Tag Archives: fundamentalism

Critical thought & religion: Thinking critically about religious belief systems

Are you really willing to devote demanding critical thought to your religious beliefs and political opinions?

Consider it a personal challenge & you’ll come to appreciate it.

critical thinking, thinker: Rodan statueCritical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe and disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and science because it values skepticism over gullibility or dogmatism, reason over [religious] faith, science over pseudoscience, and rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not guarantee that we will arrive at truth, but it does make it much more likely than any of the alternatives do.
(Source: What is Critical Thinking? Establishing Emotional & Intellectual Distance Between You & Your Ideas – About.com)

This material will be rejected immediately & outright by the vast majority of fideists; that’s to be expected as fideism is borne of fear and rejection.

If you do not understand the concept of fideism, then join the club: Fideism is not a widely understood term. This author had never even heard of fideism until his 30s. In short, fideism is the casting aside of any science, philosophy, logic, reason, etc. in conflict with — and thus considered to be an enemy of — a given system of religious faith or political opinion. Fideism effectively allows any story to be believable, no matter how ludicrous the premise may be, by chalking up all conflicting evidence to lies, falsehood, conspiracy theory, or in the case of religious fundamentalism, attributing doubt or conflicting evidence to evil.

critical thinking, critical thoughtIs the application of critical thought to religious belief the status quo for modern religious fundamentalists such as those occupying the Hard Right in the U.S.?
Far from it; it’s more of an aversion.

Is critical thought important? Should one’s opinions be based on reality and rational thinking, or should they be rooted in superstition and ancient literature? From the perspective of personal freedom and rights, it’s obviously up to each individual; however, important goals such as the betterment of our planet, world peace, being a force for positive change, etc. probably depend on an overall departure from fideistic belief systems (which, BTW, go hand-in-hand with religious fundamentalism and political hyperpartisanship).

Do important, substantial, widely affective beliefs and opinions warrant serious consideration? If there ever was a rhetorical question, this is it.

If this is such an obvious assertion, then why do so many people fail to apply challenging critical thought to their religious belief systems, political opinions, etc.? That’s a damn good question which we aim to address here as we continue adding to this post.

A potential poll question

I am having trouble coming up with the answers. Any suggestions? (See below.)

Why do so many people fail to conduct intellectually honest research concerning their beliefs and opinions?

1. Fear.
2. Laziness.
2. ???

Resources: Critical thinking on religion

Removed content
Why do so many people believe a particular supernatural thing must be so?

Is Search for Truth an anti-Christian/ anti-religion blog?

religious art: painting of GodOverall, absolutely not; we support all genuinely tolerant, respectful worldviews while offering hopefully persuasive, thought-provoking, constructive criticism on closed-minded, intolerant worldviews (e.g., any sort of fundamentalism). Along with so many other resources, we are happy to provide and describe many excellent reasons to avoid fundamentalist, hyperpartisan, and other rigid, divisive positions of the sort that continue to teach and preach that only their own group possesses the correct, true, or proper religious beliefs or political solutions.

In truth, no one knows what rests behind the curtain of reality; mankind can only philosophize about such things.

Search for Truth endeavors to promote objectivity and critical thought in all areas, as well as to discourage closed-minded thinking, which sadly seems to retain its icy grip on so many religious and political positions — even in this age of increasing rationality and secularism.

We strongly support the practical, pragmatic, spiritually principled missions of great spiritual teachers and peaceful philosophies of amazing people (past & present) like the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Wayne Dyer, Miguel Ruiz, the Buddha, Jesus, Lao-Tsu, and so many others.

Let’s get Beyond Religion
Our view that most of life’s problems relate to deviations from spiritually principled behavior as opposed to having chosen the wrong religion (or refraining from ‘religious’ activity altogether) is certainly not unique; however, it is highly controversial and often contested from many circles here within the Bible belt. Nevertheless, we are passionate about promoting just such a view, partly in support of broad missions of people like the Dalai Lama as described in his fantastic book Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.

Please do your best to retain an open mind while reading the content on this blog. We welcome all comments, regardless of position.

Thanks!

Documentary films about religion, religious fundamentalism

a cross inside a churchIt is wonderful to finally be able to type again without experiencing pain — and without causing even more delay in the healing of the bone fractures in my left arm and wrist from that ultra-embarrassing bicycle crash that happened weeks and weeks ago! I can now sit (soon I will be standing; more on that soon) at my computer table and experience painless typing for the first time since the crash… What a relief! I was beginning to think I’d have to break down and go get x-rays and subject myself to the associated medical procedures (and costs)… but thankfully, that is not the case.

Goodbye, movies… Hello, documentary films!

incredible sunset from Green Hills Mall in Nashville - Stephen Frasier PhotographyAs part of the overall quest to vastly improve my applied time management skills, I am in the process of letting go of my attachment, obsession, and addictive behavior relating to watching far too many movies. Determined to make better use of my time (and to be of far better service to family, friends, readers, clients, and the world in general than I have been lately), part of the time I used to spend watching movies is being transformed into a sort of continuing education: learning opportunities resulting from the amazingly deep and broad selection of documentary films here in the 21st century!

Although the most interesting documentary films to me cover astronomy & cosmology, wildlife, technology, and other subjects, there is no shortage of documentary film coverage of religion and even religious fundamentalism.

The Fundamentalists: Religion or Lunacy?


The Fundamentalists: Religion or Lunacy? Part 1 of 3 on YouTube

The Fundamentalists: Religion or Lunacy? Part 2 of 3 on YouTube

The Fundamentalists: Religion or Lunacy? Part 3 of 3 on YouTube

I will be adding many more titles and links in the coming days; thanks for reading.

The subjects of religious fundamentalism and fundamentalists reminded me of a related blog I ran across in 2011: Ex Fundamentalist.

Ex Fundamentalist

Lindsley Avenue church - Nashville, TNThis was apparently an oversight… I thought a link to Ex Fundamentalist had been listed here for over a year (in the categories of links shown on the right side of every page on this Search for Truth blog), but the Ex Fundamentalist blog did not opo up during a quick review… so I added it today.

Ex Fundamentalist (EF) is one woman’s story of finally "seeing the light" after being indoctrinated in a system of religious faith and living life from within a relatively closed system of religious fundamentalism. Although EF may be a bit more harsh in her tone and verbiage toward current fundamentalists and religious fundamentalism in general, the underlying idea is quite similar to the theme of Search for Truth. It seems to be an increasingly familiar message today: the testimony of a formerly religious, well-meaning person who displayed the courage to dissent, to swerve out of what sometimes to be an almost inescapable rut of conformity and unrelenting peer pressure, follow her heart, and finally, to do what was right (for her, if not for everyone): Admit the truth about religious fundamentalism and contemplate life from a fresh, far more practical perspective!

I applaud every single person who has the courage to follow one’s heart and to make what is often a very difficult choice to be an individual.

In my experience, the expectations and beliefs of one’s own family can be the most ominous and formidable obstacle to the truths concerning religion, life, the direction humanity is taking, the actions we ought to be taking, and the messages we ought to be teaching to all who care about the truth…

Ex Fundamentalist did not shy away from the difficult questions that face:

  • all superstitious belief systems…
  • all groups claiming to possess the "one true set" of supernatural answers…
  • all closed-minded, ego-dominated fundamentalist systems, whether they be religious or political in nature

Resources

More documentaries about religion to add…

The Bible Unearthed 1. The Patriarchs

The Bible Unearthed 2. The Exodus

The Bible Unearthed 3. The Kings

The Bible Unearthed 4. The Book

The Bible’s Buried Secrets Part 1 Nova

The Bible’s Buried Secrets Part 2 Nova

The Bible’s Buried Secrets [BBC] Episode 3 – “The Real Garden of Eden”

In God We Teach (2011) 73
The story of a Kearny (NJ) high school student who secretly recorded his history teacher in class, and accused him of proselytizing; when the story hit The New York Times all hell broke loose.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1863280/

While most Americans claim to understand the concept of “separation of church and state,” few are sure of what is actually legal, and what is not when it comes to the public school classroom. And the misunderstandings continue. Isn’t America a Christian state founded on Judeo-Christian values, a single nation indivisible under God and whose currency stipulates that in God we trust?

The role of religion had been central in American society from its founding to the present day, and remains a contentious topic in American life and politics. Passions run high on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, and the “ground-zero mosque.”

While these religion-based culture wars continue, “In God We Teach” explores the way in which diverse opinions on the role of religion in the public space conflict and clash in our everyday lives.

http://ingodweteach.com/

Religion
Section notes
It is not easy to categorize this subject. Or rather, one’s categorization of such a sensitive and explosive topic is naturally given to one’s beliefs and perspective. Anyone who knows me well will not be surprised to see that my main category of Christianity is Christian fundamentalism – based on my opinion that the largest group of modern Christians in the United States is comprised of fundamentalists. Thankfully, this seems to be fading; progressive leanings are forcing a relatively rapid evolution from fundamentalism toward open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance.

Section contents
General
Bible
Buddhism
Christian fundamentalism
Creationism
Debates
Debunking fundamentalism
Islam

General religion:
Religion in modern times
Section notes

Section contents

List of documentary films about religion
Watch Documentary

http://watchdocumentary.com/topvideos.html?c=religious

I Am (2010) 71
Spirituality, religion, world progress, humanity
Director Tom Shadyac speaks with intellectual and spiritual leaders about what’s wrong with our world and how we can improve both it and the way we live in it.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1741225/

http://www.watchfreemovies.ch/watch-movies/2010/watch-i-am-9303280/

http://www.sockshare.ws/file/ReKj6sWYQhlb3cte#

In God We Teach (2011) 73
The story of a Kearny (NJ) high school student who secretly recorded his history teacher in class, and accused him of proselytizing; when the story hit The New York Times all hell broke loose.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1863280/

While most Americans claim to understand the concept of “separation of church and state,” few are sure of what is actually legal, and what is not when it comes to the public school classroom. And the misunderstandings continue. Isn’t America a Christian state founded on Judeo-Christian values, a single nation indivisible under God and whose currency stipulates that in God we trust?

The role of religion had been central in American society from its founding to the present day, and remains a contentious topic in American life and politics. Passions run high on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, and the “ground-zero mosque.”

