MANY PEOPLE WOULD RATHER DIE THAN THINK; IN FACT, MOST DO. — BERTRAND RUSSELL

Top posts of 2011

In the waning minutes of another year, I highlight the top 20 posts on this site from 2011:

  • Jan. 5: Movie review: ‘Agora’ – “Given how beautiful and reasonably-minded Hypatia is thought to have been, I felt intense anger at the end of this film that such a smart and lovely creature had to endure such a hideous death by people who thought they had God on their side. And more than that, the feeling was tinged with the thought that she probably died in real life by a much worse means than suffocation and also that countless women were burned and hung or stoned as witches because of religion and ignorance. That’s not fiction.”
  • Jan. 12: Harris on the Ten Commandments – “The need to dismiss religion in polite society still and unrelentingly presses upon us as a species, and this will continue as long as man fails to, in turn, dismiss his fear of death and the dark. “
  • Feb. 12: Camus: ‘The point is to live’ – “So, like Sisyphus, in a moment that would shake most anyone to utter despair, Mersault is happy. And here is the consummation for Mersault and for the “Return to Tipasa” quote: Mersault had lived. He had experienced good times and bad, but in both, he found peace.”
  • March 6: Why moderate religion is more bankrupt than fundamentalism – “Many, even myself, wholeheartedly agree that “love wins.” Some just don’t feel the need to summon God to make it so. As it turns out, love wins every day without him.”
  • March 11: On the genesis of life – “Perhaps every theist agrees that there is an appearance of a design, but when I consider the vast number of failed planets and potential planets in our universe through the eons, the likelihood of a planet like ours eventually arising seems quite high, and in some 12-14 billion years, so high that we should be surprised if such a planet had not eventually formed. We live in that eventuality.”
  • April 16: The gospel untruth – “It is, of course, within one’s right to believe something based on scant evidence and from a book steeped in contradictions, faulty science and math, bare bones textual evidence and stunningly primitive ethical codes. Some happily do, and all the better for them. … But even a cursory look at the case for the gospels reminds the rest of us that while Easter eggs, candy, and springtime offer nice pleasantries this time of year, the religious element ever behind the upcoming holiday was built, glorified and crowned on a now teetering house of cards.”
  • May 2: 10 basic questions for believers (with sub-questions) – “What kind of loving father demands you love him or face the fire if you don’t? What kind of loving father demands you pass spiritual tests (Job, Abraham) to show your devotion?”
  • May 13: Book review: ‘Night’ and the problem of evil – “No book that I have ever read brings these questions to the forefront with such brutal honesty. And I think it may be for that reason that The Times used the words “terrifying power” to describe this short, but seismic cattle car ride through the bowels of man’s darkest hour.”
  • June 22: Jefferson’s religion – “To say Jefferson was a Christian in the modern sense of the word, that is, that Jesus was God incarnate, rose from the dead on the third day and will judge mankind on the last day, would be a false statement to make any way you slice it. He was a Christian in this sense only: he argued that to be literally “Christ-like” (the meaning of the word itself) was the highest moral height a person could reach, and that is all. Of everything else modern Christians believe about Jesus, Jefferson rejected without compunction, and this is clear from his letters and correspondence. In the modern sense of the word, Jefferson would not be a Christian and would be bound for eternal fire based on the doctrine of today’s Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Church of Gods and Calvinists.”
  • June 30: Book review: ‘Tried by War’ – “Unlike other Lincoln biographies, which typically focus on his stance and political efforts to abolish slavery, his assassination, his humble upbringings and other topics, few, as McPherson points out, have delved specifically into Lincoln’s role as commander in chief.”
  • July 3: Response to a recent letter to the editor – “And speaking of snakes, the Bible, with its differing accounts of man’s creation in the Garden, the variant steps by which the universe was made and contradictory details about Noah’s Ark, the Ten Commandments, Christ and, indeed, the very nature of God, the good book does a fine job of disproving itself and provides not even the hint of a “reasonable explanation.”
  • Aug. 21: Book review: ‘Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society’ – “The conservative voice, often toeing the religious line, hostile to teaching evolution in the classroom, friendly to interests of corporations and investment bankers, hostile to the interests of minorities and the poor and hostile to change, is too strong in this nation, while the progressive voice, the only voice that demonstrably moves people toward ultimate utilitarianism, is too weak.”
  • Sept. 13: Gene therapy to treat cancer – “…  it’s hard to overstate how important research into cell modification, gene therapy and stem cell research could be in treating and curing some of the most destruction diseases of our time, from Lou Gehrig’s, to cancer, immune deficiencies, Parkinson’s and others, yet, most of the evangelical people in this nation are worried about protecting the interests of clusters of undifferentiated cells.”
  • Sept. 25: Biblical deconstruction I: In exordium – “The Bible, as much and probably more so than the Koran (since the Bible is older), has been the central cause of more human suffering and misery than I care to contemplate. God himself, if he existed, would be on the hook for at least 2.476 million people, not counting the flood, first-born Egyptians killed, etc. Thousands of his followers have millions more on their hands, from the Crusades, to Native Americans, to Africans dying from not having access to condoms (thanks to the Catholic church), to the Salem Witch Trials, to … it goes on.”
  • Sept. 29: Biblical deconstruction II: the garden – “Last, how moral is it that the crimes of a person from, say, the 18th century, be used to convict and imprison someone living in 2011? Yet, the errant choice of two people forever impacts the lives (and apparently the afterlifes) of every single person who has or who ever will live simply because a god in an ancient text penned by superstitious society in Palestine deems it so. Yet still, God doesn’t seem very interested in the “sins” of millions of blasphemers and worshipers of other gods that followed Adam and Eve, except of course, in the pages of the Bible. As it happens, the world outside of the Bible, the only world that matters, hasn’t heard a peep from Big Brother.”
  • Oct. 5: Biblical deconstruction III: Cain and Abel – “If God, then, is the author of reason, reason itself must be modified to also include murderous, barbarous, cruel and sadistic, scheming, as well as capriciousness, which is actually one of his least offensive attributes.”
  •  Oct. 8: Real inspiration – “Religious folks talk a lot about spiritual inspiration. Well, how about inspiration, made possible by science, that brings a deaf woman to tears?”
  • Nov. 20: No, this is not a spoof – “Has the electorate mindset shifted so much that a former establishment politician like Gingrich has to change is tone and amplify his speech to have a chance in 2012?”
  • Nov. 30: On Butler’s ‘Erewhon’ – “All things considered, then, the entire text of the book is basically a business proposal that includes some proselytizing ruminations, and hidden behind the plot is Butler’s own cunning way of dicing up elements of Victorian life with the satirical knife edge.”
  •  Dec. 23: Josephus and the historical Jesus – “Article 3 is obviously the passage that Christians pull out of context and attempt to claim this is evidence for Jesus outside of scripture. First, an observing Jew would not admit that Jesus was the Christ, much less make laudatory comments about him like: there were “ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.”
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About the Author

Jeremy Styron
Jeremy Styron
I am a newspaper editor, op-ed columnist and reporter working in the greater Knoxville area. This is a personal blog. Views expressed here are mine and mine alone.

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