bookmark_borderHas the Journal Philo Died?

I’ve heard privately from several philosophers that they submitted articles and heard nothing for months. It’s been years since a new issue of the journal came out. If you go to the journal’s new website, there is now a statement that “Philo is no longer accepting submissions.”
I have no inside information about what may or may not have happened behind the scenes, but I think it is very unprofessional to leave authors and subscribers in the dark like this for so long. If they are going to cease publication, they should make an announcement and be done with it. If they are going to resume publication in the year X, they should announce that.

bookmark_borderWhy Does the U.S. Congress Have Official Chaplains?

Yesterday the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sued the U.S. Congress for barring atheist Dan Barker from delivering the invocation. (See here.) I am no attorney — constitutional or otherwise — but it seems to be a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause for Congress to allow Christian invocations, while barring atheist invocations. Why? Because the Establishment Clause implies that the U.S. Government may not favor belief or nonbelief or, if you prefer, theism over nontheism.
Now, I’m sure Barker and the FFRF would agree with what I am about to bring up, but in my mind the linked article raises a more foundational issue. Why does the U.S. Congress need an official chaplain, paid as an employee of the United States, in the first place? Even if you believe the Congress needs or should have a chaplain deliver an invocation, why would anyone believe we need that person to be a government employee? It cannot be about fiscal conservativism, since a consistent fiscal conservative would believe that this is best handled outside of the government (and so not at taxpayer expense). Nor can it be be due to any shortage of chaplains in the U.S. area; just look at the map below showing all of the church in D.C. proper.
D.C. Churches
 
And I cannot believe that if a pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, or what-have-you were extended an invitation to deliver the invocation, they would turn down the honor.
So I ask, again, why does the U.S. Congress continue in 2016 to have official (paid) chaplains?

bookmark_borderHope for a Brighter Future – Part 2

In the previous post on this topic I pointed to a recent study which showed that belief in God is on the decline in the United States.  Some people, however, have a difficult time accepting this fact, and in order to avoid this “unpleasant” reality engage in various forms of uncritical thinking.  
Joe Hinman, for example, seems to be hell bent on rejecting the facts that contradict his wishes and desires on this matter, and as a result he provides us with a clear example of how NOT to think.  Joe provides us with a clear example of the saying “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts!”
I think we can all learn something from Joe’s failure to think rationally and objectively about this issue.  We can all learn how to be better critical thinkers, including Joe, if he is willing to admit his mistakes and to learn from them.
Here is a copy of the study that I was pointing to:
ReligioninGSS1-25-16.pdf
There is a lot of interesting information in this study, but there are a few key points that relate to the issue of whether belief in God in on the decline:

  • In the late 1980s,  13% of the general population indicated doubt or disbelief about the existence of God. 
  • In 2008, the percentage of the general population indicating doubt or disbelief about the existence of God grew to 18%.
  • By 2014, the percentage of the general population indicating doubt or disbelief about the existence of God reached 22%.

(This data is found in Table 1 on page 26 of the study.)
There has been a significant increase in doubt/disbelief about God when we compare the 13% figure from the late 1980s to the 22% figure from 2014.  If that trend has continued for the past two years, then we may soon see the day when 1/4  (25%) of the population expresses doubt or disbelief about the existence of God.
The trend towards doubt or disbelief is even more pronounced among young adults (ages 18-29):

  • In the late 1980s, only 12% of young adults indicated doubt or disbelief about the existence of God.
  • In the year 2008, the percentage of young adults indicating doubt or disbelief about the existence of God had doubled: 24%.
  • By 2014, the percentage of young adults indicating doubt or disbelief in the existence of God had grown even further, to 30%.

(This data is found in Table 2 on page 28 of the study.)
If this trend has continued for the past two years, then we may well soon see the day when 1/3  (33%) of young adults express doubt or disbelief about the existence of God.
Because these facts show that belief in the existence of God is on the decline, these facts are disturbing to Joe, and so he raises various obviously flawed objections, fearfully and desperately trying to push this “unpleasant” reality out of his mind.
Joe Comment 1:
Belief in God has not declined. you are making classic mistake of assuming none means belief. it just means no label. At least half the nones believe in God.
Based on my previous experiences with him, Joe has a strong tendency to commit the STRAW MAN fallacy.  This is an example of that fallacy.  Joe does not point out where I make this “classic mistake” nor does he point out where the study that I mentioned makes this “classic mistake”.  Joe does not point out where I or the study make this mistake, because neither I nor the study ever makes any such claim or assumption.  Joe just makes stuff up, attributes it to others, and then objects to the stuff that he made up.
My post was very short, and consisted mostly of a brief quote from a news article about the study.  The last sentence from the article that is quoted in my post was this:
• Those who say they don’t believe in God rose from 13 to 22 percent.
If this claim is true, then belief in God has declined significantly (between the late 1980s and 2014).  There is nothing in this quoted sentence about “nones” nor does it speak of “religiously unaffiliated” people.  This is clearly a statement about the general population.  This is clearly a statement about decline in belief in God.
There is no confusion here involving the false assumption that all “nones” disbelieve in God.  The only confusion here is in Joe’s mind.  Joe wished and hoped that I was confusing “nones” with “disbelief in God”.  Joe wished and hoped that the study had confused “nones” with “disbelief in God”, but no such confusion actually exists.  Joe was desperately grasping for staws to fend off facts that he wishes were not so.
If Joe had read the study for himself, then he would have seen that no such confusion occurs in the study.  So, it looks like Joe launched into creating objections against the study without first READING the study.  If so, then Joe provides us with a clear example of how NOT to think.
A basic principle of critical thinking is this:

Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.

In order to understand a study, one must first READ the study.  If, as appears to be the case, Joe launched into raising objections to this study without first reading it, then Joe violated this basic principle of critical thinking.  We will see futher evidence, from other comments by Joe, that he did not read this study before launching into raising objections against it.
Joe Comment 2:
I also doubt that your study distinguishes between belief and membership.
This is an alternative expression of the same objection made by Joe in “Joe Comment 1”.  Joe is repeating the obviously mistaken objection that the study confuses the lack of religious affiliation (i.e. “nones”) with lack of belief in God.  Note that Joe says “I…doubt that….”  This expression makes no sense if Joe had read the study before raising this objection.  If he had read the study, then he would KNOW whether it confused “nones” with “disbelief in God”, and if he KNEW that such a confusion existed in the study, then he would simply say so, and he would provide one or more quotations from the study showing that it confused these ideas.
In using the expression “I…doubt that…” Joe clearly indicates that he has NOT read the study, and that he merely SUSPECTS that the study involves such a confusion.  The fact that Joe merely suspects that such a confusion occured in the study clearly indicates that Joe did NOT read the study before launching into raising objections against it.
Joe Comment 3:
“The share of U.S. adults who say they believe in God, while still remarkably high by comparison with other advanced industrial countries, has declined modestly, from approximately 92% to 89%, since Pew Research Center conducted its first Landscape Study in 2007.1”
As I said before this is in the margin of error. They alway7s assume any survey could be off by 3% so they call it a dead heat in an election. …But atheism is not increasing in fact it could be an increase in belief since it’s in the margin of error.
There is so much bad thinking going on here, that it is hard to know where to start.
Here is where you can find a copy of the study that Joe quoted from:
201.11.03_RLS_II_full_report.pdf
First of all, Joe quotes from another study in order to contradict the claim that belief in God is in decline, but the study he quotes indicates that belief in God is in decline!  Not exactly a strong objection.  
Second, I don’t think that Joe read the study that he is quoting here, because if he had read it, he would know that the study provides significant SUPPORT for the view that belief in God is on the decline, and significant support for the accuracy of the study that I was pointing out. Also, I don’t think that Joe read the study that he is quoting from, because if he had read it, he would not have made the idiotic and obviously false point about there being a 3% margin of error in the study that he quotes from.
Third,  even if Joe was correct about the margin of error being 3%, his objection still misses the mark because the primary comparison being made in the study I point to is between the late 1980s and 2014, whereas the study that Joe points to compares survey data from 2007 to 2014. (If Joe had read both studies, he would have known that they cover differnent time spans.) So, even if the decline in belief in God was tiny (or non-existent) between 2007 and 2014, that does NOT imply that a decline in belief in God between the late 1980s and 2014 was tiny (or non-existent).  The study that Joe points to makes no reference to survey data from the late 1980s, so it cannot address the primary comparison made in the study that I pointed out. 
There are at least four obvious reasons why the 3% margin of error that Joe asserts is false or questionable:

  1. A Pew Research Center study would NOT conclude that belief in God “has declined” if the percentage of change was within the margin of error.  That would be a mistake that only an ignorant Jr High student would make, not one that a team of survey experts would make (duh!).
  2. A 3% margin of error is what you get with standard national phone surveys of about 1,000 people, and a major Pew Research Center study would be unlikely to be of such low quality/effort. (Joe: if you did not know that a 3% margin of error is associated with national surveys that have a sample size of 1,000 people, then please review this basic information about the concept of “margin of error”.  Also, for the specific statistic that you quote, the margin of error with a sample size of 1,000 would be 2% not 3%, because the statistics were close to 90% figures, which lowers the margin of error.)
  3. On page 39, the margin of error is stated explicitlyWith more than 35,000 interviews each, both the 2007 and 2014 studies have margins of error of less than 1 percentage point, making it possible to identify even relatively small changes in the U.S. religious landscape.  (This is further evidence that Joe did not actually read the Pew Research Center study that he has quoted.)
  4. Joe need not have read the study up to page 39 to determine that the margin of error was significantly smaller than 3%.  If he had just read the VERY FIRST SENTENCE of the study, he ought to have known that the typical 3% margin of error did not apply to this study: This report analyzes findings from the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, the centerpiece of which is a nationally representative telephone survey of 35,071 adults.  (The sample size of this study is about 35 times larger than the size of the typical political poll with a 3% margin of error).