While these religion-based culture wars continue, “In God We Teach” explores the way in which diverse opinions on the role of religion in the public space conflict and clash in our everyday lives.

http://ingodweteach.com/

Jesus Camp (2006) 75
A documentary on kids who attend a summer camp hoping to become the next Billy Graham

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486358/

Scientology: Inside the Cult
Carlton TV got a scoop when reporter Ali Braund went undercover with a hidden camera in the Poole organization. They also used other sources in making this landmark documentary about the The Church of Scientology. The cult tried to sue the documentary makers, but it was dismissed as an abuse of the courts.

http://stagevu.com/video/wnlbeexsuehp

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Bible
Section notes

Section contents

Ancient Discoveries: Lost Science of the Bible (History Channel)
Might the stories of the Bible have their basis in ancient scientific fact? How big was the giant Goliath, and what was the tech of the sling that brought him down? We’ll demonstrate that the tower of Babel could have been as tall as two miles in height. Create fire from water as Elijah may have done. And in a never before attempted investigation, watch as archeologists fully levitate a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

Banned from the Bible (History Channel)

Banned from the Bible 2 (History Channel)

Banned from the Bible: Secrets of the Apostles (History Channel)

The Bible’s Buried Secrets. Part 1 – Nova

Hell: The Devil’s Domain – History Channel

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Buddhism
Section notes

Section contents

Burke Lecture: Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology (2008)
57:12
A distinguished scholar of Buddhism, Lewis Lancaster founded the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative to use the latest computer technology to map the spread of various strands of Buddhism from the distant past to the present. Series: “Burke Lectureship on Religion & Society” [6/2008] [Humanities] [Show ID: 14331]

Life of the Buddha, The – BBC
This documentary covers the life of Siddhartha Gautama, a young prince from India who went out to find the reason for “Dukkha” [problems] of human life. He later found the reason of Dukkha and teached a way to live life. He was later known as the Buddha, the founder of “Buddhism” — the religion with no god. “If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.” -Albert Einstein… BBC had a nice documentary covering Buddha’s life important events. Watch the full documentary before commenting. BBC has not made anything wrong. They had specified that Buddha was born in Lumbini which is Nepal. Don’t argue the documentary made to understand the philosophy and teachings of Buddha, no matter where he was born. Buddhism is way far ahead than what people are arguing here.
Do not believe in something because you are told to. Do not believe in something because a holy person said it. Do not believe in something because you read it from a book. Follow and practice the teaching without prejudice. If it brings happiness to you and others and does not
encourage self harm or harm to others then follow it. Although this was taught by the Buddha, I believe it is a beautiful principle that can be applied to everything
we learn in life. May you all be happy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/history/history.shtml

http://psychedelicadventure.blogspot.com/2009/07/life-of-gautama-buddha-documentary-bbc.html

Noah Levine on Buddhism
1:21:41
Following the trend of many self-destructive youths, Noah Levine’s search for meaning first led him to punk rock, drugs, drinking and dissatisfaction. Luckily, however, his search didn’t end there. Having clearly seen the uselessness of drugs and violence, Noah looked for positive ways to channel his rebellion against what he saw as lies in society. Author of “Dharma Punx” and “Against the Stream,” Levine is now a Buddhist teacher, author and counselor. At USC on Oct. 29, 2009, he talked about how he fueled his anger and energy into the practice of Buddhism to awaken his natural wisdom and compassion. The program is sponsored by the USC Office of Religious Life, in association with USC Spectrum

Teaching of the Dalai Lama: Introduction to Buddhism (2007)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives an introductory lecture to Buddhism at Emory on October 21, 2007

Tibetan Book of the Dead, The: A Way of Life (1994) 75
Death is real, it comes without warning and it cannot be escaped. An ancient source of strength and guidance, The Tibetan Book of the Dead remains an essential teaching in the Buddhist cultures of the Himalayas. Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this enlightening two-part series explores the sacred text and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to its profound wisdom.
Part 1: A Way of Life reveals the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and examines its traditional use in northern India, as well as its acceptance in Western hospices. Shot over a four-month period, the film contains footage of the rites and liturgies for a deceased Ladakhi elder and includes an interview with the Dalai Lama, who shares his views on the book’s meaning and importance.
Part 2: The Great Liberation follows an old lama and his novice monk as they guide a Himalayan villager into the afterlife using readings from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The soul’s 49-day journey towards rebirth is envisioned through actual photography of rarely seen Buddhist rituals, interwoven with groundbreaking animation by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ishu Patel.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-tibetan-book-of-the-dead/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0227652/

YouTube shorts: Buddhism
Discovering Buddhism Module 1 – Mind and its Potential
Examine the mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. Learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to create a positive and joyous mind!

Thich Nhat Hanh on Buddhism
14:57
Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tick-Not-Honn) is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. During the war in Vietnam, he worked tirelessly for reconciliation between North and South Vietnam. His lifelong efforts to generate peace moved Martin Luther King, Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He lives in exile in a small community in France where he teaches, writes, gardens, and works to help refugees worldwide. He has conducted many mindfulness retreats in Europe and North America helping veterans, children, environmentalists, psychotherapists, artists and many thousands of individuals seeking peace in their hearts, and in their world.

Where Science and Buddhism Meet PART 1
Where Science and Buddhism Meet: Emptiness, Interconnectivity and the Nature of Reality

http://www.youtube.com/user/GeraldP1983

http://www.innerprisms.com

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Creationism (fundamentalism)
Section notes
The only reason I am documenting these creationism documentaries and seminars (e.g., fundamentalist Ken Hovind’s garbage) is for possible later review and debunking. The strong desire of mine to tear apart such offensive ideaologies is rooted in ego; I do realize this. It would probably be better for me to simply delete this stuff and ignore similar content whenever it comes up.

Section contents
Kent Hovind, fundamentalist Christian
Creation Seminar

Kent Hovind, fundamentalist Christian

Creation seminar
7 parts
Age of the Earth – Creation Seminar 1 (2h 34m)

Garden of Eden: Creation seminar 2 (1h56m)

Dinosaurs and the Bible: Creation seminar 3 (2h 38m)
Cryptozoology

Lies in the Textbooks: Creation seminar 4 (2h 32m)

Dangers of Evolution: Creation seminar 5 (2h 56m)
If the entire premise is this ludicrous and slanted, I am not sure watching the whole seminar would be time well spent. The video began by stating that evolution is a negative, evil idea which was used to support evil regimes in recent world history, and that evolution was behind a number of atrocities.

The Flood: Creation seminar 6 (2h 20m)

Questions and Answers: Creation seminar 7 (3hr 1m)

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Debates: Fund. vs. skeptics
Section notes

Section contents

Creation / Evolution Debate: Kent Hovind vs Theistic Evolutionist John Callahan
(BETTER AUDIO)
Genesis: History or Myth? was the topic when well-known creationist Dr. Kent Hovind (Creation Science Evangelism, http://www.drdino.com/), with over 90 debates to his credit, took on theistic evolutionist John D. Callahan, president of Faith & Reason Ministries (http://www.faithreason.org/). Callahan accepted Hovind’s evolution offer in an open letter: $250,000 Evolution Challenge Accepted! Dr. Hovind responded to this letter during his radio show 8-26-04, and he also comments on biology and astronomy issues, politics, ministry, and other personalities in evolution and creationism (see link 1 or link 2, 5.34 Meg, 44:29 minutes).

The Debate took place at Faith Baptist Church and Schools (http://www.faithbaptist.org/), 7644 Farralone Avenue, Canoga Park, CA 91304, on Sunday December 5, 2004 from 3:30 to 5p. The staffs of both Faith Baptist and Creation Science Evangelism were very helpful and pleasant, specifically Dr. Roland Rasmussen, Sr. (pastor), Tim Rasmussen (co-pastor), Roland Rasmussen, Jr. (cameras), Charlie Misseijer (moderator), Gil Machado (Fox News, cameras), Brent Henman (self, cameras), Arthur K. (sound), Jeff Schroeder (CSE), Jonathan Sampson (CSE), “DJ” (CSE), Kent Andrew (CSE), and of course, Dr. Kent Hovind (CSE).

In a series of card questions from the audience, Hovind took the position that the Bible is inerrant and scientifically accurate, contrary to view of public education and the scientific establishment. Callahan contended that the Bible should be viewed as an historic work and weighed against accepted science (the Big Bang and Darwinian biological evolution). Both Hovind and Callahan argued from a scientific and philosophical perspective.

Hovind stated that star formation has not been observed and violates the known laws of physics. Callahan countered that star formation is possible and has been observed with space-based infrared and optical telescopes. Further, Callahan pointed out that it takes at least 1 million years for a star to explode (supernova, see The Most Massive Stars). Although both Hovind and Callahan recognized the vastness of the universe, Hovind denied the possibility of aliens and Callahan said they probably exist.

Hovind discredited the fossil record and radiometric dating, in contrast to Callahan’s emphasis on their great importance. Both Hovind and Callahan agreed that dogs have descended from wolves over the last several thousand years. However, Hovind asserted that a dog is still a dog. Callahan, on the other hand, maintained that the great variety of dogs (species and breeds) follows biological evolution. Callahan also alleged that the races of man is an example of microevolution, while Hovind believes the races are most likely explained Biblically via the story of the Tower of Babel.

Hovind said symbiotic relationships refute evolution. (How could things possibly evolve together?!) Callahan mentioned that tusk-less elephants are evolving because hunters do not shoot them (no ivory). In other words there is a symbiotic, evolutionary relationship between man and elephants (and dogs and HIV, etc.). Hovind also supported the idea that the 2nd law of thermodynamics prevents evolution. Callahan said it is a law of physics that does not prevent evolution or increases in complexity, but Callahan also stated entropy will increase and life will die, as stars burn out.

Hovind said Hitler used evolution to justify his actions. Callahan replied that Hitler is not evolution just as the Inquisition is not Christianity and that Hitler’s misuse of evolution doesn’t mean evolution is false. Hovind made the analogy of the scientific establishment with the USSR. Callahan retorted that this is by no means the USSR and the scientific validity of evolution has been consistently upheld by the courts (with rare exceptions).

Hovind and Callahan affirmed the roles of God, His goodness, Jesus as Lord and Savior, Satan, and man. There was a strong disagreement as to whether Jesus took the Creation Story literally (see What Jesus Said About the Creation Story and the Flood). Hovind declared that God would not use the evil process of evolution (suffering and death of animals and man) to create the world. Callahan acknowledged such suffering but asserted that the perversion of the universe was caused by the fall of Satan and his angels before the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago (see Chaos).

Creation/Evolution Debate – Kent Hovind vs. Ben Waggoner (UCA)
University of Central Arkansas

Is God Great? – Christopher Hitchens vs. John Lennox
1h53m
Leading atheist and acclaimed journalist, Christopher Hitchens, goes head to head with Christian apologist and Oxford Professor, John Lennox in March 2009 at Birmingham, Alabama’s Samford University to debate the question “Is God Great?”

Hitchens, who made his opinion clear on this topic in 2007 with his book “God is not Great,” maintains not only that God fails to be great, but denies his existence entirely. Professor Lennox, a convinced Christian and scientist, respectfully disagrees. This event features a unique blend of both planned remarks and fast-paced dialogue that tackles these issues in a refreshing and informative light. It is sure to offer insights to all.

John Lennox is Professor in Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. Prof. Lennox has debated atheists ranging from Victor Stenger to Richard Dawkins and is the author of “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?”

Christopher Hitchens is a British-American bestselling author, journalist, and literary critic who has served as a columnist for several prominent publications, some of which include Vanity Fair, The Nation, and The Atlantic. He is one of the world’s most influential and outspoken atheists.

