A philosophy test for New Agers

“The universe gives back what we send out.”  “Everything happens for a reason.”

These are among the most widely repeated dogmas of New Age thought.

I propose a simple test of the validity of a philosophy such as this.

If you would be ashamed to express your philosophy to someone who has lost a child in a tsunami, then it’s probably immoral… and false.

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In Medieval Superstition News, U.S. Presidential Delegation Honors Mother Teresa’s Miracle Cures

In Medieval Superstition News, U.S. Presidential Delegation Honors Mother Teresa’s Miracle Cures

For mysterious reasons, U.S. politicians and major media outlets are today hyperventilating over one religious group’s unproven claims of ghostly miracle cures.  President Obama has sent a presidential delegation to pay tribute to the ghost faith healer. 

I’m speaking, of course, of today’s canonization of Mother Teresa by the Catholic Church, making her a saint. A saint is someone Catholics believe has special after-death powers to which they can appeal for miracles, as evidenced by at least two miracles so far.

The political and media honors would be slightly more understandable if this were one of the secular tributes for her that have also taken place for her non-miraculous work.  Work, that is,  which largely involved raising vast sums of money to convert Hindus to Catholicism and crusade against contraception and abortion, thereby increasing poverty and suffering.  Using the funds to bring modern medical cures and comforts went against her belief that poverty and physical pain made sufferers more holy to Jesus.

But no, in this case the honors are for her elevation in heaven to God’s miracle broker.

My question is, how exactly does  Pres. Obama determine which unproven miracle cures to honor?  Will we soon be seeing this?   Continue reading

Just In Case There’s Any Doubt Jill Stein Sows Distrust in the U.S. Vaccination Program…

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Let’s simply let her supporters answer.

Here are some comments from angry Jill Stein supporters on the Friendly Atheist Facebook page in response to my article criticizing her statements on the U.S. vaccination program.   It was gratifying to see these dwarfed by many thousands of likes and shares, as was a lovely mention as well by the national progressive humanist group Center for Inquiry’s Paul Fidalgo in his daily roundup of humanist news:

Speaking of Stein, Bo Gardiner does a good overview of Stein’s many pseudoscientific predilections.

But it’s a veritable online rule that people who disagree are the most likely to comment, and comment they did.  

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My Heartbreaking Conclusion: Jill Stein Is Anti-Science, Bad for the Environment, and Now Fully Earns Anti-Vax Label

[A version of this article appeared on July 27 at The Friendly Atheist.]

By Bo Gardiner

In a 2013 speech, Jill Stein calls for the imprisonment of GMO producers based on discredited claims, ignores the environmental damage that would produce, and says the difference between the major parties is mere “window dressing” [Source: YouTube].

 

I’m a strong progressive with socialist leanings, but more than anything else, I’m an environmentalist working for biodiversity – it’s my life’s passion.  I campaign hard for Greens running in local elections.  While a government environmental scientist, I successfully blew the whistle more than once on politicized agencies’ illegal actions to permit corporate pollution.  I pushed my agencies hard to put science over politics and stop dragging their feet on climate change.  While working for a nonprofit conservation group, I managed successful statewide biodiversity campaigns, criticizing politicians and government agencies who were obstacles.  In my personal life, I’m a naturalist and organic gardener, who lectures about gardening for wildlife.

For these reasons, I would not dream of voting for Jill Stein, and will be voting for Hillary Clinton for President.  Does this surprise you?  It shouldn’t if you’re looking deep enough.

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Did the Oregon Shooter Actually Target Christians? It Doesn’t Appear So

[Excerpts from my article published at the Friendly Atheist. ]

It’s a rallying moment for American Christians angered by the growing voices of the nation’s non-religious, however small a minority we remain.

Christian communities online are feverishly crying, “Now do you believe we’re persecuted?” Political, cultural, and religious leaders are calling on Christians to rise up against their non-religious persecutors, accusing us of fostering violence, and demanding we take responsibility.

That fever is rising with each news report about the massacre of nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

(Images via YouTube)

All of those stories seem to report a variation on the line “Christians were targeted.” A Washington Post headline read “Oregon shooter said to have singled out Christians for killing in ‘horrific act of cowardice.’” NBC reported: “The gunman who opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College targeted Christians specifically, according to the father of a wounded student.”

Though some outlets like the New York Times noted that that “Law enforcement officials would not confirm or deny” that Christians were targeted, that “fact” has already become conventional wisdom.

Support for that idea, however, is limited, as Lauren showed in an earlier post on this site. Most people making that claim point to the shooter’s membership in a Facebook group called “Against Organized Religion,” his self-characterization as “spiritual but not religious,” and two secondhand accounts from relatives of survivors.

Hemant posted another survivor’s report that contradicts those earlier accounts, providing a more detailed and very different interpretation of the shooter’s questions:

McGowan told family members that the gunman didn’t specifically target Christians but asked them about faith. The shooter, apparently planning to die during the massacre, told students: “I’ll see you soon” or “I’ll meet you soon.”

“The shooter would call a person: ‘You, stand up,’” Salas said, recalling what her son told her. “And then he would ask them if they were a Christian, knew God, or had religion. And it wasn’t like it was stated on TV. It wasn’t about that he was just trying to pinpoint Christians, no.”

The shooter would tell them it wouldn’t hurt.

“And then he would shoot them,” she said.

Of course, there is a way we could check if this claim that the shooter was targeting Christians has any merit: Let’s examine the victims’ beliefs as best we can and find out if they fit that description.

It’s not just for the sake of curiosity. One could argue that painting them all as Christian martyrs would be disrespectful if they weren’t actually Christian. For most of them, we don’t know their religious beliefs for certain. All we can look at is their social media presence and comments from loved ones.

Similarly, should we assume that those who were spared or only injured were either non-Christian or insufficiently courageous to admit their Christianity?

People are making a lot of assumptions without looking at the evidence.

So let’s try to do that.

First, let me say this is the hardest post I’ve ever written. Studying the words and photos of these lovely people made the magnitude of our loss simply unfathomable.

The bottom line? Only two of the nine victims are confirmed to be Christians. While some of the other seven may be Christians, there’s currently no publicly available evidence for it. And several others seem to hold beliefs other than Christianity.

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Did a New Official UK Report Really Say That Police Should Consult Psychics?

[Excerpts from my post at The Friendly Atheist]

By Bo Gardiner

It would certainly seem so, judging by newspaper coverage of the UK College of Policing draft report proposing new standards for police.

FBI consultant and former TV psychic Patrick Jane suspects a psychic tipster is really the murderer on The Mentalist series finale

The Independent in the UK ran the initial story with the headline “Detectives investigating missing persons cases ‘should consider the advice of psychics’, says College of Policing.” The opening sentence read “Detectives investigating missing persons cases should consider tips from people claiming to have supernatural abilities, according to new proposals from the College of Policing.”

That certainly sounds like the College wants detectives thinking, Hmm, forget Sherlock, I’d better send for psychics to get the expert help I need on this tough case! The paper goes so far as to report that experts want psychics taken seriously

So, the message is that the College is totally into psychic vibes, right?
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