Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You're a Mean One



Group's new Christmas message: Be good, not godly

Ads proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," will appear on Washington buses starting next week and running through December.
...
The American Humanist Association unveiled the provocative $40,000 holiday ad campaign Tuesday.
...
"It's the ultimate grinch to say there is no God at a time when millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Christ," said Mathew Staver, the [Liberty Council's] chairman and dean of the Liberty University School of Law. "Certainly, they have the right to believe what they want, but this is insulting."

Certainly he has the right to be insulted as well. Just as everyone around him has the right to disbelieve in his religion despite it putting a damper on his Christmas spirit. Freedom of religion is a bitch.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Posthumous Baptisms

I suppose I would be irritated if the Mormon church was trying to posthumously baptize my family members. But only slightly, since it's entirely nonsense and has no effect on reality.

Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.
...
"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."
...
"We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines," Wickman said. "If our work for the dead is properly understood ... it should not be a source of friction to anyone. It's merely a freewill offering."

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Flawed

Around the country early voters are having to wait in long lines to cast their ballots. These waits have been as long as 8 to 10 hours.

It is unconscionable that we still do not have an organized national voting system instead of a disorganized mess that lends to so much unfairness and error.

This is unfair to voters who cannot afford to stand in line for that long because of their jobs, children, or disabilities. How many people give up and go home?

Read an article about the poll waits in Atlanta here, which includes a news video.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Private

The other day I set my blog as private. I was thinking about discontinuing it, but did not want to do anything hasty like deleting it.

I was surprised that some of you noticed, as I have been a bad blogger lately and have not written anything in ages, so I suspected that I had lost most readers.

I realize that doing that without saying anything was in bad form and I apologize.

I promise you there is no drama involved. I simply don't feel that I have anything to write here anymore and began to wonder why I should maintain the blog.

I still frequent all of your blogs, and enjoy keeping up on the current "happenings", but lately do not feel I have anything to add. I have also been pretty preoccupied with my personal life and obsessed with the U.S. elections, and I realize that the things I want to say about that have already been beaten to death.

So I will keep this blog open until further notice, and perhaps the mood will strike again someday and I will write something.

To those who contacted me, thank you for caring and I'm sorry for causing concern.

Amiable

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Vote!



Hey everyone,

I'm back from my honeymoon. Thank you for all of the kind wishes. We didn't really have a ceremony, we did it city hall style and then went backpacking around Croatia for a little over a week.

I just got my absentee ballot in the mail today and voted for Obama!

Hope everyone else votes as well.

Cheers

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Absent

Please excuse my absence, I'm on my honeymoon for the next week or so.

Cheers!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Meddling Kids



As a kid I remember being slightly disappointed that Scooby Doo always ended the same: every mystery would have a rational explanation.

I guess I was lucky enough as a child to have seen a couple of good shows in the midst of all the rubbish on TV, like Scooby Doo and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

I was reading Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World the other day(yes, it takes me this long to read it!) where he talked about how useful television could be in instilling a passion for science in children, but how it often fails miserably to do so.

Of course the most outlandish and wild explanations are the most interesting. This is a big problem that science has in appealing to people, especially kids.

I think it can sometimes go against our instincts to accept rational explanations. The fantastic ones are so much more appealing and easy. It's something I hope to instill in my kids if I have them one day, a passion for learning and a healthy skepticism.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Love Letter


It was pretty lame being the youngest kid in youth group.

I had just turned 13, so they forcibly removed me from the safety of Sunday school class with my younger brother and made me go alone to the class with all of the scary high schoolers who were all at least 16 years old.

I felt like such a dork. Junior high was bad enough without having to hang out with these older kids who clearly thought I was a weirdo every Sunday.

During one of our youth groups we all sat in a circle and I was sure we were going to start talking about things that would make me blush.

Sure enough, our youth leader asked, "Have you ever received a love letter?"

Of course everyone in the youth group had received a love letter. They talked about who they were from and what it had felt like.

When it was my turn to talk, of course, I was the only one who had not received one. It never occured to me to consider that one that was scribbled on note paper with too many exclamation points and bad handwriting in the sixth grade from that boy who told me he really, really, really liked me. Yuck! So I said I hadn't.

This was horribly embarassing. I felt like such a moron because everyone in the youth group was so much cooler than me and they obviously already had more exciting love lives than I did.

Fortunately I recovered from my shame quickly as our youth leader informed us that we had all been given a love letter!

This love letter was, of course, from God and it was the Bible! Duh, silly!

So that got me wondering, how would I feel about getting this love letter today?