So, if Joe had read the study that he quotes from to try to contradict the conclusion of the study that I pointed out, then Joe would have known that (a) it has a margin of error less than 1%, and (b) that it actually SUPPORTS the study that I pointed out (as we shall soon see), rather than contradicting it.  So, it looks like Joe did NOT read the study that I pointed to before launching objections against it, and that Joe also did NOT read the study that he pointed to before using it as the basis for an objection.  Either that, or Joe cannot read with any competence.
Here is a corollary to the previous principle of critical thinking:

Don’t use a study as evidence for (or against) a claim until you understand that study.

To understand a study, of course, requires that you first READ the study, so it appears that Joe has also violated this corollary principle of critical thinking.
The study that Joe points us to supports the view that belief in God is on the decline in the United States.  First of all, it shows that there was a decrease in the percentage of people who say they believe in God. In 2007 92% of the general population would say they believe in God, but in 2014 89% would say this.  Since the margin of error is less than 1%, that means, contrary to the fervent desires of Joe, that the percentage of people who say they believe in God declined about 3%.
If this decline is part of a trend that already existed prior to 2007, then the decline in recent decades would exceed this 3% figure.  But whether this decline between 2007 and 2014 is part of a trend that existed prior to 2007 cannot be answered by the study that Joe points us to, because that study only compares two sets of survey data:  survey data from 2007 and survey data from 2014.
The study I pointed to, however, makes use of many sets of survey data going back as far as 1972, and includes data from the 1980s and the 1990s as well as data from the first decade of the 21st century, plus a few more recent years (2010, 2012, and 2014).  This data shows that the trend of decline in belief in God began in the late 1980s, and thus the decline in belief in God between the late 1980s and 2014 is significantly greater than the 3% decline between 2007 and 2014 indicated by the study that Joe pointed out.
The study that Joe points us to also supports the view that belief in God is on the decline, because it shows three important trends (see page 4 of the Pew Research Center study):

  1. The percentage of the population that are “nones” has been increasing significantly.
  2. The percentage of “nones” who doubt or disbelieve in the existence of God has been increasing significantly.
  3. The percentage of religiously affiliated persons who believe in God has NOT been increasing significantly.  

The combination of these three trends supports the view that belief in God is on the decline.  If belief in God is stable among the religiously affiliated, but is significantly on the decline among “nones”, and if “nones” are becoming a significantly larger percentage of the population, then belief in God is declining. So long as these three trends continue, belief in God will also continue to decline.
Joe Comment 4:
Belief in God is down among the nones. It’s down from 71% to 61% but that’s 61% of 10% of the country so it’s in the 3% over all.
Joe admits that belief in God is declining among “nones”.  But this admission threatens Joe’s wish that belief in God NOT be on the decline, so he tries to minimize the significance of this fact by minimizing the significance of the “nones” category: they are only “10% of the country”.  Where does this 10% figure come from?  Joe doesn’t say.   I think Joe just made this number up, perhaps because it fits nicely with what he wishes were true.
But Joe’s claim here is FALSE.  There was a time when “nones” were only 10% of the population, but that was back in the mid-1990s.  The year Joe is talking about is 2014, and in 2014 the percentage of the population that were “nones” was significantly larger than 10%.  In fact, in 2014 the percentage of “nones” was more than DOUBLE what it had been in the middle of the 1990s.
According to the study that Joe points us towards, the percentage of “nones” in 2014 was 23%, and if the trend has continued for the past couple of years, we are probably at about 25% now.  Not one in ten, but about one in four!  Wishful thinking leads Joe to imagine that “nones” only make up 10% of the population, but the very study that he holds up as a solid and trustworthy study shows that the percentage of the population that are “nones” has significantly increased between 2007 (16%) and 2014 (23%) – see page 4 of the Pew Research Center study that Joe quoted.
The study that I pointed to supplements that data, and shows that this trend was already in progress in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s:

  • In the early 1970s, only 6% of people in the U.S. were “nones”.
  • In the late 1990s, the percentage of people who are “nones” had more than doubled to: 13%.
  • The percentage has continued to increase since that late 1990s, and in 2014 the percentage of the general population that are “nones” was 21%, more than triple the figure from the early 1970s.

