Primitive religious thinking (e.g., theism) invariably assumes the God is a thinking, emotional supernatural intelligence. Once this idea takes hold then it is only natural that individuals and more dangerously, associations of individuals, start believing that God is "on their side" in the myriad conflicts that arise between countries, movements, religions, etc. Because the other side is against God it is OK to annihilate (or at least suppress) them. Some lines of (erroneous) thought even assert the God must be defended. Primitive religious thinking generally asserts that "Heaven" after death is the goal of life. If "defending" God against the infidels hastens one's ascendancy into Heaven so much the better.
This kind of thinking is dangerous nonsense. If the nature of God does not host anthropomorphic thinking/emotion (which it does not) then the a 'primitive' religion's entire worldview rests on faulty foundations. The whole of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism becomes suspect.
Here is an abbreviated list of erroneous ideas, which often result in bad consequences and decisions, that arise from theism:
- Believing in the efficacy of, the aims of, and the methods of Terrorism in the name of God.
- Subscribing to fundamentalism and scriptural literalism with its very bad effects on women and free thinking in general.
- Belief that it is up to God, and God alone, to control the population of human beings, which includes regulating the birth rate.
- Belief that birth control, including causing an embryo to fail implantation within the womb, is a 'sin'.
- Belief that God controls everything including circumstances that lead to climate change, which implies that human interventions to steer the future course of events and circumstances are futile.
- Belief in the reality of Heaven and Hell.
- Belief that the goal of human life is to reach Heaven.
- Belief that there will be an 'end times' and humanity must prepare for it (e.g., the ideology of ISIS).
- Belief that scriptural assertions, even those that are obviously ancient myth, should override the findings of science.
- Belief that God 'listens' to prayers and confers favors to practitioners of praying.
In the realm of Christianity, evangelicalism is afflicted with scriptural literalism, which rapidly leads believers down an incorrect path. What defines evangelicalism?
- Biblicism: a high regard for the Bible
- Crucicentrism: a focus on Jesus’s crucifixion and its saving effects
- Conversionism: a belief that humans need to be converted
- Activism: the belief that faith should influence one’s public life
A similar set of criteria put forth by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) are:
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.
Only those who strongly agree with each of those statements should be considered “evangelical by belief,” according to the NAE.
Obviously, Christian evangelicalism is exclusionary. Virtually every other religion is excluded as well as intelligent creatures that are not human (e.g., on other planets).
In the realm of Islam, intolerance against strictly interpreted reading of the Koran, which is also scriptural literalism, leads to the horror of 'true believers' that kill to 'defend God' and to go to 'heaven'.
Scriptural literalism is primitive and dangerous thinking by highly motivated but fooled-by-scripture individuals that have turned away from nature as a guide. It is probably the root cause in the very bad decision making of the science denying climate change deniers in the US Congress: a current list.
Examples -- Dangerous Political Thinking
Paul Broun -- Creationist, Evolution Denier, Big Bang Denier
There are very primitive ideas that having a surprisingly strong foothold in the general population. These ideas are exemplified by the thinking of Paul Collins Broun, Jr. (born 1946) who was (or is) a U.S. congressional representative for Georgia's 10th district, Serving since 2007, he is (or was) a member of the republican Tea Party caucus. In February 2012, Broun announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 to fill the seat of retiring republican, Saxby Chambliss. Broun publicly stated that, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” In addition, Broun also asserts that the world is less than 9000 years old and was created in six literal days. Shockingly Broun has a post on the U.S. House Science Committee. Luckily, Georgia's population at large is acquiring the average belief system of its big metropolitan city, Atlanta, and Broun was defeated.
These ideas are dangerous to humanity's advancement. Why? Because they spread extreme ignorance, dangerous fanaticism, and unwavering rigidity. If this kind of Taliban-esque thinking were to gain a foothold, the children of first world countries would spend their days memorizing the bible or the Koran, as they do in large swaths of the middle east. Studying science would be restricted to subjects that do not conflict with the holy book myths. Restriction would be supplemented with punishment -- and the whole paradigm would become an oppressive theocracy founded on nonsense.
When logical thought is replaced with unthinking regurgitation, intolerance of other's views becomes certainty. These are the effects of dangerous erroneous thinking. When religiously oriented thinking is directed by scientific knowledge the opportunity to stray far from the truth declines precipitously. When religious philosophy strays from nature's guidance bad side effects are guaranteed to occur. Some can be very bad...
