Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Joke

Inspired by this image posted by my friend Anthony, and H/T Catholic Answers...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Meet the Staff

This is another in my "Meet the staff" series, where I introduce the reader to the people who work at my local abortion clinic. The object is to show what kind of people typically do abortions. Not the Kermit Gosnells, but the "average Joe". The media paints these people as angels and pro lifers as demons. But is that really the case? I started looking into the clinic where I pray to see. The first post in the series talked about Dr. Steven Brigham.

This post is about Dr. Vikram Kaji, who is an abortionist at the same clinic. By way of introduction, here is a consent agreement from the State of Pennsylvania Department of State from 1993. It reads (in part, emphasis mine):
Respondent admits that the following facts are true:
On or about October 20, 1993, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners found that the Respondent's conduct with respect to three female patients constituted gross malpractice and ordered that Respondent's New Jersey Medical License, No. MA023976, be suspended for a period of three (3) years...
...The underlying basis for New Jersey's Order is as follows:
Respondent had allegedly engaged in sexual abuse of three female patients and indiscriminately prescribed an anabolic steroid and Seconal, a Controlled Dangerous Substance to one of those patients.
Here's one of the incidents described:
On or about May 26, 1993 Respondent testified that he had in fact engaged in sexual intercourse with Patient V.V. sometime around 1985... The incident occurred in the daytime on the bed in the birthing room of his Yardley Pennsylvania office while the staff was in the office and the door was unlocked. Respondent did not charge Patient V.V. for the visit. Respondent had not worn a condom during intercourse. Resopndent testified that there was no emotional involvement with Patient V.V. Patient V.V. suffered from depression and had been the childhood victim of sexual abuse.
Well, at least he didn't charge her for the visit. Dr. Kaji's license was reinstated in 1996.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Silly Senator Cruz

Sen. Cruz (photo from LifeSiteNews)
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (Republican, you might guess) said:
If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government.”
What a silly statement to make. Of course in America nobody would take action against a Christian pastor for his religious beliefs. It's not like a human rights commissioner in Iowa would ever send death wishes to a Christian pastor and tell him his family should die and burn in hell.

And such a thing is especially ridiculous to say in Texas. I mean, it's not like San Antonio would make a law that people who believe homosexuality is immoral wouldn't be allowed to hold jobs in the city.

No, those things will never happen here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Joke

Mary was coming home from a trip and was driving through New Mexico when she saw an elderly woman walking along the side of the road. She stopped the car and asked the woman if she would like a lift?

With a silent nod, the woman climbed into the car. Mary tried in vain to make conversation with the woman, but she wasn't very talkative. The old woman silently took in everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a red gift bag on the seat next to Mary.

"What's in the bag?" asked the old woman.

"It's a bottle of whiskey that I got for my husband."

The old woman was silent for another minute or two. Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said, "Good trade."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meet the Staff

If you follow this blog you've heard about Kermit Gosnell, the PA abortionist who's now serving time for murder. I think most people have the impression that Gosnell is an aberration, and that most abortion workers are actually professional, kind people. Certainly that is how they are portrayed in the media - "saints in surgical garb" who are beleaguered by the evil anti-choice criminals.

As you may know I go to pray once a week in front of an abortion clinic. I think it's time to introduce you to the staff at a "good" abortion clinic (as opposed to Gosnell's house of horrors). Here's a link to the web page for the clinic, showing it's impressive list of credentials. Must be a great place! [throughout this post, emphasis mine].
Our mission is to provide safe medical care in a kind, caring, compassionate atmosphere, while fully complying with all applicable standards, guidelines, statutes, and regulations. 
Our physicians are experienced Healthcare Providers who are devoted to providing quality reproductive health care services for women.
So let's meet this wonderful staff! The clinic is owned by abortionist Steven Brigham. Brigham had his NJ license suspended in 2010 as he faced murder charges in MD. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer:
TRENTON – The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners on Wednesday temporarily suspended the license of abortion doctor Steven Chase Brigham, ruling that the Voorhees-based entrepreneur is “a clear and imminent danger to the public health and safety.”
The issue was that Brigham would start late term abortions in NJ, then drive the women down to MD to finish them, exploiting disparities between the two states' laws to kill viable babies. You see, he could practice in NJ, but could not kill late term babies here. In MD he had no license to practice. So the solution was to start a medical procedure, then load the women in a van and drive them 4 hours with the dead babies inside them, where another doctor's name and license would be used to remove the bodies.