(See Table 1 on page 26 of the study that I pointed out.)
Thus, it is clear that the increase in the proportion of the population that are “nones” is a long-term trend that has been going on since the early 1970s.
Furthermore, if you look at the statistics on young adults (ages 18-29), there has been a steady increase in the percentage of “nones” in that sub-group since the early 1990s, and the increase in the percentage of “nones” parallels the increase in doubt and disbelief about the existence of God in that same sub-group of young adults.  This is another indication that the decline in belief in God is related to the increasing number and percentage of the population that are “nones”.
Joe Comment 5:
…my study is more recemt so different year helps me. Makes yours out of date.
If Joe had actually read the study I pointed to, and the study that he quoted from, then he would have known that this claim is FALSE.  The most recent data used by the study I pointed to was from suveys taken in 2014.  The most recent data used by the study that Joe pointed to was from surveys taken in 2014.  Both studies are based on data from surveys taken in 2014.  The Pew Research Center study that Joe points to is NOT “more recent” than the study I pointed to, and if the study I point to is “out of date”, then so is the study that Joe quoted.
This is mentioned in the VERY FIRST SENTENCE of the study that Joe pointed to: This report analyzes findings from the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, the centerpiece of which is a nationally representative telephone survey of 35,071 adults.  The study I pointed out contains this information in the TITLE of the study (which appears at the top of the very first page of the study): Declines in American adults’ religious participation and beliefs, 1972-2014.  So, if Joe had only taken four seconds to read the first sentence of the Pew Research Center study that he points to, and two seconds to read the title of the study that I pointed to, then he would not have made the obviously false claim that the Pew Research Center study “is more recent” than the study that I pointed out.  This is further evidence that Joe did NOT read either study, and that he violated the above basic principles of critical thinking.
Joe’s thinking on this question manifests a pattern:

  • Joe wishes that I and the study I pointed out were confused about the concept of “nones” (so that he can dismiss my view and the conclusions of the study that pointed to), but the fact is that neither I nor the study I pointed out are confused about that concept.
  • Joe wishes that he had read and understood the study that I pointed to and the study that he pointed to, but the fact is that either he did not read these studies or he did not understand what he read.
  • Joe wishes that the Pew Research Center study contradicted the view that belief in God is on the decline, but the fact is that it clearly supports this view.
  • Joe wishes that the margin of error for the Pew Research Center statistics on belief in God was 3% (so he can dismiss the statistic showing decline in belief in God), but the fact is that the margin of error is less than 1% for that statistic.
  • Joe wishes that the Pew Research Center study contradicted the study I pointed out (so that he could dismiss the study I pointed to), but the fact is that the Pew Research Center study says nothing about belief in God in the late 1980s, which a key time frame for the study that I pointed out.  So, there can be no direct contradiction between these studies.
  • Joe wishes that “nones” made up only 10% of the U.S. population (so that he could downplay the increase in disbelief in God among “nones”), but the fact is that we make up nearly 25% of the population (23% as of 2014).
  • Joe wishes that the Pew Research Center study that he quoted from was “more recent” than the study that I pointed out (so that it could be used against the study I pointed to), but the fact is that both studies use data from surveys taken in 2014, and neither study uses data that is more recent than that.

It appears to be the case that, concerning this issue, Joe’s thinking is driven by his wishes and desires, and NOT by the actual facts and data: his mind is made up, so don’t confuse him with the facts.

bookmark_borderApologist Josh McDowell: Internet the Greatest Threat to Christians

(Redated post originally published on 19 November 2011)

This is old news, but cries out for a comment. According to The Christian Post, Josh McDowell has declared the Internet to be the greatest threat to Christians. As the editor of an Internet anthology rebutting McDowell’s book Evidence That Demands a Verdict, I naturally found this announcement to be of great interest. McDowell has steadfastly refused to even acknowledge our rebuttal, much less learn from it. Speaking at the “Unshakable Truth, Relevant Faith” conference at the Billy Graham Center on July 15, McDowell stated:

The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not.

Two comments:
1. Do we “like to destroy”? Ummm… no. While there are atheists, agnostics, and skeptics who do enjoy “destroying” what Christians believe, that is certainly not how I or many of us at Internet Infidels think or feel about it. One of the original goals for starting Internet Infidels and creating the Secular Web was defensive, to respond to apologists who seemed hell-bent on trying to prove the irrationality of non-believers (so-called “hard apologetics”). In fact, for years I used to say that the primary value of the Secular Web was that it provided a level playing field. (More on that in a moment.)
2. As Jerry Wilson pointed out:

“But his conclusion that this is somehow bad is laughable. Read what he is saying: Skeptical inquiry into the things we have always accepted without question is something to fight against. That shows the mindset of fundamentalist Christians. Never mind the fact, never mind that their beliefs might just be superstitious nonsense. We must protect our kids of learning anything they might use to work out the real solutions to life’s problems. We must keep them deluded with dogma. Facts and critical thinking skills are evil. And that’s what they are learning on the Internet!”