Old Earth vs. Young Earth Debate – Dr. Hugh Ross & Dr. Kent Hovind
3 parts
A mesmerizing debate between two men well known in their fields of expertise; This three-DVD set features Dr. Kent Hovind, a staunch young earth creationist, and Dr. Hugh Ross, who believes the earth is billions of years old, but somehow considers himself a creationist. Includes post-debate commentary by James Sundquist, who has done an eight-year study on Ross’ teachings, and Dr. Dan Faulkner, Professor of Astronomy at University of South Carolina.

http://www.drdino.com

An analysis of this debate at Creation.com

http://creation.com/rosshovind-debate-john-ankerberg-show-october-2000-analysis-by-jonathan-sarfati

Also see a better debate Ken Ham and astrophysicist Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis debate Hugh Ross on the John Ankerberg show here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/media#/video/ondemand/great-debate
3 of 3, 2h 15m

Has Science Buried God? Lennox vs. Dawkins Debate
1h20m
Oxford Museum of Natural History hosts this fascinating and controversial debate on the existence of God. Professor John Lennox explains how science points to an intelligent creator and Richard Dawkins offers a counterargument. When Dawkins was asked if he ever considered God, he said, “”Yeah maybe I have, but if I have, so what? It doesn’t make it true. That’s what it matters.” To this I’d like to ask him, how does he know if “it” is not true? Haven’t seen any evidence? How does it matter to the very existence of God? Does God disappear just because you think you haven’t seen any “evidence?” Someone is appealing to his own ignorance here if you ask me. ;) BTW, why would God have any need to create any other gods anyway?

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Debunking Christian fund.
Section notes

Section contents
Foundational falsehoods of creationism

Atheism Debate HD, Richard Dawkins vs Cardinal George Pell. From Q and A. 2012
First I need to say: I miss Christopher Hitchens to no end. The most eloquent and educated man of my time. I spent much of my young 20′s life falling asleep to the sound off his voice debating and I sincerely felt alienated and deeply affected by his passing in late 2011: “Dawkins was snooty. Pell was outwitted. The questions were predictable, as were the mentions of Hitler and Stalin. There were titters at Pell’s reference to ‘preparing’ boys and sniggers when he clumsily criticised Jews as intellectually inferior shepherds” -@ToryShepherd I must say I sure miss the days of Christopher Hitchens. Dawkins has very good arguments but can struggle to make them sometimes. Still a good debate to watch.

The Blind Watchmaker – Richard Dawkins
1987; based on 1986 book
One of the earliest efforts from Richard Dawkins in his identification and attack on the rise of creationism with the rising star of the US fundamentalist Christian demographic; In the important documentary, Dawkins shows ways to easily refute some of the more common creationist arguments. Dawkins begins with the question, “Did everything in Creation fall together by chance or was there an intelligent designer like God?” He then looks at the spreading disaffection with Darwinism and argues that it should not be written off as a worn out declaration of scientific faith. Whilst this is an aging documentary, it was an important key step in the growing assertion of science as the ONLY paradigm worthy of consideration to a highly developed species.
Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker (1987 evolution documentary)

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blind_Watchmaker

Creationist Junk Debunked (2010)
A look at some of the most famous urban myths spread by creationists, and the fundamentalists who peddle them; The creator of Climate Change and From Big Bang to Us: Made Easy (@potholer54), is debunking creationist myths, and answering questions that fundamentalists have about the real evidence for our origins. Here are some of the myths being debunked in the playlist: Atheists are immoral. A common criticism of atheists is that they have no values, no moral compass, and a philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.” But is that really borne out by the evidence? And, if not, where does their moral compass come from? Carbon dating doesn’t work; Living snails that carbon-date to 2,300 years old, a living seal that was carbon-dated at 1,300 years old, and 8,000-year-old living penguins; Not to mention dinosaur bones that dated to 20,000 years ago. Obviously carbon dating doesn’t work, unless you understand it. Noah’s Flood… This has nothing to do with questions about where all the water came from, where it went, and how all those animals got into the ark. It’s about the sedimentary evidence that shows there never was a global flood. Grand Canyon carved by floodwater. The Grand Canyon is such an icon of the Earth’s geological history, of slow and steady uplift, erosion, submergence and deposition, that the creationist crowd thought it essential to tackle it head on.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/creationist-junk-debunked/

Enemies of Reason (Part 1) – Richard Dawkins
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8E9WPNS34Q&feature=related HD ver
Enemies of Reason Part 2
Is it rational that the dead can communicate with the living and give sound advice on how they should live their lives? What about sticking pins into your body to free the flow of Chi energy and cure your illness? Or the bending of spoons using your mind alone? Is that rational? Richard Dawkins doesn’t think so, and feels it is his duty to expose those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell. He will take on the world’s leading proponents in their field of expertise, meet the victims who have used them and expose the history of the movements — from the charlatans who have milked these practices to the experiments and testing that have failed to produce conclusive results.

Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism
Ever wonder why creationism sounds like limp science? Wonder no more. Sit back & enjoy the ride as AronRa takes you on a Magical Mystery Tour of Blunderland. The U.S. population seems pretty evenly divided over whether the human species is biologically related to other animals or whether we were “specially-created” as part of a flurry of miracles. Even our collective politicians – seemingly all of them – are wrapped up in this controversy. Yet it’s hard to find even one of them who knows what it’s about… Why is it that there is such concern in so many grade schools (K thru 12) about teaching evolution, yet there is still a complete consensus among scientists all over America and the rest of the world – that evolution is the backbone of modern biology, and a demonstrable reality historically as well? Most people really don’t understand science; what it is, how it works, what hypotheses and theories are, or even the purpose behind it. Sadly even those on your school faculty or state Board of Education often need an education themselves before they can be trusted to govern how or what our kids will be taught.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/foundational-falsehoods-of-creationism/

1st foundational falsehood of creationism
The 1st Falsehood of creationism: “evolution = atheism”

http://stagevu.com/video/emtfyziipsbr

2nd foundational falsehood of creationism
The 2nd foundational falsehood of creationism is the belief that sacred scriptures were written by a god rather than by the actual human authors. When believers argue over any of the many things which contradict their religion, they often challenge us to decide whom we are going to believe?

http://stagevu.com/video/ephnmeiknxss

6th foundational falsehood of creationism

http://stagevu.com/video/iiadbngzibar

9th foundational falsehood of creationism: “No transitional species have ever been found.”

http://stagevu.com/video/rjwnhembkahh

10th foundational falsehood of creationism: “The evolutionary ‘tree of life’ is nowhere implied either in the fossil record, nor in any aspect of biology.”

http://stagevu.com/video/jtnemmmnvjww

11th foundational falsehood of creationism: “Macroevolution has never been observed.”

http://stagevu.com/video/tchhcfnycbtt

12th foundational falsehood of creationism: “Creation science”

http://stagevu.com/video/ldkooubgkizf

13th foundational falsehood of creationism: “Evolution is a fraud!”

http://stagevu.com/video/palchnzjemfo

15th foundational falsehood of creationism: “Evolution has never been proved.
It’s still just a theory, not a fact.”

http://stagevu.com/video/tmdslhqedzct

The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins, 1h36m)
In this Lecture Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence. He is sympathetic to Robert Pirsig’s statement that when one person suffers from a delusion it is called “insanity”. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called “religion”.

The God Delusion (1h33m)
The Root of All Evil?, later retitled The God Delusion, is a television documentary written and presented by Richard Dawkins in which he argues that humanity would be better off without religion or belief in God.
The documentary was first broadcast in January 2006, in the form of two 45-minute episodes (excluding advertisement breaks), on Channel 4 in the UK.
Dawkins has said that the title The Root of All Evil? was not his preferred choice, but that Channel 4 had insisted on it to create controversy. The sole concession from the producers on the title was the addition of the question mark. Dawkins has stated that the notion of anything being the root of all evil is ridiculous. Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, released in September 2006, goes on to examine the topics raised in the documentary in greater detail. The documentary was rebroadcast on the More4 channel on the 25th August 2010 under the title of The God Delusion. (Wikipedia)

Intelligent Design? Watch it get schooled. (4:32)
If you were told that Liberty University taught that San Francisco was twenty-eight feet from New York you wouldn’t believe it. So when Richard learns that Liberty University teaches its students something equally absurd, that dinosaurs are a few thousand years old, he offers some sound advice.

Intelligent Design On Trial (NOVA, 2007)
U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III: “Intelligent Design is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.” “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”
In this two-hour special, NOVA captures the turmoil that tore apart the community of Dover, Pennsylvania in one of the latest battles over teaching evolution in public schools. Featuring trial reenactments based on court transcripts and interviews with key participants, including expert scientists and Dover parents, teachers, and town officials, “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” follows the celebrated federal case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District. This program was coproduced with Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, Inc.
In 2004, the Dover school board ordered science teachers to read a statement to high school biology students suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution called intelligent design–the idea that life is too complex to have evolved naturally and therefore must have been designed by an intelligent agent. The teachers refused to comply. Later, parents opposed to intelligent design filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the school board of violating the constitutional separation of church and state.
“There was a blow-up like you couldn’t believe,” Bill Buckingham, head of the school board’s curriculum committee, tells NOVA. Buckingham helped formulate the intelligent-design policy when he noticed that the biology textbook chosen by teachers for classroom use was, in his words, “laced with Darwinism.” NOVA presents the arguments by lawyers and expert witnesses in riveting detail and provides an eye-opening crash course on questions such as “What is evolution?” and “Is intelligent design a scientifically valid alternative?” Kitzmiller v. Dover was the first legal test of intelligent design as a scientific theory, with the plaintiffs arguing that it is a thinly veiled form of creationism, the view that a literal interpretation of the Bible accounts for all observed facts about nature.
During the trial, lawyers for the plaintiffs showed that evolution is one of the best-tested and most thoroughly confirmed theories in the history of science, and that its unresolved questions are normal research problems–the type that arise in any flourishing scientific field. U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III ultimately decided for the plaintiffs, writing in his decision that intelligent design “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” As part of his decision, Judge Jones ordered the Dover school board to pay legal fees and damages, which were eventually set at $1 million.
“Judgment Day captures on film a landmark court case with a powerful scientific message at its core,” says Paula Apsell, NOVA’s Senior Executive Producer. “Evolution is one of the most essential yet, for many people, least understood of all scientific theories, the foundation of biological science. We felt it was important for NOVA to do this program to heighten the public understanding of what constitutes science and what does not, and therefore, what is acceptable for inclusion in the science curriculum in our public schools.” For years to come, the lessons from Dover will continue to have a profound impact on how science is viewed in our society and how it is taught in the classroom.

Poetry of Science, The: Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson (1h17m)
Two of science’s luminaries converse on the beauty of science. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of NOVA and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins will explore the wonders of the Cosmos and of Life, its origins, its inspirations, and why science is not just an option, it is the only reality we possess.

