:50pmSanction this postReply
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As long as ye not provide a bridge under which it can settle, ye be ok...;-)

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Post 11

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 - 2:28amSanction this postReply
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Thanks to all those that have come up in defense of my article. I was already wondering if other Objectivists would come to the fore to defend REASON. Thanks again, and let's move forward to the blazon of what Ayn Rand so splendidly brought forth in her writings: the defense and promotion of RATIONAL individuals.

 

To Rob: Your lack of historical knowledge would be appalling if it were not clear from what you wrote that your full interest lays in presenting a great big untruth, to state it mildly, a yarn that leads and, if nothing is done against it, will push humanity into the abyss of its own disappearance from planet Earth.

 

I'll present now a few fundamental facts that you have carefully left out of your long writing:


1) To give your writing even the appearance of being based on facts, you must start by providing factual proof of the existence of the basis of your statements, i.e. the provable existence of "God". Don't say now that you don't need to do it or that the existence of a "God" is self-evident, for it is not. Besides, my writing "Ayn Rand, I and the Universe" - published in eight installments at "Rebirth of Reason" - proves beyond any doubt that such a "God" doesn't exist… nor can it. But this proof is of essential need for any believer… and, evidently, not providing it amounts to recognizing that such a proof of existence is totally unavailable and, as I show in my writing, impossible due to its inherent contradiction in terms. While the argument I used is different from others available - some of them coming even from Kant - you can read these other proofs and arguments in Count Volney's "The Ruins of Palmyra" (written at the end of the 18th century), Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach (also of the 18th century), the marvelous texts of Robert Ingersoll, the writings of Peter A. Angeles, B.C. Johnson's "The Atheist Debater's Handbook", Nick Gisburne's "The Atheist are Revolting", George H. Smith's books and many, many more which would be too long to name in detail. But, since we're at it, and along the line of what Jay Abbott states in Post 4, may I recommend you to read the books of Christopher Hitchens and Karlheinz Deschner (of the last one named English translations are available)?. Also, there's a very detailed article on "Atheism" at Wikipedia (look it up, as well as the list of very intelligent quotes at "Atheism" in Wikiquote). Perhaps you will hold that all the thinkers mentioned are dumb people but, my oh my, if you do so you confess your own lack of criteria. Some participants in this thread are already calling you a "troll", a term I shed away from ever being considered to be such in the Internet.

 

2) Since you flatly deny or, at least, strenuously doubt the existence of "thinking", may I ask you how did you construct what you wrote? After all, you had to learn the English language, its spelling and grammar, the use of its verbs, substantives, conjunctions, etc. etc., all of which requires the capacity of thinking, though it may eventually be used for fantasies such as the ones you present, their misconstructions and errors. Further on, "thinking" has a very clear and unbiased definition, for it means to exercise the mental faculties as to form ideas, arrive at conclusions, etc. (See the Webster for it, but then, the Webster is no authority at all, right?). Or did you write what you wrote by "speaking in tongues". Perhaps you did, for what you wrote is so totally filled with contradictions that it is practically incomprehensible.

For example, you said that prisoners in jails are mostly atheists, but this is evidently not so, for the US Federal Bureau of Prisons found out in 1997 that while 75% of the US population are Christians so too 75% of the prison population are Christians. This evidently renders your statement invalid, particularly in view of what, again, the US Federal Bureau of Prisons found in 1997: while at that time 10% of the US population were atheist (its 16% now - see Maher's movie and further statistics) only 0.2% of the prison population were atheists (which speaks VERY MUCH in favor of the high morals held by atheists, though their morals are not religious). So, all in all, the information you gather is really mistaken.

