Sunday School

Sunday School March 5th 2023

This topic contains 22 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  TheEncogitationer 2 weeks, 4 days ago.

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    Three big numbers that tell the story of secularization in America.

    Religious people are challenging SCOTUS to allow them to legally discriminate against other citizens.

    A new batch of freshly starched Mormons called to me recently. They were calling me Brother Reg before I even had the kettle on!

    Atheism is not Religion: It Is a state of responsible living.

    U.S. bishops urge senators to oppose revival of the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Does Marjorie Taylor-Greene goosestep at home? Tulsi Gabbard encourages Americans to ‘recognize each other as children of God’ while Mayor Adams of NYC is not interested in the separation of church and state.

    World of Woo: The conspiracy theory that the war in Ukraine has been staged.

    Environment:  UN high seas treaty finally agreed to protect vast swathes of planet’s oceans.

    Scientists expect to have fully read a human genome this year.

    Three mysteries of life on Earth yet to be explained.

    A new drug could potentially extend human life by 30%

    Long Reads:  Faith and politics: What is the role of religion in modern Scotland (or anywhere else)?  The elephant sanctuary in Georgia.  Nalanda: The university that changed the world. The couple who fled Russia for the war in Ukraine. Meet the first-ever artificial intelligence editor at the Financial Times.  Gene expression in neurons solves a brain evolution puzzle.  Can the nonbeliever freely exercise? Salman Rushdie and America’s free speech ambivalence.

    Sunday Book Club: Does a Final Theory exist? A conversation with Alan Lightman.

    Some photographs taken last week.  Some recent photos from Syria.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil……

    Podcast:  A talk about the Peer Review process in science and a look at the links between alcohol and cancer.

    Coffee Break Video: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins in conversation. Why aren’t our everyday lives as ‘spooky’ as the quantum world? Building the universe with mathematics.


    Have a great week everyone!



    Thanks, Reg!!



    Religious people are challenging SCOTUS to allow them to legally discriminate against other citizens.

    One of the major difficulties with protections for religious belief and political belief is that it ultimately falls on the courts to decide what qualifies. There are legal tests to determine what does and does not qualify; however, we also see cases where equivocal bullshit succeeds.

    Having 2SLGBTQ+ employees doesn’t mean anyone who thinks it is a sin is a) forced to sin themselves, or b) is forced to abandon their faith. Employment isn’t a personal vehicle for exercising faith.

    There may be some positions where greater scrutiny over personal values and alignment with company/ institution values matters. But generally, who employees are as people outside of their work performance shouldn’t be relevant to employment status.



    Reg and Fellow Unbelievers,

    Oh, look what I’ve found. A Gish Gallop on The Gish Gallop which denies that Duane Gish was the original one Du-ane The Gish Gallop. 😁

    The Gish Gallop Technique–what you should know

    The Gish Gallop Technique–what you should know

    According to this article, The Gish Gallop should be called something like The Scott Scoot or perhaps The Scott Scuttle Shuffle, after Atheist Dr. Eugenie Carol Scott, but I think this whole article is a Kermit Kerplop or a Zarley Zig-Zag. 😉

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Creative Addendum
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Spelling and spacing


    Reg and Fellow Unbelievers,

    Just when you think that Christianity and Islam are the only religions that seek to take everyone under their hegemony, I see that there is yet another.

    In the latest pile of religious tracts and cards that litter the store where I work, I find this card that says:


    Nicheren Buddhism for Daily Life

    On the back, it says:

    “Soka Gakkai International USA

    Chanting NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO is a great
    declaration that the boundless state of
    Buddhahood exists within our lives.
    It is also a call to awaken others to this faith.”

    A little research on this subject reveals that Buddhism is not all peaceful love-burger meditation and chop-wood-carry-water struggling towards Nirvana. Buddhism has many historic schisms within it just inside the nation of Japan alone:

    Nicheren Buddhism–Wikipedia

    The mantra “Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō” it turns out means:”Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra” or “Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra”

    Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō–Wikipedia

    Given that devotion to this Lotus Sutra included devotion to the Shogunate and the Militarist worshippers of Hirahito who tried to “Bring The Eight Corners Of The World Under One Roof,” as well as now a devotion to Socialism, I think I’ll pass on this chanting thing.

    We have enough problems in the store with having to lock up staple merchandise and throw out WorldStar brawls without bringing back The Rape of Nanking and The Bridge Over The River Kwai. ⛩️☸️

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Spelling and punctuation


    Pretty much what Enco said. If we look at Bhuddist countries and their democratic health we can see bad to borderline failing states: Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand. And with Hinduism we see the unhealthy Nepal and the growingly unhealthy India. Note that in Sri Lanka it is more a case of religion sewing division than say Myanmar where religion itself props up a tyrannical regime.

