Friday, November 26, 2010

The Bible Problem - Short Version

I wrote this in response to a theist making the assertion that we don't need God to prove himself to us because we have the Bible.  I was so happy with it that I figured I would share it here as well, slightly edited to make contextual sense.

The fundamental flaw with the Bible is when it is considered the official record of who and what God is.  First, the reports within the Bible are conflicting and contradictory; Second, the authorship of virtually every word of text is questionable (at best, and it is even mentioned in the Bible itself that forgeries of some letters and books do exist), and was most certainly written by humans; Third, the Bible in it's current form was decided on by a committee called the Council of Nicaea, made up also of only humans, who literally picked and chose which documents would be considered 'canon' and which ones would not - this is particularly interesting because there are several 'scriptures' which are referenced in the Bible but which no longer exist.

Finally, there is absolutely no empirical, repeatable way for any of us to determine the difference between 'inspired' and 'non-inspired' text, and I challenge anyone to explain just how it can be done. We simply have to believe that nobody has made any mistakes, nobody has knowingly changed the text (ahem, King James Version, ahem), and nobody has kept hidden any useful or important information (such as the aforementioned 'missing scriptures').

Can we have faith in the Bible regardless of all of this? Of course we can, but who the heck would want to? Even if we take it on faith that the book is completely and utterly infallible, we then have to contend with a God who condones rape, slavery, and other atrocities. How is this better than having no God at all?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Atheist Experience Blog: Media fawning over Papal claptrap

Is is just me, or does pretty much every news story about the Pope's latest emanations annoy you, too? No matter what he has to say, the media is there like hungry puppies eager to lap it up and puke it out in your local newspaper or TV news program. There's usually a whole series of puff pieces trying to add drama to his latest moral pronouncement. Rarely is there any real balance to the stories and the Pope is held up as some great expert on whatever he chooses to blather about.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Clothes Make The Man

Suppose for a moment that you are a high-level Microsoft technician.  You understand servers, networking, clients, backups, etc. and you have excellent customer relation skills.  You are well-spoken, well-educated, confident, and competent.

What difference does it make what type of clothes you are wearing?  Does your outfit somehow change your skill set, or your ability to do your job?

If someone does not like the way you are dressed, are they justified in assuming that you are somehow incompetent?

Is comfort or personal preference a factor at all?  If not, why the hell not?

Someone might argue that your clothes tell people certain things about you.  If this is true, then choosing to wear particular clothes in order to send a particular 'message' would be considered dishonest, wouldn't it?  On the other hand, someone who wears the clothes that they prefer or that they consider to be 'comfortable' is the one person being honest (and is the person who is most likely to be chastised for it).

How in the world does what I'm wearing affect anyone else besides me?  Yeah, you have to look at me, but it isn't as if I'm wearing a rotting corpse.  If I'm working on your computer wearing blue jeans rather than slacks, what possible impact can it have on anyone else?  If the answer is just that 'people expect certain things' then why should they expect those things, and does it make any sense to expect them?

Even if we were to accept that there are 'objective standards' for fashion, what the heck are they?  Who is the 'authority' for these standards?  If the individual person is the authority, then does anyone have the right to expect anyone else to conform to their particular standards?

This whole idea, that clothes determine the way in which you are judged by others, really hearkens back to the class systems of human history.  Throughout history, the rich have differentiated themselves from the poor primarily through extravagant or expensive clothing.  The real reason for this, as we understand it now, was to KEEP the class warfare at the forefront - if rich people looked the same as poor people, they might stop being seen as superior and start being seen as equals!

The thing is, though, that this is the age when we get to question the stuff that we've "always done".  We live in a time when homosexuals can be honest with themselves and others without fear of imprisonment or execution (Well, mostly anyway).  We live in a time when virtually any desired information is available to the general public (not just specific groups of people).  Most importantly, we live in a time when questioning the status quo is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

This may seem like a minor issue to some people.  I've been told things like 'Why can't you just accept it as the way things are?'

The answer, of course, is that it doesn't matter if that's the way things are.  As Matt Dillahunty likes to say, "I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible", and I feel the exact same way.  I see 'fashion' as a holdover idea from the Aristocracy which should not be used to judge the character or competence of ANYONE.

