Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fired Over God Button?

The AP is reporting a story about a cashier at Home Depot in Florida being fired for wearing a “One nation under God” button on his work apron. The cashier is suing Home Depot for religious discrimination.

According to Home Depot, the company has a clearly stated blanket policy that no pins or buttons, other than those provided by the company, can be worn on work aprons. The cashier was told to remove the button and he refused. That resulted in the firing.

It seems to me that the issue wasn’t what the button said; it was violating a company policy and then refusing a direct order to stop violating it. That will get you fired almost everywhere.

But, like Chris Hitchens says, religion poisons everything. If the button said “Beat Florida State” or some secular slogan no one would give the guy being fired a second thought. So why does simply having “God” on the button matter? He wasn’t fired over “God,” or his belief in God or his religion, he was fired for violating company policy.

Why do Christians think they live under a different set of rules from those of us that aren’t suffering from a delusion?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lucy’s Legacy

I went to see the “Lucy’s Legacy” exhibit in New York. It was, to say the least, fascinating especially since the fossil Ida was also there.

I didn’t know Ida was part of the exhibit so I’m bending over this display case thinking that I was looking at a replica. Then it began to dawn on me that I was looking at the real thing.

I can now say with absolute certainty that the fossils exist. They are certainly real. As to whether they are what they are purported to be, I can only accept the scientific consensus.

The key of course is the age. Lucy has been dated to around 3.2 million years. This date has been arrived at through both Argon-Argon and Paleomagnetic dating. The results have been published, peer reviewed, and accepted by the scientific community.

Then we have the question of the significance of the fossil.

The critical conclusion from Lucy is that she walked upright while still possessing a modest brain size. That conclusion pretty much settled a major scientific argument as to which evolved first, walking upright or a large brain.

Creationists of course can’t afford to accept either the age or the conclusion that Lucy walked upright and is in the evolutionary line that ultimately led to modern humans. Either of those two conclusions pretty much destroys biblical literalism and inerrancy which destroys the foundation of Evangelical Christianity.

So they pretty much wail and moan claiming everything from Lucy is a hoax to quote mining to making flat out untrue assertions.

If you assume everything said by a creationist is a misinterpretation, a distortion or flat out wrong, you’ll be on pretty safe ground.

Here’s the bottom line. The overwhelming consensus in the scientific community, based upon the research, the published papers and exhaustive peer reviews by the most intelligent and highly educated people in the world, is that Lucy is precisely what she is claimed to be, a human ancestor that walked upright on the Ethiopian plane some 3.2 million years ago.

Stick that in your Genesis and chew on it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The “No Standing” Decision

The recent tendency of appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, to accept arguments to the effect that a litigant has “No Standing” to bring the case before the court strikes me as undermining the integrity of the legal system in this country.

Granted, there must be some basis to keep frivolous law suits from clogging the courts but many of these decisions arise in cases where there is clearly a question to be resolved.

This strikes me as the difference between a question of law and a question of justice. As I’ve said before, the law is simply an imperfect attempt to secure justice and therefore must always take a back seat. If a rule of law prevents the administration of justice then it is a bad law and needs to be adjusted or abolished.

Just because the wrong litigant raised the issue shouldn’t provide an excuse for the court not to address the question of justice before it. The last I heard, the manner in which a criminal defendant is brought before the court doesn't prejudice the court’s ability to see justice done.

More often than not this sort of decision strikes me as being applied when the court knows damn well something is wrong but doesn’t wish to do anything about it.

Often this rationale is applied in cases in which religion figures in some way or another. A few years ago I wrote about a court decision which forbid the Indiana legislature from opening with a sectarian Christian payer and predicted they wouldn’t get too far with their intended to appeal to the 7th District Court.

Wrong again, the 7th District decided that the ACLU, which brought the case, had no standing to do so. You will excuse me but that is total horseshit. Clearly opening the legislative session with a sectarian payer shatters the intent of the Establishment Clause and it damn well should have been addressed.

Between political considerations and hiding behind “no standing” decisions, I’m losing all faith in our legal system. We’re no longer being ruled by laws but by partisan politics and private agendas.

Those spinning sounds you hear are Thomas Jefferson and James Madison realizing that the magnificent experiment they engineered is beginning to crumple at the edges because Presidents, Congressmen and Judges no longer have the courage to defend those principles upon which it was founded.

