Monday, June 20, 2011

The Ice Cream Van

I am often accused of being anti-religious. While it bothers me to be so-labeled, I can see how such a conclusion arises.

In conversation with a close friend recently, I proffered  the following illustration:

"Imagine an ice cream van, that wanders through the neighbourhood selling ice cream to children. In every sixth ice cream the ice cream man inserts a handful of nails, and as a result, every sixth child dies a painful and slow death.

I protest against this practice vehemently, and society labels me as being 'anti-ice cream van'. How could anybody be against a practice that brings smiles to the faces of so many children?

How is it not obvious to society that I am not against ice cream vans, but against the practice of feeding nails to children?"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rise Up Australia!

Do you like to be entertained and frightened at the same time?

Visit this page and read about the formation of the Rise Up Australia Party. There are a few questions I'd like to ask of the party chairman, Rev Dr Daniel Nalliah, but his email address appears to be dead. My response to his announcement is below:

"Dear Rev Dr Daniel Nalliah

Re: Welcome to Rise Up Australia Party

I hope you will take the time to answer my questions regarding your article. I apologise in advance that some of them may appear antagonistic. I have tried my best to make them as to-the-point as possible.

My Own Stupid Fault

The great scam artist Peter Popoff is back with a vengeance.

I once asked evangelical christian and Climate Sceptic Party president Leon Ashby about what Peter Popoff means for the credibility of other faith healers. How does he achieve what he does, if not by the power of God? Will Leon accept that the placebo effect might be responsible for a large part of it?

Youth Beta

When I was a teenager, I fell in love with a Lutheran girl who attended a church-run program called Youth Alpha. The program featured an energetic video of a demon-hunting cowboy and an awkward man in his mid-twenties describing how great it was to not have sex.

Towards the end of each session, we would be broken up into groups to talk about ourselves, and more importantly, Jesus. I used to enjoy stirring up the group leaders by asking reasonable questions about religion.

In my last post about my fake conversion, I touched upon the concept of "busting the group-think bubble". This is the idea that simply by being present, an outed atheist or skeptic causes people to see themselves through the skeptic's eyes. In the context of a youth group, this means they are less likely to casually accept ideas that will make them appear ridiculous or complacent.

So I suggest the following. If there are youth groups in your area, attend. Be polite, reveal yourself as skeptical, and ask well-timed, pertinent questions.

What do you think?

My Fake Conversion

Let me share with you the story of my fake conversion. Last September, I took my evangelical girlfriend to the Penola Assemblies of God, a church that had been receiving much praise in the Christian community. According to rumours, members of the congregation had found themselves anointed with oil, and golden powder had rained down during worship.

From the beginning of the service it was evident that this was not like other churches I had been to. We were made to recite a prayer expelling a large variety of evil spirits. The standard ones were there, like lust and jealousy, but joining the fray were the spirits of laziness, of the love of money, of false gods. There were many more, covering every possible human inconvenience. The focus of the sermon was how unworthy, sinful and generally disgusting we all were.

The Survival of Morally Prescriptive Ideas About Sexuality

As I was preparing my eggs benedict this morning, I found myself wondering how it is that ideologies that restrict the freedom of adherents manage to stand the test of time. I speak mainly of the sexually restrictive ideas inherent in Christianity and Islam.