Here's three recent news items that fit together in my churchless mind. The first is a letter to the editor in my local newspaper, the Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal.
I have no idea why the paper publishes this crap.
I doubt they would regularly fill up space on the editorial pages with letters praising Zeus and warning that failing to believe in the Greek Pantheon of gods will lead to this nation's cultural downfall, so why publish this religious gibberish?
When the Ten Commandments were introduced to the world in about 1475 B.C., they were presented to a primitive theocratic society.
This meant all laws were God's laws, including civil laws. Therefore, those who did not obey God's laws were probably lawless people who could not be trusted and were probably put to death.
Even later, when Mohammad was alive in the 7th century A.D., they still followed the same protocol. They decapitated people who they thought did not obey God's laws.
It is almost impossible for people growing up and living in America to visualize a world so primitive that it required such ungodly behavior. But re-read Deuteronomy 13.
However, not worrying about decapitation, if Christians in America want to be thought of as trustworthy or successful, they must still honor the Ten Commandments. (No one trusts liars and thieves.) Even atheists agree to that.
So why can anyone object to displaying the Ten Commandments in our public buildings and schools? Could it be that we do not want to offend Muslims who still think they want to live under laws that were necessary in the 7th century?
McCoy assumes that Statesman Journal subscribers have already read Deuteronomy 13. This was my first exposure to this primitive Biblical claptrap.
The general message, based on a quick overview, is that even if someone seemingly has divine powers, don't believe in him/her, because they're trying to lure you away from the One True God. Even more, that someone should be put to death.
Even if the lurer is your son, daughter, wife, or best friend. You cast the first stone; then other true believers follow. That sounds really moral.
I don't understand what McCoy is getting at in the rest of his letter, though.
He says that we don't have to worry any more about being killed if we don't obey God's laws. (Leaving aside the question of which God?) But he wants the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public buildings and schools.
McCoy doesn't favor following primitive Islamic laws of the 7th century, but he is fine with following primitive Biblical laws that are much older than that. Oh, well. It's no surprise when religious believers fail to make sense.
The second piece that caught my eye was on the World Religious News site, "Richard Dawkins feels the rise in None's could be 'even worse'."
By None's, he means the rapidly growing number of people who don't subscribe to any organized religion. By even worse, World Religious News seems to want its readers to believe that Dawkins views "spiritual but not religious" folks as more dangerous than adherents of traditional religions.
Well, that is overstating things, based on a video where Dawkins said that None's who embrace Deepak Chopra are "even worse." HIs expression and tone of voice reflect a dry British wit, so that statement isn't meant to be taken very seriously.
Third, the outcry over nude and semi-nude tourists doing their thing on Malaysia's "sacred" Mount Kinabalu is a great example of how religiosity and supernaturalism lead to ridiculous moral judgments.
Residents in the Malaysian city where a group of tourists are being held after posing naked on the country’s highest mountain have spoken of their anger at the stunt.
Four western tourists, including a 23-year-old Briton, Eleanor Hawkins, appeared on Wednesday handcuffed and dressed in purple prison uniforms in a court in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah state.
They were part of a group of 10 trekkers who were last month photographed stripping on Mount Kinabalu. Malaysian officials later linked the stunt on the sacred mountain to an earthquake six days later which killed 18 people.
The four tourists were remanded in custody in the city, which lies about 55 miles (90km) south-east of Mount Kinabalu, while investigations are carried out.
Fendi Adam, a teenager, is a member of the Dusun tribe, which believes spirits live in the mountain and that the naked tourists caused the earthquake.
“The spirits don’t like what they did. They should be kept in jail for a long time,” he told the Guardian.
Well, I'm not sure how authorities could investigate whether the mountain's spirits were bothered enough by the nudity to respond with an earthquake. That sure sounds ridiculous.
Just as ridiculous as the assertion by Christians, Jews, and other religious crazies that immoral behavior here in the United States caused Hurricane Katrina. So says Wikipedia.
Various political and religious leaders have suggested that Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,836 people, was sent as a divine retribution for the sins of New Orleans, or of the South, or for the United States as a whole. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is said to have asserted in a speech on January 16, 2006, addressing the effects of Hurricane Katrina, "Surely God is mad at America".
Various different reasons have been given for God's wrath. Some victims of the disaster also made attributions to supernatural causes, that they were being punished for their sins, or that God was testing them, or even that the event was "the work of Satan."