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Pakistan Floods Appeal
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Rev



Joined: 06 Jan 2010

Posts: 186

PostPosted: 12/08/10, 06:56    Post subject: Pakistan Floods Appeal Reply with quote

Information on how you can help give to help those afflicted by the devastating floods in Pakistan...

Hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan have been devastated by the worst floods in the country's history.

The death toll already stands at 1,600, with up to 14 million people affected. Tens of thousands of people are injured and homeless. And floods are an ideal breeding ground for water-borne diseases such as cholera. Communities affected by the floods need urgent help and villages downstream – yet to be hit by flood waters – need to be better prepared.

We can respond in two ways. 1) We can give, and 2) We can pray.

Uplyme Church will be collecting and giving directly to the aid agency Tearfund.

* Ł88 could pay for a food package for four families for 30 days
* Ł40 could pay for a health & hygiene kit to protect 10 families from disease

Join us in giving. You can give directly to Tearfund via their website: http://www.tearfund.org/

Alternatively, you can give cash or cheques (made payable to Uplyme PCC) in an envelope marked 'Tearfund Pakistan Appeal'. These can be given in to the church office, or posted to the church or handed to a sidesperson at one of our Sunday gatherings.

Perhaps you could join in me with this prayer...

Lord God, we praise you because you know and love every person affected by the floods in Pakistan, and because you are with them in their suffering. We pray for the communities affected by these floods, that they will feel your love, comfort and hope around them today. God, we ask for your hand to be upon the response to this disaster. Strengthen decision-makers and aid workers, enabling them to bring help and hope to those who desperately need it. Lord, help us to be your hands and feet. As part of your worldwide church, we ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revd Gavin Tyte
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Peter.Single



Joined: 17 Aug 2010

Posts: 29

PostPosted: 18/08/10, 08:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rev wrote:
We can respond in two ways. 1) We can give, and 2) We can pray.

Of course we should give, the scale of this disaster is enormous. I heard that local 'Shelterbox' charity has sent several hundred boxes to Pakistan already; but many thousands more will be needed. There are many organisations trying to help, and I'm sure they all need us to give what we can. The 'Disasters Emergency Committee' can be found at http://www.dec.org.uk/.
But please,- don't ask us to pray. By all means you pray if it makes you feel better; but the time could be more positively spent doing something useful.

Rev wrote:
Perhaps you could join in me with this prayer...

I object to you using this forum for superstitious hokum like this.
But while you're there, could you ask him why he caused the floods in the first place? I’m sure there are many thousands of suffering families who would like to know!
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Rev



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PostPosted: 18/08/10, 12:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever next? A vicar asking people to respond to a disaster emergency and pray... Wink

Peter, you are free to object, however, you will never stop me publicly asking people to pray. Many people pray, both Christians and non-Christians, and I will continue to ask them to do so. They are free to choose not to pray, as are you. If you would like to start another thread discussing the nature of God, then please do so. However, let us not distract from helping those in need.

So to all in our community, if you would like to, please join me in giving and praying for those suffering in Pakistan.

Many Thanks.

Rev.
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Peter.Single



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PostPosted: 18/08/10, 13:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gavin,
I doubt we would ever agree about the nature of god(s); (I quite like the story of 'Mithra' personally) so I guess it's hardly worth while creating another thread.
I do note that you didn't answer my final question in the previous post.

I do agree wholeheartedly with your call for people to dig deep and do whatever they practically can to help those on this (as all other) disasters. I think that so many people simply watch these disasters unfold; yet if everybody gave even a small amount it would soon add up to a surprising sum.

Peter
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Rev



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PostPosted: 18/08/10, 18:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Peter. I thought that seeing as you clearly did not believe in prayer, and that from your tone I suspected that 'you would never agree' on the nature of God, that your question for me to ask him something on your behalf was you being facetious. You and I both know that your question wasn't the 'real' question. However, I will answer the question with, "He didn't cause it to happen," knowing that this is not a satisfactory answer either for you or I. If you know anything of philosophy or religion, then you know that this is just the beginning of a long discourse about free-will and the nature of God. I felt that such a long discourse or discussion was out of place in this thread when our remit is to respond to the desperate need as best we can. And yes, part of that response from me is to give, to pray, and to promote giving and praying as best I can.

