Darwin & Dawkins & Twain: Richard Dawkins to Star in Contemporary British Opera

Would you, by any chance, be interested in a story about

… “religious murder, deception, corruption, superstition, genocide, and a mysterious stranger who leads a lad away from it all to start a life of secular compassion”?

If so, try to catch Mysterious 44, a modern opera based on Mark Twain‘s unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger.

Inspired by the writings of Darwin, Twain’s story is set in 1490, a few decades after the invention of Gutenberg’s press and the start of the Renaissance. Three boys are approached by a mysterious stranger who calls himself “44″ after a wrongly-accused woman is stoned to death. Like the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the stranger sparks self-realization, and one boy steps forward to question superstition and religion.

The brand new opera, based on Twain’s incomplete book, was written by Dr. Kevin Sorbo Malone, a University of Manchester lecturer in composition. One of the stage personalities will be none other than Richard Dawkins, and we’re told that he has a singing (or speaking?) part.

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Liberty Counsel Attorney: Atheism is a Religion, So Teaching Evolution Must Be Banned

I posted yesterday about how a judge dismissed American Atheists’ lawsuit against the IRS in which AA argued that the government was “giving preferential treatment to churches and religious organizations.”

The judge threw out the suit because AA didn’t have proper standing to bring about the case. They never applied to become a church or a religious organization, the logic went, so they were never really discriminated against by the IRS. If they were, then they might be able to challenge the law.

Attorney Harry Mihet of the conservative Christian group Liberty Counsel attempted to extrapolate that explanation as far as it could go… which takes him, as expected, to absurd places.

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Redditor: My Grandfather Molested Me and My Dad Did Nothing, Preferring to Let God Sort It Out

God knows best. Who are we to second-guess Him?

That mindset, taken to its extreme, destroys lives. Here‘s a horrifying example.

As with almost all personal pseudonymous accounts on Reddit, this one isn’t verifiable. It’s worth calling attention to regardless, because the religious reasoning here is, in its own hermetic, insane way, so simple and straightforward. And certainly, millions of people think very much like this. To a true-blue believer of the Bible, of course an almighty interventionist God will, well, intervene to prevent evil — if He wills it. If not, we’ll have to grit our teeth and tough it out. God will not be questioned. Remember — mysterious ways, and all that.

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Young Cancer Patient Will Be Allowed to Use Faith-Based Treatment Instead of Life-Saving Chemotherapy

Earlier this week, I posted about Makayla Sault (below), an 11-year-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The disease is treatable with two years of tough chemotherapy and has a nearly 90% survival rate… but Makayla no longer wanted to continue the chemo and her Ojibwe/First Nations parents were more than happy to oblige, seeking out useless faith-based treatments instead.

The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Brant met with Makayla’s family this week to make a final decision on her treatment. I was hopeful they wouldn’t let her parents effectively put her life in jeopardy… but that’s exactly what they did:

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Under Pressure from the Christian Right, the Air Force May Rescind Its Ban on Proselytizing

Earlier this year, United States Air Force Academy Brigadier General Andy Armacost (below) addressed the entire faculty and told them in no uncertain terms that they could not proselytize while on duty.

It’s a rule that made perfect sense. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation explained that the regulation was “an umbrella in a tsunami of Christian fundamentalist extremism.” Just imagine you’re in the Air Force and your commanding officer began to preach the Gospel. Much like if s/he were a Christian football coach, your unofficial options would be to play along and just nod your head or disagree and prepare to be reprimanded.

Why would anyone want to rescind that rule and allow officers to proselytize to their inferiors?

Because Religious Freedom, say the people who have no idea what it’s like to be in the religious minority:

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