Why I Am No Longer a Creationist (2012)
I’m no longer a creationist or a Christian… these videos are some of the reasons why. I don’t really have anyone to talk to about this stuff because my family and friends are all fundamental Christians like I was… so I thought this may be a good way to start discussions and be able to finally get it all out there… There are many well-meaning creationists who have just been misinformed. It takes a good deal of time to come to a thorough understanding of a major scientific theory; and many just don’t have the luxury of investing enough. They often become the unwitting victims of a few charlatans, and of their own confirmation bias… It is the evangelical creationist leaders who are the main targets of my criticism. These men either should know better; or they are deliberately lying.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/why-no-longer-creationist/

Part 1: Genus Homo
Part 2: The Flood
Part 2.1: Missing Links – Proboscidea
Part 3.1: Missing Links – Giraffe idea
Part 4: Genetics – (You’re a primate)
Recommended
Vitamin C And Common Ancestry

Human Evolution: Are We Descended From Viruses? (9:40)

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Evolution
Section notes

Section contents

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (2009) 70
3 episodes

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/darwins-dangerous-idea/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1397248/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin’s_Dangerous_Idea

01 Body and Soul
02 Born Equal?
03 Life and Death

Evolution (2001, PBS)
7 episodes

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (two hours)
Great Transformations (one hour)
Extinction! (one hour)
The Evolutionary Arms Race (one hour)
Why Sex? (one hour)
The Mind’s Big Bang (one hour)
What About God? (one hour)

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Fundamentalist Christianity
Section notes
These sections are hard to organize; please bear with me!

Section contents

100 Reasons Why Evolution is Stupid – Kent Hovind, Christian Creationist

http://www.creationtoday.org/

God of Wonders (2009)
God’s wonders surround us. And these marvels reveal much about our Creator. Through creation we glimpse His power and wisdom, His majesty and care. Creation is speaking to those who will listen…

http://www.watchfreemovies.ch/watch-movies/2009/watch-god-of-wonders-99220694/

Unlocking the Mystery of Life (2002) 62
Christian viewpoints of creation, intelligent design, etc.
Unlocking the Mystery of Life represents a unique programming opportunity for local stations. Its broadcast release coincides with the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history-James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery that the DNA molecule carries hereditary information in the form of a code that many scientists have likened to computer software or a written language. This discovery (announced on April 25, 1953) sparked a scientific revolution. But it also left a fundamental question unanswered. Where did the information in DNA come from? How did the software in the cell arise? Unlocking the Mystery of Life explores these questions through the stories of a growing number of scientists who no longer believe that natural selection or chemistry, alone, can explain life’s origin. Instead, they think that the microscopic world of the cell provides evidence of purpose and design in nature.

http://stagevu.com/video/vdzuuepxjvws

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Islam
Section notes

Section contents

Inside Mecca – Nat’l Geo (2003) (TV) 81

http://stagevu.com/video/ldolonpvquyp

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427389/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Mecca

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1020_031020_meccahajj.html

Religion top Fund Debunk TOC
Skepticism, freethought, debate
Section notes

Section contents

The Enemies of Reason (Richard Dawkins)
Two parts
The Enemies of Reason is a two-part television documentary, written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which he seeks to expose “those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell”, including mediumship, acupuncture and psychokinesis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enemies_of_Reason

01 Slaves to Superstition
Dawkins points to some of science’s achievements and describes it as freeing most people from superstition and dogma. Picking up from his superstition-reason distinction in The Root of All Evil? (while recycling some footage from it), he then says reason is facing an “epidemic of superstition” that “impoverishes our culture” and introduces gurus that persuade us “to run away from reality”. He calls the present day dangerous times. He returns to science’s achievements, including the fact that, by extending people’s lifespan, it helps them to take more advantage of life. He turns his attention to astrology, which he criticizes for stereotyping without evidence. Having put astrology to the test and referred to larger-scale experiments, he then briefly describes the mechanics of astronomy, and then expresses frustration that 50% of the UK population – more than are members of one religion – believe in the paranormal.

02 The Irrational Health Service
Richard Dawkins examines the growing suspicion the public has for science-based medicine, despite its track record of successes like the germ theory of disease, vaccines, antibiotics and increased lifespan. He notes a fifth of British children are currently not immunised against measles, mumps and rubella, attributing it to fears arising from a highly controversial report linking the vaccine with autism.

Collision: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson (2009)
Collision is a documentary film released on October 27, 2009 featuring a debate between prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, Presbyterian pastor of Christ Church Moscow. Described by Hitchens as a “buddy-and-road” movie, it provides an overview of several days worth of debates following the release of their book Is Christianity Good for the World? The book was generated by correspondence published in Christianity Today.

The partnership between Hitchens and Wilson began in 2007, when Hitchens invited anyone to debate his viewpoints following the release of his book God is not Great. Wilson’s agent heard the offer and put him in touch with Hitchens, leading to a series of written debates published in Christianity Today, which eventually were compiled into Is Christianity Good for the World? Filmmaker Darren Doane heard about the exchanges between the two and sought them out to make a film. The film was featured on CNN, Fox News; NPR; The Laura Ingram Show and others.

After the men finally met in person while shooting the film, both got along well, despite the heated exchanges, in part from a shared appreciation for P.G. Wodehouse.

Hitchens said in Slate Magazine that “I haven’t yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my mind… However, I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe.”
Darren Doane, the filmmaker, said: “These guys ended up at the bar laughing, joking, drinking. There were so many things that they had in common…Opinions on history and politics. Literature and poetry. They agreed on so many things. Except on the existence of God.”

Wilson argued that atheists could be good people, could share Christian values and Christians could repudiate many things atheists also repudiated: yet Wilson argued that atheists could not argue for an objective moral standard but could affirm a standard, if it happened to exist, that of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow maybe we die”, but no other.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/collision-christopher-hitchens-vs-douglas-wilson/

Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus (2006) 74
Filmmaker and evolutionary biologist Randy Olson tries to figure out if it is the Darwinists or Intelligent Design supporters who will become a flock of dodos.
Flock of Dodos examines the disagreements that proponents of intelligent design have with the scientific consensus position of evolution. The evolutionarily famous dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is a now-extinct bird that lived on the Island of Mauritius, which is approximately 500 miles east of Madagascar. When Portuguese sailors arrived on the island, the possible combination of over-hunting and introduction of new predators (i.e. pigs, macaques) seems to have led to its extinction by approximately 1700. Due to its lack of fear of humans and inability to fly, the dodo was easy prey, and thus became known for its apparent stupidity. It failed to change with an evolving environment, which ultimately led to the birds’ demise.
The film attempts to determine who the real dodos are in a constantly evolving world: the scientists who are failing to effectively promote evolution as a scientifically accepted fact, the intelligent design advocates, or the American public who get fooled by the “salesmanship” of evolution critics. While Randy Olson ultimately sides with the scientists who accept evolution, he gives equal air time to both sides of the argument, including intelligent design proponent Michael Behe and several of his colleagues.
The film begins by going over the history of intelligent design thought from Plato and Paley to the present-day incarnation promoted by the Discovery Institute. Olson mixes in humorous cartoons of squawking dodos with commentary from his mother and interviews with proponents on both sides of the intelligent design/evolution debate.
On the intelligent design side, Olson interviews Behe, John Calvart (founder of the Access Research Network) and a member of the Kansas school board. Olson also unsuccessfully tries to interview school board member Connie Morris and members of the Discovery Institute.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/flock-of-dodos/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800334/

http://stagevu.com/video/xntajzoopswi

(Not the actual documentary film) Screening on April 12 at 7:40 p.m. in Driscoll 134; A panel discussion will follow. Panelists include Ms. Faye Flam (science writer-Philadelphia Inquirer); Dr. Michael Behe (biochemistry professor, Lehigh Univ. – proponent of Intelligent Design); Dr. Aaron Bauer (Villanova evolutionary biologist); and filmmaker Randy Olson. According to the NY Times, the film is met with “cheers, jeers, questions and discussion from a highly engaged audience.”

Scientology: Inside the Cult
Carlton TV got a scoop when reporter Ali Braund went undercover with a hidden camera in the Poole organization. They also used other sources in making this landmark documentary about the The Church of Scientology. The cult tried to sue the documentary makers, but it was dismissed as an abuse of the courts.

http://stagevu.com/video/wnlbeexsuehp

Christopher Hitchens Revises the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments were set in stone, but it may be time for a re-chisel; with all due humility, the author takes on the job, pruning the ethically dubious, challenging the impossible, and rectifying some serious omissions

Christopher Hitchens – On Question Time [2007]
David Dimbleby chairs political debate from Aldershot. The panel includes: Christopher Hitchens, Boris Johnson, Baroness Williams and Peter Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens: Intelligence, Wit & Courage (2010)
November 2010: Tony Jones talks to the writer, polemicist and commentator Christopher Hitchens in Washington DC about his cancer diagnosis, his life, his politics and writing.
He was suffering from cancer of the oesophagus. He has described his illness as “a bit of a yawn” and accepted that it is a result of his hard drinking and smoking lifestyle. At the time he was told that he has only a one in 20 chance of living for longer than five years.
Christopher Eric Hitchens (born 13 April 1949) is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008. He is a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits and in 2005 was voted the world’s fifth top public intellectual in a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll. He’s known for his admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson and for his excoriating critiques of, among others, Mother Teresa, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Henry Kissinger. His confrontational style of debate has made him both a lauded and controversial figure. As a political observer, polemicist and self-defined radical, he rose to prominence as a fixture of the left-wing publications in his native Britain and in the United States. His departure from the established political left began in 1989 after what he called the “tepid reaction” of the Western left following Ayatollah Khomeini’s issue of a fatwa- calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie. The 11 September 2001 attacks strengthened his internationalist embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he called “fascism with an Islamic face.” His numerous editorials in support of the Iraq War caused some to label him a neoconservative, although Hitchens insists he is not “a conservative of any kind”
http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/12/In-Memoriam-Christopher-Hitche… Vanity Fair In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011, by Juli Weiner, Dec 15th 2011. Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. “My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly

Bill Moyers talks to Christopher Hitchens (2002)
December 20, 2002 – Christopher Hitchens, writer, journalist and intellectual combatant on why he recently quit his column in THE NATION in a dispute with his old comrades on the left, whom he said just don’t understand the seriousness of the terrorist threat to America. Bill Moyers talks to Hitchens, who thinks Saddam Hussein must go, and that only force will get him out.

Brutal 4 Minutes for All of Religion – Christopher Hitchens vs. Your Deity

Are Christians Delusional? Richard Carrier Skepticon 3
Filmed and edited by Rob Lehr of Hambone Productions. Re-uploading any portion of this video is not allowed unless consent is given by Hambone Productions. If you would like to use some of my footage, please send me a PM and we can most likely work something out.

The God Debate: Hitchens vs. D’Souza
“Two titans of the religious spectrum famed Atheist Christopher Hitchens and esteemed Catholic apologetic Dinesh D’Souza clash in public debate at the University of Notre Dame.
Sponsored in part by The College of Arts and Letters: The Henkels Lecturer Series, The Center for Philosophy of Religion and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.”

