This video by TheraminTrees is 42 minutes long but I highly recommend that you view it especially if you want to know a little bit about the dangers of special privileges, its ability to kill free speech, and how biases distort reality.
Do go to the YouTube page as that lists a number of references for further study.
I guess I didn’t have the same problems as TheraminTrees as, once I realised that religions and gods were inventions, I didn’t give any religion any free passes. They were all fair game.
I don’t go about telling people in conversation that I am an atheist (one who thinks, based on evidence, that there probably isn’t a god), but when they ask what my religion is I tell them that I’m an atheist, and that is when I get shouted at. It’s pretty predictable. I can handle it but it’s the religious who claim special privileges and who want to deprive me of my rights to free speech, etc.
A great crime committed against individuals and society is to be told what to think and not how to think, and where the tools of critical thinking allowing us to reason and make rational sense of the world are rejected. In particular, there are a multitude of institutions and people who follow and apply dogma, who discourage thinking and who discourage enquiry. This video by TheraminTrees describes how he was treated and how he managed to break free.
I was in Palmyra 11 years ago. It was one of those ancient places in Syria that projected the influence and power of Rome. This is the Temple of Baal (or Bel). It no longer exists. The barbarity and inhumanity of the Islamic State, in its self-congratulatory frenzy of wiping out monuments and people not representing the glory of Islam, destroyed much of Palmyra last year.
I love how certain universities make available a number of free resources such as lectures. One resource, in particular, that I’ve really enjoyed has been Yale University’s “Introduction to the Old Testament” by Christine Hayes. There are many hours of video material from this introductory course, and I would recommend that these are augmented through further personal research.
The course description:
This course examines the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel, and a foundational document of Western civilization. A wide range of methodologies, including source criticism and the historical-critical school, tradition criticism, redaction criticism, and literary and canonical approaches are applied to the study and interpretation of the Bible. Special emphasis is placed on the Bible against the backdrop of its historical and cultural setting in the Ancient Near East.
Christine Hayes is the Robert F. and Patricia Ross Weis Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and one of the foremost American academics focusing on talmudic-midrashic studies and Classical Judaica. She is also a specialist in the History and Literature of Judaism in Late Antiquity. Before her appointment at Yale, she served as the Assistant Professor of Hebrew Studies, Department of Near Eastern Studies, at Princeton University from 1993 to 1996. She has published several books and numerous articles in American and international academic journals, and has received academic accolades. Her class on the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was selected for the pilot program of “Yale University Open Courses,” and has subsequently been one of the most watched online courses about Classical Judaica.
Are they serious? According to the Brunei Times, the Brunei legal system states that it is “an offence to propagate religions other than Islam to a Muslim or atheist”. And this bit:
Additionally, it is a crime to expose the child to any ceremony, act of worship or religious activity of any religion beside Islam, or to participate in any activity held for the benefit of other religions.