    Just in case I hadn’t made my case clear enough, Christian countries which have become just as anti-democratic, dangerous and failing as Muslim one’s partially or mostly due to religion include: Failing: El Salvador, Uganda, Southern Nigeria, East Timor, Nicaragua, Armenia and on the way to failing: Russia, Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala and Philippines. I restate once again: fixating on Islam as somehow unique in religion = bad government is missing the point and verging into Islamophobic territory. The four religions discussed above are currently, in one country or another, responsible for heinous mistreatment of women, minorities, LGBTQ+ people and the degradation of human rights and very very bad government.

    I shouldn’t have to say it, but being irreligious does not guarantee anything either, as we can see in China. Secularism AND embracing of humanist ideals go hand in hand. Both are required for healthy societies.



     I restate once again: fixating on Islam as somehow unique in religion = bad government is missing the point and verging into Islamophobic territory.

    We also have to take into account that much of the democracy we put up on a pedestal today is a relatively recent development. And even then, many of the democracies that fall under our preferred models have justified and normalized remarkable atrocities and injustices for decades.  Our societies have emerged (or are in the process of emerging) from much of what we now disavow. And our societies face threat of regression, especially in countries like the United States of America where religious fundamentalists have gained a staggering amount of ground over the last decade.

    If we took the pulse of the world as it currently stands, we’d very likely see that some religious demographics (inclusive of atheism as the null category) are faring better than others overall. But rather than fixate on Muslim authoritarian states with a sense of exceptionalism, we should probably tread more cautiously with an appreciation that in various ways that has been us, is us, and can be us again. At the end of the day, religion is a tool that serves human interest. It’s malleable when it needs to be because we’re literally making all this shit up. And we’ve proven we can substitute religion for other things. The question is what root behaviour(s) cause us to act this way?



    From Autumn,

    ” At the end of the day, religion is a tool that serves human interest.”

    Whose or what interest? If you are simply saying that proof of usefulness is longevity then you can say that about harmful and parasitic bacteria or other pathogens.

    Serves dictators? Politicians? Pedophiles? Rapists? Sexists? Anti-fill in the blank.

    I will stop cuz i am not trying to put words or ideas in your mouth that you are not espousing. What do you mean?



    From Autumn, ” At the end of the day, religion is a tool that serves human interest.” Whose or what interest?

    Whomever can make the best sales pitch. N.B. I said human interest, not benefit of humanity.



    There are roughly 2 billions Muslims. Islam is a DRIVER of immorality. It is a political institution and it seeks to increase its membership and influence. Yeah it is all make-believe. But at this point it is as far as i can ascertain the number 1 enemy to humanist ideals.

    It is obviously important that we don’t get the Ben Affleck’s in a dither so i of course distinguish individuals and Islam. Muslims are victims. Islam is the perpetrator.



    There are roughly 2 billions Muslims. Islam is a DRIVER of immorality.

    All religions are. There is nothing unique about Islam in the driving of immorality. Christian nations have oppression of women, assault against LGTBQ+ people (including murder), extreme financial corruption and abuse of power. It happens in Uganda, South Nigeria and Nicaragua to name just three countries. Buddhism is equally pernicious in Burma. I do not want to downplay the toll that any particular religion plays in harming humanity, but it is easy to single out one religion and forget they are all vicious and harmful when fully embraced. They all lead to terrorism (Christianity: Belfast, Beirut, Belgrade, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Mosque burnings in Western Countires / Bhuddism: Sri Lanka, Cambodia/ Islam A lot of examples in Europe and the Middle East/ Hinduism: Lynchings in India.



    Davis, I agree. Was not trying to diminish or contradict anything you asserted. In fact Islam is to my knowledge a combination of Judaism and Christianity and very similar to Christianity as a political institution that fractured and produced various sects & sought to conquer, absorb and proselytize. It is just that at this point Islam is more puissant.


    Simon Paynton

    Islam is a DRIVER of immorality.

    To people in a guilt culture (for example, us), people in a shame culture look immoral, as if all they care about is how they appear to others.

    The main shame cultures are those of the Far East and Middle East, while the guilt cultures are those of Europe, especially north-west Europe.



    Simon, I see marionettes. People are not evil. They’re mindless and amenable to the most ineffable manipulation.

    That is why there is a glimmer if only a Potempkin shimmer to ameliorate lives of people everywhere and reduce existential risk.

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