Jim Inhofe-- Science Denier In Power
Jim Inhofe is the senior United States senator from Oklahoma and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1994, he was the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and was its chairman from 2003 to 2007, then regained the chairmanship in January 2015. Inhofe served eight years as the United States representative for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district before his election to the Senate in 1994 and also previously served as both an Oklahoma state representative and senator.
Climate Change is a Hoax Says Chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment Seriously ????
Since 2003, when he was first elected Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe has been the foremost Republican promoting arguments for climate change denial in the global warming controversy. He famously said in the Senate that global warming is a hoax, and has invited contrarians to testify in Committee hearings, and spread his views via the Committee website run by Marc Morano, and through his access to conservative media. In 2012, Inhofe's The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future was published by WorldNetDaily Books, presenting his global warming conspiracy theory. He said that, because "God's still up there", the "arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous." However, he says he appreciates that this does not win arguments, and he has "never pointed to Scriptures in a debate, because I know this would discredit me." His opposition to climate action is as much based on concerns about over-regulation of businesses, and he has shown ability to work with his Senate opponents on other issues: in 2003 he co-sponsored legislation to protect the Kemp's ridley sea turtle.
As Environment and Public Works chairman, Inhofe made a two hour long Senate Floor speech on July 28, 2003 in the context of discussions on the McCain-Lieberman Bill. He said he was "going to expose the most powerful, most highly financed lobby in Washington, the far left environmental extremists", and laid out in detail his opposition to attribution of recent climate change to humans, using the word "hoax" four times including the statement that he had "offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax", and his conclusion expressing his belief that "manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". He supported what he called "sound science" with citations from scientists; contrarians including Patrick Michaels, Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen and Sallie Baliunas as well as some mainstream scientists. Two of these, Tom Wigley and Stephen Schneider, later issued statements that Inhofe had misrepresented their work.
On July 29, the day after his Senate speech, Inhofe chaired an Environment and Public Works hearing with contrarian views represented by Baliunas and David Legates, and praised their "1,000-year climate study", then involved in the Soon and Baliunas controversy, as "a powerful new work of science". Against them, Michael E. Mann defended mainstream science and specifically his work which they and the Bush administration disputed in the hockey stick controversy. During the hearing Senator Jim Jeffordsread out an email from Hans von Storch saying he had resigned as editor in chief of the journal which had published the Soon and Baliunas paper, as the peer-review had "failed to detect significant methodological flaws in the paper" and the critique published by Mann and colleagues was valid.
In a continuation of these themes, Inhofe had a 20-page brochure published under the Seal of the United States Senate reiterating his "hoax" statement, comparing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to a "Soviet style trial", and in a section headed "The IPCC Plays Hockey" he attacked what he called "Mann's flawed, limited research." The brochure restated themes from Inhofe's Senate speech, and in December 2003 he distributed copies of it in Milan at a meeting discussing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where he met "green activists" with posters quoting him as saying that global warming "is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". He signed a poster for them, and thanked them for quoting him correctly. In an October 2004 Senate speech he said "Global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. It was true when I said it before, and it remains true today. Perhaps what has made this hoax so effective is that we hear over and over that the science is settled and there is a consensus that, unless we fundamentally change our way of life by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, we will cause catastrophic global warming. This is simply a false statement." In January 2005 Inhofe toldBloomberg News that global warming was "the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state", and that carbon dioxide would not be restricted by the Clear Skies Act of 2003. In a Senate Floor "update", he extended his argument against Mann's work by extensively citing Michael Crichton's fictional thriller, State of Fear, mistakenly describing Crichton as a "scientist". On August 28, 2005, at Inhofe's invitation, Crichton appeared as an expert witness at a hearing on climate change, disputing Mann's work.
In The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney stated in 2006 that Inhofe "politicizes and misuses the science of climate change". During a heat wave in July 2006, Inhofe said to the Tulsa World newspaper that the environmentalist movement reminded him of "the Third Reich, the Big Lie", as "You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their strategy."
