Retired Australian high court judge Michael Kirby is a committed Christian. His partner of 41 years Johan van Vloten is a non-believer. Both men talk about their relationship and faith, or lack thereof, in an television documentary airing next week in Australia.
Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan made false allegations about the couple in 2002. Their individual reaction now to Heffernan is … different.
Eight years on, Kirby betrays no sign of anger, but insists it is a subject he hates having to discuss. ”I’d rather not talk about it really because every time I do so it becomes part of my life,” he says ”Do you know, if you Google Johan’s name, what comes up is not this prudent, loving, faithful companion. What comes up is Senator Heffernan’s attack. I regard that as sad and offensive. I hope that one day if his name is Googled what will come up is his example of human kindness, support, intelligence and goodness to everyone.” Read more
Atheists have always been a minority. Religious minorities are frequently in an awkward position, particularly when the majority considers their very existence to be a challenge. So atheists have tended to keep quiet, sometime not even realizing that the person they are speaking to is another atheist.
“Atheist: someone who believes that nothing made everything.” That’s the message best-selling author Ray Comfort is pushing through a series of billboards across the country. He has done this to coincide with the Feb 12th, the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. At the same time he has published a new book called, You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence But You Can’t Make Him Think (World Net Daily) to combat what he calls the fallacy of evolution, and expose what he believes is the hidden core belief of an atheist.
Oh, I don’t know. A little friction is good every now and then.
May I just add… What a Christian thing to do..stealing
OLYMPIA, Wash. – A controversial atheist sign that was placed in the state Capitol near a Nativity scene vanished Friday morning, but then turned up at a Seattle radio station a few hours later.
A receptionist at the radio station KMPS said a man dropped off the sign around 10 a.m. and asked her to give it to show host Ichabod Caine. The man did not say how he came by it before he left, she added.
The state patrol is treating the disappearance as a theft investigation.
The atheists’ sign was installed Monday by Washington members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national group based in Madison, Wis.
Since then, radio and TV talk show conservatives have derided Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, for allowing the display.
A Gregoire spokesman said the office at one point was getting about 200 calls an hour, as well as e-mails, about the display.
The governor and state attorney general’s office then issued this statement: “The U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent and clear that, under the Constitution’s First Amendment, once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of nonbelievers.”
With a nod to the winter solstice in late December, the placard reads, in part: “There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
The foundation’s co-president, Dan Barker, said it was important for atheists to offer their viewpoint alongside the overtly religious Nativity scene and a Christmas-style holiday tree at the Capitol Rotunda.
“Our members want equal time,” Barker said. “Not to muscle, not to coerce, but just to have a place at the table.”
The three displays, all privately sponsored, were granted permits from state groundskeepers to be placed in the Capitol’s grand marble hallways.
The 25-foot noble spruce, called the “Capitol Holiday Kids Tree,” is sponsored by the Association of Washington Business and tied to a charity drive for needy families. It’s been a Capitol fixture for nearly 20 years.
The Nativity scene was installed more recently, and a menorah has been displayed in the past.
Obama, McCain play up Christian beliefs, leaving out some groups
How much does a candidate’s faith matter?
COMMENTARY: EILEEN FLYNN
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Recently, the Atheist Community of Austin distributed a survey to federal and state candidates running in races in which Texans will vote. Of the 482 surveys distributed, only 50 were returned by the requested deadline.
North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole released a television ad suggesting that her Democratic challenger Kay Hagan took “godless money.”
“A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser for Kay Hagan,” the the 30-second ad says. “Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money. What did Kay Hagan promise in return?”
CNN reports that the Dole campaign says it’s basing the ad on Hagan’s attendance at a fundraiser that was in the home of an adviser to the Godless Americans’ political action committee, a group that promotes rights for atheists.
The Associated Press reports that Hagan’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist order to Dole’s campaign, saying the “libelous” ad should come down within 24 hours. Dole’s campaign said it has no plans to take it down.
Hagan defended herself, saying that she is a Sunday school teacher, an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, and has been involved in youth missions.
“It is so unbecoming of a woman like Elizabeth Dole,” Hagan said in a conference call. “This is a fabricated, pathetic ad.”
The ad ends with an unknown woman’s voice calling out, “There is no God.”
LONDON — London buses have God on their side — but not for long, if atheists have their way.
The sides of some of London’s red buses will soon carry ads asserting there is “probably no God,” as nonbelievers fight what they say is the preferential treatment given to religion in British society.
Organizers of a campaign to raise funds for the ads said Wednesday they received more than $113,000 in donations, almost seven times their target, in the hours since they launched the project on a charity Web site. Supporters include Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, who donated $9,000.
Can you guess the bias of the blogger (below the fold)… It seems that Hitchens is making a name for himself by ‘eating’ up people of Faith. I personally would love to have the chance to discuss matters of faith with Chris, but I don’t have the name for it…
Are you there God, and if so, will you please provide an emissary that can go head-to-head with Christopher Hitchens without getting spectacularly flayed?