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the American Republic no longer deserves to be the custodian of the Constitution that gave it birth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Battles for Maine and Washington

In May the Maine legislature passed, and Governor Baldacci signed, a measure legalizing gay marriage in Maine. Opponents of same-sex marriage then launched a campaign to overturn the law based upon Maine’s People’s Veto process and we were off to the races.

The battle in Maine is roughly the equivalent of hand to hand combat. It’s a small closely knit state where personal relationships are paramount. I suspect there is more than a little annoyance with outsiders, on both sides, trying to tell them their business.

I’ve dutifully extended my support to the “No on 1” folks monetarily. I’m not going to personally campaign in Maine because I’m one of those outsiders.

I’m much more impressed with the list of people and organizations opposing the veto of the gay marriage law than I am with those supporting the veto and the governor, the legislature and the major newspapers in Maine all support the “No on 1” position.

The same anti-same-sex marriage folks that led the charge on Prop 8 in California are involved in Maine and they’re using the same sort of scare tactics. Despite loud protestations by everyone from the governor to the school custodial staff that it’s total nonsense, the “Yes on 1” crowd continues to pitch that somehow this will mean the indoctrination of school children as young as Kindergarten into the acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

Obviously this is a big one. A victory here would mark the first time an electorate has approved gay marriage. As usual the poll results are mixed and close. The key is probably going to be the ability to get out the vote.

In the meantime the State of Washington is fighting over domestic partnerships with gay marriage opponents attempting to overturn SB 5688 which grants equal marriage rights to gays through domestic partnerships. The ballot item there is called R-71.

This is one step behind Maine. In Washington the bigots are claiming domestic partnerships are going to cause devastating problems which hasn’t been the case anywhere else.

The zeitgeist never stands still. Either you push it forward toward the light or someone will be trying to push it back toward the dark ages.

Again the poll results are sort of mixed but appear to be leaning in the direction of accepting SB5688 and domestic partnerships. The problem is there appears to be a large number of people who are still undecided.

Wins in both Maine and Washington would be great. A win in Maine especially might free up what appear to be stalled initiatives in New York and New Jersey. It might also add momentum to the repeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act although, hopefully, that will occur in any event.

Victory is certain. The only questions are how long will it take and what will be the cost? Winning in Maine and Washington this Election Day would go a long way toward reducing both the time and the cost.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jesus and the Adulteress

The story of Jesus and the Adulteress is in John 8 and is arguably the most famous of the Jesus stories. It’s certainly my favorite.

I’m not going to quote the bible; the story is in John 8:3-11. The Pharisees bring before Jesus a woman “caught in the act of adultery” and ask him to pass judgment. They figured he’s trapped and must either condemn the woman to death or release her in violation of the Law of Moses which clearly calls for an adulteress to be stoned.

Of course Jesus is too smart for them and pronounces the famous judgment “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Obviously no one is without sin so the Pharisees and the crowd disperse. Jesus then asks the woman if anyone has condemned her and she answers no. Jesus then says “neither do I condemn you” and tells her to go and sin no more.

It’s a great story and the probability that it’s pure fiction shouldn’t be allowed to ruin it. Even if it didn’t happen, it should have.

The fact is that the story doesn’t appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts of John and Bart Ehrman, among others, has highlighted a number of problems with the story.

If the woman was in fact “caught in the act of adultery,” where’s her male partner? Leviticus 20:10 is very clear that both the adulteress and the adulterer are to be stoned to death.

Then there is the apparent contradiction between this event and Matthew 5:17 where Jesus claims that he has come to fulfill the law and not abolish it. Yet here he is clearly stepping around the law.

Another problem is if the crowd disperses “until only Jesus was left,” who was it that heard his final conversation with the woman in order to record it?

Apologetics is the art of coming up with explanations for objections of this sort and, make no mistake about it, Christian Apologists are pretty creative and their job is actually easier than you might think. They’re not in the business of convincing the skeptics as much as they’re in the business of re-assuring the faithful.

They don’t have to come up with a probable explanation, merely a possible one. Consider the problem of who heard the conversation between Jesus and the woman. Clearly it was the apostles because they weren’t considered part of the crowd but rather an extension of Jesus. When John says “until only Jesus was left,” that really included himself and the apostles as well.

Louis de Wohl, in his novel “The Spear” developed, quite inadvertently I’m sure, a story that accounts for the first problem and perhaps the second as well.

