Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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·         World Trade Center Successor Rises – At Last

·         Hardcore Atheists Celebrate Religious Survey, But Science Backs Belief

·         Quotes of the Week: Dennis Miller on TV Reality, Senator Harry Reid on Inside Butts




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One World Trade Center Rising Fast – At Last

The ‘Freedom’ Tower Finally Hits its Stride on the Way Up


After nine long, arduous years of legal wrangling, bureaucratic gridlock, corporatist maneuvering, and wading through the very emotionally and politically charged issues surrounding the treatment of the post 9/11 space, the much anticipated successor to the fallen World Trade Center twin towers is finally rapidly making its way up to its planned patriotic height of 1,776 feet (541 m).  Previously known as the Freedom Tower, the One World Trade Center’s foundation was not poured until 2006.  It took another two years before constructions began on its first floor below street level.  It was not until the start of this year that the building climbed above street level and construction began in earnest, and the decade-long disgrace of a giant hole celebrating a Muslim extremist terrorist victory over America finally began to recede into the shadow of an American effort at rebirth and restoration.  The building is now at 40 stories, and beginning to become a visible presence in the downtown New York City skyline.


The new World Trade Center complex’s set of buildings replacing the seven destroyed in the 9/11 attack or taken down afterwards, will only sport one tower as tall as the original ‘Twin Towers.’  The One WTC Tower’s rooftop will reach 1,368 feet (417 m), symbolically matching the taller of the two fallen twins.  Then a mast-like spire will stretch out another 408 feet (124 m), to reach its total height, making it officially the tallest building in the United States, though the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago will still have higher floor levels. 1 WTC is set to be completed in 2013.  For additional spectacular images, beyond those below, on the future development of the WTC site, including renderings of the memorial inverted waterfall pools and the stunning new transportation hub, please visit www.wtc.com.







Atheists May Huff and Puff, But Science Backs Belief

Pew Survey on Religious Knowledge Touted Highly, Tells Little


(Disclaimer:  The following is NOT a discussion of whether there is proof of God’s existence – we leave that for another day.)

Hardcore Atheists Rejoice!

Last month much ado was made by bloggers and online commentators, mostly atheist, about the Pew Research Center’s “U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey” which discovered that as a group, atheists and agnostics outperformed Protestants and Catholics “on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.”


Individuals who touted the survey, from well-known public pundits to regular users of Facebook, appeared delighted to present the survey as some sort of validation for their disdain for religious belief, or proof of how religion, particularly Christianity, foments ignorance, especially of other faiths.  A few hardcore atheists, who have an absolute faith that there is no God, and believe religion is the true font of all evil because it promotes superstitious ignorance and intolerance of others, found the survey especially comforting.


What Mormons and Atheists Have in Common

The truth is that since the proportion of Christian Protestant and Catholic believers is so much larger than non-believers in the U.S., this survey, as amusing as it may be at first glance, tells us nothing at all. That is because those groups of people that are small minorities, as well as non-conformists, have always tended to be more informed than those in the majority mainstream. It’s a bit like conducting a survey in the U.S. of how much everyone knows about American history, and finding that French people in the U.S. know more about American history and culture than Americans do about either French or American history. The fact is people in a small minority have a stronger motivation to know about themselves as well as the majority view.  Hence Mormons (a very religious group) and Jews, both small religious minorities, performed nearly as well as the atheists and agnostics in the survey.


Quotes of the Week

Dennis Miller on ‘Reality TV’,

Harry Reid Getting “Up in There.”


    I am trying to wean myself off reality TV because I find it’s too representative of the real world now, [and] undeserving people are winning.

Dennis Miller, Oct 13 on the O’Reilly Factor


Asked about whether insurance should be told what procedures to cover:

     Insurance companies don’t do things out of the goodness of their hearts.  They do it out of a profit motive, and they have almost destroyed our economy.  We need them to be forced to do mammograms. That’s why you see breast cancer awareness month. You see the baseball players wearing pink shoes, and you the football players having pink, uh, uh, helmets. It’s because people dread breast cancer, and you don’t get breast cancer, you can—correct breast cancer—you detect it if you do mammograms. Colonoscopies, if you do colonoscopies, colon cancer does not come because you snip off the—things they find when they go up and—no more, and we need to have insurance companies do this…

Democrat Senator Harry Reid of Nevada

Oct 14, debate with Sharon Angle



Secondarily, non-conformists also tend to be better educated and better informed precisely because a non-conformist nature is one that questions.  Those that consciously choose to take a different path from the norm of their own society have to be better intellectually prepared to face the daily mental challenges to their chosen ideas – no matter what those ideas are.   The first Nazis in the early 1930’s, Mormons today, Christians in early Roman times, atheist and Jews in any time, would likely be better informed, and better prepared in the art of polemics.  All this means is that if view X is prevalent in society, the demographic of its believers will mirror that of its society, from the very bright to the very dim; while those of that same society that voluntarily choose a view Z that is contrary, will more likely be informed persons who question social assumptions.  And those non-conformists will more likely abandon prevalent beliefs or views if emotionally motivated to do so (trauma, hate, deep cynicism), or if they are intellectually unsatisfied with the answers they get from the established majority view.


Atheist Shibboleth Vs. Real Science

One of the biggest fallacies constantly portrayed by hardcore atheists, many agnostics, even the occasional religious liberal, is that religious belief is at the root of most a humanity’s conflicts and atrocities.  They say this because as they love to point out, most acts of horror in history were committed by believers.  Again, this is like saying that in the U.S. being an American leads to criminal behavior because most crimes in the U.S. are committed by Americans.  Here’s a hard scientific fact: there is no scientific study showing religious belief in general leads to wars, genocide, et al.  Anecdotally, the gulags and killing fields of the atheist Stalinists and the Khmer Rouge certainly show us that human monsters don't need it.  And, the few scientific studies that have been done on the effect religious belief has on human behavior, personal and social, indicate the effects are positive for the vast majority of people, and harmful only in the case of a tiny group that takes on fanatical religious views. (For a quick summary, we suggest reading “This Is Your Brain on Religion” by Dr. Andrew Newberg, Associate Professor of Radiology and Psychiatry, published in USA Today on June 15, 2009.)


So, yes, complacency in knowledge is to be expected from predominant groups.  But, American Christians ought to be embarrassed anyway.  And this complacency in the knowledge about one’s religious, historical, and cultural background by predominant groups is very possible what causes their downfall throughout history.  To know and learn more about ourselves and others is a virtue that elevates the human condition.  More than that, we should also be wary, because it may also very well be a matter of survival.




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