Saturday, October 28, 2006

1500 species have gays?

The Oslo Natural History Museum says that a recent exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom counters the argument that homosexuality is "against nature". Homosexuality has been observed in over 1,500 species, the show organizers say. And the behavior has been well documented in over 500 of those.

The show also addresses some advantages of gay males of the animal kingdom raising young.

The museum hopes to de-mystify homosexuality in humans. "The more you know..."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Religion: not a bad meme

NY Times book reviewer Jim Holt writes an excellent and thoughtful review of "Beyond Belief" by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is an atheist and attacks religion. Author Dawkins says he isn't 100 percent sure God does not exist, but he goes about his life assuming that there is no God.

"But if you think that there must be some ultimate explanation for the improbable leaping-into-existence of the harmonious, biofriendly cosmos we find ourselves in, then the God hypothesis is at least rational to adhere to, isn't it?" says reviewer Holt.

Dawkins views ideas as memes that "reproduce" by going from person to person (brain to brain). Dawkins, who coined the term meme, claims that religion memes spread because parts of our brains "misfire". Though "Good Samaritan" acts are positive, they are an abnormal accident he feels.

Holt, in his lengthy and excellent review, makes several good points about the quality of Dawkins' reasoning. He says that Dawkins fails to comprehend how hard it is to deal with philosophical questions about religion. You may find the review better reading than the book.

Friday, October 20, 2006

British Airways suspends Christian for wearing cross

An employee of British Airways who is a Coptic Christian has been suspended for refusing to remove a short necklace with a small cross. Ironically the airline allows Muslims and Sikhs, members of other religions, to wear turbans and hijabs. Sikhs may even wear the traditional iron bangle.

The Christian employee is suing. The linked article also includes comments, like a blog. The British Airways action is being blasted, even by a self-avowed "hard-line Atheist".

Though the airline has in the past been accused of trying too hard to be politically correct, this anti-Christian action seems to be the opposite of "correct," politically or in any other way. Such discrimination has no place in the workplace.

While discrimination and persecution against Christians is not uncommon, we tend to think that it doesn't happen in "the civilized world". Guess what? It does. Sometimes it is the result of misinformation by the perpetrators. Sometimes it is purely malicious. Wherever such persecution happens, we need to combat it with facts and, when necessary, legal action.

Related links

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

UMC seeks feedback on site redesign

United Methodist Communications has been redesigning the denomination's web site, Today UMComm announced that you can take a "sneak peek" at the new site as well as provide feedback.

Access the sneak peek at; click the "sneak peek" image banner link (in the center middle of the page) to preview the site.

Following the short introductory video, select one of the links to new features. After checking out a new feature, feel free to select the "Feedback" link. UMComm is actively seeking comments in order to make the final site better meet visitors' needs when the site "goes live" in January 2007.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Evangelicals fear teens may abandon the faith

A New York Times article states that Evangelicals fear losing their teenagers. A report, which has drawn some criticism as to its statistics, projects that only 4 percent of today's teenagers will be "Bible-believing Christians" as adults.

One of the suggested factors that might result in that dire future, the article says, is a "pervasive culture of cynicism about religion." Perhaps that's a logical result of some events over the past several years that relate to religion and our society's ethics:

  • Clergy molesting children.
  • Clergy found stealing from their congregation.
  • Clergy being prosecuted for multiple affairs with church members.
  • Clergy seeming to spew hateful, hurtful language from the pulpit and for broadcast by the media.
  • Clergy causing strife within a church
  • Corporate leaders thinking nothing of harming their employees' pension funds.
  • Political leaders and candidates claiming compassion but encouraging hate.
  • Church leadership "looking the other way" and violating copyright law.
  • Churches with a General Fund in the negative by over $10,000 and with leadership refusing to even acknowledge a problem.
Each of these hopefully represents a minority of the total churches, clergy, and members. But the cumulative effect of these as either news stories or information passed by word of mouth certainly colors teens' and unchurched people's perception of Christianity and organized religion.

American business ethics used to be respected and thought of as a model for European businesses. That's pretty much an "old story" now. European business was guided by the general sense of ethics within the culture, not that of religion. In the past, America was guided by the ethics of religion; we didn't have the same cultural sense of ethics that was not attached to religion. So as the number of people "strong in the faith" declines in America, we can expect more severe ethical problems in our society.

When churches, clergy, and church members are seen to act more like any other unethical institution in the land, it's no wonder that teenagers see hypocrisy and fail to identify with the church. Yes, nobody is perfect, but perhaps we Christians should try a bit harder to "clean up our act" before we blame someone else for declines in church membership.

If the projected trend turns out to be accurate, might our future culture values look more like those of ancient Corinth? Perhaps we need another Paul to help energize us, pull us together, and turn us around (that's what repenting is all about, after all).

Blogroll changes

I have removed a couple of blogs in the list of "Methodist and other blogs" (in the right column of this page) that seem to be inactive and added 10 new ones. Check them out ... experience the viewpoints. Blog authors ("bloggers") welcome good comments, which don't have to be agree with their posting. Just be polite if you add an opposing view comment.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Religion "How to"

The WikiHow web site is a series of "how to" online manuals for tons of categories. The site bills them as "manuals that anyone can write".
In addition to information akin to manuals, there are some religion-related how-to's. Here are a few to get you started ... How to:
Although the concept is great, you'll notice some anti-religion links here too. Remember that anyone at any level of expertise and knowledge can create one of these WikiHow pages. So read and respond to these using facts and reason. If you respond to ( use the "Discuss this page" link) a WikiHow, do so without resorting to "flaming" others.
If you have a great "How to", consider adding it as a WikiHow.