Atheism defeated! Atheist Christopher Hitchens defeated by logic
FOR ALL YOU “HATERS” :please go to does­godex­ist­de­bate(dot)com Chris­tians and Athe­ists over­whelm­ing­ly agree that Dr. Craig won the debate!
This is a video for the intelligent people of this world to watch. If you come on here trying to spew hate you will be blocked. Nobody needs your neanderthal mudslinging. logical debate is welcome but no matter what you may believe there is no reason pr room for idiocracy. that being said watch the film and learn how LOGIC proves God exists! thank you
Watch the debate and just see how Dr. William Lane Craig debunks the entire atheist argument with pure logic to the point where Christopher Hitchens actually admits it. My respects to Christopher Hitchens for his efforts. Science now is proving intelligent design. And by “science” I do not mean the brainwashing propaganda backyard scifi material in the mainstream which never breeds original thought but only puts out demonic and invalid conjecture based on fantasy more than anything. May God bless Dr. Craig

Why Evolution is True and Why Many People Still Don’t Believe It
Jerry Coyne, 2012
Jerry Coyne, a professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and author of the seminal book, Why Evolution is True, is one of the world’s most eloquent defenders of evolutionary science in the face of legal, religious, and cultural opposition. In this talk, Coyne explored the evidence for evolution, why Americans are so resistant to accepting the theory, and what can be done to make the country more evolution-friendly.

Christopher Hitchens Destroys Biblical miracle claims

Christopher Hitchens on Totalitarianism
Clips of Christopher Hitchens speaking on religion being the original totalitarianism and answering the claim atheism leads to totalitarianism and is responsible for the greatest murders of the Twentieth century

How Media Lies – CNN FOX NEWS channel distorted contents – Discovery
This eye opening long documentary film elaborates on the discovery of American media lies by comparing how news are delivered to the US population and to other countries around the world. The film provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the ME zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for example. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites–oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others–work in combination with lsraeIi public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported. Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, the documentary carefully analyzes and explains how–through the use of language, framing and context–the lsraeIi occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and lsraeIi colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one. The documentary also explores the ways that U.S. journalists, for reasons ranging from intimidation to a lack of thorough investigation, have become complicit in carrying out lsraeI’s PR campaign. At its core, the documentary raises questions about the ethics and role of journalism, and the relationship between media and politics.

Prophecies of Joseph Smith, by James Walker (2010)
Talk given in March of 2010 at the Capstone Conference held at Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City

Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained
Video discussing some of the most troubling problems of the LDS church that most Mormons don’t know exist such as the Book of Mormon anachronisms, Book of Abraham translation, Kinderhook Plates, Masonry & the Temple, etc. www.MoreTruthFoundation.com, www.MormonThink.com

Lost Book of Abraham
The Lost Book of Abraham is an award-winning documentary that investigates the remarkable claim that Mormon founder Joseph Smith translated a lost book of scripture from an Egyptian papyrus scroll he obtained in 1835.
The Lost Book of Abraham is a purported translation made in 1835 by Joseph Smith, Jr. of a set of Egyptian papyri purchased from a traveling mummy exhibition. According to Smith, the book was “a translation of some ancient records….purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus”. Smith’s translation of the papyri describes a story of Abraham’s early life, including a vision of the cosmos. In this award-winning documentary the film-makers investigate the viability of these claims.
The Book of Abraham papyri were thought lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. However, in 1966 several fragments of the papyri were found in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and in the LDS Church archives. They are now referred to as the Joseph Smith Papyri. Upon examination by professional non-Mormon Egyptologists, the papyri were found to bear no resemblance to Joseph Smith’s interpretation, and were common Egyptian funerary texts, dating to about the first century BC. As a result, the Book of Abraham has been the source of significant controversy, with Mormon apologists offering a variety of explanations as to the reason for the differences. Hear the views of Mormon believers and World-class Egyptologists and decide for yourself.

Bible Mysteries Episode 1 Who killed Jesus

Bible Mysteries Episode 2 The Real Mary Magdelene

Bible Mysteries Episode 3 The Disciples

Story of Human Evolution (2005, History Channel)
Broadcast (2005) It has long been considered the most compelling question in our history: Where do human beings come from? Although life has existed for millions of years, only in the past century and a half have we begun to use science to explore the ancestral roots of our own species. The search for the ultimate answer has taken a number of twists and turns, with careers made and broken along the way. Ape to Man is the story of the quest to find the origins of the human race a quest that spanned more than 150 years of obsessive searching The search for the origins of humanity is a story of bones and the tales they tell.
It was in 1856 that the first bones of an extinct human ancestor were encountered, unearthed by a crew of unskilled laborers digging for limestone in Western Europe. The find, which would be known as Neanderthal Man, was seeing the light of day for the first time in more than 40,000 years. At the time, the concept of a previous human species was virtually unthinkable. Yet just a few years later, Charles Darwin’s work The Origin of Species first broached the subject of evolution, and by the end of the nineteenth century, it had become the hottest topic of the age.

Evolution – PBS 2001

Evolution 1/7

Evolution 2/7 Great Transformations (PBS, 2001)
8 parts
What underlies the incredible diversity of life on Earth? How have complex life forms evolved? The journey from water to land, the return of land mammals to the sea, and the emergence of humans all suggest that creatures past and present are members of a single tree of life. Evolution determines who lives, who dies, and who passes traits on to the next generation. The process plays a critical role in our daily lives, yet it is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood concepts ever described. The Evolution series goals are to heighten public understanding of evolution and how it works, to dispel common misunderstandings about the process, and to illuminate why it is relevant to all of us.
The Evolution project’s eight-hour television miniseries travels the world to examine evolutionary science and the profound effect it has had on society and culture. From the genius and torment of Charles Darwin to the scientific revolution that spawned the tree of life, from the power of sex to drive evolutionary change to the importance of mass extinctions in the birth of new species, the Evolution series brings this fascinating process to life. The series also explores the emergence of consciousness, the origin and success of humans, and the perceived conflict between science and religion in understanding life on Earth.

Evolution 3/7

Evolution 4/7 The Arms Race (PBS Documentary)
Broadcast (2001) Survival of the fittest: Raw competition? Intense cooperation? Both are essential. Interactions between and within species are among the most powerful evolutionary forces on Earth, and understanding them may be a key to our own survival. Evolution determines who lives, who dies, and who passes traits on to the next generation. The process plays a critical role in our daily lives, yet it is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood concepts ever described. The Evolution series goals are to heighten public understanding of evolution and how it works, to dispel common misunderstandings about the process, and why it is relevant to all of us.

Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell (1988) aka Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Myth

Episode 1: The Hero’s Adventure
About Campbell, hero types, hero deeds, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, movie heroes, Star Wars as a metaphor, an Iroquois story: the refusal of suitors, dragons, dreams and Jungian psychology, “follow your bliss,” consciousness in plants, Gaia, Chartres cathedral, spirituality vs. economics, emerging myths, “Earthrise” as a symbol.

Episode 2: The Message of the Myth
Creation myths, transcending duality, pairs of opposites, God vs. Nature, sin, morality, participation in sorrow, the Gospel of Thomas, Old Time Religion, computers, religion as “software,” the story of Indra: “What a great boy am I!,” participation in society.

Episode 3: The First Storytellers
Animal memories, harmonization with body and life-cycle, consciousness vs. its vehicle, killing for food, story: “The Buffalo’s Wife,” buffalo massacre, initiation ritual, rituals diminishing, crime increasing, artists, the Shaman, the center of the world.

Episode 4: Sacrifice and Bliss
Chief Seattle, the sacred Earth, agricultural renewal, human sacrifice, sacrifice of the Mass, transcendence of death, story: “The Green Knight,” societal dictates vs. following bliss, “hidden hands” guiding life’s work.

Episode 5: Love and the Goddess
The Troubadours, Eros, romantic love, Tristan, libido vs. credo, separation from love, Satan, loving your enemy, the Crucifixion as atonement, virgin birth, the story of Isis, Osiris and Horus, the Madonna, the Big Bang, the correlation between the earth or mother Goddess and images of fertility (the sacred feminine).

Episode 6: Masks of Eternity
Identifying with the infinite, the circle as a symbol, clowns and masks, epiphanies and James Joyce, artistic arrest, the monstrous as sublime, the dance of Shiva, that which is beyond words.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Myth

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0296362/

Part 1/6

http://stagevu.com/video/kktqvcowqaot

OTHER

A Call for Discernment Session 1 – Dangerous Doctrine
A biblical critique of the word of faith movement

A Call for Discernment Session 2 – Mangled Manifestations

A Call for Discernment Session 3 – The Hurt of Healing

A Question of Miracles (Faith Healing) Part 1
Miracle workers such as Benny Hinn and Reinhard Bonnke are followed and interviewed in this documentary. It questions if faith and prayer can heal.

A Question of Miracles (Faith Healing) Part 2

Benny Hinn Exposed by NBC Dateline [Unverified Healing Miracles]

TOC NatGeo Unsorted series/ singles Nova Religion Science
Audio books on YouTube

Art of War – Audiobook

Siddhartha Audiobook by Hermann Hesse (Chs 1-5)

Siddhartha Audiobook by Hermann Hesse (Chs 6-9)

TOC NatGeo Unsorted series/ singles Nova Religion Science
Religion on YouTube

Noah’s ark, great flood

Fundamentalist view (Religious approach)
Refuting arguments against Noah’s Flood – 59m
Creation Ministries International

Startling Evidence That Noah’s Flood Really Happened – 59m
Answers in Genesis

The Grand Canyon: Evidence for the Flood (Paul Garner)
New Scientific Evidence for the Flood
Genesis 7:20
The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered.

If there was a great world wide Flood, as described in Genesis, such a catastrophe certainly should have left obvious evidence of itself all over the world. Scientists who believe in creation say that we are surrounded by these evidences. Many of them also believe that some of the features associated with glaciers can be better explained by a catastrophic flood. While evolutionary scientists scoff at the biblical account of the Flood, they continue to run across evidences of what they take to be huge floods. Now further evidence has been reported of a continental flood.

The September 1989, issue of Geology, a scientific professional journal, carried an article about drumlins in northern Saskatchewan. Drumlins are hills that are traditionally associated with glacial activity. When viewed from the air, they resemble eggs lying on their sides, all pointing in the same direction.

Over the last few years some scientists have proposed that drumlins were formed by large quantities of water running in the same direction. The article in Geology offers yet more evidence for large quantities of water moving over the continental land surfaces. One of the scientists remarked that, “There’s nothing in recorded history that matches the size of these floods.”

If we consider Genesis to be recorded history, rather than ancient and ignorant myth, there certainly is an historical record of a huge Flood!

Objective/skeptic view (Factual approach)
Noah’s Ark: The Real Story (BBC)

Noah’s Flood (1997) 69

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/noahs-flood/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380588/

Buddha – A Documentary About Buddhism
This documentary is made by filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere. It tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Life of the Buddha [Full BBC Documentary- HQ]

Jesus The Real Story Episode 1 The Early Years BBC4 documentary

Jesus was a Buddhist Monk (BBC)
Jesus was a Buddhist Monk: This BBC 4 documentary examines the question “Did Jesus Die?”. It looks at a bunch of ideas around this question until minute 25, where this examination of ideas takes a very logical and grounded turn with surprising conclusions that demonstrate… The three wise men were Buddhist monks who found Jesus and came back for him around puberty. After being trained in a Buddhist Monastery he spread the Buddhist philosophy, survived the crucifixion, and escaped to Kashmir, Afghanistan where he died an old man at the age of 80.
The three wise men were Buddhist monks who found Jesus and came back for him around puberty. After being trained in a Buddhist Monastery he spread the Buddhist philosophy, survived the crucifixion, and escaped to Kashmir, Afghanistan where he died an old man at the age of 80.

http://www.1channel.ch/watch-2732838-Jesus-was-a-Buddhist-Monk

http://blog.tsemtulku.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/jesus-was-a-buddhist-monk-bbc-documentary.html

Jesus in India? BBC

Jesus in India – Beyond Belief Documentary
The life, Death and Tomb of Jesus are proofs that Jesus was only a Humble Prophet of God, Not the So of God, Was Cricified but Survived Crucifixion, Migrated to Asia to teach the Lost Tribes of Isreal and Died like a Normal Human Being in Kashmir India.