The answer, unfortunately, was a resounding no. While the monsignor presented a charismatic and sympathetic figure—his Isaac Hayes-esque vocal resonance was worth the trip alone—his arguments, if one could call them that, didn’t make it past a freshmen theology class.
Albacete’s strategy seemed to be to dance around his opponent—never has “I agree with you completely” been so frequently uttered by a Catholic priest to a hardcore atheist—and rely on his ecclesiastical gravitas to give credence to his chief points: that science and religion can co-exist; that human beings are biological creatures defined by faith; that religion and faith are separate entities; and that science has not provided sufficient proof that God doesn’t exist to squelch the belief that He does.
All of which could be sound claims if argued effectively, with cogent reasoning and specific examples to counter the obvious holes that Hitchens wasted no time presenting: The burden of proof rests on deists, not atheists, to prove there is a God; no scientific evidence exists to support the assertion that Jesus Christ was the son of God, or even existed; and the tenets of organized religion are nothing more than the “delusions” of humankind needed to sustain our desire for pageantry and meaning.
Rather than hit these atheist talking points head on, the Monsignor sputtered and evaded his way through the hour, clinging to an agenda focused on capitulation short of outright renunciation of belief. Religion, he admitted, has done “a lot” of harm, but “science has been [just] as misused.” When Hitchens accused Albacete of flippancy concerning the pain Christianity has caused despite the total lack of existential evidence, the priest responded: “I have seen evidence in my experience that Jesus Christ existed.” Excellent! An original point! So what was this evidence? Too bad we never found out—either he had no answer, or was unwilling to share.
It’s unfortunate that Albacete brought so little from his distinguishedcareer and thoughtful writings, which demonstrate a commitment to open-minded discussion of an issue that has brought humanity to an impasse. Instead he seemed intent on emerging from the Upper East Side with his dignity intact, as well as besting the king of one-liners in a soundbite contest. A few highlights:
“To me, faith is the problem…it’s like trying to explain to your uncomprehending family why you’ve fallen in love with so and so.”
“You could substitute for Christ the Great Lizard, for all I care.”
“When I was looking [to woo] my women, I did not send them equations.”
“As I try to live a decent life…something extraordinary enters my life and moves me the way nothing ever has before. Was it what I drank? Was it the pizza? Was it what I’d been smoking? Most of the time, it is!”
So there you have it: It might be God, or it might be bad pizza. Lets hope the next champion of God (an imam perhaps?) that battles Hitchens is armed with a slightly more compelling response.
“THE TEN Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written.” With that provocative claim posted high over two city streets, controversial cleric Francis Macnab yesterday launched “a new faith for the 21st century”, a faith beyond orthodox Christianity.
- Jesus ‘just a Jewish peasant’
- Cleric launches new faith
- Ten Commandments ‘too negative’
Dr Macnab says Abraham is probably a concoction, Moses was a mass murderer and Jesus Christ just a Jewish peasant who certainly was not God. In fact, there is no God, in the usual sense of an interventionist deity – what we strive for is a presence both within and beyond us.
Dr Macnab, a noted psychotherapist and executive minister at St Michael’s Uniting Church in the city, said the new faith was necessary because the old faith no longer worked.
“The old faith is in large sections unbelievable. We want to make the new faith more believable, realistic and helpful in terms of the way people live,” he said.
St Michael’s is promoting the new faith with a $120,000 campaign over several months, involving newspaper and radio advertising, the internet, banners and billboards. Dr Macnab is being advised by Barry Whalen, who was the media guru for Cardinal George Pell when he was Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.
According to Dr Macnab, the new faith transcends denominations and religions. It is about searching, not dogma. It seeks the good, the tender and the beautiful, and finds it in Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.
“At the Jesus Seminar (a scholarly but sceptical international enterprise examining the statements attributed to Jesus, of which Dr Macnab is a member), we are inclined to think there was a real Jesus but we don’t know much about him. The record has been embellished a great deal along the way. He gives glimpses of something beyond him, and that’s the most powerful aspect of what he was doing.”
Dr Macnab said the Ten Commandments were full of what people could not do, and were given by a patriarchal figure, Moses, who was a mass murderer. The Bible records that Moses killed 3000 Israelites who worshipped the Golden Calf.
“Allegedly he went up the mountain and came down and said “you shall not kill’, so how come he was such a genocidal man?” Dr Macnab said.
Until 1900, people believed in heaven above, earth, and hell below. “We have given up that idea. He’s no longer the God up there, an interventionist God. We can all feel a presence beyond ourselves and are trying to get in touch with the presence better than ourselves. It’s trying to bring a more humanitarian understanding.”
Dr Macnab has been at St Michael’s, where he is minister for life, since 1971. He did not seek wider approval for the campaign, and said some in the Uniting Church would resent it, but some would agree.