Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Even more interesting...

Following up from the previous post, someone asked what a cross-section of the most religious states vs. highest quality of life states would look like... well, defining "quality of life" is ambiguous at best... but I looked at this "most livable states" survey from 2007 for my cross-section... and... wow...

**** Yes, of course I am aware that correlation does not equal causation.  I just find the correlation interesting.


Branching off of this discussion over at Pharyngula, I decided to take a look at a cross-section of two studies. I took data from this study, which ranks states by how educated they are, and highlighted it with data from this study, which ranks states based on how religious they are. I used a simple color coding system for the highlighting: red for the most religious to green for the least... the results are certainly interesting, I think...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Been too long...

It's been a long time since I've posted... my life has undergone some upheaval and it's kept me from keeping up with the things I've wanted to talk about or express to those of you that do stop by and read this blog occasionally.

But I think part of my personal reconstruction project needs to be to get back to writing... and this is a good place to start.

So first of all, Happy holidays to all of you, whatever you celebrate or observe... I hope you are all well and of good health and spirit.

Now, on to my post for today... it starts, as many of my rants so often do, with a post from the venerable PZ Myers at Pharyngula. In this post, PZ points out the publishing of yet another in a seemingly endless string of books serving as useless apologetics for religion... I won't bore you by repeating his thoughts, you can visit the post and read it for yourself...

I did however leave a comment in the comment thread. Upon reading it, though, my thoughts are incomplete in just that comment, so I will repeat it here in this entry, along with the rest of my thoughts on the issue:

What really irks me is the seemingly never-ending source of funds for these people to vomit up book after book of empty, base-less, vapid apologetics for religion and they all say essentially the same thing: "Science doesn't know everything, religion makes you feel good and what's wrong with that, Hitler, Mao and Stalin were atheists, and without religion we'd all go around murdering and raping each other at will".

Seriously, it's nothing short of a mass-mailing propaganda PR stunt masking the desperate, dying throngs of a belief system that is utterly incompatible with the modern world and current knowledge... Faith has no new ideas... nothing to offer at this point in time... the social and cultural advantages it once provided are long past their usefulness... they have nothing of substance to offer, so they instead attack the reasoned and rational, who have concluded that there is no magic sky fairy and that we're probably better off shedding the heavy coat of religion, as evil, soul-less, hate-filled villains.

It's pathetic and, I believe, transparent. Unfortunately the insular, lazy and under-educated majority of the US population still has too much of this poison indoctrinated from the time they were old enough to understand language, and it has been done so masterfully that questioning your beliefs has itself been purged from the cognitive abilities of the faith-addled.

While in places like the UK and many Scandinavian countries, religion has begun to be treated with casual indifference, here in the US it is still accorded special privileges, and the religious still expect, and in many cases, demand deference.

A large portion of the US population continues to carry on with the deluded mis-conception that this country was founded on faith (more specifically, christian faith, of course). This is, of course, absurd, and would make founders like Jefferson and Franklin turn in their graves, but it is the attitude of the "Fox News" fellowship, fed by self-righteous, self-concerned hate mongering egomaniacs like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. These people know their audience. They understand that many people don't trust government, even while collecting and living off of government initiated social programs like unemployment, welfare, medicaid and social security... they know that false patriotism and thinly-veiled racism appeals to the large portion of the population that has been made afraid of the world outside of the US by the fear / hate tactics of the Republican leadership… a tactic still employed today and used in almost every Beck broadcast. They are master manipulators that know that the right combination of anger, conspiracy theory, and claims of “we’ll tell you the truth no-one else has the guts to” will appeal to the downtrodden, hard-working but struggling, god-fearing and prideful majority of the US population looking for someone to blame for the state of the world… of THEIR world, and will get them to vote against their own interests and to toss aside their own inherent, personal freedoms just to make sure that no-one “takes their guns”, that “gays can’t marry”, and that “THEIR god will ultimately win the war and cast out the evil muslims once and for all”.

For myself, I refuse to be one of those people, and I will not have my fears exploited by those who would who would do so for their own personal gain. I will not be manipulated by those who know that ratings = dollar signs, and truth is a casualty of the act of exploitation of the lowest common denominator of the US citizenship.

No… I am free… free to find truth using the tools of logic and reason. I am free from fear of eternal punishment meted out by capricious, inconsistent deities… I am free from having morality defined by ancient, inconsistent and conveniently adjusted and re-translated texts… I am free to do right because it’s right, and avoid doing wrong because it’s wrong. I am free to be responsible for my own actions (and believe me, my actions have caused my life to keen and kilter in directions I never wanted… but they are MY actions, and I ask forgiveness only from those whom I have affected).

I am free because I won’t submit to having my freedom defined and constrained by that which has served to restrain, restrict, and enslave human progress for over two thousand years.

I am free because I don’t have religion to define the conditions of my freedom. I am free because I don’t believe. Why not be free yourself?

------ So... with that, I hope to return to posting on a more regular basis... those who frequent this blog or know me from Pharyngula will know what to expect... those who don't... well... I hope you're not easily offended.