Some of the legal wrangling hinged upon whether the abortion consisted of injecting the babies and killing them (which happened in NJ), or the removal of the dead corpses (which happened in MD). Ultimately Brigham was arrested in NJ and extradited to MD where he faced charges - five counts each of first and second degree murder. As Reuters reported:

A series of earlier investigations by state medical boards revealed that Brigham illegally initiated abortions at a clinic he owns in Voorhees, New Jersey, and then allegedly completed the procedures at a clinic in Maryland, where he was not licensed.
The scheme was only discovered when one of the abortions was botched and a woman was abandoned in critical condition. According to ABC News:
The investigation began in August 2010 after a botched procedure at Brigham's Elkton clinic. An 18-year-old woman who was 21 weeks pregnant had her uterus ruptured and her bowel injured, and rather than call 911, Brigham and Riley drove her to a nearby hospital, where both were uncooperative and Brigham refused to give his name, authorities said.
A search of the clinic after the botched abortion revealed a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside, including one believed to have been aborted at 36 weeks, authorities said.
Charges against Brigham were dropped after a witness for the prosecution refused to testify, allegedly under pressure from the abortion lobby. Likewise, his NJ medical license was restored under pressure.

But that's not the only trouble Brigham has been in. According to National Right to Life news, Brigham has lost his license to practice medicine in five states. In fact, the PA Board of Health has ruled that Brigham may not operate or own abortion facilities in PA, a rule that he evades by having corporations in others' names.

In future posts I'll introduce some of the other staff members at the clinic. I hope this gives you some insight into the operation of a "good" abortion clinic.

[BTW the image above is the clinic walkway as seen from the curb. My friend Connie used to like to stand there to pray because she said it was like looking down from the cross.]

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Marriage and Drowning

Recently there have been articles about marriage. About why marriage is really only marriage in the Church, about how the Church should distance itself from civil marriage and about how the Church should not distance itself from civil marriage. Here's what I think, by way of analogy.

Consider a lifeguard, protecting swimmers at a beach. So the marriage is designed to support and protect the family. A professionally certified lifeguard is a lifeguard, and is certainly recognized as such. Even f the lifeguard is certified by a different authority we can recognize them as a lifeguard and trust them to protect the swimmers. Even where the certifying authority has different criteria, the aim and duty of the lifeguard is the same, and we are secure in the water, even if we are a little more secure knowing that the certification was the strictest.

Even a person who has had no formal training as a lifeguard can act as one. They may not know the best way to rescue a person, but they understand that their job is to keep the drowning victim's head above water as best they can and get them to shallow water. In fact, even a person who can't swim can act as a lifeguard, if they promise they will throw a life preserver to someone in trouble.

But the key thing here is to understand that the purpose of the lifeguard is to rescue swimmers in trouble. They do not become lifeguards for the purpose of playing frisbee on the beach. Yes, a lifeguard can also play frisbess on the beach sometimes, but someone playing frisbee on the beach is not a lifeguard. To call them one is not only incorrect, it endangers all the swimmers in the water.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Joke

Three turtles, Joe, Steve, and Mike, decide to go on a picnic. Joe packs the picnic basket with cookies, bottled sodas, and sandwiches. The trouble is, the picnic site is 10 miles away, so the turtles take 10 whole days to get there.

By the time they do arrive, everyone's whipped and hungry. Joe takes the stuff out of the basket, one by one. He takes out the sodas and realizes that they forgot to bring a bottle opener. Joe and Steve beg Mike to turn back home and retrieve it, but Mike flatly refuses, knowing that they'll eat everything by the time he gets back.

Somehow, after about two hours, the turtles manage to convince Mike to go, swearing on their great-grand turtles' graves that they won't touch the food. So, Mike sets off down the road, slow and steady.

Twenty days pass, but no Mike. Joe and Steve are hungry and puzzled, but a promise is a promise. Another day passes, and still no Mike, but a promise is a promise. After three more days pass without Mike in sight, Steve starts getting restless. "I NEED FOOD!" he says with a hint of dementia in his voice.

"NO!" Joe retorts. "We promised."

Five more days pass. Joe realizes that Mike probably skipped out to the Burger King down the road, so the two turtles weakly lift the lid, get a sandwich, and open their mouths to eat. But then, right at that instant, Mike pops out from behind a rock.

"Just for that, I'm not going."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Personally Opposed

It's a Opposite Files triple play! What happens when your job, the law, and your beliefs collide?

OK to force your beliefs on others and disobey law if you are "personally opposed."

Keeps job but lobbies for laws with which he is "personally opposed."

Loses job because she is personally opposed to law

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Books and Copyrights

Sadly, more fodder for my Opposites files...