Deconstructing the Bible: Jewish Dietary Laws

The dietary laws in the Old Testament are often said to have been God sharing important knowledge with mankind, and that science has proven these laws to be useful and healthy.  I contend that anyone who says this does not actually know what the dietary laws are.  I will not outline each and every law, but I want to touch on the ones that don't seem to make sense.

Deuteronomy 14

14:6 "You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud."
  • Except camels, rabbits, or 'hyrax', or pigs (14:7-8)
14:9-10 "Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. 10 But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean."

14:11-18 "You may eat any clean bird. 12 But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 13 the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, 14 any kind of raven, 15 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 16 the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, 17 the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, 18 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat."

  • Aside from the fact that they probably don't taste very good, there is little to no reason for this entire section to account for these particular restrictions.

14:19-20 "All flying insects are unclean to you; do not eat them. 20 But any winged creature that is clean you may eat."

  • Considering the fact that there are cultures which eat insects on a regular basis (and have survived to tell the tale) and we can even determine the nutritional value of many insects (check this out), this law seems entirely baseless.
14:21 "Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your God.

  • Nice, it's unclean for you but it will be just fine for foreigners.  Interesting situation, because this makes perfect sense if the dietary laws are simply in place for the act of obedience; but if the laws are supposed to reflect actual health/hygiene issues, then God obviously does not love 'foreigners' as much as the Israelites, thus negating the idea of an all-loving God (and stacking up further evidence that 'God is a dick')

   Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk."

  • I have not been able to find any reason for the prohibition against 'Lamb and Milk stew'.
  • The Jewish faith took this commandment and expanded it to eventually become "You shall not cook meat with milk".  Again, even with this interpretation, there is no rationality for the law.

Leviticus 11

Lots of repetition from Deuteronomy, but a few new ideas introduced.

11:24-25 "‘You will make yourselves unclean by these; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening. 25 Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening."

  • If this is supposed to reflect the same things that science has taught us, what part of science tells us that any negative consequence of touching a dead carcass is only dangerous for a few hours, or that washing your clothes makes it all right?

11:31-32 "Of all those that move along the ground, these are unclean for you. Whoever touches them when they are dead will be unclean till evening. 32 When one of them dies and falls on something, that article, whatever its use, will be unclean, whether it is made of wood, cloth, hide or sackcloth. Put it in water; it will be unclean till evening, and then it will be clean."

  • If we are to believe that 'unclean' things have actual health risks or dangers, we must also accept that no matter what that risk is (anthrax, polio, salmonella, bubonic plague) we just need to submerge it in water for a little while to make it 'clean'.

Examples of stuff you aren't allowed to eat:  Bear, Catfish, Eel, Lobster, Prawns, Scallops, Shark, Squid, Squirrel, Snake, Rabbit, Snail, Pork.  Science tells us that these foods are not inherently harmful (In fact I happen like several of these) - pork was once considered 'less healthy', mainly due to the fact that they were often fed garbage instead of nutritional sustenance; and even then we just had to make sure that we cooked it enough.  Surely an all-knowing God could simply explain "Don't feed crap to your pigs and go ahead and cook the heck out of it, and it'll be just fine".  I mean, *I* just did it and I'm nowhere near all-knowing...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why didn't Jesus write the Bible?

Got an interesting question - the Bible is generally considered 'divinely inspired' or whatever, and obviously we can all agree that God did not directly write it.  My question is this:  Why didn't Jesus write anything himself?  We have stories which were allegedly written about him and/or his followers, but no letters or love notes or postcards from the man himself.  He was obviously literate, as he read the 'scriptures' all the time.  I realize that this doesn't mean that he could write, but if he was God that would be a silly argument.  

This is sort of an extension to the idea that a perfect 'God' would be able to write a Bible that would never need translation/interpretation/faith (because he's perfect), but it goes a little deeper - if I am right about the Bible being a collection of stories, myths, and constant re-writes, then why wouldn't anyone have bothered to just make up a story coming from Jesus himself?  It is possible that such writings DID exist prior to the Council of Nicaea, and they just got thrown out of the finished product.  If this is the case, though, then Christians will only say 'The holy spirit knew that it was a forgery, so it led the council members to reject it', which might even be plausible - if we actually had all of the documents that were available at the time.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Need More Debate

I don't know if there just isn't enough debate, or if we just don't pay enough attention to it, but either way there needs to be a change.