I’ve documented before how William Lane Craig and Norm Geisler are opposed to free thought; we may now add a third high-profile Christian apologist, Josh McDowell, to the list. Again, I do not want to be guilty of attacking a straw man version of Evangelical Christianity. If any Evangelical Christians reads this and disagrees with McDowell, Craig, and Geisler regarding free thought, freedom of inquiry, and so forth, I would love to hear from you.
Here’s more from McDowell:

“Now here is the problem,” said McDowell, “going all the way back, when Al Gore invented the Internet [he said jokingly], I made the statement off and on for 10-11 years that the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism.”

What? Hard apologetics does poorly when it is unable to control the entire message? What a shock!

And, folks, that’s exactly what has happened. It’s like this. How do you really know, there is so much out there… This abundance [of information] has led to skepticism. And then the Internet has leveled the playing field [giving equal access to skeptics].”

Now that is something we can agree on: the Internet has leveled the playing field. In fact, I’ve been saying it for about 15 years. To which I can only add: get used to it, Josh, because we are not going anywhere.

bookmark_borderU.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Has Died

The Governor of the State of Texas issued a press release on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

“Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Apparently he died peacefully of natural causes in his sleep.

While I often disagreed with decisions on church-state separation, I always respected his intelligence. My condolences to his wife and family.

Already it is virtually impossible to find a story about his death without some kind of speculation for when he might be replaced and — crucially — whether Obama or the next President — who may very well be a Republican — will get to nominate that person. As important as that question may be, it seems rather insensitive to discuss the topic on the same day as his death. (If you are a hard-core liberal who disagrees, think how you would feel if the tables were turned; Romney were president; Justice Ginsburg died; and conservatives were salivating at the mouth over the prospect of replacing Ginsburg with a conservative justice before the end of Romney’s term, on the day of his death .) The man was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and deserves respect. We can talk about the politics of nominating his successor later.

bookmark_borderBen Carson is Also a POLITICAL Nutcase – Part 1

It looks like Ben Carson’s popularity is fading away, according recent polls (Thank you baby Jesus!).
However, he was clearly the number two choice of Republicans from the end of August until early December, and for the first half of November, Carson was neck-and-neck with Trump, tied for first choice of Republicans.  Furthermore, the primary elections/caucuses have not yet occurred, so Carson still has a shot at becoming the Republican nominee for president.
In my first post on Carson, I argued that he was a religious nutcase because of his extreme views on abortion and his opposition to established science on evolution, the Big Bang, global warming, and homosexuality:

  •  No woman (and no one who cares about women) should vote for Carson, because not only would he “love” to see Roe v. Wade overturned but he is opposed to abortion in cases of rape and incest.  In fact, Carson is unsure about whether abortion should be allowed even when the mother’s life is at risk.  Carson wants to lead the Republican war on women.
  • No elderly person (and no one with elderly parents) should vote for Carson, because Carson wants to end both Medicare and Medicaid.
  • No college-educated person should vote for Carson, because Carson rejects scientific thinking on evolution, the Big Bang, global warming, and homosexuality.