Copyright © Catholic Herald 2013

USCCB and Vatican crack down on eBook editions of encyclical

Monday, July 8, 2013

When does Human Life Begin? Part 3 Uncertainty

This is the third installment of this series on the question of "when does human life begin?" If you haven't already, please see Part 1 on Science and Part 2 on Religion. In this post we're going to cover uncertainty. This is a topic we touched on at the end of the religion post, since there is no definitive answer from religion as to whether or not an unborn child is fully human or becomes human at some point in its development.

Some people, disregarding the scientific evidence and relying solely on the ensoulment debate, may make the claim that "we don't know" when human life begins. To those people I would like to mention the story of the hunter, which I first heard of on Life Report, but I don't know the original source to attribute it to. This is the same concept as described in the Declaration on Procured Abortion but with an analogy that makes it easier for people to see the connection.
We know the fetus is alive, since it is taking in nourishment and growing, but is it human? If it is not, then abortion kills an animal. If it is, abortion kills a human. Let's assume for a minute that we don't know which is the case. Now consider the story of the hunter.
One find day a hunter was out in the woods, and saw something moving in the bushes at a distance. He couldn't tell if the movement was a person or a deer, so he took a shot and killed it. Did the hunter act morally?
I think most reasonable people would conclude that the hunter is not acting morally (or responsibly), because he didn't wait to shoot until he found out whether the movement was a person before shooting. The moral (responsible) thing to do would be to hold his fire until he had more information. He might wind up missing the deer, but at least he wouldn't commit a murder by accident by acting without information.

Likewise, those who say "we don't know" when human life begins are saying that abortions might be killing human beings. It is therefore our duty not to allow abortions until we decide the question once and for all.

This is one of my biggest concerns about Roe v. Wade. The court concluded that it didn't know when human life began (despite all the evidence), yet decided to allow abortion until the issue was settled. In other words, the Supreme Court decided it was OK to kill human beings.  Even pro-choice people should recognize that that is a gross dereliction of the court's duty, and be very concerned.

Monday Joke

Two gas company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood.

They parked their truck the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house, a woman looking out her kitchen window watched the two men as they checked her gas meter.

Finishing the meter check, the senior supervisor challenged his younger co-worker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck to prove that an older guy could outrun a younger one.

As they came running up to the truck, they realized the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong.

Gasping for breath, she replied, "When I saw two men from the gas company running as hard as you two were, I figured I'd better run too!"

h/t Ambrose Little on google+

Friday, July 5, 2013

When does human life begin? Part 2 - Religion

This is the second installment in a series of posts on the question of "when does human life begin?" Part one of this series examined what science has to say about the matter. In this installment we discuss what religion (specifically Christianity) has to say about it.

When I started looking at this question I thought the answer was pretty cut and dried, but it turns out to have more twists and turns than I anticipated. I also wanted to write a broader perspective than just Christianity. But it turns out there are a lot of religions which have nothing to say on the matter, or which have no rational basis for any belief on the matter, so I'm sticking with what I know best, and has the most reasoned arguments, and also happens to be the largest religion in the world - Christianity. Plus, the topic is so large that I can barely cover Christian essentials in one post.


We can find out some of our answer in Sacred Scripture. Many pro-life people use Jeremiah 1:5 as supporting their position.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
While I think this is beautiful and poetic verse, I have to admit that it really doesn't say much about abortion. God, being outside time, knows all things at all times. So I could as accurately write "100 years before God formed me in the womb He knew me." Likewise, Psalm 127:4-5
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.
Beautiful, and both speak of the value of human life, but not specifically about when human life begins. I think most pro-choice people would agree that human life is precious, but don't believe the unborn to be human life.

For "when does human life begin" I turn to  Luke 1:36-44 where we have the story of the Visitation:
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Here we see as soon as Jesus was conceived, Mary finds out that Elizabeth is in her 6th month of pregnancy, she set out and traveled "in haste" to visit her . How long did it take to get there? We don't know exactly, but it couldn't have been too long because we are told that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, and apparently wasn't present when John the Baptist was born (Luke 1:56-57).

So at the time of the visitation, Jesus would have been an embryo less than four weeks old (prehaps less than a week old if the distance were short), and yet St. John and Elizabeth both recognize Him as a person, their Lord. Therefore we can show from Scripture that human life begins before the first four weeks after conception, and possibly as early as conception.


