72 virgins or raisins? 10-1-09
Learning religious variety: 10-3/4-09

Muslims hitting stardom: 10-2-09

I ran into a Muslim friend the other day who was eager to tell me the good news about her son who, like me, is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism (the world's oldest and best J-school, by the way) -- he quite recently, me a couple of centuries ago.

Taghmaoui

Her son had just landed a TV reporting job in a medium-sized Midwestern city and now seems to be on his way to making his mark in the world.

Her happy story reminded me of this recent report on Beliefnet.com, which reported on Muslims doing quite well in the American entertainment industry, especially Hollywood. (One of those Muslims is Said Taghmaoui, pictured here. He appears in the movie "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.")

Now, I have to confess that I know precious little about anyone in Hollywood, whether Muslim or not. So only one or two of the names of the people on the Beliefnet list meant anything to me. And even most of the TV shows or movies they've been in are ones I've never seen or even heard of. But that's just me. Pop culture and I aren't much on speaking terms.

The good thing about such a list is that it shows that people outside historical the religious mainstream in America (meaning Christianity and Judaism) are beginning to find their way in our culture. Once that happens, it's harder and harder for them to be looked at as outsiders or as "the other."

Something similar to this started to happen decades ago in racial terms as African-Americans finally began to find positions in industries that previously were closed to them -- including the Major League Baseball industry. That didn't solve all the racial problems, for sure, but eventually it made possible the presidency of Barack Obama, just as the Muslim integration into our culture eventually made possible the election of Muslims to high office, including the U.S. House of Representatives.

So finding Muslims gaining fame in our entertainment industry is a sign of health in our society. Let's hope this movement doesn't get blocked by mindless religious prejudice.

* * *

A 'RELIGION' WINS IN COURT

Is Scientology a religion? Well, whatever it is, it has just won a court case in Europe against Russia, which has refused to list it among "religious organizations" under provisions of its "Religions Act." I've never been sure quite how to categorize Scientology, but generally am willing to accept the self-understanding, or self-designation, of followers of any path as long as there aren't negative human rights consequences and as long as such a designation isn't absurd on its face (like calling the Kansas City Chiefs a football team this year).

Comments

Will Graham

Bill, you really consider election to the House of Representatives as election to "high office"? LOL! Good one!

But seriously, I don't quite see how gaining fame in "our" entertainment industry is a sign of health in our society, since the entertainment industry itself is not a sign of health in our society, with its top heavy reliance on violence...as for example in the G.I. Joe movie you mention.

Of course, you may find more Muslims elected to office, although it is doubtful unless their behavior on the world scene changes...you do realize that even as we speak their are Muslims leaders planning the Second Attempt at the Extermination of the Jews?

(Which fits right in with the anti semitism of the "New" Atheists. An athiest being someone, by the way, who I could never vote for. A Muslim, possibly, but never an atheist because they don't have any higher value than themselves that I can see; I would certainly never willingly submit to be ruled over by an atheist, nor would I work for one.

What the athesits do, after telling you there is no God to tell you what to do is...then tell you what to do! LOL! Stuff like "stop posting", "crawl under a rock", "shut up", "die", ad nauseum.)

Will Graham

Some atheist may try to counter that they rely on the higher value of "reason".

Sure, THEIR view of "reason"...which already assumes it conclusions at the outset of the argument; and that is, that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself can be explained by mindless processes.

Of course, they can't demonstrate this...but the claim as held is "unfalsifiable" in the sense that term is used in the scientific method, meaning that their atheism is not to be equated with Science in any way.

And then they delve into history, relying on the same presuppositions, and make fringe claims about Jesus never existing when it fact that is not the view of mainstream scholarship.

It is not even the view of scholars they love around here, like John Shelby Spong.

Or even the view presented in their favorite source, Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existence_of_Jesus

Bill, you have been doing a great job defending Islam.

I look forward to the day when you actually defend Christianity.

Will Graham

For those who like to make arbitrary claims about the dating of the gospels, take a look at the work of John A.T. Robinson, an extremely liberal scholar who was a inspriation and mentor of John Shelby Spong. (Spong gets mentions a lot by the atheists around here, so they proably know Spong talks about Robinson in his books...Cole is probably aware of this.)

Robinsion came around to dating the gospels as early as the 40's in "Redating the New Testament" makes his case.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._T._Robinson

Of course, the claim that historical accounts could not be given long after an event is spurious. It has happended frequently in history. Also spurious is the claim that we have to have something in the original handwriting of a party to establish their existence...sure, show me something original by Socrates, Alexander of Julius Caesar. Better yet, tell us where we can at least a copy of an a memo Hitler wrote ordering the Holocaust.