In my second post on Carson, I began to argue that he was a political nutcase as well.  I provided some evidence about Carson’s obsession with and admiration for W. Cleon Skousen, an anti-communist crackpot from the 1950s.
In the meantime, I have obtained a copy of the book that Ben Carson wants EVERYBODY to read:  The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Skousen, and I have been viewing and transcribing various speeches and presentations by Ben Carson from 2014 and some from 2015 too, where Carson spews his crazy extremist political views.
I’m now fully convinced that Ben Carson is a political nutcase who should not be allowed to obtain ANY political office in ANY place at ANY time.   Carson is a delusional extremist who poses a great threat to our country if he were to become President of the United States of America.
I realize that The Secular Outpost is focused on Naturalism and Atheism, and not on American politics.  However, it is important for the sake of freedom of thought and freedom of religion and for the sake of liberty and justice for all that we atheists and naturalists who live in America do whatever we can to prevent religious and political nutcases, such as Ben Carson,  from obtaining powerful positions in our government, and there is no more powerful position than the presidency.
Ben Carson represents one of the ugliest and most obnoxious intrusions of religion into politics that I have ever witnessed; furthermore, there is a striking similarity between the irrationality of Carson’s religion and the irrationality of Carson’s political views.  So, although this post is primarily political, it also touches upon the problematic relationship between religion and politics in America.
Here is the striking similarity between Carson’s religion and his political views:  both arise out of foolish alarmist prophets.  Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist.  This protestant sect was founded by Ellen G. White, who had many “visions”, wrote many books of a religious nature, and who is considered to be a modern-day prophet by Seventh Day Adventists.  Ellen grew up in a family that was part of the Millerite movement:
 Millerite movement
In 1840, at age 12, her family became involved with the Millerite movement. As she attended William Miller’s lectures, Ellen felt guilty for her sins, and she was filled with terror about being eternally lost. She describes herself as spending nights in tears and prayer, and being in this condition for several months. On June 26, 1842, She was baptized by John Hobart in Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, and eagerly awaited Jesus to come again. In her later years, she referred to this as the happiest time of her life. Her family’s involvement with Millerism caused them to be disfellowshipped by the local Methodist church.
Marriage and family
Sometime in 1845 Ellen came into contact with her future husband James Springer White, a Millerite who became convinced that her visions were genuine. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_G._White
The Millerite movement was started by William Miller, and it is famous for it’s failed prediction of the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus, referred to as “The Great Disapointment”.  A brief account of this historical event is found in Bart Ehrman’s book Jesus, pages 12 to 14.
After fighting in the American War of 1812, Miller turned to the Bible to find “the Truth”.  His study of the Bible renewed his faith in God and Jesus and led to an obsession with biblical prophecy, which he studied in detail for two years. Based on his own interpretation of the book of Daniel, Miller concluded in 1818 that the end of the world would take place in 1843.  Miller did not initially try to spread the word and convince others that the end was at hand, but after five more years of study, “he began to tell neighbors and friends, and eventually ministers.” (Jesus, p.13).  A Christian movement began and blossomed , and “As the fated date approached, huge tent meetings and camps were arranged; thousands of people came to hear the good news, and many of them converted.”  (Jesus, p.13).
Many Millerites expected Jesus to return by the end of 1843.  But in January of that year, William Miller clarified his prediction to be that Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.  “Those who had expected Christ’s return by the last day of 1843 were disappointed when the new year appeared, but they placed their hopes on the revised terminus ante quem in the spring.  The movement continued to thrive, picking up thousands of converts, until that date, too, came and went.”  (Jesus, p.13)
You would think that the failure of the predicted date would have put an END to the Millerite movement, but the followers of Miller were too emotionally invested in their  religious beliefs to be put off by mere facts.  Some enthusiastic Millerites began promoting October 22, 1844 as the new and correct date for the end of the world, and Miller came to endorse this prediction early in October:
This time the failure of the end to appear created particular hardship.  Their fervent hopes completely dashed, Millerite believers were subject to abject ridicule and, in some cases, real physical hardship: some of the faithful had quit their jobs to devote themselves to the mission of spreading the word; some farmers had left their crops in the field unharvested; some people had given away all their possessions…. Some never recovered from the non-event that historians have come to call “The Great Disappointment.”  (Jesus, p.14)
Ellen White, the founder of Seventh Day Adventism, grew up as a Millerite.  She and her family embraced the foolish alarmist predictions of William Miller.