Jesus in Kashmir (India) – Documentary by Indian Govt.
Documentary produced by the government of India showing how that Jesus came to India for lessons and to teach Dharma.

Where was Jesus for the first 30 years? | The Mystery Teachings

Lost Gospels
Documentary presented by Anglican priest Pete Owen Jones which explores the huge number of ancient Christian texts that didn’t make it into the New Testament. Shocking and challenging, these were works in which Jesus didn’t die, took revenge on his enemies and kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth – a Jesus unrecognisable from that found in the traditional books of the New Testament.
Pete travels through Egypt and the former Roman Empire looking at the emerging evidence of a Christian world that’s very different to the one we know, and discovers that aside from the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, there were over seventy gospels, acts, letters and apocalypses, all circulating in the early Church.
Through these lost Gospels, Pete reconstructs the intense intellectual and political struggles for orthodoxy that was fought in the early centuries of Christianity, a battle involving different Christian sects, each convinced that their gospels were true and sacred.

Islam: Empire of Faith. Part 1: Prophet Muhammad and rise of Islam (PBS)
54min
Part 1 of the famous PBS Documentary “Islam: Empire of faith” produced in 2000.
This part is about the Rasool Muhammad SAW and the rise of Islam after its early turbulent history. http://www.pbs.org/empires/islam/film.html

Islam: Empire of Faith. Part 2: The Awakening (PBS)
53min
This part is about the Awakening of the world under Islam – the advancements and discoveries credited to Islam as a system that ran society.

Islam: What the West needs to know
98min
Through an examination of the Koran, other Islamic texts and the example of the prophet Muhammad, this documentary argues, through a sober and methodical presentation, that violence against non-Muslims is and has always been an integral aspect of Islam. Features interviews with noted experts on Islam including Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Bar Ye’or, Abdullah Al-Araby, and former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat

The book the church doesn’t want you to read: The Different View – 58min

Target audience: Search for "truth" in religion and spirituality

Lindsley Avenue church - Nashville, TNThe set of writings often abbreviated as "the Search"[1] is devoted to discerning religious or spiritual “truth”[2] from the rich and myriad history of world religions, traditions, and spiritual paths. It is nothing less than the transformation of consciousness — from worry to peace, from ignorant to awake, from egotistical to unified…

The target audience of the Search has evolved somewhat since the writing of these essays and papers finally got underway.

How it all started

a cross inside a churchIt all began as a partially documented study of the long-winded, patience-building, often ignored (especially by the religious) branch of Christian apologetics known as the Biblical inerrancy/errancy debate in which I supposed a modest percentage of doubting, uncertain, dissatisfied, skeptical, intelligent, etc. fundamentalist Christians might be interested.

exterior of old wooden church building at nightI knew from personal experience that many churchgoers were not so-called true believers. And a few of those might, I thought, be as interested as I am in determining, to the best of our ability, what’s real and true — and what isn’t. I would love to reach more people like this.

Or, it might be said that this work began way back when this writer was a mere tween and tried to write a paper proving creationism and debunking evolution. I was so disturbed at what I found after some digging, that I never stopped wondering why I was not being told everything. Nevertheless, I refrained from much religious boat-rocking until my late 30s. I reached a point when couldn’t put it off any longer…

Moving target

church - crossToday, I believe the Search for Truth material has a broader appeal, perhaps to just about anyone who considers himself or herself a spiritual seeker or something like it: All who realize that their current state of consciousness, their worldview, their approach to embracing spiritual principles, increasing their levels of inner peace, their ongoing personal transformation & progress in self-development efforts, etc. might be assisted or given a hearty boost through ongoing reading, discussion, study, research, and so on (not to mention spiritual practice).

However, I believe those most interested in the material presented here within the Search for Truth blog will be ex-Christian fundamentalists as well as what I believe is a significant percentage of current Christian fundamentalists who are left unfulfilled by their ongoing religious practices, traditions — but most of all, by the harmful religious dogma and faulty interpretation upon which so much of modern Christianity seems to be based.

The main reason I list certain Christian fundamentalists as a potential target audience for this blog is, fundamentalist Christianity was more or less the original perspective from which the material began to be written. (Today, the material flows from more of a spiritually centered freethought perspective — but still that of an ex-fundamentalist who strives to reach those still "trapped" in rigid, intolerant worldviews.)

Naturally, the closer a given reader’s perspective and religious experiences happen to be to my own (& those of our writers and contributors), the more this "locally controversial" material (which is virtually all wonderful news, actually) will be understood and enjoyed. I realize this is somewhat of a no-brainer since the principle of perspective is universally true; closer perspectives make content ring ever more true. One who has never been exposed to conservative religion would not really understand or appreciate certain subject matter here, some of which requires a background that includes being raised in the church.

Encouraging some things, discouraging others

We want to stress the positive here. We are devoted to a supporting role for the mission of so many modern spiritual leaders who teach that the way forward for mankind is to embrace and practice spiritual principles in a non-divisive, non-fundamentalist, non-cultural, wholly unifying context. (If there is anything more positive, encouraging, and potentially beneficial, I know not of it!)

However, because this writer’s own history includes being raised in a rather closed community of mostly well-meaning Christian fundamentalists, some of the writings are included for the purpose of discouraging or even debunking certain beliefs and interpretations embraced by modern fundamentalist Christianity. We finally decided to graduate from mere bystander to challenge organized religious fundamentalism where we (and increasing numbers of other people) believe modern religion has gone terribly wrong. For this reason, the true believer types — especially those who identify with the Hard Right — will probably not yet be ready to process this information in a genuine, honest manner. It might be said that one is ready when one is ready, and usually not a moment before. We hope ALL will eventually be willing to listen to the voices of reason and peace.

Reasonable objectivity is possible with desire, practice

All readers with significant experience in this area know very well the absolutely crucial nature of objectivity and open-mindedness — both of which are exceedingly uncommon traits in fundamentalist circles. For this reason, unwaveringly religious folks who are honestly and completely content with their present state of consciousness and level of inner peace will not possess the motivation to look further (especially in blogs like this one, perhaps)!

For instance, those who base their own identity upon a given belief system which they presume to be the only correct one, and those who think that all religions contradicting their own beliefs are wrong (or even evil), are probably not ready to hear the wonderful news presented herein — and on so many other books, blogs, and web sites.

Trend towards truth

One reason global beliefs are trending away from fundamentalism and mythology is because they don’t yet teach or practice the whole truth; some of them even continue to discriminate against their fellow man. We do not know of any major religion, spiritual path, or genuine spiritual teacher which taught followers to discriminate against their neighbors. (As I’m certain most readers understand, everyone is our neighbor!)

Another way to gain a sense of the positive trend toward tolerance, acceptance, and compassion is to compare your own religious beliefs with those of your grandparents (particularly if you were of the same religion as your grandparents). Can you at least begin to see the evolution toward more tolerant "spirituality" and less rigid "religion" (esp. fundamentalism) — even within the same system, tradition, or denomination?

This trend will certainly continue; the near-global availability of world knowledge, religion, and philosophy will help ensure it. If mankind is around long enough, perhaps humanity will finally open the door and enter into a new era in which war is a thing of the past and compassion reigns! IMHO, we all need to be working towards this new and better world in order to foster its arrival — whether or not we are able to see it and experience it ourselves.

Although some of these writings are published in this Search for Truth blog, there are several hundred pages of similar material so far that have not yet been read by anyone else. A major goal of ours is to polish these writings for maximum effectiveness, and then publish them in some manner.

I deeply appreciate all readers and commenters.

Notes

[1] This project often abbreviated as “the Search”

Of course, the shorter name is used mainly for the sake of convenience; this particular “search” is not a conventional search for some “thing” or “idea” or “method” that is currently hidden or unknown.

[2] Quotes encapsulating the word truth

The principle of perspective is one of the major stumbling blocks when it comes to clear, concise, meaningful communication about difficult subjects like religion, spirituality, politics. And the more varied the perspectives of the people communicating, the more difficult clear communication becomes.

With the principle of perspective in mind, truth can mean so many different things. I used quotes for the word because no one is privy to absolute objective truth in these areas (or perhaps in ANY subject matter at all).

This post was started on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Discussing religion with a Christian fundamentalist

DISCLAIMER: (1) Like every other post on this blog, what follows merely describes how I have come to see things after decades of Bible study, (from both sympathetic and harsh, honest-as-possible perspectives), the research and practice of Christianity (Christian fundamentalism in my youth & something more akin to agnosticism after age 30), practice and research of Buddhism, and seemingly endless study concerning worldviews like humanism, atheism, agnosticism, religious fundamentalism, et al), etc.

No content here is meant to offend, as our mission includes promoting unity, oneness, and basic universal spiritual principles. (2) This post is not finished, but there’s enough here to convey most of the main points. (3) Commenting, intelligent conversation, friendly debate, etc. are strongly encouraged — regardless of your personal worldviews. (4) This post presently covers FAR too much complex material; it needs to be split into separate posts.

The material on this page will be appreciated most by:

  • Critical thinkers: Those who wisely insist on sound reasoning in the formation & evolution of their beliefs
  • Open-minded folks: Those who are willing to modify their beliefs when reason, experience, science, and other education & wisdom warrant such changes
  • Philosophers: Those who deeply enjoy contemplating complex and/or philosophical questions that life, religion, & the universe make us wonder about

Lindsley Avenue church - Nashville, TNI was born and raised in a world of Christian fundamentalism; even today — despite having "left the church" long ago — many people with whom I associate continue to believe and practice as religious fundamentalists.[1]

The words "left the church" (above) are enclosed in quotes because abandoning fundamentalism actually improved my understanding of the lessons spiritual teachers such as Jesus tried to teach to their listeners. As such, I consider myself as much a "Christian" as anyone, though fundies certainly would take issue with that.

Many other religious and spiritual labels could apply to us and/or our beliefs, as well… and we would probably much rather be identified with some of them than with Christianity due to the fallacious beliefs and deep error of modern Christianity in general… not to mention the continued support for religious wars, discrimination, and the still-exclusive ideology (e.g., gays are bad, those who believe differently will “go to hell,” etc. — for example).

Religious labels and spiritual categories allow us to communicate about our beliefs more easily, but that’s about it.

