Four Ways to Create a Religion of Hypocrites

1. State that religion no longer needs clergy……and replace them with leaders that are as authoritarian as the clergy ever was.
2. Claim that men and women should be equal……but then deny women membership in the all-powerful leadership council of the religion.
3. Condemn as heretics those who believe in your religion but dare to challenge the claims of your religion’s current leadership, while at the same time claiming to welcome as friends the followers of other religions.
4. Claim there is harmony between science and religion, but also claim that anything your leaders say is absolutely true, even if on topics science is expected to address.
Any one of these makes a religion not worth following, but what do you do if you find a religion that has all four such contradictions?

The Possible Role of Nondisjunction in Evolution

A common objection to natural selection as the mechanism for evolution is that while it may act as an editor, it cannot be an author. That is, it may change genetic information through mutation, but it cannot cause genetic information to increase. And they are right, but genetic information can still increase across the generations of organisms through a process called nondisjunction. This occurs when an unequal amount of genetic material is passed on to two daughter cells after the process of a cell dividing. One cell will have slightly less genetic material, and the other will have slightly more. The most famous example of nondisjunction is the kind that causes Down’s Syndrome, when a human embryo receives three 21st chromosomes from its parents rather than the normal number of two. But nondisjunction can occur regarding any chromosome in any organism and may not even involve chromosomes at all, such as in the case of bacteria.

Let us imagine that three billion years ago, a bacterial cell was dividing, but because of a chemical malfunction, slightly less genetic material ended up in one daughter cell, and slightly more in the other. The cell with less material will probably end up smaller, while the cell with more material may end up larger, because a greater amount of genetic material can produce a greater amount of proteins, the molecules that provide the structural basis for all organisms. Larger cells (assuming the reproductive potential of the different cells was the same) would have an advantage over smaller cells in the race to gain food, thus natural selection would favor larger cells.

If this process was repeated many times, then it is possible that over a billion years a bacterial cell would have emerged that had hundreds of times more genetic material than the first primitive organisms that arose on Earth about four billion years ago. And that would have enabled the evolution of more complex organisms than bacteria…including us!

The hypocrisy of Orthodox Jews

This article struck me as a case of Earth’s core irony:

http://news.yahoo.com/orthodox-nyc-jews-protest-proposed-israeli-draft-173200761.html

Orthodox NYC Jews protest proposed Israeli draft
Associated PressBy VERENA DOBNIK

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews filled the streets in lower Manhattan on Sunday to protest Israel’s proposal to draft strictly religious citizens into its army.

The gathering took up a stretch of 10 blocks, with dark-clothed demonstrators standing behind police barricades amid tight security. Organizers kept to tradition, with men and women in separate groups as they are at religious events.

Shmuel Gruis, 18, a rabbinical student from Phoenix studying at a Long Island yeshiva, was clutching two tomes of Jewish prayers as he hurried to the male section of the rally.

Of the Israeli Orthodox young men who would be affected by a mandatory draft, he said, “These kids, a lot of them don’t know how to hold a gun. They don’t know what physical warfare is.”

“Their whole world and their whole lifestyle is peace and love and in doing mitzvahs,” he said, using the Yiddish word for good deeds. “And you take a bunch of kids out of the environment where they come from — in my eyes, it’s wrong.”

Sunday’s prayer event brought together a community of New York’s most Orthodox Jews, based in Brooklyn and in the town of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, north of the city.

“We’re all united against military service for religious men in Israel because it doesn’t allow for religious learning,” said Peggy Blier, an interior designer from Brooklyn. “The Israeli government is looking to destroy religious society and make the country into a secular melting pot.”

A week ago, hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied in the streets of Jerusalem, blocking roads and paralyzing the city in a massive show of force against plans to require them to serve in the Israeli military.

The widespread opposition to the draft poses a challenge to the country, which is grappling with a cultural war over the place of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society.

The issue of army service is at the core of that struggle. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 8 percent of Israel’s 8 million citizens, largely have been allowed to avoid military service, compulsory for most Jewish men, to pursue their religious studies. Older men often don’t work and collect welfare stipends while continuing to study full time.

The ultra-Orthodox insist their young men serve the nation through prayer and study, thus preserving Jewish learning and heritage, and by maintaining a pious way of life that has kept Jewish culture alive through centuries of persecution.

But the exemption has enraged secular Israelis who say the ultra-Orthodox are not doing their fair share. The issue featured prominently in last year’s election, which led to the establishment of a center-right government that has been pushing for reforms that will require ultra-Orthodox to serve in the army. Parliament is expected to vote on the conscription bill later this month.

Let me get this straight; Israel was founded in 1948 as an expression of Jewish nationalism, yet the very ones known as the most devout Jews refuse to accept the responsibility to defend the Jewish state, but expect others to?

Either Orthodox Jews in Israel accept the draft, or they work to abolish the draft for all Israeli citizens. There should be no exemption for religious reasons, because anyone can claim to be an ultra-Orthodox Jew to avoid military service in Israel. And drafting anyone, even in wartime, is a violation of a citizen’s civil rights.

And you can preserve Jewish culture even while serving in the Israeli military in your younger years or even most of your life.  Even the U S military has Jewish chaplains.

Wayne Christian and Todd Staples, libeled!

Texas politicians are overwhelmingly Conservative and Republican, which as a liberal often makes me feel like an alien in my own state, despite being born and raised here. In looking at the candidates running for office in Texas, I stumbled upon some propaganda against them. Specifically, Wayne Christian and Todd Staples. Continue reading

Is this Justice?

Consider the following scenario:

An African-American restaurant owner in New York City learns that one of his white employees was born in Alabama.  He calls that employee to his office.

Owner: “Is it true you came from Alabama, a southern state?”

Employee:  “Yes. But I moved to New York four years ago.”

Owner:  “Then you are FIRED!  I won’t have racists working for me. More than half of our customers are African-American and I won’t risk you offending them with racist remarks.”

Employee: “What?! But have I done anything wrong?  If I was a racist, I would not be here!”

Owner:  “I used to live in the south. And virtually every white person I dealt with there was racist, constantly looking down on me and other black kids. I finally got out of that situation, and I’ll be damned if the bigotry follows me up here.”

Employee: “Well, don’t you think I am also sick of the bigotry of my fellow whites? I also left the south to live here because of the culture. YOU are the one being racist against ME because of both my skin color and where I was born.  I’m not responsible for either of those things!”

Owner: “You still benefited from the racism you grew up in, just as I suffered from it. Now you are going to learn how it feels to be discriminated against!  GET OUT!”

Introducing Magickalmari

Magickalmari is the WordPress screen name of the second user on this blog, who I have added today. She is someone I have known since 2005 when we were both on Care2, and she is so close to me that I consider her a sister. Like me, she is a Unitarian Universalist and is highly focused on science as well as liberal in politics. She and I have fought many battles together and she is someone I would trust with my life….so I decided to trust her with my blog.

This is her Facebook profile:  https://www.facebook.com/maryezaher

This is her Care2 profile: http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=577339509

And here she is on the Ning version of Gaia Community: http://anewgaia.ning.com/profile/Mari

Please congratulate her on this new position.

Rape Apologists!

I would occasionally see the term “rape apologist” thrown around by feminists and I assumed for a long time that this was merely hyperbole. What man, in his right mind, would publicly defend the act of forcing a woman to have sex with him? Instead, I figured the only proper definition of a rape apology would be a rapist saying to his victim months or years later, “I’m sorry that I violated your dignity as a fellow human being and I promise I will never do that again to anyone.”

Boy was I mistaken! Continue reading