I hope that helps.

Heaps of Peace.

Rev.
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Peter.Single



Joined: 17 Aug 2010

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PostPosted: 23/08/10, 10:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gavin,
I've read of the free-will argument in relation to people doing bad things, but I admit I'm not sure how it relates to natural disasters like this. Those 1600 people didn't choose to be killed; it wasn't their free-will to be killed. Surely the free-will of those poor people has been, to paraphrase Lord Burns, 'seriously compromised'.
Surely, even if he didn't cause it, he could have prevented it!
I'm sure you know Epicurus' argument well. Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Or is he able, but not willing?

PS: Back to the subject we can all agree on.
Good luck with the TearFund collection. Is it going well. Are you able to tell us how it's doing?

Peter
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Rhodie



Joined: 14 Sep 2005

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Location: Rhode Hill, Uplyme

PostPosted: 26/08/10, 07:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Peter Single said: I object to you using this forum for superstitious hokum like this.

I think the Rev has every right to decide what form of hokum in which to believe. I didn’t see any post from Peter objecting to the hokum of UFOs over Uplyme. This is a completely free forum and the Rev or anyone else can, providing it is within the law and conforms to current views of decency, post what they like. Over the years that this forum has been running I have read much cringe producing garbage and probably a fair amount of that comes from yours truly but I have as moderator resisted the temptation to suggest that such posts should not be allowed.

I do note that Peter’s profile is rather sparse and gives no indication of where he lives, but of course wherever he lives that wouldn’t exclude him from participating. I suggest that he found this forum via a google search probably on god, Pakistan, flood, disaster or the like. But now he’s found us lets hope he can help to revitalise this unappreciated and under used forum just as the Rev has done.

Perhaps Peter would like to start another topic on the subject of what influence Christian prayers have for a population where 97% of the people are Muslims.
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Peter.Single



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PostPosted: 26/08/10, 08:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rhodie,
Yes, the rev does have a right to believe whatever hokum he chooses.
I suppose I also have a right to object to it.
I didn't object to the UFOs because people realise it's just a bit of fun, and don't take it seriously.

Maybe the rev would be better placed than I to comment on what influence Christian prayers have for a population where 97% of the people are Muslims. Personally I would suggest that they have as much influence there as anywhere else !

I certainly don't wish the rev to stop posting; far from it - the more people the better. I certainly support him in doing 'practical' things to help those in need. And I'm sure he does more than most.

Rev, how's the Tearfund doing?

PS. I do live in Lyme, I guess I just don't get out much.
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Rev



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PostPosted: 26/08/10, 11:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure off the top of my head how the Tearfund collection is going... I do know that all the aid agencies are finding it difficult to recruit funds for this disaster. Perhaps this is to do with it being predominantly a 'Muslim' country or the nature and scale of the disaster?

When I mentioned free-will, I was thinking about the fact that we live in a world that does not preclude things happening that we perceive as bad. There is nothing 'bad' about floods in themselves - they are a naturally occurring phenomena. They only become perceived as bad when they affect people. Free-will cannot exist in a world that would preclude things from happening. It's an argument you have to follow to conclusion and work through. But, saying that, free-will is not the whole argument - just part of it.

I cannot say why there is so much suffering in the world. I do know that what makes Christianity unique is that we believe in a suffering God - a God who knows what it is to suffer. I also know that God, through Jesus, has invited us to join in with his mission in the world. Why he has chosen flawed human beings to be part of the solution, I don't know. The story in the Bible is full of God being faithful and never giving up on us - despite the way we mess up again and again.

I know that human pain and suffering hurts God, as it hurts us who are made in his image. And why would a Christian pray for Muslims? Because the victims in Pakistan are God's beloved - every bit as much as I am.
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Peter.Single



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PostPosted: 27/08/10, 15:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rev wrote:
...the Bible is full of God being faithful and never giving up on us...

Not 'full' surely. There are lots of examples (I imagine you don't need me to quote verses) of god killing hundreds, even thousands, of people. Midianites, Benjamites, Syrians, Assyrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians etc, etc.
I know I don't believe he existed, but I've never been able to reconcile how those people who do, think that's a good thing.
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Rev



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PostPosted: 28/08/10, 15:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

'full' as in that's one of the grand meta-narratives (or underlying themes) - yes.