Note [1]: religious fundamentalists

Understandably, some adherents don’t care to be categorized or described as fundamentalists. The word fundamentalist is not meant to be a disparaging term in itself, despite how strongly we discourage fundamentalism in all of its forms. Due to wildly varying belief systems and the great importance of spirituality and truth (to many of us, at least), some type of categorization is required. Without categorization or other ways to communicate belief systems or worldviews, communication on these subjects would be made even more complicated than it already is!

In fact, in some ways, I remain at the mercy of two (2) Christian fundamentalists. I live in their basement. If they discover my true views, these writings, my passions to discourage religious fundamentalism and spread the truth… will they dump the Golden Rule and certain other commands of their religion and send me packing… transform me to homeless?

God, I hope not… but this remains to be seen, as things are coming to a head. Not sure how I will react….

Friendly debate on religion, spirituality

Generally speaking, I no longer encourage verbal debates about religion, but where the written word is concerned, I’ll always deeply enjoy opportunities to share about both the experiential side and the intellectual aspects of spiritual teachings and practices. Because religious and spiritual debate can fan the flames of emotion, become loudly passionate, and even get rather nasty on occasion, I prefer to implement specific guidelines to help keep the discussion friendly, interesting, and intellectually challenging.

Bill: One of many religious friends

As I have mentioned in other posts[2], one of my close religious friends is Bill; we enjoy hiking together on a fairly regular basis. We often share our spiritually themed books, audio books, and other material with each other and occasionally discuss spirituality and religion.

Note [2]: This post — Pitfalls: Literal interpretation of the Bible — Example #1: Some believe the Bible commands far-right politics in Ecclesiastes 10:2 — comes to mind re: Bill

It is very comforting and deeply satisfying that Bill and I agree upon the pragmatic, non-supernatural teachings of Christianity, many of these comprising the basic universal spiritual principles included in the increasingly popular list of spiritual principles. As is pointed out throughout these articles and posts, the practical aspects of even deeply divergent religions are in almost complete agreement! This simple fact represents a beautiful, encouraging, and reassuring idea to so many victims of early, frequent exposure to harsh, rigid, divisive forms of religious fundamentalism.

Even so, our beliefs (the worldviews of Bill & this blogger) begin to diverge when it comes to the interpretation of the Bible and supernatural views in general (the supernatural aspects as opposed to the practical teachings of Christianity). Bill is an inerrantist; to Bill, the Bible was essentially written by God and thus contains no errors and represents valid history, biography, and science.

Perspective is everything

Unfortunately, discussions with Bill about religion and spirituality, enjoyable as they can be, are often limited in depth due to the fundamental differences in how supernatural stories are treated. Perspective is everything, in many respects at least — and the great gulf that separates our personal perspectives with regard to religious fundamentalism — the limiting belief in "a one true religion" — can lessen the quality of related conversations.

"God" means something different to Bill and to me
For example, Bill and I have differing ideas in mind regarding the word "God."

To Bill, "God" represents that ideal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, "loving" entity — precisely as the supernatural being is described in the prevailing Protestant versions of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. In other words, Bill’s view of God (more or less) is that of Bible God.

In keeping with this, Bill also believes — or "knows" — that the literal being "God" had a literal, physical son named Jesus. In actual, factual history, Bill would likely posit, there really was a talking snake — Satan in disguise — and the ark was a real boat built by an elderly Noah; and the global flood is a historically accurate news account; and so on, in tandem with literal scripture interpretation.

On other issues, Bill will not give any opinion — meaning he has not set aside the time or effort to study them or to try to understand the deeper meaning of these scriptures. But…

If Bill is implying that revealed religious scripture (including the Bible) is up to each individual to interpret, then this blogger would be pleased. This would imply that the scriptures do not have any set meaning — that it is up to each person to interpret in a way that is personally meaningful.

On the other hand, when this blogger uses the word God, it is interchangeable with terms like Mother Nature, the universe, creation, Source — or perhaps most accurately, existence itself. To this blogger (and so many others), the idea of God as a separate being (e.g., resulting from literal Bible interpretation) is purely a poetic device, a literary (not literal) representation of an unknowable creative force, something that the mind of man cannot presently comprehend — but not the historical, biographical, fantastical, magical being of the sort envisioned by so many Bible readers who opt for literal interpretation (seven-headed monsters included).

To so many of us, the Bible was never meant to be taken literally. Literal interpretation creates outrageous, unbelievable stories that include great evil and eternal torture. The message of Jesus is a practical, compassionate, spiritual one — not a religious one that demands specific supernatural beliefs.

Is deep, logical, intellectual, critical thought about religion a BAD thing? Some fundamentalists seem to imply just that! To them (sadly), religious belief is so tenuous it cannot withstand human intelligence. Obviously, such short-sighted comments should be ignored.

Do you believe that faith is a proper alternative to reason and critical thought? If so, then you implicitly support all religions. In other words, those raised in the Muslim world should ignore logic and reason, and simply accept the tenets of Islam on faith.

Care in using the word God

When discussing religion and spirituality with Christian fundamentalists like Bill, this writer does not use the term "God" very often for a simple reason: The listener will almost certainly interpret it in a way that includes that fundamentalist idea of God – and that’s not what I am talking about when I use the word "God." For this reason, I often use alternate words, such as the terminology often used by New Thought teachers as synonyms for the word "God.": the Tao, Source, Mother Nature, universe, universal intelligence, or being. (I am using the word being here to mean existence, as in the verb "to be" — and not to indicate that separate entity of literal Bible interpretation, as in human being.)

Differing perspectives greatly limit clear communication

As you can imagine, if such a basic term as God does not mean the same thing to Bill and me, then clear, cogent communication on the subject becomes far less likely. When a given word is used, Bill and I may be thinking about completely different ideas, concepts, or definitions. If such an important, basic term like "God" isn’t even the same thing to us, one can imagine how many other basic words — terms frequently used in religious or spiritual conversations — might represent vastly varying, fundamentally different ideas. Such different perspectives tend to muddle and complicate discussions about basic religious beliefs and spiritual concepts.

Inherent challenges in religious/spiritual debate

Debating religious and/or spiritual belief systems and related practices is fraught with potential problems and issues.

Religious debate will be largely informal and unorganized if the participants do not set guidelines or are unfamiliar with the general rules of debate, some knowledge of common, major logical fallacies, or even logical skills or aptitude for critical thought in general. A common characteristic of religious fundamentalists who have stuck with the religious beliefs and practices of their upbringing is an overall lack of critical thinking practice and skillnot because they are less intelligent, necessarily, but because they’ve been taught not to question these things. It follows that, since fundamentalists have been trained not to delve too deeply — to just accept whatever their preachers tell them purely on faith — they may lack practice and experience in critical thinking when it comes to subjects like religion and spirituality.

Closed-mindedness = Contempt prior to investigation
While the fundamentalist standard often seems to be a mind that’s both nonobjective and closed, Bill’s mind is wisely a bit more open than those of many other staunch Christian fundamentalists.

Don’t even bother discussing these things with the closed-minded.

Based on experience, this blogger proposes that there is little, if any, fruit to be had from debating or even casually discussing religion and spirituality with the closed-minded. A closed mind points to contempt prior to investigation: words which will probably be recognized by readers familiar with 12-step programs such as A.A.

Is a closed mind even capable of debate — or even cogent discussion?
Let’s say you’re considering discussing or debating religious belief systems with your Mormon friend Andy. If Andy indicates that he already "knows" this or that, or that there can be "no doubt about this or that", or if Andy indicates that his beliefs will not change under any circumstances — regardless of what he learns, what anyone else says, what anyone does, etc. — then, quite obviously, Andy’s mind is shut tighter than a sprung bear trap, thus eliminating the possibility of an enjoyable or intelligent conversation. Unfortunately, debate with a closed mind like Andy’s is simply not possible.

In the above example, Andy is not a true spiritual seeker; according to his sadly limited and limiting worldview, there is nothing further to be learned. The ego has won the battle — so far, at least — in convincing Andy that he already knows what he needs to know.

Sadly, an alarming percentage of Americans are afflicted with such closed minds.

But on a more positive note, spiritual-but-not-religious worldviews like New Thought are gaining much ground today, and most likely comprise the fastest-growing sector of religious belief in the world today — faster growth than even Islam. It may also surprise you that many American Christian fundamentalists:

  1. Have never even read the Bible all the way through
  2. Have never applied any real critical thought to difficult, challenging questions about their beliefs
  3. Sometimes believe it’s wrong even to question these things in the first place
  4. Cannot answer some of the most basic questions about their belief system
  5. Avoid reading much science because of the difficult questions often raised by scientific explanations and theories
  6. Avoid doing any challenging research on their own
  7. Have no idea that many basic themes in the Bible (e.g., creation, global flood, prophets, miracles, virgin birth, resurrection, creation, etc.) are not original subject matter; that the stories appeared in earlier religious beliefs and myths

Recent discussions
A recent discussion with a fellow concerning the teachings of Wayne Dyer — a popular modern spiritual teacher we both enjoy immensely — evolved into a deeper-than-usual exchange about religion and spirituality, mostly via email.

As a prolific writer and blogger, some writings that are initially intended as emails wind up being too long (or otherwise inappropriate) for email. The remainder of this post is one such example. I was originally going to email it to Bill in an attempt to set some basic ground rules for any further written exchanges about our religious and spiritual beliefs. In the process, I realized such a discussion would probably not bear much fruit because of the varying perspectives — our "spiritual paradigms." Therefore, instead of emailing it to the originally intended recipient, I am publishing it here.

Suggestions for discussions about contrasting beliefs

When planning religious debates, talks about spiritual practices, etc., it can be quite helpful if the participants:

  • Have a general familiarity with at least the major logical fallacies & and avoid using them in the discussion
  • Before responding, carefully consider the communication of the other party by deeply reading the statements multiple times (i.e., often Bill had obviously either not read or not comprehended the conversation thus far)
  • Look up words and learn basic concepts that one does not yet sufficiently understand
  • Wait at least 24 hours before replying if emotions have been stirred

As everyone knows, discussion about religion can be pretty touchy stuff; after all, we are baring our souls — exposing them to potential ridicule — when we disclose our heartfelt beliefs.

Based on my experiences, religious discussion is far less beneficial when the ego has convinced a person that only their own views are correct, that competing views must therefore be wrong — PERIOD. Intelligent exchanges are far less likely with such a closed mind. Such a conversation would not be a discussion or debate; it would amount to nothing but a speech: one person describing his beliefs to the other without adding any convincing critical thought to support those beliefs.

Take my words with a grain of sea salt

These words are merely today’s attempt to explain how I’ve come to see things after decades of Bible study, the research and practice of Christianity, the research and practice of Deism, Buddhism, and other things. Although it is the result of untold research and practice, others should nevertheless take it with a grain of salt… the same grain of salt one would take with any other beliefs: Wayne Dyer’s beliefs, a pastor’s beliefs, your mama’s beliefs, a Mormon’s beliefs, a Muslim’s beliefs, etc.

As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous and related twelve-step programs, opinions are like assholes! We all have our opinions — and given the basic, unknowable nature of all things supernatural (areas that science has not yet reached) — unsupported supernatural beliefs represent little more than opinion.