Have you ever seen a debate over, for example, gay marriage?  I've heard people speak against it, and I've heard it mentioned briefly in debates, but I have yet to see a true debate on the matter.  Perhaps the reason is because of how little actual data the anti-gay marriage side has (aside from bible verses, which should not be used when discussing a legal matter such as marriage).

In general, though, what's the deal?  Internet forums, though you have to dig to find them, tend to contain excellent, well-written assertions and responses.  However, these are obscure, long, and wordy, and are not feasible to present to a mass audience, such as through television.  Televised or recorded debates provide bite-sized chunks of useful information with the potential to reach a far larger audience.  These days, however, televised 'debates' tend to focus only on certain issues over others (for example, office elections over bill/law elections, government activities, etc.).

If anyone keeps up with debates on a regular basis, please let me know in the comments, links would be awesome :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Atheist Experience™: My God is an awesome God a whiny little bitch

The Atheist Experience™: My God is an awesome God a whiny little bitch

Excellent email and response, the argument from the theist is a little 'different'. Good read, and the comments are pretty great too.

The Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth: A Critical Perspective (Part 1)

This series of blog posts is in response to a common Christian argument that the teachings of Jesus are good and noble and beneficial to mankind.  I will be exploring the character of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the authors of the 'Gospels':  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  I am of the opinion that anything beyond John can be safely ignored for the purposes of this perspective, as those books refer to the followers of Jesus and not Jesus himself.  Also, any mention or 'appearance' of the character of Jesus outside of these 4 books tends to be objectively different from the Jesus of the 'Gospels'.  Besides, the teachings of Jesus in 'his own words' should be more than sufficient for the purposes of this series.

I will not be going to any outside sources for clarification of any point - this is purely about the teachings of Jesus and whether or not they are useful and beneficial now.  The quoted material is taken from the 'New International Version (NIV)' at

 12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
   the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
   Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
   a light has dawned.”[f]
 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  Matthew 4:12-17
Matthew 4:17 - Jesus begins preaching "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near".
 1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,2 and he began to teach them. 
    He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:1-12
Jesus starts out the 'Sermon on the Mount' with the 'beatitudes' (Matthew 5:3-11) which seem to me to be pretty much just pandering to a bunch of minority groups.  It may have some self-esteem value, but that would be the limit.
 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
   14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:13-16
He goes on to offer some strange and cryptic descriptions of the 'believers' that he is preaching to (5:13-16) - I actually do agree with the initial message in this section (verse 15), as it seems to promote the idea of 'not hiding who you are'.  This seems to be good advice, except that the next verse semi-invalidates the usefulness, because it insists that everyone give God credit for your 'good deeds'.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
   23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
   25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.  Matthew 5:21-26
Verses 21-25 show a very strange concept, which amounts to this:  If you think about breaking a law, you are subject to the same punishment as if you had already broken the law.  I don't think that this can be applied to modern society.  There does seem to be a small moral principle in verses 23-24 to reconcile qualms with people, the only useful nugget of advice in this section.
   27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.  Matthew 5:27-30
This section of the Sermon is one that I have had problems with for a very long time.  It is certainly an extension of the principle outlined in verses 21-25, but is applied it to the commandments regarding adultery.  It is not clear if Jesus means these things literally or figuratively, but there have certainly been cases where people have taken some of them literally.  It could even be argued that this is a similar argument to the one which Andrea Yates used to justify killing her children:  it is better for her to go to Hell if her kids are guaranteed to go to Heaven.
    31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  Matthew 5:31-32
This is one of the sillier notions presented in the Sermon:  that someone completely uninvolved can be considered guilty of a particular sin.  Bear in mind that the word 'anyone' is used each time, and seems to leave no room for extenuating circumstances.  This is also very gender-biased, which is not considered a valid practice.
    33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.  Matthew 5:33-36
I can make no sense of this idea at all.  At first, it seems like he is saying "Don't bother offering some kind of qualifier, such as 'I swear by my mother's grave that I will...' but just say 'Yes, I will ....'".  If this is the intended teaching, then I completely agree and would argue that such qualifiers are meaningless anyway.  However, the second half of verse 37 is peculiar - he says that somehow doing so 'comes from the evil one', which really doesn't make any sense.
    38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  Matthew 5:38-42
This section at first seems very innocuous and peace-loving, which would certainly be practical in most cases. However, it is very specific about the fact that there is no limitation or point at which you are no longer expected to comply.  Examples would be:  Do you allow someone to rape you?  Also, are you morally obligated to give money to literally anyone who asks?
     43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Matthew 5:43-47
 This may be the only innocuous advice given in the entire chapter:  Be the bigger person and don't worry about hating people.  Good advice!
 1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
   2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:1-4
Ignoring the fact that this directly contradicts Matthew 5:16, it actually does seem like good advice:  Give to the needy, but don't prop yourself up because of it.
Verses 5-15 are regarding prayer, which has already been shown to be as effective as chance, so we'll skip past them.  Verses 16-18 are similarly about religious ritual.
    19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
   22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c]your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
   24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  Matthew 6:19-24
This seem to indicate that money should not be your focus, which is good advice.  However, it does not seem to allow for the 'storing up of treasures' in order to provide for your family or your future descendants.
    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:25-34
If verses 25-34 sum up to mean 'Don't worry so much' it's a huge mouthful to do so.  Also, this section could lead some people to stop planning for the future, which would not be considered a positive result.
 1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
   3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5
Verses 1-2 seem to be saying that, if you judge someone against a particular measure, you will yourself be judged against the same measure.  "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" makes more sense written as "Don't bother judging someone unless you can pass scrutiny in the same area".  This would only seem to apply, however, in situations where you are guilty of whatever you are 'accusing' another person of.  An example might be:  I can't judge a thief if I have ever been a thief myself.  The logical extension to this is:  I can judge a murderer because I have never murdered anyone.
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.  Matthew 7:6
 I don't understand the purpose of this teaching.
    7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
   9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  Matthew 7:7-12
This section seems to reiterate the idea of being generous to those who ask, and to not be a dick about it.  Pretty good advice, all things considered.
     13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14
This strongly reminds me of what I call the 'diamond effect':  call something rare and valuable, and people will pay more for it on that basis alone, or perhaps work harder towards it.
    15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  Matthew 7:15-20
Unfortunately, this teaching has been discredited time and time again.  High-profile religious leaders have been found to be guilty of a variety of crimes throughout recorded history.  For example, would a homeless shelter built by Kent Hovind be considered 'bad fruit', even if it is completely legitimate?