We already have Holocaust deniers, just 60 some years after the event. What will they be claiming a 100 or a 1000 years from now?

That it never happened, and, by the spurious double standard of historical inquiry the atheists use, there will be a real problem.

Dolores Lear

Bill: "(I) am willing to accept the self-understanding, or self-designation, of followers of any path as long as there aren't negative human rights consequences.."

There are negative human rights consequences, for any follower of any religion, or no religion, in any country with a Capitalistic Government, or any Unequal Sharing Money and Earth's Resources Government.

When the Catholic Religion began, it took over Europe and Russia as the State Religion. The Protestant Religion began, and gradually took over Europe in some Countries. Catholic is still most prominent in Russia, but now it has No State Religion.

Some European Countries do not have a State Religion anymore. China had a different kind of State Religion, but now does not. The MidEast is mostly Muslim. And other religions in some Countries.

The USA never recognized a Religion as a State Religion, but Protestantism was practiced with Icons, Prayer, and Holidays, by their Members fleeing from the Catholic State Religion in Europe and Russia.

American Indians, African Blacks, Japanese and Chinese Citizens, received Negative Human Citizen Rights, in the New Protestant Majority USA, with negative Human Rights for some Citizens.

Vietnamese, Muslims, Religious Faiths, and Atheists, are accepted as Citizens. So the hodge podge of USA Citizens, needs to somehow become One Nation, (Under a Generic God?, or No God), with Liberty and Justice for All Citizens, like it was supposed to be when USA become a New Country.

Continued.

Dolores Lear

Continue.

'Under God', means Equal Sharing of GODs Resources on our Home Planet, like Jesus taught. Jesus was not a Christian, Catholic, Protestant, etc., but a Celibate Male Jew, rebelling against the Jewish Religion.

Jesus set up a Male Celibate Movement, with Equality and Equal Sharing of All Resources. Females and Children were added, like the Essene Dead Sea Group at that time.

http://www.bing.com/search?q=Essene&FORM=SOLTDF&pc=SOLTDF&src=IE-SearchBox

So what is Religion? What is the Point of Any God Religion, as long as Humans Kill Each Other?

The Human Species, the Celibate Adam and Eve Helpmeet Colony, were supposed to be the High Tech Clone Caretaker Human Species of our Home Planet,

Eve was made from Adam's Rib, not Reproduced by Body Birth. Why did these Clones Reproduce Children by Body Birth, instead of God/Us making more Purebred Clone Humans?

What does 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' mean on Planet Earth? Inequality, Killing, Pollution and Nuclear Bombs on land and sea, and the Destruction of our Eco System and Ozone Canopy?

And God Worship in temples made by Human Hands, using up GODs Resources needed for Life Species on our Earth Home?

Bill: "I've never been sure quite how to categorize Scientology,"

Most Religious Citizens have never been quite sure, how to categorize any Religion in the USA, but American Protestantism. Now we have Atheists.

And Bill's "Faith Matters" Blog, is a good example from the Comments, and the History of the Inequality of Protestant God Worshipers, and the rest of the Citizens of the USA, God Worshipers or Atheists.

Dolores Lear

Religious Belief can be Understood, when the Supernatural of the God/Us in our Image, is accepted with a High Tech Science Translation.

God/Us Humans, in our Human Image, did start Life on Earth with High Tech Colonization, that we accept Humans can do today with High Tech Science Colonization..

God/Us Humans, in our Human Image, did Reproduce a Female from the Male Rib. We Know about High Tech Science Cloning today.

All Religions have handed down Truth in them, but without High Tech Science, they can only be translated as 'Super'natural Gods, or the Unknown GOD, in many different Religions.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/216551

High Tech Science, the past 100 years, did rediscover Colonization of a Planet and Reproducing a Fetus, without the Male sex act to the Female.

High Tech Science does Clone Animals and could Clone Humans, in the 1990, if it was not opposed by Religious Humans.

GOD/LIFE does move in High Tech Science Ways, Mysterious to Body Birth Humans without High Tech Science, to Perform the Wonders of Eternal Physical LIFE After High Tech Science Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships.

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

I think most of America doesn’t care who plays what on TV or in the movies, which is good. As long as they are a good actor and being nice looking doesn’t hurt either.

