pakistan, ex-muslim, atheist, death threats, blasphemy, asylum

Kubra’s Story: When Home is No Longer a Haven

” ‘The day you step foot in Pakistan, as soon as you get out from the airport we will kill you’, said my mother.” Kubra recounts her experiences as a child in a devout Shia household and the price she pays for critically confronting her religion.

Sarah Mills

Her mother threatened her with death, recounts a woman who agreed to let me refer to her as Kubra.

” ‘The day you step foot in Pakistan, as soon as you get out from the airport we will kill you’, said my mother. I had just told her that I had left Islam when she asked me to come back to Pakistan as she missed me. I had to tell her why I could not return to my home country and so she gave me this angry impetuous response.”

Kubra was born in Lahore to a conservative, devout Shia family. From a young age, she relates, Islam was the “be all and end all” of her identity.

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chaplain, atheist chaplain, Jason Heap, navy

Navy Strikes Down Application for Atheist Chaplain

“If the U.S. Navy appointed its first atheist chaplain…what could his duties as a chaplain be? Perhaps he could tell a sailor seeking spiritual solace in the face of death not to worry, he has no soul, anyway,” writes the nameless author.

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

The navy has rejected the application of Jason Heap, a doctor in theological history, who had applied for the position of atheist chaplain, The Washington Times reports.

The author of the article, conspicuously anonymous, indulges in a ‘witticism’ on the apparently paradoxical nature of the position: “If the U.S. Navy appointed its first atheist chaplain, as the organized atheists demanded (twice), what could his duties as a chaplain be? Perhaps he could tell a sailor seeking spiritual solace in the face of death not to worry, he has no soul, anyway.”

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metamemetic, psychology, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, end of fear project, diego fontanive, extremism, fundamentalism

Thinking About How We Think: Metamemetic Learning and the End of Fear

What is metamemetic learning, and could reforming the way we think combat extremism, political polarization, and irrational fears?

By Sarah Mills

It isn’t an insult to say that we, as humans, and irrespective of our innate intelligence or predilection for learning, are not inclined towards objectivity. We acquire information that shapes our behavior in a variety of ways, including operant and classical conditioning and observational learning. Our beliefs are molded by cultural values, a consequence of environmental factors, but also volatile and arbitrary in so far as they are subject to laws other than logic. Our firmest convictions are passed on through storytelling and reinforced through punishment and reward systems. Author Jag Bhalla writes, “Every culture bathes [its] children in stories to explain how the world works and to engage and educate their emotions,” transmitting social norms in the process. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt states, ‘The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor,” which is fine, if storytelling is a vehicle for logic. But this is, sadly, not always the case, as evidenced by the willingness of so many to die and kill for myths.

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atheism, logical fallacies, theism, deism

The False Equation of Atheism and Belief Without Evidence

Is it logically sound to equate a lack of belief in something for which there is no evidence with belief in it? Jonathan Edwards explores the fallacies in placing the onus upon atheism to disprove the existence of God.

By Jonathan Edwards

In much of America, an admission of atheism doesn’t make you any new friends. You may even lose friends. Nowhere is this more the case than in the Deep South, where I live. The word atheist is rarely interpreted as the innocuous rejection of conviction without evidence. To many, it literally means the rejection of all that is holy. And who wants to be friends with the devil?

Atheism, however, is simply a natural consequence of rationalism. The Atlantic’s Emma Green wrote an article entitled The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication equating the intellectual rigor of faith with atheism. The article was written several years ago, but the arguments it contains are no less pertinent today. And the fallacies and misguided premises contained therein are in no less need of addressing.

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circumcision, Iceland, genital mutilation, freedom of religion, human rights

Iceland’s Circumcision ‘Ban’ – an Attack on Religion?

Iceland’s move to ban the circumcision of young boys has attracted controversy and panic from the start. But do opponents of the bill truly grasp both its intention and implications?

By Sarah Mills

Editor

There seems to be an unsettling laissez-faire attitude concerning genital mutilation. Frank Furedi’s response to Iceland’s move to ban circumcision on young boys is not the first of its species.

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I Do, I Did, I Don’t: Getting Sound Mind out of Cognitive Dissonance

I Do, I Did, I Don’t: Getting Sound Mind out of Cognitive Dissonance

 

cognitivedissonance

By Carolyn Lueders Burica

Staff Writer

My latest favorite word phrase is “Cognitive Dissonance.” This is the internal, cerebral struggle that occurs when behavior and belief do not align with one another. For me, that misalignment came from the years-long struggle I had between believing in god versus scientific evidence to the contrary.

I was baptized into the Catholic church as a baby. Every week, my mom would bundle as many of us up as she could and we’d trudge off to church, where I was constantly being told not to misbehave or wiggle so much otherwise “god would be angry”.  And after each mass, I would ask my mom to grade my behavior for god, to see if I was that “good little girl” he demanded I be.

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