In de Wohl’s novel the girl that would eventually be brought before Jesus is the relatively new bride of a much older and very rich merchant. She’s about 16 if I remember correctly and has led a very sheltered life. Her husband’s family views her as a threat to their inheritance and they never pass on an opportunity to criticize her to her husband. Even the servants get into the act and constantly compare her unfavorably to the deceased first wife.

Needless to say she is absolutely miserable. She’s convinced she’s worthless and a great disappointment to everyone, and especially to her husband. After all, if a woman can’t be a good wife, what else is there for her?

The household is in the process of moving to Jerusalem for Passover when they’re accosted by bandits. Several of the servants are killed and the girl is absolutely terrified when, like the 7th cavalry, a Roman patrol, led by a handsome young centurion, rides over the hill and drives off the bandits.

Talk about culture shock. The young soldier is so far beyond the experience of the young girl it’s utterly ridiculous. The soldiers ride off, the household continues its journey toward Jerusalem and the girl is left to ponder the possibility that the world may be much broader and much different than she’s been led to believe.

As it turns out the bandit attack wasn’t random. The “bandits” were actually Zealots targeting the girl’s husband specifically because of his wealth and association with the Temple Party that collaborates with the Romans.

Jerusalem at this time is a restless city and rioting breaks out in the night. The Zealots use this as cover to make another assault on the husband’s household, set fire to the house and kidnap the girl intending to hold her for ransom.

Holy coincidence Batman, but the young centurion just happens to be leading a patrol in that sector to deal with the rioting, notices the girl being dragged away and chases the kidnappers while his troops help deal with the fire.

He catches them, kills them with his gladius, using stabs of the Roman Army approved three inch depth, and rescues the girl. Unfortunately they find themselves surrounded by a hostile mob taking a dim view of a Roman killing two Jews.

The soldier manages to barricade himself and the girl into a cellar where one man can defend against a crowd. There they’re forced to spend the night together, alone, which is a major violation of a whole bunch of cultural taboos. The girl finds herself under the overwhelming assault of darkness, fear, the smell of blood and the smell of the young soldier guarding her through the night. Clearly this situation is fraught with all kinds of possibilities and I’m sure you can guess where things end up.

The next morning the two are rescued by Roman troops and members of the husband’s family. The centurion is whisked off to make his report and the girl is brought back to her husband’s house under a cloud of shame and suspicion. This is a golden opportunity for the husband’s jealous family to get rid of her.

The husband is badly shaken by the situation but offers to forgive her if she swears that nothing happened between her and the soldier. The girl, perhaps unwilling to go back to her old life after a taste of what could be, confesses to having made love to the centurion.

She is immediately divorced and dragged by her gleeful brother-in-law before the priests who recognize an opportunity to trap that thorn in their side, Jesus.

The rest you know.

The story resolves the first problem because the girl’s male partner was a Roman and not subject to the Law of Moses. The fact that they were caught together in the basement is close enough to “caught in the act.” Jesus steps around the law because of the extenuating circumstances including the misery of the girl, the situation and the overwhelming effect that the soldier was sure to have. Jesus wasn’t violating the law; he was simply tempering it with mercy.

So what was the point of all this? Nothing really, I just felt like writing something on this topic. If you really need a point, let it be how easy it is to come up with a defense of the so-called contradictions and absurdities in the bible. This is especially true if you’re not particularly concerned about little things like feasibility and rationality.

You’ll also never find me arguing that the story of Jesus and the Adulteress isn’t true. Like I said before, if it didn’t happen, it should have.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The FBI Crime Report 2008

I’m about to again ignore the FBI’s warning not to use their crime report for comparing different jurisdictions. I understand their concerns, but I think those concerns aren’t valid as long as I don't draw any conclusions.

Overall the violent crime rate in the U.S. decreased again from 466.9 in 2007 to 454.5 in 2008. The murder rate went down as well from 5.6 to 5.4.

The Northeast again had the lowest violent crime rate at 370.8; the Midwest was next at 400.1, followed by the West at 445.5 and then the South, bringing up the rear as usual, at 533.9. The good news is that the numbers in all regions were down from 2007 and, if the trend continues, next year the Midwest should join the Northeast with a violent crime rate of less than 400.

The Northeast also had the lowest murder rate at 4.2 but this was a slight increase from 2007 when it was 4.1. In all the other regions the rate went down. The Midwest and West were tied for second with a rate of 4.8 and, as usual, the South had the worst rate at 6.6.