The Old Testament and God killing lots of people thing seems to be a stumbling block, or certainly something that gets brought up a bit. Here are some things that might help in our understanding.

Firstly, Israel is about the size of Wales, and in biblical times was a lot less populated than Wales today. For example, Jericho was tiny. If you go and stand on the tell (heap) that is Jericho, you think, "That was it??" We think of cities in the Bible defeated by the Israelites as being the size of London. Not so. (It wouldn't surprise me if the reports by the Israelites tended to exaggerate the wins somewhat).

Secondly, the culture that the events took place in, and in which the Bible was written, was completely different. They had a different world-view altogether. Their culture was and is in many ways alien to us. It might help to think on Tudor England that boiled people alive. I can't even begin to get my head around that. How could people be so cruel? Or bringing it closer to home, the holocaust or the genocide in Rwanda. I still can't believe that people hold world-views that allow these things to happen. These events were on an unprecedented scale compared to the rather small biblical conflicts.

Thirdly, I think that God works in the human culture that he is presented with at any given time. Do I think that God wishes it was otherwise? Yes. Did he issue instructions, over and over again, to support the cause of the poor, the widow, etc. Yes. Do humans keep messing up. Yes. My personal view is that if God could have done it any other way, then he would have. In fact, the story of Jesus is a story that leaves one asking if it could have been done another way.

So, I think it is something about scale, context and the nature of humanity with which God is working.

One would hope that the story of humanity, and God's involvement in it, is that we would get 'better and better' or hopefully, that our culture would evolve. The sad thing is, we don't seem to do very well. Dawkins blames religion for all sorts of things, but actually, I think that for many, inlcuding Dawkins, religion is the scape-goat and the reality is that it is human nature that corrupts. You get greedy religious people, and you get greedy bankers too!
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Peter.Single



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PostPosted: 01/09/10, 10:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Thou shall not kill' was, surely, written then, in these old times you talk about. God didn't seem to mind doing it when it suited him, and in a rather grand scale.
My point was simply that I don't understand how religious people 'seem' to think that that's a good moral story.
I agree that times/society/morals etc have changed enormously since biblical days. But surely if you espouse the teachings/morals of the bible for today, as opposed to for those olden days only, then you must think that what god did 'then' was 'right'.

As you mention Dawkins blaming of religion I'd like to draw attention to the following article written by him. It's a little long but well worth a read.
(don't know if it'll all fit in a post here so I'll link to it now http://tinyurl.com/37slqje and also try to paste it into a following post).
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Peter.Single



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PostPosted: 01/09/10, 10:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the article by Dawkins.
Very good read.

Richard Dawkins
"To blame Islam for what happened in New York is like blaming Christianity for the troubles in Northern Ireland!" Yes. Precisely. It is time to stop pussyfooting around. Time to get angry. And not only with Islam. Those of us who have renounced one or other of the three 'great' monotheistic religions have, until now, moderated our language for reasons of politeness. Christians, Jews and Muslims are sincere in their beliefs and in what they find holy. We have respected that, even as we have disagreed with it. The late Douglas Adams put it with his customary good humour, in an impromptu speech in 1998 (slightly abridged):

Now, the invention of the scientific method is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that. It has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, "Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? — because you're not!" If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says "I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday," you say, "I respect that."

The odd thing is, even as I am saying that I am thinking "Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?" But I wouldn't have thought, "Maybe there's somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics," when I was making the other points. I just think, "Fine, we have different opinions." But, the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody's (I'm going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say "No, we don't attack that; that's an irrational belief but no, we respect it."

Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows — but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe... no, that's holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we've just got used to doing so? There's no other reason at all, it's just one of those things that crept into being, and once that loop gets going it's very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be. (http://www.biota.org/people/douglasadams/index.html)

Douglas is dead, but his words are an inspiration to us now to stand up and break this absurd taboo. My last vestige of 'hands off religion' respect disappeared as I watched the "Day of Prayer" in Washington Cathedral. Then there was the even more nauseating prayer-meeting in the New York stadium, where prelates and pastors did their tremulous Martin Luther King impersonation and urged people of mutually incompatible faiths to hold hands in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say, "Enough!" Let our tribute to the September dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe.

