Archive for November, 2012

North Korean “Unicorn” Claim

Posted in politics, skeptic, Uncategorized, woo on November 30th, 2012 by Kenna – Comments Off
Chinese Qilin

This is a Qilin from China, which is closer to the Korean version of a Unicorn than the American version. Click on the image to go to the wiki

By now, you’ve probably heard about the North Korean Unicorn cave. But what does this mean for cryptozology and skepticism? Eh, at this point, not much. Afterall, North Korea never actually said they found a unicorn, just that they found a unicorn cave. Because…

“A rectangular rock carved with words “Unicorn Lair” stands in front of the lair. The carved words are believed to date back to the period of Koryo Kingdom (918-1392). “

…because there’s a sign that SAYS Unicorn Lair.

But what’s really going on in this story? Why release a story about unicorns at all? Well, according to legend, this particular unicorn belonged to an ancient Korean king, Tongmyong. If that king lived in North Korea, then that means that the “true” capitol of Ancient Korea is in North Korea, not South. North Korea is saying that if the two Koreas ever reunite, then North Korea should be in charge, because historically this is where the capital used to be.

Because there’s a sign that says Unicorn Lair.

Don’t be fooled by eager Western reporters. This is a political move, not a cryptozological claim.

The text of the article can be found from the official DPRK News site if you poke around a a bit. Go to the calendar and click on November 29th and then look for Unicorn. It’s not very link-friendly.

Lincoln Was Not Christian, Damnit

Posted in politics, religion on November 30th, 2012 by Jim Newman – Comments Off

My post “What the Hell Did Lincoln Really Believe” concluded that Lincoln was not a Christian in any kind of technical sense. Being a deist, or talking about God, does not make you a Christian but only a monotheist and certainly not the kind of Christian the vast majority of people believe to be Christian. For most Christians, Lincoln deserved to be damned. The desire to own him underlines the deep need to create a Christian Theocracy as being the only moral governance. It angers this silly nonsense prevails; Lincoln was not Christian, damnit, or damn him as he did not seek salvation in Christ or follow any kind of church canon. I will let the quotes stand for themselves.

“My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
– Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J S Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln’s death (Willie died in 1862), quoted by Joseph Lewis in “Lincoln the Freethinker,” also appearing in Remsburg’s “Six Historic Americans”

 

“What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.
– Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Mary Todd Lincoln in William Herndon’s Religion of Lincoln, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 118

 

It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.
– Abraham Lincoln, Manford’s Magazine, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 144

 

“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.
– Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis in “Lincoln the Freethinker”

 

“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not that we be not judged.
– Abraham Lincoln, sarcasm in his Second Innaugural Address (1865)

 

“Oh, that [his Thanksgiving Message] is some of Seward’s nonsense, and it pleases the fools.
– Abraham Lincoln, to Judge James M Nelson, in response to a question from Nelson: “I once asked him about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published.” Quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 138

 

“There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, and was suspected of being a Deist and had talked of fighting a duel.
– Abraham Lincoln, letter to Martin M Morris (March 26, 1843), in The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (Nicolay & Hay Edition, volume 1, page 80), quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents (page 112)

 

“I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal His will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed that He would reveal it directly to me … These are not, however, the days of miracles…. I must study the plain, physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right.
– Abraham Lincoln, in a speech to an assembly of clergymen regarding the struggles he was having over the Emancipation Proclamation that would soon be issued (1862), quoted from Susan Jacoby, “One Nation, Under Secularism” (January 8, 2004)

 

“I have neither time nor disposition to enter into discussion with the Friend, and end this occasion by suggesting for her consideration the question whether, if it be true that the Lord has appointed me to do the work she has indicated, it is not probable that he would have communicated knowledge of the fact to me as well as to her.
– Abraham Lincoln, to a Quaker (Friends) clergyman who had given him a message from the Lord, from Allen Thorndyke Rice, ed, Reminiscences of Lincoln, pp. 284-285, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 136

 

“Mr. Lincoln’s maxim and philosophy were: ‘What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.’ He never joined any Church. He was a religious man always, I think, but was not a technical Christian.”
– Mary Todd Lincoln in William Herndon’s Religion of Lincoln, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 118

 

“Mr. Lincoln had no hope, and no faith, in the usual acceptation of those words.”
– Mary Todd Lincoln, to Colonel Ward H Lamon, in his Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 459, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 118

 

“When Dr. Holland asked Mr. Herndon about his partner’s religoius convictions, Mr. Herndon replied that he had none, and the less he said on that subject the better. ‘Oh well,’ replied Dr. Holland, ‘I’ll fix that.’”
– Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 112, on Dr. Josiah G Holland, later editor of Scribner’s Monthly, having spent only two weeks interviewing Lincoln’s friends before preparing his Biography, in which Holland fabricated accounts of Lincoln’s piety

 

“No one of Lincoln’s old acquaintances in this city ever heard of his conversion to Christianity by Dr. Smith or anyone else. It was never suggested nor thought of here until after his death…. I never saw him read a second of time in Dr. Smith’s book on Infidelity. He threw at down upon our table — spit upon it as it were — and never opened it to my knowledge.”
– William Herndon, quoted in Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 124

 

“Mr. Lincoln was entirely deficient in what the phrenologists call reverence [veneration]…. I was once in Mr. Lincoln’s company when a sectarian controversy arose. He himself looked very grave, and made no observation until all the others had finished what they had to say. Then with a twinkle of the eye he remarked that he preferred the Episcopalians to every other sect, because they are equally indifferent to a man’s religion and his politics.”
– Maunsell B Field, from Memories of Many Men, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 137

 