In a September 2006 Senate speech, Inhofe argued that the threat of global warming was exaggerated by "the media, Hollywood elites and our pop culture". He said that in the 1960s the media had switched from warning of global warming to warning of global cooling and a coming ice age, then in the 1970s had returned to warming to promote "climate change fears". In February 2007 he told Fox News that mainstream science increasingly attributed climate change to natural causes, and only "those individuals on the far left, such as Hollywood liberals and the United Nations" opposed this.
In 2006, Inhofe introduced Senate Amendment 4682 with Kit Bond (R-MO), which would have modified oversight responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers. The League of Conservation Voters, an environmentalist group, said analyses for corps projects "have been manipulated to favor large-scale projects that harm the environment." During the 109th Congress, Inhofe voted to increase offshore oil drilling, to include provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the House Budget Amendment, and to deny funding for both low-income energy assistance and environmental stewardship, citing heavy costs and unproven programs.
In May 2009 he gave support to the idea that black carbon is a significant contributor to global warming.
James Inhofe has been a recipient of monies from the fossil fuel industry. For example: "Exxon’s beneficiaries in Congress include the Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe, who called global warming a hoax, and who has received $20,500 since 2007, according to the Dirty Energy Money database maintained by Oil Change International."  
Although a seeming aberration of rationality, James's attitudes have plenty of implicit support:
Global Warming Doubts Spur Push to Block Science Standards
By JONATHAN MATTISE, ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Feb 26, 2016, 4:13 PM ET
Doubt over man's contribution to global warming, particularly through burning coal for power, is fueling a push by West Virginia lawmakers to block new science standards in schools.
In a state defined by a coal industry that is now on life support, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted 73-20 on Friday to delay the new science standards related to Common Core.
Discussion on the measure Thursday focused on concerns, largely by coal proponents, that teaching the standards about global warming would follow a "political agenda" and an "ideology."
The vast majority of peer-reviewed studies, science organizations and climate scientists say global warming stems largely from manmade sources. A major source of carbon emissions is burning coal.
"In an energy-producing state, it's a concern to me that we are teaching our kids, potentially, that we are doing immoral things here in order to make a living in our state," said Del. Jim Butler, R-Mason.
The science standards, set to take effect July 1, would be blocked for at least a year and existing standards would remain in their place. The measure next heads to the GOP-controlled Senate, where the education chairman says he has no issue with the bill.
"As it stands right now, I have no problems with it at all," said Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston. "I'm going to work it and send it right through."
It's unclear how the full Senate would act on the proposal.
In April 2015, the state Board of Education made some changes to the standards that global warming doubters favored; for example, adding "natural forces" to the list of climate-change debate topics, which already included greenhouse gases; human changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases; and relevant laws and treaties.
Climate change only appears in a handful of places in the standards. In one example, ninth-graders are tasked with analyzing "geoscience data and the results from the global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems."
The full bill passed Friday also would change standards for other subject areas. Experts appointed by the House speaker and Senate president would suggest new math and English standards to be put in place by the 2017-18 school year.
Last year, the Board of Education stripped its Common Core-related standards for math and English and replaced them. But some lawmakers say the new standards still resemble Common Core too closely.
Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the state shouldn't keep changing its educational standards year after year.
He also criticized lawmakers for the change on the science standards.
"Those are things that our educators should be making those decisions on, as opposed to somebody because of a belief they have," Tomblin said.
Some delegates said it would be dangerous to start limiting the information presented to students by blocking the science standards.
"It's a bigger world than just West Virginia that many of these students are going to live in," said Del. Dave Perry, D-Fayette.
The Catholic Church's Outdated and Wrong Ideas put it in a bind
(CNN) Zika-infected mosquitoes aren't just causing medical problems, they're creating a theological conundrum for the Roman Catholic Church, according to priests and other experts.
The church has long forbidden nearly every form of birth control, but health officials in some Latin American countries have advised women not to get pregnant, because the virus has been linked to an incurable and often devastating neurological birth defect.
"I've never seen this advice before, and when you hear it, you think, 'What are the bishops going to do?'" said the Rev. John Paris, a bioethicist and Catholic priest at Boston College.
"It's going to present a lot of problems for the bishops to sort out," echoed Daniel Ramirez, an assistant professor of history and American culture at the University of Michigan and an expert on Latin American religious culture.
"They're going to have to really thread a fine theological needle here," he added.