Notwithstanding bitter sectarian hatreds over the centuries (all too obviously still going strong), Judaism, Islam and Christianity have much in common. Despite New Testament watering down and other reformist tendencies, all three pay historic allegiance to the same violent and vindictive God of Battles, memorably summed up by Gore Vidal in 1998:

The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved —Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal — God is the Omnipotent Father — hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is not just in place for one tribe, but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good.

In the Guardian of September 15th (http://www. guardian.co.uk/Archive/0,423,4257777,00.html), I named belief in an afterlife as the key weapon that made the New York atrocity possible. Of prior significance is religion's deep responsibility for the underlying hatreds that motivated people to use that weapon in the first place. To breathe such a suggestion, even with the most gentlemanly restraint, is to invite an onslaught of patronising abuse, as Douglas Adams noted. But the insane cruelty of the suicide attacks, and the equally vicious though numerically less catastrophic 'revenge' attacks on hapless Muslims living in America and Britain, push me beyond ordinary caution.

How can I say that religion is to blame? Do I really imagine that, when a terrorist kills, he is motivated by a theological disagreement with his victim? Do I really think the Northern Ireland pub bomber says to himself, "Take that, Tridentine Transubstantiationist b******!" Of course I don't think anything of the kind. Theology is the last thing on the minds of such people. They are not killing because of religion itself, but because of political grievances, often justified. They are killing because the other lot killed their fathers. Or because the other lot drove their great- grandfathers off their land. Or because the other lot oppressed our lot economically for centuries.

My point is not that religion itself is the motivation for wars, murders and terrorist attacks, but that religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a 'they' as opposed to a 'we' can be identified at all. I am not even claiming that religion is the only label by which we identify the victims of our prejudice. There's also skin colour, language, and social class. But often, as in Northern Ireland, these don't apply and religion is the only divisive label around. Even when it is not alone, religion is nearly always an incendiary ingredient in the mix as well. And please don't trot out Hitler as a counter-example. Hitler's sub-Wagnerian ravings constituted a religion of his own foundation, and his anti-Semitism owed a lot to his never-renounced Roman Catholicism (see http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/murphy_19_2.html).

It is not an exaggeration to say that religion is the most inflammatory enemy-labelling device in history. Who killed your father? Not the individuals you are about to kill in 'revenge'. The culprits themselves have vanished over the border. The people who stole your great-grandfather's land have died of old age. You aim your vendetta at those who belong to the same religion as the original perpetrators. It wasn't Seamus who killed your brother, but it was Catholics, so Seamus deserves to die 'in return'. Next, it was Protestants who killed Seamus so let's go out and kill some Protestants 'in revenge'. It was Muslims who destroyed the World Trade Center so let's set upon the turbaned driver of a London taxi and leave him paralysed from the neck down.

The bitter hatreds that now poison Middle Eastern politics are rooted in the real or perceived wrong of the setting up of a Jewish State in an Islamic region. In view of all that the Jews had been through, it must have seemed a fair and humane solution. Probably deep familiarity with the Old Testament had given the European and American decision-makers some sort of idea that this really was the "historic homeland" of the Jews (though the horrific stories of how Joshua and others conquered their Lebensraum might have made them wonder). Even if it wasn't justifiable at the time, no doubt a good case can be made that, since Israel exists now, to try to reverse the status quo would be a worse wrong.

I do not intend to get into that argument. But if it had not been for religion, the very concept of a Jewish State would have had no meaning in the first place. Nor would the very concept of Islamic lands, as something to be invaded and desecrated. In a world without religion, there would have been no Crusades; no Inquisition; no anti-Semitic pogroms (the people of the diaspora would long ago have intermarried and become indistinguishable from their host populations); no Northern Ireland Troubles (no label by which to distinguish the two 'communities', and no sectarian schools to teach the children historic hatreds — they would simply be one community.)

It is a spade we have here, let's call it a spade. The Emperor has no clothes. It is time to stop the mealy-mouthed euphemisms: 'Nationalists', 'Loyalists', 'Communities', 'Ethnic Groups', 'Cultures'. 'Civilisations'. Religions is the word you need. Religion is the word you are struggling hypocritically to avoid.