The violent crime rate in my home state of New Jersey dropped slightly from 329.3 to 326.5. The murder rate dropped an eyelash from 4.4 to 4.3. Imagine if we didn’t have Newark and Camden as a part of the state? Newark had a violent crime rate of 950.7 and a murder rate of 23.9. Camden had a violent crime rate of 2332.5 and a murder rate of 70.8! Remove them from the mix and New Jersey’s violent crime rate drops to 287.1 and its murder rate drops to 3.0.

A sampling of major cities shows St. Louis with a whopping violent crime rate of 2072.7, Detroit at 1924.1, Baltimore at 1588.5 and Philadelphia at 1441.3. On the more modest side are San Diego at 475.5, Denver at 566.9, Seattle at 576.3 and New York City, that hive of scum and villainy, at 580.3. Los Angeles wasn’t far above New York at 689.5. There were no numbers for Chicago.

Don’t believe everything you see on TV and in the movies. While there are a few places in New York City one should definitely stay away from, most of it is a place where you can walk, soak up the culture and generally have a great time. Don’t die without seeing Times Square, Broadway and Greenwich Village.

My home town of River Vale had 3 violent crimes, one robbery and two aggravated assaults. That gives us a violent crime rate of 31. 0 and a murder rate of 0.0. That could change next year based upon the looks my wife is giving me about opting for the more expensive Giants tickets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rush Limbaugh and the Rams

Good ol’ boy Rush is making waves by claiming he’s interested in buying a piece of the NFL St. Louis Rams franchise.

The usual cast of characters, such as Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, are jumping up and down over this and a few black players have declared they won’t play for him. At least two impromptu polls that I’ve seen on the internet appear to favor letting Limbaugh be an NFL owner by about 2-1.

The owner of the Colts has given the idea a flat out “no” and the owner of the Falcons doesn’t sound very sympathetic either. The other owners have either been quiet or have deferred to the NFL. Commissioner Goodell has indicated that he found Limbaugh’s “divisive comments” a concern.

I’m not going to provide any racist Rush Limbaugh quotes since it’s hard to tell what’s accurate and what’s urban legend. Think about how pathetic that is for a moment considering some of the quotes flying around attributed to Limbaugh. He didn’t say he missed James Earl Ray, the murderer of Martin Luther King, but the fact that lots of rational people accept that as a possible quote speaks volumes.

I don’t think Limbaugh would be good for the NFL. I think he really is a bigoted son of a bitch that would like nothing better than to roll back the zeitgeist to about 1958 putting gays back in the closet and blacks back in their place.

I’m white and I wouldn’t play for him either.

I don’t think Limbaugh is serious. I think this is a very big, and apparently successful, publicity stunt. I also think the chances of it happening if he was serious are about zero. I think Goodell and the owners are too savvy to take this kind of risk with the gold mine that is the NFL.

Now let’s talk about the overwhelming support in the unscientific polls supporting Limbaugh. I see three possible explanations for this. (1) Conservatives are more likely than liberals to worry about the NFL during the week, (2) the overwhelming majority of NFL fans are right wing conservatives and (3) it’s just the good old American sense of fair play.

I hope its (3), but it could easily be (2). Hey, I’m not blind, I look around at the crowd at Giants games and it’s very heavily white, older and clearly middle to upper middle class. Who else could afford it? A day at Giants Stadium is a $300 expedition for me and it will be better than $400 at the new stadium assuming I go with the mezzanine seats.

How do I figure that? Well, I go with my two daughters so tickets = 3x$85 = $255, parking = $20, snack when we get to the game = $15 and dinner after the game = $50. So that’s $255 + $20 + $15 + $50 = $340. And that doesn’t count gas and coffee on the way to the game. Next year the tickets go up to $125 that makes it a $460 excursion.

Like I said before, who else can afford it?

So the demographic is heavily white, older, upper middle class or the immediate offspring of same. That’s a demographic that would tend to lean toward a conservative outlook so perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that a majority would support Rush as a team owner.

The man is entitled to his opinion and he’s entitled to express that opinion. But I’m also allowed to express my opinion that I think his opinion stinks. I’m also entitled to refuse to want to play for the bastard and to oppose him as a team owner because I think it would be bad for the league and the sport.

One of the funniest things I ever saw was Brett Favre posing for a photo with two of his very black wide receivers and suddenly saying “Look, an Oreo cookie.”