Differing views on Catholicism and birth control
It's not entirely clear what the chances are that a pregnant woman who contracts Zika will have a baby with microcephaly. Babies with the defect have small heads and abnormal brain growth and often have developmental delays, seizures, problems with movement and speech, and other issues.
A baby who has microcephaly in Recife, Brazil.
According to the Brazil Ministry of Health, from November 8 through January 30, 404 babies were born with microcephaly, an unusually high number. Seventeen of these cases have been linked to Zika. Authorities are investigating another 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly.
Colombian officials said they calculate that during the course of the current Zika epidemic, 500 newborns will be born with microcephaly, and 500 newborns will have a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
In December, authorities in Brazil urged women not to get pregnant. Then last month came the warning from Colombia to delay pregnancy until July. Then in an interview, a health official in El Salvador recommended that women "try to avoid getting pregnant this year and the next."
Does this mean couples in these largely Catholic countries should abstain from sex for two years? Or should they use so-called "natural family planning"? The method, which involves a woman monitoring her basal body temperature and vaginal secretions to avoid having sex at fertile times of the month, has a 25% failure rate, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Or, because of Zika, should couples use more effective methods of birth control?
So far, the church hierarchy has remained silent on these questions.
The Catholic catechism states that besides "natural family planning," anything else that works to "'render procreation impossible' is intrinsically evil."
The Rev. Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that means birth control is wrong no matter what. "That prohibition doesn't change based on circumstances," he said. "So couples have a responsibility to live according to the church's teachings in whatever circumstances they find themselves."
But other priests don't see it that way.
"The polemical approach, that contraception is devious or demonic in origin or the smoke of Satan, may ultimately not be the best pastoral approach," said the Rev. James Bretzke, a professor of theology at Boston College.
He said in the face of such consequences -- in this case, a baby who could suffer greatly -- he thinks the church might not be so hard line, especially under the leadership of Pope Francis, who has taken a more merciful stance on many social issues from abortion to homosexuality and is himself from South America, where Zika has taken such a heavy toll.
"In Catholic Church teaching, some would say it would be acceptable to try to prevent conception in cases like this," Bretzke said.
Paris, the bioethicist, agreed that extenuating circumstances call for more nuanced approaches. "In the older world, you couldn't eat meat on Friday, but if you were starving and meat was the only food available, of course you would eat meat," he said.
Or consider German families who in the aftermath of World War II stole coal, he said. "The Bible says 'thou shalt not steal,' but is it wrong for a father to go get a bucket of coal to keep his family from freezing to death? The answer is no, of course not," Paris said.
The church's next steps
Representatives of the Latin American Bishops Council did not respond to inquiries from CNN. Pavone said he expects the bishops will at some point issue a statement instructing Catholics not to use "artificial" birth control.
But Bretzke and Paris, who like Pope Francis are Jesuits, said they think the church will likely remain silent on the issue. "It'll be interesting to see whether and how Catholic leaders in these countries weigh in," Bretzke said.
Ramirez, the historian from the University of Michigan, noted that practically speaking, it might not matter. As in the United States, many Catholics in Latin America don't follow the church's advice on birth control anyway. According to a survey by the Spanish-language television network Univision, 88% of Mexicans, 91% of Colombians and 93% of Brazilians support the use of contraceptives.
Ramirez said he thinks the Catholic Church might weigh in on Zika and birth control, perhaps at the highest level. By the end of next month, Pope Francis is expected to deliver an apostolic exhortation on family life. His report will take into consideration recommendations from bishops around the world, who discussed such issues in a synod, or meeting, in Rome last fall.
"I think the situation with Zika might cause the Vatican to add a couple of caveats to whatever document is coming out on the synod," Ramirez said. "And there will be some leeway in the Francisco era for a more nuanced approach to the contraception question."
He said he thinks the approach will consider the unprecedented situation that Zika presents.
"I think the message will be that whatever you as married Catholics decide to do, we will walk with you," he said. "That we'll encourage you to follow the church's precepts, but when you don't, we will still love and accept you."
Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer
Published: March 31, 2006
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.
And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
Because it is the most scientifically rigorous investigation of whether prayer can heal illness, the study, begun almost a decade ago and involving more than 1,800 patients, has for years been the subject of speculation.