Parenthetically, religion is unusual among divisive labels in being spectacularly unnecessary. If religious beliefs had any evidence going for them, we might have to respect them in spite of their concomitant unpleasantness. But there is no such evidence. To label people as death-deserving enemies because of disagreements about real world politics is bad enough. To do the same for disagreements about a delusional world inhabited by archangels, demons and imaginary friends is ludicrously tragic.

The resilience of this form of hereditary delusion is as astonishing as its lack of realism. It seems that control of the plane which crashed near Pittsburgh was probably wrestled out of the hands of the terrorists by a group of brave passengers. The wife of one of these valiant and heroic men, after she took the telephone call in which he announced their intention, said that God had placed her husband on the plane as His instrument to prevent the plane crashing on the White House. I have the greatest sympathy for this poor woman in her tragic loss, but just think about it! As my (also understandably overwrought) American correspondent who sent me this piece of news said:

"Couldn't God have just given the hijackers a heart attack or something instead of killing all those nice people on the plane? I guess he didn't give a flying f*** about the Trade Center, didn't bother to come up with a plan for them" (I apologise for my friend's intemperate language but, in the circumstances, who can blame her?)

Is there no catastrophe terrible enough to shake the faith of people, on both sides, in God's goodness and power? No glimmering realisation that he might not be there at all: that we just might be on our own, needing to cope with the real world like grown-ups? Billy Graham, Mr Bush's spiritual advisor, said in Washington Cathedral:

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands those feelings that you may have.

What an honour, to be licensed to speak for God! But even Billy Graham's patronising presumption now fails him:

I have been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a "mystery".

Less baffled by this deep theological mystery were two of America's best-known televangelists, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. They knew exactly where to put the blame. Falwell said that God had protected America wonderfully for 225 years, but now, what with abortion and gays and lesbians and the ACLU, "all of them who have tried to secularise America... I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen." "Well, I totally concur," responded Robertson. Bush, to his credit, swiftly disowned this revealing example of the religious mind at work.

The United States is the most religiose country in Christendom, and its born-again leader is eyeball to eyeball with the most religiose people on Earth (the Taliban's religion-inspired laws include draconian penalties for men whose beard is too short — Monty Python could not have dreamed it up.) Both sides believe that the Bronze-Age God of Battles is on their side. Both take risks with the world's future in unshakeable, fundamentalist faith that God will grant them the victory. J.C. Squire's famous verse on the First World War comes to mind:

God heard the nations sing and shout
"Gott strafe England" and "God save the King!"
God this, God that, and God the other thing —
"Good God!" said God, "I've got my work cut out!"

Incidentally, people speak of Islamic Fundamentalists, but the customary genteel distinction between fundamentalist and moderate Islam has been convincingly demolished by Ibn Warraq in his well-informed book, Why I am not a Muslim (see also his statement at the website for Secular Islam: http://www.secularislam.org/).

The human psyche has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations, and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. Religion fuels both. All violent enmities in the world today fuel their tanks at this holy gas-station. Those of us who have for years politely concealed our contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion need to stand up and speak out. Things are different after September 11th. Let's stop being so damned respectful!
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Rev



Joined: 06 Jan 2010

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PostPosted: 02/09/10, 15:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think that was a very good read at all. Is monotheism evil? No. Theologies are not evil. People can act in an evil manner, yes - including Dawkins, you and I. Perhaps you could find an article from Dawkins that expounds all the good that people with faith do in the world?

Sadly, Dawkins, through the very words he writes, sets himself up as being on 'the winning' or 'intellectually and morally superior' side. Therefore the views he expresses, and he is certainly free to express them, are a contradiction.

"I hate atheists because they always go around blaming believers for hating..." There's logic for you - LOL.

P.S. Here's another good one I like from the relativists/pluralists... "There is absolutely no absolute truth." LOL
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Rhodie



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PostPosted: 02/09/10, 21:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now Stephen Hawking abandons God: “God was not needed to create the Universe”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7976594/Stephen-Hawking-God-was-not-needed-to-create-the-Universe.html

I was always disappointed that Hawking’s universe required a God. I shall now pay him the attention that he probably deserves Wink
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