Ben Carson also embraces foolish alarmist prophecy that currently circulates in Seventh Day Adventist circles.  See, for example, his sermon at Avondale Memorial Church on July 12, 2014 ( Sermon begins at 17:05).  More importantly, Carson embraces the foolish alarmist political predictions of W. Cleon Skousen in The Naked Communist.  Not only does Carson personally embrace the alarmist predictions of Skousen, but Carson continually promotes the book The Naked Communist as well as some of Skousen’s key ideas from that book.
Carson spoke at the 108th Annual Meeting of The Manufacturers’ Association of South Central Pennsylvania on April 23rd, 2014, and he recommended this book:
It’s easy to find the literature on this: Marxist and neo-Marxist literature.  But it indicates that it is necessary in order to bring the United States under subjugation that you have to break its most powerful pillars.  And that is the family structure and their Judeo-Christian belief system.  And if you can bring those things under control, then you can definitely knock the people down, and if you can make the people dependent, then you can definitely bring the United States down.  And I encourage people to read those things, so they understand what’s going on. There is a book called The Naked Communist, written in 1958 by Leon [sic] Skousen, which outlines, back in 1958 it outlines everything that’s going on today, and the whole plan, and how it was to roll out. And I must give the secular progressives their due, because they have been very effective in bringing about the kind of change that they wanted to in this nation.  [53:33-55:24]
Carson spoke at the 2014 Annual Gala of the National Organization for Marriage on June 19th, 2014, and he recommended this book:
And there are so many forces that are there to try to destroy that unity–the only way to bring America down. If you look in a lot of the writings of the neo-Marxists, when they talk about the New World Order; they say there is only one stick in the mud: the United States. How do you get them out of the way? Or how do you change them? And they said there were two fundamental things: their Judeo-Christian faith and their strong families. Those were the things that had to be attacked, and those things have been systematically attacked over the last several decades. There is a book called The Naked Communist by Cleon Skousen, the same guy that wrote The 5,000 Year Leap, lays out the whole agenda of how to attack the family and the Judeo-Christian values to weaken the structure of America.  [18:19-20:02]
Carson was interviewed for WND TV by the founder and CEO of WND Joseph Farah on July 4th, 2014, and Carson recommended this book in the interview:
The mainstream media is never going to give you the right answers, because they’re part of the problem. There’s a book called The Naked Communist, it was written in 1958, uhh..Cleon Skousen, lays out the whole agenda, including the importance of getting people in important positions in the mainstream media so that they could help drive the agenda. Well, that’s what’s happening now. And, uh, we need to just move around them. [20:09-20:35]
Carson was interviewed on Fox News by Megyn Kelly on July 16, 2014, and he recommended this book during that interview:
That’s why I tell them to go read it for themselves: Vladimir Lenin, Saul Alinsky, Karl Marx. You know, uh, I mean these people, umm, just laid all this stuff out. And there was a guy who was a former CIA agent, by the name of Cleon Skousen, who wrote a book in 1958 called The Naked Communist, and it laid out the whole agenda. You would think by reading it, that it was written last year, showing what they’re trying to do to American families, what they’re trying to do to our Judeo-Christian faith, uh, what they’re doing to morality.  [5:05-6:45]
Carson was interviewed on Newsmax TV by J.D. Hayworth on September 9, 2014, and Carson recommended this book in the interview:
Well, I would say, uh, people should, uh, read a book called The Naked Communist. It was written in 1958 and it sorta shows the whole timeline of what would be necessary in terms of gaining control of school systems, of unions, and eventually being able to get a foothold in government, uh, the executive branch, uh, included, which includes the DOJ, and what could be done under those circumstances.  It was written in 1958. If you read it, you would think it was written last year.
Carson spoke at the  Iowa National Security Action Summit (hosted by The Center for Security Policy, in partnership with THE FAMILY LEADER Foundation and High Frontier) on May 16, 2015, and he recommended this book:
I think you’re absolutely right. This [anti-American agenda] has been going on long before this administration, though. This has been going on for thirty, forty, fifty years. It’s called “the progressive agenda”. And, uh, there’s a book, there’s a book called The Naked Communist by Cleon Skousen. It was written in 1958, and it goes through the agenda that they have here to fundamentally change our country. I recommend that book, because you would think it was written last year. But I, I believe that this is well orchestrated, and the thing that they need in order to finally achieve their goal is for people with common sense to keep their mouths shut. And that’s what we can’t do; we have to stand up for what we believe in.  [28:00-29:48]
Please don’t buy The Naked Communist.  Please don’t read The Naked Communist.  It is a big steaming pile of CRAP.  In the next post in this series, I will tell you all you need to know about this idiotic book and why Carson’s repeated recommendations of this book show that he is a political nutcase in addition to being a religious nutcase.