The question has been a contentious one among researchers. Proponents have argued that prayer is perhaps the most deeply human response to disease, and that it may relieve suffering by some mechanism that is not yet understood. Skeptics have contended that studying prayer is a waste of money and that it presupposes supernatural intervention, putting it by definition beyond the reach of science.
At least 10 studies of the effects of prayer have been carried out in the last six years, with mixed results. The new study was intended to overcome flaws in the earlier investigations. The report was scheduled to appear in The American Heart Journal next week, but the journal's publisher released it online yesterday.
In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer. But the results, they said, raised questions about how and whether patients should be told that prayers were being offered for them.
"One conclusion from this is that the role of awareness of prayer should be studied further," said Dr. Charles Bethea, a cardiologist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City and a co-author of the study.
Other experts said the study underscored the question of whether prayer was an appropriate subject for scientific study.
"The problem with studying religion scientifically is that you do violence to the phenomenon by reducing it to basic elements that can be quantified, and that makes for bad science and bad religion," said Dr. Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia and author of a forthcoming book, "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine."
The study cost $2.4 million, and most of the money came from the John Templeton Foundation, which supports research into spirituality. The government has spent more than $2.3 million on prayer research since 2000.
Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a co-author of the report, said the study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends.
Working in a large medical center like Mayo, Mr. Marek said, "You hear tons of stories about the power of prayer, and I don't doubt them."
In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.
The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.
The researchers asked the members of three congregations — St. Paul's Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City — to deliver the prayers, using the patients' first names and the first initials of their last names.
The congregations were told that they could pray in their own ways, but they were instructed to include the phrase, "for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."
Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.
In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.
"It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?" Dr. Bethea said.
The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.
One reason the study was so widely anticipated was that it was led by Dr. Benson, who in his work has emphasized the soothing power of personal prayer and meditation.
At least one earlier study found lower complication rates in patients who received intercessory prayers; others found no difference. A 1997 study at the University of New Mexico, involving 40 alcoholics in rehabilitation, found that the men and women who knew they were being prayed for actually fared worse.
The new study was rigorously designed to avoid problems like the ones that came up in the earlier studies. But experts said the study could not overcome perhaps the largest obstacle to prayer study: the unknown amount of prayer each person received from friends, families, and congregations around the world who pray daily for the sick and dying.
Bob Barth, the spiritual director of Silent Unity, the Missouri prayer ministry, said the findings would not affect the ministry's mission.
"A person of faith would say that this study is interesting," Mr. Barth said, "but we've been praying a long time and we've seen prayer work, we know it works, and the research on prayer and spirituality is just getting started."
- VITAL SIGNS: PATTERNS; A Prayer for the Heart Patient: Does It Help? (July 26, 2005)
- Can Prayers Heal? Critics Say Studies Go Past Science's Reach (October 10, 2004)
- Supreme Court Roundup; Considering Right to Deny Job to an Applicant at Risk (October 30, 2001)
- CASES; The Residue Of Faith And Fury (June 12, 2001)
- The Raving Atheist
April 1, 21:43 PM AM
"Prayer doesn't help heal heart bypass patients, concludes a $2.4 million study to be published in The American Heart Journal next week. I covered this issue a few years back after Duke Medical Center study reached the same conclusion regarding prayer's ..."
- Political Animal
March 31, 23:49 PM AM
"HIGH STAKES TESTING....I guess everyone's heard the news about the new prayer study, right? A team of researchers asked several church congregations to pray for heart surgery patients at six different hospitals and then tracked how well they recovered fr ..."
- Health business blog
March 31, 16:32 PM AM
"Doesn't look like prayer will be a covered benefit From the New York Times (Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer) Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and ..."
- Ezra Klein
March 31, 15:01 PM AM
"Depressing day in medical news, as not only have the studies showing beneficial cardiovascular impacts from light drinking been debunked, but those showing health improvements from prayer bit the dust as well. West Wing watchers will remember a storylin ..."
- Advice Goddess Blog
March 31, 8:46 AM
"The Powerlessness Of PrayerMean Amy must break all you "belieivers" yet another bit of bad news. When people say their prayers are with you, they mean well, but it's not going to do a damn thing for whatever the problem is. Benedict Carey writes in The ..."
- Rhosgobel: Radagast's home
March 31, 4:15 AM
"A New York Times article started off with a sentence that should come as no surprise to most skeptical thinkers:"Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has fo ..."