“In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same opinion as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out, he remained an unbeliever. Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book, in which he endeavored to prove the fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ.”
– Judge James M Nelson, who had an intimate acquaintance with Lincoln in Washington, in the Louisville Times, in 1887, quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, p. 137

 

“While it may be fairly said that Mr. Lincoln entertained many Christian sentiments, it cannot be said that he was himself a Christian in faith or practice. He was no disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. He did not believe in his divinity and was not a member of his Church.
“He was at first a writing Infidel of the school of Paine and Volney, and afterwards a talking Infidel of the school of Parker and Channing….
“If the Churches had grown cold — if the Christians had taken a stand aloof — that instant the Union would have perished. Mr. Lincoln regulated his religious manifestations accordingly. He declared frequently that he would do anything to save the Union, and among the many things he did was the partial concealment of his individual religious opinions. Is this a blot upon his fame? Or shall we all agree that it was a conscientious and patriotic sacrifice?”
– The New York World (about 1875), quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beleifs of Our Presidents, pp. 138-39

 

 “The pretty little story about the picture of President Lincoln and his son Tad reading the Bible is now corrected for the one-hundredth time. The Bible was Photographer Brady’s picture album, which the President was examining with his son while some ladies stood by. The artist begged the President to remain quiet, and the picture was taken. The truth is better than fiction, even if its recital conflicts with a pleasing theory.”
– The Boston Globe, quoted in Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 139

 

“He was very cautious never to give expression to any thought or sentiment that would grate harshly upon a Christian’s ear.”
– Joshua Speed, explaining at least some of Lincoln’s extremely careful choice of language that was later used by Christians in attempts to “prove” Lincoln’s Christian piety, in Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, quoted from A W Furches, personal letter to Cliff Walker (January 10, 2002)

 

“The measure of his difference from most of the men who surrounded him is best gauged by his attitude toward the fundamentals of religion. For all his devotion to his cause he did not allow himself to believe that he knew the mind of God with regard to it. He was never so much the mystic as in his later days and never so far removed from the dogmatist. Here was the final flowering of that mood which appears to have lain at the back of his mind from the beginning — his complete conviction of a reality of a supernatural world joined with a belief that it was too deep for man to fathom. His refusal to accept the ‘complicated’ statement of doctrines which he rejected, carried with it a refusal to predicate the purpose of the Almighty. Again, that singular characteristic, his power to devote himself wholly to a cause and yet to do so in such a detached, unviolent way that one is tempted to call it passionless. He retained nothing of the tribal forms of religion and was silent when they raged about him with a thousand tongues.
– Encyclopædia Britannica, 14th ed., quoted in Franklin Steiner, The Religious Views of Our Presidents, p. 139-40

 

 Thanks to Positive Atheism for making this much easier. What these quotes do for me is want to learn more about Mary Todd Lincoln!
Jim Newman, bright and well

The Pink Atheist Episode 14

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30th, 2012 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off

Another great show, The Pink Atheist Episode 14!

Our Guests…..

William Hamby (Atlanta Atheism Examiner) talking about atheism and counseling.

William Hamby is a longtime blogger and secular activist. He maintains a blog at http://livinglifewithoutanet.wordpress.com/, where he examines religion, science, and culture from a secular perspective. A former evangelical Christian, William has experienced both sides of religious life in America, and is now an advocate for human rights and separation of church and state.

Annie Laurie Gaylor (Co-founder and Co-President of the FFRF) Talking about FFRF activities and the lawsuit against the IRS.

Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So (FFRF, Inc., 1981), a reader’s guide to the bible’s treatment of women, in its fifth printing

Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children (FFRF, Inc., 1988), the first nonfiction book exposing widespread sexual abuse of children by clergymen

Women Without Superstition: “No Gods – No Masters” (FFRF, Inc. 1997), an anthology of women freethinkers.

Plus several great clips from Skepticon 5!

PZ Myers – Blog Pharyngula

Jessie Galef – Communications Director for The Secular Student Alliance.

Aron Ra – Blog The Ace of Clades

Just click the little play button below… to hear all of the guests and the interviews from Skepticon.  Thanks for listening!

Listen to internet radio with The Pink Atheist on Blog Talk Radio

Most Religious Least Happy

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30th, 2012 by Phil Ferguson – 2 Comments

Most Religious Least HappyI have been asked,  “why do you want to take religion away from people – if it makes them happy?”

If it makes you happy – fine.  But, that does not make it true.  If things were true simply because it made you happy then I would shit out golden eggs!  The truth is important and I want to live in a world where people value truth over fantasies.  Taking the easy answer can be dangerous and I am convinced that….

Religion is a net negative on the probability of our survival as a species. – Phil Ferguson

There is evidence that religion does NOT make people happier.

The most religious states are the least happy based on Gallup data.

It’s not just the USA.  This is true around the world.

Countries with the highest average self-reported happiness are the least religious. The happiest nations are, in order, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Sweden, Denmark and Norway are the second, third, and fourth least religious countries, being exceeded only by formerly-communist Estonia in their atheism.

Now it could be that atheism causes happiness or that happiness causes atheism.  It could just be coincidence.  As I’m sure you know correlation does not necessarily mean causation (one way or the other).  However, it is clear that atheism does not cause moral decay and the collapse of society.

However, in the worst parts of the world the happiest people within an unhappy country are the very religious.

In very religious places, there is a great deal of misery because the quality of life is abysmal. Think of Afghanistan, or Somalia. Within that environment, the security blanket of religion may be the only effective anti-anxiety agent around. As a result, people who are deeply religious can achieve a level of calm that eludes their less religious neighbors.

So religion really is the opiate for the masses?

As a famous philosopher once said….

Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion. – Jon Stewart

Just A Reminder

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29th, 2012 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off

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