In the ruling on Roe v. Wade Thomas Aquinas was quoted:
“It is undisputed that at common law, abortion performed before “quickening” – the first recognizable movement of the fetus in utero, appearing usually from the 16th to the 18th week of pregnancy 20 – was not an indictable offense. . . . [which] appears to have developed from a confluence of earlier philosophical, theological, and civil and canon law concepts of when life begins. . . . Christian theology and the canon law came to fix the point of animation at 40 days for a male and 80 days for a female, a view that persisted until the 19th century, there was otherwise little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation. . . . Due to continued uncertainty about the precise time when animation occurred, to the lack of any empirical basis for the 40-80-day view, and perhaps to Aquinas’ definition of movement as one of the two first principles of life” (ROE v. WADE, 410 U.S. 113 (1973): IV.3)
I find it amusing and ironic that the court would turn to this source over and above scientific testimony to the contrary. This is also a gross misrepresentation of Aquinas' view on abortion. Just look at Summa Theologiae, IIa, IIae, q. 64, a 8 which deals with "Whether one is guilty of murder through killing someone by chance?" Aquinas is actually expanding on the law as written in Exodus 21:22:
Reply to Objection 2. He that strikes a woman with child does something unlawful: wherefore if there results the death either of the woman or of the animated fetus, he will not be excused from homicide, especially seeing that death is the natural result of such a blow.
As you can see by actually reading Aquinas, it is very hard, even with a little context, to claim that St. Thomas did not consider intentional abortion a crime, when he says even an accidental one is a crime.

As for ensoulment, Aquinas did have an opinion that perhaps the soul becomes human, rather than starts out as human form conception. However, his understanding of conception and fetal development is quite faulty, and so using Aquinas as an "authority" on this matter would be like using a heliocentric-believing philosopher as an authority on space travel. Here's what St. Thomas has to say in Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia Dei, q. 3 a. 9 ad 9 [comments mine]:
Reply to the Ninth Objection. There are several opinions about the life of the embryo. According to some in human generation the soul, like the human body, is subject to stages of progression, so that as the human body is virtually in the semen, yet has not actually the perfection of a human body by having distinct members, but gradually reaches this perfection through the force of the semen... Gregory of Nyssa mentions this opinion (De Homine): but it cannot be admitted... Hence we gather that the semen is animated potentially in that the soul is not therein. [in other words, semen has no soul]
[after a long discussion] We must therefore say differently that from the moment of its severance the semen contains not a soul but a soul power...According to this opinion the embryo before having a rational soul is a living being having a soul, which being set aside, a rational soul is induced... [what he is getting at is that the rational (or human) soul develops when the fetus becomes organized]
This is the most extensive writing on the subject, although Aquinas also talks about it in Summa Theologiae I q. 118 a. 2 ad 2. This position at first glance seems similarto many modern pro-choice people, who say that the fetus is not "human" until it reaches some arbitrary point of development (we'll be looking at that in a future post), which is probably why he is referenced as if he were pro-choice. The question, of course, becomes "how much development is enough?" It could easily be argued that if Aquinas had access to a modern embryology textbook he would declare the soul present form the moment of conception, based on the organization present in the blastocyst itself. However, we have no way of knowing, because Aquinas never had such knowledge. And of course, as mentioned above, Aquinas did not excuse abortion, even at an earlier stage than he he considered necessary for a rational soul to exist.

The Catholic Church

Thomas Aquinas is a saint, and a doctor of the Church, but that doesn't make him inerrant (as Sacred Scripture is) or even infallible (as the Magisterium is). The Church does not define exactly when the soul enters the body, but does not condone abortion whether or not the fetus is ensouled. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a clarifying document on this, Declaration on Procured Abortion, which states:
13. To this perpetual evidence - perfectly independent of the discussions on the moment of animation [aka ensoulment] - modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, there is established the program of what this living being will be: a man, this individual man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its capacities requires time- a rather lengthy time- to find its place and to be in a position to act. The least that can be said is that present science, in its most evolved state, does not give any substantial support to those who defend abortion. Moreover, it is not up to biological sciences to make a definitive judgment on questions which are properly philosophical and moral such as the moment when a human person is constituted or the legitimacy of abortion. From a moral point of view this is certain: even if a doubt existed concerning whether the fruit of conception is already a human person, it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder. "The one who will be a man is already one."
19. This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.
In other words, since can't prove there is a time from conception where there isn't a human soul present we must assume there might be, and act as if there were. To do otherwise is to admit that murder is OK, which it is not. I'll be returning to this philosophical argument later as well.

Sorry for the long post, but you can see why I broke this into installments. There is a wealth of information. I encourage you to follow the links in this post and read the original documents. You may find it hard to follow Thomas' arguments due to the difference in terminology and langauge, but the rest of the links should be an easy, if lengthy, read.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When Does Human Life Begin? Part 1 - Science

In the wake of the horrible potential for the legalization of abortion in Ireland I thought I would write a few posts exploring some of the basic issues about abortion.