 

Moreover, there are quite some great atheists among us: Isaac Asimov (know him?), Francis Crick and James Watson, the DNA discoverers and Nobel Prizes, Marie Curie (obtained 2 Nobel Prizes), Richard Dawkins (look it up in the Internet), Thomas Alva Edison (mind you, your post was sent at 2:25am, which means that you had to use the light bulb he invented and so many other things you use, including many parts in your computer which were originally developed by this "fool", such as the diode, Stephen Gould, Massimo Pigliucci, Steven Pinker, Karl Popper, Carl Sagan, Michael Shermer, E. O Wilson (you can look them all up in the Internet), and I could also add a long list of actors, actresses, songwriters, film directors, writers (Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Gene Roddenberry, etc.), also "magicians" (Penn & Teller!), etc. etc. to this list. And, of course, let's not forget James Randi. But all of these peoples were dumb fools, wouldn't you say so? And none of them ever "thought", i.e. used their brain, right?

 

I have a good one in store for your: In 1999 George Barna, the Christian sociologist, published the result of his investigation, which was not very favorable to his beliefs, for he found out that while 27% of Born Again Christians and 24% of Mainstream Protestants faced divorce, only 21% of the atheists do, which again adds a bit more to atheist's high standard of morals.

Let me add a bit of fun to all this: You say that it was not you but the wheel manufacturer that convinced you to buy new tires. I do hope you changed the old ones before they crumbled to pieces - whatever the manufacturer may have told you - for, else, your car would be a real danger to the other people on the road. But then, why should you worry about them? After all, in the States 16% of the population are atheists anyhow, right? Well, in the city where I live the official statistics counted 25% as being atheists but, fortunately, we have a strict control on tire profiles and ban them from the streets well before pavement has wiped the tires to smithereens.

 

 Let me finish with a few words from Carl Sagan: "It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

 

All in all, your writing presses forward the deep truth in Abu'l- `Ala' al-Ma`arri's words in the quote that heads my article, as pronounced 1,000 years ago.

 

May REASON, if at all possible, start to guide you! And, as Pat Condell (another atheist) would say: Peace!

(Edited by Manfred F. Schieder on 4/22, 3:02am)

(Edited by Manfred F. Schieder on 4/22, 8:42am)


Post 12

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 - 10:11pmSanction this postReply
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Would anyone be upset if I rejected future posts from this individual?

As in, banned?
Wouldn't you just stick him in "Dissent"?

How can you possibly ban anyone who can say, "Even Islam recognizes the magnificence of life..." with a straight face?


Post 13

Thursday, April 23, 2009 - 3:37pmSanction this postReply
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(lol, Erica..)

I can't ban people!  I can only reject their stupid, ignorant, bullshit if they don't (aptly) have enough Atlas points to pollute the forums without supervision.

His posts were long, but I should have taken the time to read them all the way through before posting.  My mistake!



Post 14

Thursday, April 23, 2009 - 3:53pmSanction this postReply
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He joined the uber-elite group known as "Dissenters" a couple days ago. No need to ban or moderate him. Someone might want to argue with him.

Post 15

Saturday, February 18 - 1:08amSanction this postReply
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Just for the record - for I don’t think that anybody will presently read my article „Religulous,“ presented on „Rebirth of Reason“ on April 16, 2009 – I issue herewith the following statement:

As an atheist, I endorse my opinion on Bill Maher’s standpoint in relation with his opposition to religions, as long as he continues to hold this position.

 

However, at the time I wrote mentioned article, I hadn’t the slightest knowledge of Maher’s further political standpoint, which, to me, has revealed itself, in the meantime, as evidently left-wing. I don’t adhere nor support such a position. My lack of knowledge of Maher’s political position is due to the fact that I never followed, nor even knew, of Maher’s TV-shows, etc., nor even thought it necessary, had I known it, to do so, for I specifically referred to his picture “Religulous,” on which my article commented.

 

In the same sense, I adhere to Richard Dawkins position against religions, which I also mentioned in said article. However, in the meantime I became aware of Dawkins left-wing political position, which moved me to block any news from his source that I could eventually receive through the social medias. Dawkins, further on, has a deep knowledge of evolution, which turns his writings on the specific subject of evolution as highly recommendable.

 

Maher’s and Dawkins political position, on the other hand, follow nowadays general position of the main media in relation with left-wing positions, a matter utterly disgusting to my personal likings.

I understand that this statement makes my position clear in relation to the article mentioned.



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