I think Limbaugh would hurt that kind of playful disregard for race and that would be a very bad thing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The USS New York is on its way

The USS New York has been launched and is on its way from New Orleans to New York where she will be commissioned in early November.

The New York, LPD-21, is a 24,900 ton amphibious transport dock capable a delivering an expeditionary force of up to 800 marines just about anywhere it damn well pleases. The ship was built using construction steel salvaged from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center 9/11 site.

The USS New York is a member of the San Antonio class of Expeditionary Warships and will support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the first half of the 21st Century. Its motto is “Never Forget.”

Let me simplify that for you. If you ever see the USS New York dropping anchor off your shores with hostile intentions, you might as well bend over and kiss your ass good-bye because you are f----d.

The Christian Right and PepsiCo

The Christian Right, in the person of the American Family Association (AFA), is upset with PepsiCo.

Apparently the AFA believes that PepsiCo is “promoting the gay lifestyle” through its support of gay organizations, sensitivity training for its employees and the sponsorship of gay events.

The AFA sent an indignant letter to the soft drink giant asking them to “remain neutral in this culture war.”

PepsiCo told them politely, but firmly, to stick it in their ear. The AFA called PepsiCo’s response “condescending.” I thought it explained things pretty well that PepsiCo was supporting initiatives associated with workplace equality and tolerance.

The AFA didn’t like that response and have been calling for a boycott of PepsiCo products. Excuse me for a moment while I go buy a six pack or two of Pepsi.

Are these simply different interpretations of the same action? Nah, the AFA folks are simply bigots that can’t accept that their silly bible is wrong. PepsiCo is doing what it feels is right and necessary for workplace peace and harmony in a country that prides itself on the concept of freedom and equality for all.

Of course to people like the AFA that’s freedom and equality for all assuming you agree with them, and live like them, and look like them and act like them. Forty years ago these same people would have been supporting segregation with bible quotes like Genesis 9:26-27.

Black Americans really need to understand this and reconsider their tendency to support these bigoted assholes on gay issues. The same right wing rednecks that are howling so loudly about gays would also love to resurrect Jim Crow and resume the time honored right wing tradition of midnight lynching.

Like Phil Ochs said to the unions during the early civil rights movement, “it's only fair to ask you boys, which side are you on?”

Personally I drink Coke Zero and Dr, Pepper. I find Pepsi too sweet for a cola but I might try and develop a taste for it just to piss off the AFA a little more.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize?

Huh? WHY? I have nothing against Obama and I generally support his efforts to co-operate with the rest of the world and reduce tensions, but these are objectives that haven’t been achieved yet.

I find giving him the award unusual but perhaps the prize committee has it right. Perhaps they believe that this will help turn those objectives into reality.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Two Key Supreme Court Cases

The Supreme Court session begins today, October 5, and there are two cases that I find of particular interest.

The first is Salazar v. Buono. This is the case related to the 8 foot cross on top of Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve.

The cross was originally placed in 1934 as a Veteran’s Memorial by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The cross was slated for removal by the park service in 2000 but then the Republican Congress passed a bill prohibiting the use of public funds. Then in 2003 it gave the small parcel of land to the VFW effectively removing the cross from public lands in order to circumvent a lower court’s ruling to remove the cross. The lower courts have also taken a dim view of the land transfer recognizing it as a somewhat obvious attempt to get around the court order.

Now the Supreme Court will address the issue. Exactly what issue it’s going to address is the question.

What the court should do is ratify the decisions of the lower courts, disallow the land transfer and order the park service to remove the blatantly religious symbol.

Or should it?

Some version of that cross has been in place as a Veteran’s Memorial for over 70 years and history and tradition do count for something. The cross should never have been raised over public land in the first place but the Great Depression had folks a tad distracted back then.

There is also the issue of the authority of the courts. Congress was clearly trying to pull a fast one and trying to circumvent a decision it disagreed with. That’s not something the courts can allow without establishing a potentially awkward precedent.

They might try to have their cake and eat it too by slapping Congress on the wrist for the fast one but overruling the lower court about the appropriateness of the cross display.

I have a bad feeling about this one but it might tell us where Sotomayor sits on Separation of Church and State issues. If I remember correctly, the CFI was a bit nervous about that and only offered a tentative endorsement.

The second case is American Needle v. National Football League. This case addresses whether professional sports leagues are exempt from anti-trust legislation.