Unfortunately, there are some nut jobs out there. They are getting smaller in number.

Also, unfortunately, Scientology too is a religion with a lot of nut jobs. It’s a perfect example for people nowadays to see first hand how ridiculously religions get started, not unlike any other religion with a space daddy.

I didn’t get to post yesterday. Busy with life.

But day before yesterday, Weds, Sept. 30, oh, my god, THAT was a learning experience! Great fun guys.

I believe that day placed issues in better perspective. I believe we’re beginning to know each other better, too. What do you guys think? I feel I know you better.

I’m glad you shared your observation, opinion(s) of me. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know you care about me.

Who knows, maybe someone was reading all that and it can possibly save some poor lost soul’s life from eternal damnation because of hair length. I never knew god hated long hair. Thanks JT.

Traplock, I can’t forget you, you posted late that evening, Sept 30. Your insight on body hygiene is priceless. Your knowledge should be in a grooming book. I bet your family is proud of you. Thanks for your advice, if it was aimed at me. If not, I’m sure it will be valuable to others. Keep up the good work.

I just want to say a special thanks to all for their opinion about my personal choices. I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank you. Love and kisses, Me.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

New study on psychology of belief

Background

While religious faith remains one of the most significant features of human life, little is known about its relationship to ordinary belief at the level of the brain. Nor is it known whether religious believers and nonbelievers differ in how they evaluate statements of fact. Our lab previously has used functional neuroimaging to study belief as a general mode of cognition [1], and others have looked specifically at religious belief [2]. However, no research has compared these two states of mind directly.
Methodology/Principal Findings

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure signal changes in the brains of thirty subjects—fifteen committed Christians and fifteen nonbelievers—as they evaluated the truth and falsity of religious and nonreligious propositions. For both groups, and in both categories of stimuli, belief (judgments of “true” vs judgments of “false”) was associated with greater signal in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area important for self-representation [3], [4], [5], [6], emotional associations [7], reward [8], [9], [10], and goal-driven behavior [11]. This region showed greater signal whether subjects believed statements about God, the Virgin Birth, etc. or statements about ordinary facts. 1A comparison of both stimulus categories suggests that religious thinking is more associated with brain regions that govern emotion, self-representation, and cognitive conflict, while thinking about ordinary facts is more reliant upon memory retrieval networks.

FULL DESCRIPTION OF STUDY http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0007272

memberofKCFreeThinkers.org

Foxes with dog-like behavior?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR-GHmuumAw&feature=related

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Bill,

Aasif Mandvi from the Daily Show (satirical news hosted by Jon Stewart), one of the Muslims on that list, and who is from India, is very funny. Please see this clip: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-august-19-2009/shah-rukh-khan-detained-at-newark (he appears halfway through the clip)

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

On Nov. 6 -The Greater Kansas City Chapter of Americans United for separation of church and state (possibly with Kansas Citizens for Science - they're still thinking about it) will host a panel discussion called 150 Years Since "On Origin of Species": How did a scientific model (evolution) become a church-state issue? Details at http://www.aukc.org/Darwin.pdf

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Will,

I notice you take what Iggy or Cole say as what ALL atheists think, ignoring completely that either I haven't said those things or that I disagree. Is that because I don't fit your stereotype and therefore can't prove your case for you, or you just have a problem with women?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

There are plenty of atheists/agnostics in Hollywood - http://www.celebatheists.com/?title=Main_Page

A new movie "The Invention of Lying" is coming out. Ricky Gervais has been making the media rounds the past few weeks to talk about his new movie The Invention of Lying. In the movie, lying leads to, among other things, the invention of religion. So, Gervais has been talking about religion in many of the interviews he’s done

http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/09/27/ricky-gervais-discusses-religion-atheism-and-the-invention-of-lying/

I don't know if any of the Christian History Deniers on this blog would like to inspect his underwear or not to make a determination about his morality.

One thing I can tell you crazies, I wear briefs and it's time for me to buy another set of underwear soon as I have some separating at seams and a couple of sets wearing out thin and a few that already developed holes in them. I guarantee you that quite a few folks in your church also have holes in their underwear, socks, and T-shirts under their dress shirts and suits with coffee, chili, salsa stains on them when they come to church. I wonder how are you crazies going to judge them?
_________________________
To Christian History Deniers and

Meet Ardi, early humanoid, a remarkable fossil and phenomenal reconstruction/photo

An ancient human-like creature that may be a direct ancestor to our species has been described by researchers. The assessment of the 4.4-million-year-old animal called Ardipithecus ramidus is reported in the journal Science.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8285180.stm

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125440678661956317.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopStories

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/10/091001-oldest-human-skeleton-ardi-missing-link-chimps-ardipithecus-ramidus.html

Dolores Lear

Will:
"What the atheists do, after telling you there is no God to tell you what to do is...then tell you what to do!"

