Pastor-turned-atheist-humanitarian targeted with vicious online attacks from Christians

As blogger Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist reports:

It was almost a year ago when Ryan Bell, a professor and former pastor of a Seventh-day Adventist church, announced that he would “try on” atheism and “live as if there is no God” for 12 months…

But he got a taste of what being an atheist was like much sooner than expected. Less than a week after announcing his experiment, Bell was fired by his Christian employers at Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Theological Seminary… Readers of this site came through in a big way and helped raise more than $27,000 for his family…

In an NPR story today, he told reporter Arun Rath that atheism just makes more sense to him now‘:

“I’ve looked at the majority of the arguments that I’ve been able to find for the existence of God and on the question of God’s existence or not, I have to say I don’t find there to be a convincing case in my view.  I don’t think that God exists.  I think before I wanted a closer relationship to God and today I just want a closer relationship with reality.””

Bell has a new job, by the way, putting his Humanism in action. He’s working with a group called People Assisting The Homeless (PATH). He worked with them when he was a pastor, but now, it’s just more evidence that he can still be good without God.

A few days before, the Christian Post quoted him in a story titled “Ex-Pastor Who Took Yearlong Break From Faith Asks ‘Why Do I Need Religion to Love?’ May Announce Atheism Soon:”

“The question I am asking right now [is] why do I need religion to love?…I want to be for something good, but I don’t want boundaries, and religion just feels like a very bounded thing.”

The Post’s Christian readers were angered: Continue reading

Horoscope matching: the massive bigoted astrology industry wrecking young Hindus’ lives

“I am a manglik boy and I love a non-manglik girl and she wants to marry me, I also want the same but I can’t marry her coz I am manglik. What should I do?”  (Quora)

What dark bigotry is this, you ask?  Is a “manglik” a member of India’s untouchable caste?    Nope.  Caste bigotry is still very real, but increasingly considered socially and legally unacceptable.  There is, however, another karma-based bigotry that remains perfectly acceptable and mainstream.  What, you ask, is this horrifying “manglik” condition that is breaking so many young hearts?

Quite simply, a manglik is someone whose astrological horoscope has the planet Mars in the “wrong” place: Continue reading

Pressure Mounts in India to Discard Astrology as Another Anti-Progressive Superstition, Like Caste

In the west, where most of us snicker when asked “What’s your sign?” and the Reagans were mocked for their secret White House astrologer,  it’s almost impossible to grasp astrology’s place in India.  Astrology is simultaneously considered by many in the mainstream as both science and religion,  as closely intertwined with Hinduism as caste belief — just more acceptable. Continue reading

About those “7 Mysterious Photos That Have Never Been Explained”… Apparently Google Has Never Been Explained to Some People

This was posted two days ago and is rapidly spreading across the Net.

These 7 Mysterious Photos Have Never Been Explained… And Probably Never Will Be

Sometimes an image is captured that just cannot be explained.  The bizarre, and often ambiguous, photographs in this article have remained unexplained for over half a century in some cases…

You’d think Google would have made it harder for these writers to post these lists with a straight face, but nah. Continue reading

China struggling with parents planning C-sections & abortions to prevent babies with bad zodiac sign

Disturbing news from China Daily this week:

Many more babies will be born before the Year of the Horse ends, because couples in China try to avoid having babies in the Year of the Sheep, which starts on Feb 19, 2015. The reason: traditionally it is believed that “sheep babies” lead difficult lives...

But such is the influence of superstition on some people that they undergo cesarean section, even without going into labor, to give birth before the onset of a year they consider unlucky. Doctors warn that premature cesarean section is a violation of the laws of nature which could affect the baby’s brains and health, but some people ignore their advice.

In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  China News reported last month that: Continue reading

Baby Bird Mimics Toxic Caterpillar — First Ever Seen and It’s Simply Astounding

Jerry Coyne posted today the video from which this GIF was made, and it’s incredible:

[A] group of researchers from the U.S. and Colombia have discovered a bird in Peru whose nestlings (but not the adults) are not only brightly colored, but appear to have both the appearance and behavior of a toxic caterpillar that lives in the area.

After the nestling was first observed, it was predicted that a toxic caterpillar resembling the nestling must exist nearby.  And now it’s been found, say the researchers:

“The caterpillar we encountered measured 12 cm, which closely matches the size of the L. hypopyrra nestling (14 cm during the first 14 days); but the striking morphological similarity is the caterpillar’s orange “hairs” with white tips, which match almost exactly the nestling’s elongated orange downy feather barbs with bright white tips. The morphological appearance of an aposematic caterpillar was reinforced by behavior: the caterpillar-like head movements of nestlings (when disturbed) closely resembles the movements of the aposematic caterpillar.”

What a wonderful thing.  (A commenter at Imgur wryly wonders how we know it’s not the other way around — maybe the caterpillar is mimicking a baby bird so birds won’t eat it.)

The Return of Exorcisms: Giving Christians the ‘Power & Authority of Jesus’ to Torture & Murder

Joan Vollmer

A church desperate to regain relevance is bringing exorcism back in vogue, and we should be afraid:

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Dr Valter Cascioli, a psychiatrist and spokesman for the International Association of Exorcists, warned of “an extraordinary increase in demonic activity… the number of people who are turning to these practices, which are damaging psychologically, spiritually and morally, is constantly growing.  The battle against evil and the devil increasingly is becoming an emergency…”

Pope Francis is known for his approval of exorcists, praising them for “helping those who suffer because of the work of the devil”.

Truly frightening – though not for the reasons he gives.  The bishop of Paterson, NJ, writes for the Catholic News Agency that:

Throughout the world, the decline in faith and the rise of interest in the occult have fomented a climate that favors the phenomenon of demonic possession… As a result, requests for exorcisms have dramatically risen within the last decade…

The reality of the devil belongs to the bedrock of Christian tradition… As Pope Francis teaches, the devil is real.  Evil is real.  And, every individual needs to confront the power of evil and move away from the spiritual dominion of the devil… Exorcism is a sacramental…. the ordinary means given to us to prevail in the battle against evil and thus, through Christ’s victory over Satan…

Repeat… this is not a medieval scroll.  That was a 21st-century New Jersey newspaper.  In a horrifying Dec. 3 piece, Keith Moor recounts the outrageous case of Australian Joan Vollmers’ torture and murder by Christian exorcists, who received a mere slap on the wrist:  Continue reading

New Age Rape Culture: Astrology Pseudoscientists Blame ‘Rape-Prone’ Women & the Planets That Make Men Rape

After posting about one astrologer’s statements recently on an Indian TV news program (Rape Horoscopes: India TV News’ Latest Ratings Ploy, Dec. 3), I wondered if this was an isolated madman, or if this was a thing.  My sad report: it’s a thing.  I’ll let the astrologic community speak for themselves.  My comments are in italics prefaced with “Note.”

Before we get to the “experts,” let’s look at how this plays out in discussion forums, such as this Vedic Astrology board:

J.S. Sandhu asks: “What causes a child’s sexual abuse?  The close affliction of Rahu or the most malefic planet to Venus or the lord of the seventh house…?  What planetary influences cause a rape?”

Continue reading