The genesis of the case is when American Needle wanted to produce merchandise with official team logos but the NFL chose to give Reebok an exclusive contract. The basic question is whether the NFL is a single entity or a collection of 32 companies.

If the NFL is a single entity, then it would be essentially exempt from anti-trust laws, but if it’s a collection of 32 businesses colluding for benefit…

Needless to say all the other leagues, like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, are very interested in the result of this case. It could have repercussions for fans and players as well. Imagine if the players had to negotiate with 32 individual teams rather than the NFL as a whole? On the other end, imagine if the league decided that it should determine ticket prices?

I think, I’m not sure, but I think, the court should decide that the NFL is a single entity. Any other decision would lead to way too much uncertainty. It would take years for all the dust to settle.

Scientist Claims he can Reproduce Shroud of Turin

There are far too many people in this world with too much money and too much time on their hands.

Reuters is reporting than an Italian scientist named Luigi Garlaschelli, funded under a grant from Italian atheists and agnostics, is claiming he can reproduce the characteristics of the Shroud of Turin using only materials available in medieval times.

The shroud has been defended by believers as the actual burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth and discarded by critics as a medieval fake. Carbon 14 testing done in the 1980s by three independent labs all dated the shroud to sometime in the 13th or 14th century.

However shroud supporters have put forth a series of arguments to account for what they claim is an incorrect dating. The primary one is that the carbon content of the shroud was contaminated by a 13th century fire.

Garlascielli (go ahead and say that fast five times, I dare you) says he expects to have his findings disputed. I’d say that’s a pretty safe bet.

If we ignore the whole question of "is this the burial shroud of Jesus," the question then becomes "is this an actual 1st century artifact." The consensus of scientific tests and evaluation seems to be no, it isn’t, but rather it dates to around the 13th century.

If there were no religious implications, that would pretty much settle the question but, like Christopher Hitchens says, religion poisons everything so we’ll probably have a passionate debate over Garlascielli's claims.

Assuming Garlaschelli’s techniques prove repeatable, identifying how the shroud may actually have been produced, something which up until now has been a bit of a puzzle, may help to finally lay this dog down, but I doubt it.

Happy Birthday to me?

I'm 61 years old today. Dang, what a horribly depressing thought. I'll bet I can still juke 90% of the population out of their socks though. I wonder what I would clock in the 100 these days? Hell, I wonder if I could run the 100 these days?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Neither Atheism nor Science Require “Faith”

Arguments I encounter constantly from Christians is that atheism requires as much faith as theism, because one cannot prove there is no God, and that science is just a different form of religion. Rather than having “faith” in God, one has “faith” in science. In other words, we have raised science to the status of a god.

Nice try guys but no. Allow me to explain why neither atheism nor science requires “faith.”

Let’s start with atheism. Atheism is simply the absence of belief. It is the null hypothesis. One does not believe in something unless there is adequate evidence to demonstrate that believing would be rational. Or at least so-called rational human being shouldn’t believe is something without adequate evidence.

Different people require different levels of evidence to believe. An atheist simply is not convinced that the evidence for the existence of God is adequate. It requires no “faith;” just as non-belief in leprechauns, fairies, Santa Claus and Purple Unicorns requires no “faith.”

Christians also like to argue that atheism is just another religion, usually when they’re trying to get around the 1st Amendment somehow. Nope, that’s wrong, calling atheism a religion is equivalent to calling not collecting stamps a hobby.

Now let’s talk about science. Faith implies the acceptance of something despite a lack of evidence. If you are a Christian you believe in Heaven even though there is absolutely no evidence that Heaven, or anything even vaguely similar to Heaven, exists or even can exist.

I don’t have “faith” in science, I have “confidence” in science, and that confidence is based upon the overwhelming success that science has had. Look all around you at technology. Modern society is the offspring of science. Its science that feeds you, provides you with fresh water, keeps you warm, entertains you and wards off pestilence.

I don’t need faith when the evidence all around me of the effectiveness of science speaks for itself.

It really is all a matter of weighing the evidence and working out the probabilities. Religion has NEVER been right about the operation of the natural world while science has been right an overwhelming amount of the time. Even when science has been wrong, its self corrective nature eventually weeds out errors. When has religion EVER admitted to being wrong without a war and lots of bloodshed, or the threat of a war and lots of bloodshed?

In any disagreement between religion and science it seems to me that the odds are about 999,999 to 1 that science is right.