Will: On Planet Earth, there are only Humans telling us what to do, Usually Elected ones, Not God.

Is there any country 'Under God', that tells its Citizens, Not to Kill? Is there any Nation that does not kill their Brothers/Sisters of Life, all Species, their Eco System and Ozone Canopy? Why?

You live in a Country 'under God', and we have had Unlimited Wars, Pollution and Nuclear Waste, on the Planet that God/Us Colonized. The USA 'Under God', does have the most Nuclear Weapons and Military Bases on Earth.

Is this what the God/Us in Genesis told Humans to do? Or any God of a Religion represented in the USA? What did God/Us mean when they said, Thou Shalt Not Kill?

God/Us did Reproduce the Equal Male and Female Clone Humans, to be Equal Caretakers of All Life on Earth.

All the Human Bickering and Killing Each Other, and Nations against Nations in War, and Reproducing an Overload of Passengers on Spaceship Earth, and Humans building temples made by Humans Hands to worship God in, does not leave any time to Take Care of GODs Planet, and the Life on it.

How many hypocritical statements are made about a Loving God/Us, and Jesus, and our Loving Human relationship with them.

And then not Obey, but Kill Each Other, like Cain Killed Abel? What Change since then, has God and Religion done for our Home Planet?

Susan

Hey, Cole, it was a theist who made those remarks on Wednesday that you attributed to trapblock.

Bill, I agree with you that it's a good, healthy sign when Muslims, and peoples of all the diverse ethinicities and religions, are popular in Hollywood.

This is not to say that the entertainment industry is "healthy" -- just that when the majority of our population is immersed in it, it's good to know that the circle that we see us "us" keeps widening to the point where it will eventually include everyone.

Will, have you ever seen the movie "Contact" with Jody Foster? I'd immensely prefer that our leaders be HONEST about what they think and believe, than that they tote some party-line about "God bless America" if they don't really mean it and are just saying what they need to say to get the religious vote.

Susan

Glass recycling is about to get easier for us Kansas Citians. Recycling plant and use for the finished product will now be right here in K.C. Glass previously had to be transported long distances which made glass recycling too costly.

When I checked at the site for a dropoff location near me, they said to check back in October. So pretty soon you'll be able to enter your zipcode and find the nearest spot for you.

http://www.greenabilitymagazine.com/featured.php

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Chuck,

Don't know if you are aware of the Book Club that meets weekly on Sunday's 11 a.m. at Westport Coffee House - http://atheists.meetup.com/140/ - they read quite a few science books and have pretty good discussions. The group is typically 4-6 people strong, so it's an excellent opportunity to have deep discussions.

They are reading now The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution by Cochran and Harpending.

Also, we have started once a month Saturday 7 p.m. a book group at Black Dog Coffee House in Lenexa. Last meetup I brought some 25 books I received from a generous benefactor from a major publishing house in America and half of them have been loaned out. We'll talk about some during our next meetup. Most of the folks coming to this meetup also come to other meetups every week at Black Dog Coffee House Sat 7 p.m., so there is a good opportunity to mingle and chat.

For full list of all freethinking events visit http://www.KCFreeThinkers.org/calendar.htm

adam harrison

Lynne, we all know that you are in agreement with Cole and Iggy. Who ya kiddin?

And Susan, I got a kick out of your glass recycling spam. At least its not something else about babies, or breastfeeding, or co sleeping or why abortion should be legal since babies come first in any bioethics debate, and therefore mama should have the right to kill em in the womb.

Chuck Lunney

KCF: Yes, I know there are several reading groups out there. I can't usually make those times, but this Saturday night is available to me. Besides, somehow I doubt Jim Christensen and his "little helpers" would try and break into one of those groups -- but if it's just me, sitting at a table in Borders, they might summon up enough intestinal fortitude to make it.

For anyone else lurking here, feel free to show up and talk! I'm really a pretty reasonable and polite guy in person (just as Jim).