bookmark_borderSilence from the three Nazi, I mean GOP, Presidential Candidates

If a presidential candidate attended a NAZI rally to try to get some votes, and if the leader of the rally spewed hate-mongering rhetoric about working towards a “final solution” for the “Jewish problem” in the USA, do you think the mass media would be interested in reporting this event?  Do you think the mass media would ask some pointed questions to that presidential candidate?

  • What if three GOP presidential candidates attended a conference hosted by a religious nutcase who advocates the death penalty for homosexuals? (I seem to recall that the Nazis sent homosexuals to death camps along with millions of Jews).  
  • What if the religious nutcase spewed his hate-mongering ideas at that very conference from the stage on which he interviewed those three GOP candidates?  

Do you think the mass media would be interested in reporting this event?  Do you think the mass media would ask some pointed questions to these GOP sociopaths who pretend to be normal human beings?  Apparently not.
Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee all attended a conference hosted by the religious nutcase Kevin Swanson, who during the conference spewed his hate-mongering ideas from the stage on which he also interviewed those three sociopaths who are in the running to be the next president of the U.S.A.
It appears that Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee have no interest in apologizing for the moral equivalent of attending a NAZI rally to try to get a few more votes from right-wing idiots:
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GOP Candidates Really Don’t Want To Talk About ‘Kill The Gays’ Conference

SUBMITTED BY Miranda Blue on Wednesday, 11/18/2015 2:50 pm
A couple of weeks ago, we reported extensively on a conference in Iowa organized by extremist pastor Kevin Swanson, at which three Republican presidential candidates joined Swanson on stage shortly before he went off on a series of rants about how the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death, Harry Potter is bringing God’s judgment on America, and how if your gay child gets married you should show up to the wedding covered in cow manure.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment on the conference, but other than that, as a number of commentators have noted, the media has been strangely silent on the Republican candidates’ participation in this event.
Today, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reports that she reached out to the campaigns of the three candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the presidential race), and found them rather reluctant to talk about it.
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For more details:
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/gop-candidates-really-dont-want-talk-about-kill-gays-conference
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/gop-confab-ends-call-execute-gays-who-dont-repent-send-queen-elsa-back-hell
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/maddow-calls-out-gopers-kill-gays-rally-appearance

bookmark_borderReligious Nutcase Elected President of the USA

As Keith Parsons has recently argued, it is difficult to separate religion from politics.  This is especially true of the current political  campaigns for the presidency of the United States of America.
Unfortunately, the uglier side of religion is intruding into U.S. politics.  Currently,  some polls are indicating that the religious nutcase Ben Carson is the leading contender to become the next presidential nominee of the Republicans.  If Carson continues to do well with Republican primary voters, then the title of this post could become a reality.
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No woman (and no one who cares about women) should vote for Carson, because not only would he “love” to see Roe v. Wade overturned but he is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest.  In fact, Carson is unsure about whether abortion should be allowed even when the mother’s life is at risk:
 
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said he would “love” to see Roe vs. Wade overturned and make abortion illegal nationwide with almost no exemptions.
“I’m a reasonable person and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen,” Carson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
While the Republican candidate said he opposes abortions for unwanted pregnancies and in cases of rape and incest, the retired neurosurgeon told moderator Chuck Todd he might be open to allowing abortions to preserve the life and health of the mother.
“That’s an extraordinarily rare situation,” Carson said. “But if in that very rare situation it occurred, I believe there’s room to discuss that.”
http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/dr-ben-carson-i-would-love-see-roe-vs-wade-n451071
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No elderly person (and no one with elderly parents) should vote for Carson, because Carson wants to end both Medicare and Medicaid:
 

Republicans have fended off accusations for years that they’d gut Medicare for seniors and end the program “as we know it.”

Not Ben Carson. The former neurosurgeon acknowledges he would abolish the program altogether.

Carson, who now leads the GOP field in Iowa according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll, would eliminate the program that provides health care to 49 million senior citizens, as well as Medicaid, and replace it with a system of cradle-to-grave savings accounts which would be funded with $2,000 a year in government contributions. While rivals have been pummeled for proposing less radical changes, Carson hasn’t faced the same scrutiny — and his continued traction in polls has left GOP strategists and conservative health care wonks scratching their heads.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/ben-carson-medicare-medicaid-215055
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No college-educated person should vote for Carson, because Carson rejects scientific conclusions on evolution, the Big Bang, global warming, and homosexuality:
 

This actually goes way back. In 2006 he clearly stated his anti-evolutionary views and has repeated these claims many times since. In 2012 there was controversy over this when he was asked to give the commencement address at Emory University. In 2004 he said that people who accept evolution “dismiss ethics,” a comment he later backed down on a very tiny little bit (later saying they “might have more difficulty deriving where their ethics come from”).
I’d heard about all this before, but an article at BuzzFeed has something I hadn’t heard: In 2012, in a speech at an event called “Celebration of Creation,” he said that Darwin came up with evolutionary theory because the devil made him do it.
I mean that literally. He said, “I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary.” The Adversary is a nickname for the devil; it’s the actual translation of the word “Satan.” So there’s that.
He also dismissed the Big Bang, calling it a “fairy tale.” The irony of this is palpable. When recently called on this claim, he dug in, saying (about people who think the Big Bang is true), “Here’s the key, I then say to them look, ‘I’m not gonna criticize you, you have a lot more faith then I have.’ I couldn’t, I don’t have enough faith to believe that.”
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2015/09/24/ben_carson_anti_science.html
 
[When asked about global warming Ben Carson responded:]

“There’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on,” the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate said in an interview this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have an obligation and a responsibility to protect our environment.”

Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, often talks about his medical background and science during his speeches. Pressed on the fact that the bulk of the scientific community believes the Earth is indeed warming, Carson pivoted. “You can ask it several different ways, but my answer is going to be the same,” he said. “We may be warming. We may be cooling.”

 http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2014-11-26/ben-carson-not-convinced-on-global-warming
 
During the interview Wednesday morning, when Carson was asked by Chris Cuomo whether being gay is a choice, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.