This marks the end of the 'teachings' given in the Sermon on the Mount.  The next post in this series will continue through the book of Matthew and will start to involve the 'parables' that Jesus uses to convey his ideas.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

India's version of the JREF Prize - Over $110,000USD for Proof of the Paranormal

Original Story

This is absolutely tremendous.  This may mark a new trend in skepticism, and it makes me wonder:  What happens when every country in the world has at least one organization doing this, every one using the same standards?  What happens when every single supernatural claim is met with "Oh really?  Go get your million(or whatever) dollars(or whatever)!"

This seems like a pretty big deal to me, and I am anxious to see what they report in the future.  So far, there has yet to be a single applicant.  Nice to see that people all over the globe are getting tired of the BS.

Minnesota Citizens May Lose on Gay Marriage

The Minnesota Family Council is pushing for a statewide referendum in 2012 to place a ban on same-sex marriage.

GLBT - Constitutional ban on gay marriage hits the fast track -

If it passes, Minnesota Republicans will have proven that promoting discrimination, division, and hate is more important than working on solving problems.  It disgusts me that so many people are so quick to disparage same-sex marriage when there has never been a single good reason to do so.

It seems to me that all of the arguments against same-sex marriage tend to boil down to religious beliefs.  Doesn't that make a ban like this un-Constitutional based on the protection of the First Amendment?  Perhaps we will have a 'Kitzmiller v. Dover'-esque thrashing of BS with evidence.  I can dream, can't I?  *EDIT:  There may be reasons why this doesn't happen more often - in Iowa, three state Supreme Court justices were recently removed from office by the electorate, allegedly due to a unanimous decision ruling that the Iowa law banning same-same marriage was un-Constitutional.*

I urge everyone in Minnesota to deeply consider this referendum before casting your vote - do your homework and find out for yourself if there is any good reason to prevent same-sex marriage.  If you are against same-sex marriage solely because of your religious beliefs, that would indicate that you have no empirical or rational explanation for your position.  Do we really need more laws with no rational justification whatsoever?

Addendum:  If you are against same-sex marriage and your reasons have nothing to do with religious beliefs, I would be fascinated to hear it - let me know what they are!