Chuck Lunney

As to Susan's glass recycling - I think any sort of recycling can be a good thing. I don't really get what Adam is apparently opposed to it. While it doesn't necessarily have much to do with Bill's blog topic, neither do many of the things discussed in the comments (like continued spamming of anti-atheist links and attacks, for example).

And given that Adam is, confirmed by Mr. Christensen, a teenager, I think it's unrealistic to expect him to have a reasonable understanding of the issues involved in pregnancy, birth, and childrearing. Therefore, I wouldn't place too much value on his opinions and statements of them, at least until he's been through the process himself.

Of course, given that he's probably being raised in an "abstinence-only" environment, those experiences might not be so far off.

http://nsrc.sfsu.edu/article/abstinence_only_failure_latest_research_shows

adam harrison

Chuck, although you think Jim lacks intestinal fortitude...and he has been in confrontational situations that are the real deal that would make these jokers poop their pants...he has been to some of their book studies.

Community of Reason Meetings, Heartland Humanist Meetings, etc., as have we, so you don't know what you are talking about.

And the books they studied were real classics like the one by the war loving Hitchens and his NOT SO GREAT BOOK and The AntiChrist by Nietzsche.

Priceless works! Hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

And the meetings are not pinnacles of intellectual attainmen...after you have been to a few the pattern is the same: believers are delusional, they should shut up and keep to themselves, we are rationally superior, etc. etc. etc.

The same stuff you see here.

By the way, I see KCFREETHINKER is still with us.

Susan

About the glass recycling: I realize Bill's post today didn't touch on environmental topics -- but he has touched on these in the past. So it seemed pertinent to share about the greater access we Kansas Citians will now have, to opportunities to drop off our unwanted glass items for recycling. After all, if we don't reuse it or recycle it, it just ends up taking up more space in landfills.

I don't see my message as "spam" -- because it was never my goal to detract from today's discussion. I just figured people here (most of all of whom I think are Kansas City metro-area residents) would be glad for this FYI.

Of course, I don't see any of my posts as "spam." I see environmental care as integral to my living out of my faith -- and this is also how I see our treatment of children. As I grow older, life becomes less and less compartmentalized for me -- and Chuck I will try to keep in mind that adamh is very young, so I shouldn't expect him to understand the perspective of a 45-year-old mother.

Red Biddy

Susan,
Glass recycling has always been easy for Kansas Citians if they just bothered to check out Bridging the Gap ! They've been going since 1991! I've been doing it for years at the Bannister Mall site. They do everything including polystyrene, computer monitors and everything else that the city won't take.

http://www.bridgingthegap.org/egap.php?id=114

You said you lived in the Northeast so you already have a drop off site near you ! Deramus Street might be best for you.

I went yesterday, to dump my glass bottles, at Bannister, Hillcrest road and their glass dumpsters were absolutely crammed to the brim ...so looks like other people in Kansas City do know where to take it.

Good thing, you did, to spread the word though !

When I first learned, how many acres of forest it took to create just one issue of the New York Times, I became a "religious" recycler, at least of newspaper, over night !

Journalists are moaning and groaning about how the newspaper business has changed. Many newspapers are simply going out of business - but from a recycling and conservation point of view this might not be such a bad thing !

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

adamh wrote: Lynne, we all know that you are in agreement with Cole and Iggy. Who ya kiddin?

On which issue Adam? Do you even read my posts or just assume all atheists think alike?

I never said there was no historical figure named Jesus who started the Christian religion - but I'm an atheist so that must be what I think, right? Funny how many people seem to know what I think better than I do.

Chuck Lunney

I wasn't talking about Mr. Christensen, Adam -- I was referring to the "kids". You and Will.

I know Jim is willing to go to the meetings, book clubs, and even meet one-on-one with people. You (and Will) won't. As to your comments about how the different book clubs/meetings were run, have you figured out that there is a specific REASON why I'm not going to them? Perhaps I'd prefer to interact, exchange ideas and converse in a more direct way, rather than a large group setting?

Of course, I certainly don't expect to see you at Borders this weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if your "Master" shows, though. He's the only one of your crew who's strong enough (and wise enough) to do so. Enjoy your movie, because I know you haven't read any of the book and you won't dare show your face at Borders on Saturday.

By the way, the last time I met Jim, there was no sense of animosity nor was anyone "pooping their pants" (that sure seems like a high-school-like phrase, doesn't it?). We didn't see eye-to-eye on whether there is a god, but I felt there was a mutual level of respect for the intellect and education from both sides. Something that's definitely lacking in any of my exchanges with you or Will.

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