The more rigid the opinions, the more closed-minded the adherent, then the less worthwhile any further conversation or study would be — as indicated by the popular quote about contempt prior to investigation.

In other words, if a person already insists on a certain answer before the questions are even asked, then the person might as well not study it at all.

One goal of this blog is to encourage all readers to apply critical thought, human reasoning skills, and independent, objective research to their beliefs. Sadly, most do not. There is a sad tendency to avoid critical thought, dodge the tough questions, and stick with the beliefs of their culture, their childhood, or those their peers believe.

So many people have never even read the whole of their own scriptures — much less understand them without having to ask someone else’s opinion! Believe it or not, I know Christians who have never even read the entire Bible — you know, that book they claim to base their entire lives upon? There is no excuse for such ignorance.

Aren’t religion and spirituality important enough to study independently and objectively — from many angles and not just one? Apparently not; the act of attending church seems to be the sum of it for many.

These days, most of us have a world of information at our fingertips. Why not use it to conduct a serious study of one’s own beliefs as well as other worldviews? Why do so many religious people neglect answering the really challenging questions for themselves, instead blindly accepting the dogma from their upbringing?

This type of ignorance is just one perfect example of the lazy behavior, avoidance, and fear that this blog was created to discourage. I humbly ask all readers: Please do your part to spread the positive message of unity, oneness, and adherence to basic universal spiritual principles.

Objectivity in religion and spirituality is one of the most difficult things for the fundamentalist to achieve. And very few ever do, thus limiting themselves severely.

I cannot seem to ignore – or, I am incessantly curious about something Bill said in a previous email. I would like to get a more specific answer.

Bill seemed to indicate two things:

1. He enjoyed and agreed with Neville Goddard in his book, Awakened Imagination.
2. Bill also said that he believes the Bible should be interpreted literally.

Both cannot be true; they are in clear, direct conflict.

The Neville Goddard book – in the first six pages, at least – stresses again and again that the Bible does not represent actual history — that its stories are of a more non-literal, poetic nature.

What I do not understand is how Bill can agree with two completely conflicting viewpoints. I am assuming that Bill understood what he was reading. If Bill did not comprehend the intended meaning of the material in his research, then any further discussion on this subject would be worthless for obvious reasons.

Material must be understood before it can be discussed.

But wait: I DO get it, in a way.
In a sense, I DO understand, because I have been there. I once believed just as Bill does – or damn close, anyway.

Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two people have exactly the same beliefs.

Like Bill, I believed the Bible was supposed to be interpreted literally. At the time, I was also being exposed to New Thought teachings, Eastern spiritual teachings, and even militant atheism for the first time ever. Heck, I even adopted a form of atheism for a very short time as a rebellious teen (!!!), but quickly saw it to be false by using my Tao-given human abilities of logic and reason.

Over the next several years, I read the Bible cover-to-cover on three separate occasions, and continue to do so today (although it’s slower now, having answered many of the difficult questions I began asking at around age 10).

Obviously, the Bible is one of many books that contain a great deal of spiritual wisdom. But I also was open-minded enough to study many other worldviews. I even practiced some of them – Buddhism, for example, and Deism.

Varied life experience delivers wisdom as few other things can, it seems – but that’s just my opinion – and do I realize my opinion may mean very little to others. It is an experience that cannot be explained, just as the worldview of someone who has never traveled to other countries is by default far more limited than the understanding of a world traveler.

To a worm in a jar of horseradish, the whole world is horseradish.

I started to see the many conflicts between New Thought and Christian fundamentalism. But I loved both sets of teachings. For years, I was NOT willing to believe, accept, or even consider that what I had been taught all my life might not be totally correct.

But I finally broadened my thinking.

Turns out it was bad theology, after all – rigid Christian fundamentalism — exactly as Bill wisely and 100% correctly realized and pointed out to this blogger in one of his emails.

That is the whole reason the blogger decided to get real and look deeply into these things as OBJECTIVELY as possible. No longer would I accept institutional dogma, or believe anything is true just because some preacher — a non-objective fellow who’s paid good money to preach the stuff — might say! (Preachers and pastors obviously must toe the standard line or they will be fired. If they have a different opinion, they must keep it to themselves if they expect to keep their jobs.)

Do you believe that anything is possible?

(…that anything is possible, within reason — not counting giant, invisible, purple spiders in your attic and whatnot!)

If the answer is yes, then by default one must believe that it’s possible for any one of the thousands of world religions to be correct. (If not, then one obviously does not believe that anything is possible.)

The only thing left to do is to do your best to be objective and LAUNCH YOUR OWN INDEPENDENT STUDY that covers many angles – not just the religion one was raised to believe. By limiting serious study to only ONE religion, you are implying that those raised in other religions are correct to stick only with their religion and never look at Christianity.

It might not be possible to see this, depending on how narrow one’s views and beliefs are, how closed minded one might be, how limited one’s willingness might be to study world religion and spirituality, and so on and so forth…

That’s how I became free and finally learned that there is never any reason to worry about anything, ever again – no matter how bad of a mood I might be in, how little money I might have, etc., there is no need to fear death — or anything else whatsoever — and so on…

Mindfulness, tolerance, non-attachment, ego deflation, compassion, and service rule. It’s a beautiful thing… certainly far too beautiful to express in mere words. Even so, may we strive to spread the encouraging, positive message of unity and oneness to the best of our ability.

Resources

No resources apart from Bill’s emails were used in this post.

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(5) For what it’s worth… After listening to his latest thoughts on religion and spirituality, I have no firm idea what his true beliefs really are due to three inherent, deep contradictions: "Neville Goddard is a fundamentalist, I agree with Neville Goddard, & I believe the Bible should be interpreted literally."

If this is getting old to you, you can feel free to ignore it and I will not bring it up again. (In fact, after this message, I should retire from this line of discussion!! But will I? Prolly not!)

This is an apparent truth (Bible not meant to be taken literally); few still try to support talking snakes with a straight face – not to mention all the other poetic passages and teaching stories.

Moyers & Co.: "Moving Beyond War" with Col. Andrew Basevich

sunset in Green Hills, Nashville, on Dec 29, 2011 - Stephen Frasier PhotographyI happened to catch the last third or so of Bill Moyers’ fantastic, in-depth PBS news commentary program, Moyers & Company, which today featured author Colonel Andrew Basevich as an intelligent, intriguing, level-headed guest.

While the ideas and views of Col. Basevich were encouraging and positive, the gist of the portion of the show I saw was a reaction to a brand of American exceptionalism with support on the far right. Although I would like to make and take the time to describe these views in detail, today I cannot; however, there are plenty of resources one can quickly locate and review in order to get a sense of the America-must-perpetually-rule-the-world-at-any-cost mentality to which I’m referring.

There is something very wrong with the far-right brand of American exceptionalism. It’s a type of bastardized nationalism — patriotism in overdrive. The Hard Right dream to indefinitely prolong the "American Century" is a doomed, sovereign self centeredness: high-handed, geocentric, state fundamentalism that demands a world in subservience to the U.S.

Any short-sighted view assuming the United States will never need help from other countries is lamentable and beyond ridiculous.

Questions for reflection & contemplation

political debate: cartoon, colorWhat is it with the Hard Right? Why does the Hard Right consistently adopt such decidedly non-spiritual, self-centered views?

Far more importantly, what are some of the relatively thoughtful, gentle, firm, respectful ways one might discourage these kinds of ill-omened, ultimately hopeless worldviews?

How can we promote, encourage, or induce level-headed discernment and forward-thinking critical thought on such views as this voodooed version of American exceptionalism?

cumulonimbus clouds with Photomatix effects: Nashville, Mar 14, 2012, Frasier Photography 2012A bigoted, everyone-else-is-inferior viewpoint does not mesh with admirable, respectable global citizenship. Such a big-headed attitude seems to portend doom for that time when American supremacy ultimately and inevitably comes to a close. The very idea that the United States — or any country, for that matter — could ever perpetually maintain absolute global supremacy is a foolish pipe dream. It won’t happen.

Look, I really do understand that the objectives and requirements of being a powerful modern country are not always going to mesh with basic, universal spiritual principles. Even so, I do not believe the United States has to venture all the way to spirituality’s opposite side to succeed as a nation.

Let us hope, pray, and vote for the level-headed, globally conscious, reasonably centrist, and wise governing of the United States in the coming decades.

To address in the coming days, weeks:

  • American century
  • American exceptionalism

Resources: Moyers & Co.: "Moving Beyond War", Col. Andrew Basevich

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…it’s yet another unfortunate example of divisive fundamentalism.

This post was started on Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rick Santorum self-destructs with emphasis on religious fundamentalism over economy

The life of Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign is – thank God – almost certainly in its twilight hours. [ see CNN's current estimate of delegates won so far, below ]

Rick Santorum, hard-right Christian fundamentalist, being prayed overThe After his wins in Mississippi and Alabama, the outrageous nature of Rick Santorum’s statements only seemed to increase, continuing to thwart logic and reason. Earlier, Rick Santorum experienced success in the deep Deep South — where many conservatives dwell in an alternate reality including a Mecca-facing Obama, a talking snake, a geologically young earth, a literal historical Noah’s ark, and living Satan. Despite Santorum’s recent wins, his rhetoric became even less appealing than before.

Perhaps the most surprising Santorumism[1] between his Deep South victory and his Illinois defeat was his shocking statement:

I don’t care what the unemployment rate is going to be. It doesn’t matter to me.

Did Rick Santorum forget that the number one issue with voters is the economy? As CNN’s Cafferty said, “That statement goes beyond stupid.” Subsequent attempts at damage control by Santorum’s staff mattered little.

In another odd comment — and we actually agree with Rick on this one — Santorum said that if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee instead of him (Santorum), that:

Republicans should vote for President Obama.

Rick Santorum’s exact words were:

You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future. (
Source: Santorum suggests Obama is better than Romney)

At the time of this update[2], polls show Santorum has a huge lead in Louisiana. I wonder if this article was published a bit too early? I hope not. In any case, the campaign of Rick Santorum continues unabated:

Romney ‘hasn’t definitely won,’ CNN political analyst David Gergen said. ‘But in a campaign that has had many, many unexpected twists and turns, I think we may look back tonight and say tonight was the final big turning point.’ (Source: CNN – Romney is projected winner…)

However, the Santorum campaign is not giving up yet:

And Santorum advisers were putting out the word that they were planning to fight for the nomination on the floor of the Republican convention in Tampa if necessary. (Source: CNN – Romney is projected winner…)

Here’s the CNN delegate estimate (as of 10pm CST):
CNN delegate estimate for Republicans - Romney far ahead

Notes

[1] Santorumism definition: a verbal gaffe spoken by Rick Santorum… Santorumism doesn’t seem to have the same ring as Bushism or Bachmannism; nevertheless, there are Santorumisms aplenty (more on those later, perhaps.)

[2] Update: This post was updated on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 5:07pm CST.

Resources: Rick Santorum self-destructs with emphasis on religious fundamentalism over economy

This post was started on Tuesday, March 20, 2012