The most basic question of the pro-life pro-choice debate is "when does human life begin?" Because if abortion kills a human being then almost everyone would consider it wrong. If it kills something else, then most people would support it. The way I see it, there are four ways to look at the question.

Looking at what I've written so far, I decided I'd better break this into three or four parts at least. This is part one, which explores the question from a purely scientific angle. Subsequent posts will focus on religious views, philosophy, history and logic. If you have something to say on the matter, please comment. If you have different views, let's discuss, but let's stay civil and on topic.


When does human life begin according to science? At conception. This is settled science, and there is no wiggle room. At conception a new and completely self contained organism is created. Despite Bill Nye's stupid shout out, the uterus is not anything like a 3D printer. A 3D printer constructs an object by placing bits of material on a surface, like building blocks. The uterus does not build a baby bit by bit.

On the contrary, the zygote, from the first moment it is created, constructs itself into a fully formed baby, without direction from the uterus (and in fact, the uterus takes direction from the fetus). All the child needs are the same things you and I need - food oxygen and warmth - to continue living. It is a living organism, separate from the mother. And human? Again settled science. Of course. It has human DNA. A human can only beget another human, just as a dog can only beget dogs and a cat beget cats. The scientific name for this is the law of biogenesis and it has been known since before DNA was discovered.

Want some references? I can give you lots more, but here are some from science textbooks.

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." [Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.]
"Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition." [E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd edition. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975. p. vii.]
"The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote." [Sadler, T.W.Langman's Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]
"The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are...respectively enclosedwithin female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development." [Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p.17]
In any event, it is clear from science that abortion at any stage of development kills a human organism. I'll come back to this point later.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Monumental Thought

I was reading about the atheist monument erected near the Ten Commandments monument in Starke Florida. This is supposedly a break for "religious freedom" in that it's the first time an atheist monument was erected on government land. From what I can see in the pictures of it, it looks like it is not affirming anything, but merely mocking Christianity. So I wonder what the message is? What is it "for" (as opposed to "against")?

Then I thought a little more. On what basis did the American Atheists argue for the monument to be placed there? For this to be an expression of religious freedom, the monument must be representing another religion. And so, did they claim that atheism is a religion? Because the Constitution defines religious liberty as freedom of religion, not freedom of anything you want to say.

There is a protection for anything you want to say - freedom of speech. If the monument is there as free speech, then I presume any group could say anything they want on government land, under the guise of free speech. Coke could put up a "Drink Coke" monument. The local bridge club could put up a "deck of cards" monument. Did the atheists argue free speech or that they were a religion? How far did they compromise their principles to get the monument they wanted?

Then again, is atheism a religion? I know the atheists don't think so, but they want to expand the definition of religion to include non-religion (much like the homosexual lobby wants to expand the definition of marriage to include non-marriage).

Certainly atheism has more dogmas and fundamentalist concepts than some religions. They have absolute tenets of the faith that can't be challenged. And faith it truly is. To refuse to consider all proofs of God's existence, and refute logical arguments takes quite a bit of blind faith. They even have fundamentalists (like Dawkins) who can be just as amusing and annoying as the worst televangelist you ever saw.

I was talking to a self-professed atheist about some very well scientifically documented miracles and the response was "it must all be random". So I asked how atheism explains why these random events "miraculously" happen in response to prayer. There are no recorded events (that I am aware of) of things like bread spontaneously becoming human heart tissue, or monks turning bombers around that are not associated with the prayers of the faithful. The response was "all we know is it must be random - we can't make any other statements." Then I was accused of not being dogmatic.

Another thought is this. It's one thing to have different religious views displayed - Ten Commandments vs. Buddha. But Buddha and the Ten Commandments don't mock each other (in fact, they mostly support each other). This is a direct attack on the adjacent monument. It's like Westboro Baptists at a military funeral - it's disrespectful to have them next to each other.

Final thought. If atheism is not a set of beliefs, but merely the absence of religion belief, then there are already hundreds of monuments all over the country. Every monument that does not express a religious belief would be an atheist monument. But I suspect that atheists like to define themselves differently when it suits them.

[UPDATE: Someone sent me this, about monuments in Washington D.C.  No, it's not in response to this, but it's kind of relevant. And an interesting video]

Monday Joke

Mom and Dad were trying to console little Susie, whose dog, Spot, had recently died.

"You know," Mom said, "it's not so bad. Spot's probably up in Heaven right now, having a grand old time with God."

Susie stopped crying and asked, "What would God want with a dead dog?"