A letter that is genocidal,sexist, incestual, violent, and just plain absurd?

A letter that threatened me with eternal pain and suffering if I do not love and obey the author?


I think I would need a restraining order!

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scum of the Earth


Former ROB ZOMBIE guitarist and current SCUM OF THE EARTH frontman Riggs' 13-year-old son was reportedly reprimanded by his eighth-grade art teacher for wearing an inappropriate t-shirt in the classroom. The art teacher allegedly insulted the student in front of his peers, dragged him out of class into the hallway and forced him to pray on his knees for forgiveness from Jesus Christ.

"This is ridiculous," says Riggs. "[The school in question] is a public school, and there's supposed to be a separation between church and state. The shirt my son was wearing was for my band, SCUM OF THE EARTH. It didn't contain any foul language, it's simply a drawing of a monster on a cross... and nothing more. You would think that someone who's an art teacher would have some understanding of the concept of freedom of speech, and artistic freedom of expression, however this lady is clearly a religions nutcase. It's just another example of how these people have infiltrated public schools, government and politics in an effort to force their own agenda upon anyone who doesn't necessarily believe exactly what they do — regardless of what the First Amendment of the United States Constitution says."

"This whole town is whacked... we're an honest law-abiding family that doesn't cause any harm to anyone around here. Just because I have lots of tattoos, long hair and play in a rock band, the entire town thinks we worship Satan and sacrifice animals to the devil. It's difficult for me to see what's going on in this country, how the religious right is slowly making it acceptable to violate the very laws upon which our great country was founded. I can respect freedom of religion, but shouldn't that also mean that religious people should respect non-religion or other religions as well? Time and time again, we see that the religions right clearly doesn't believe so."


Wow, can you imagine the outrage at this, if the teacher had been a Muslim forcing a Christian child to pray to allah?

I really hope that this guy's celebrity helps to bring some attention to this.


Thanks to RichardDawkins.net

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Very Scary!

Oh my goodness, the internet is a scary place!

And apparently only liberals use it...

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Crazies

To demonstrate the fact that there are clearly crazies on every side of every issue is this young man, Timothy Brown, an atheist who continually harassed a Christian woman by urinating or smearing excrement on her property because she had put a fish sticker on her own car.

Regardless of what someone believes, this is clearly an inappropriate way to communicate with them. This guy is immature and probably needs help, because there is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

Maybe he got tired of just flinging cyber excrement, like a lot of people engaged in religious debate do, and decided to get literal.

There are much better ways to get a point across that do not involve poop.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

...And More Death Threats

Scientists about to conduct one of the world's biggest physics experiments have received death threats amidst fears they could destroy the world.

Despite the expected scientific benefits, some fear the experiment could create black holes that will eventually swallow the Earth. German chemist Professor Otto Rossler even led a last-ditch legal attempt to stop the experiment.

While recent studies have disproved the doomsday scenario, CERN scientists have reportedly received death threats and pleas to stop the experiment.

But Prof Cox, ex-keyboardist for 1980's pop group D:REAM, dismissed the hysteria in rock-star style.

"Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a t---," he said.

The LHC experiment will be several times more powerful than anything else of its kind.

Scientists expect to find the theoretical Higgs-Boson Particle, or the God Particle, and gain a better understanding of things like antimatter, parallel universes and dark matter.


Read the full article here.

I think I need something more lighthearted to start my day...

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Atheist Soldier Receives Death Threat


You've probably heard of Jeremy Hall, an atheist soldier who, working with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, sued because he was harassed for not believing in god.

Now Hall has received a death threat in the form of an SMS message on his cell phone.

The message is laced with obscenities and a racial slur commonly directed at African-Americans, though Hall is white. In it, the caller promises to slit Hall's throat and drink his blood. The caller also promises to sexually assault Hall's wife and mother.

Hall serves in a military police company at Fort Riley, and Weinstein said it's "highly probable" the caller was a fellow soldier. Weinstein said he notified Hall's company commander and battalion commander's office and wants the caller found - and court-martialed.

"We have the phone number this death threat came from and the actual voice recording," Weinstein said. "Even Inspector Clouseau would be able to nab this felon. How hard can this really be?"


This kind of stuff is really worrying, especially since I have a brother in the service.

Jeremy Hall is brave for standing up for his beliefs, knowing that harassment would follow. He is doing a great deal to raise awareness about this situation in America's military.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Biden on Religion in Politics

Sen. Joe Biden talks about abortion and his faith on Meet the Press.



Sen. Joe Biden: I know when it begins for me. It is a personal and private issue. For me as a Roman Catholic I'm prepared to accept the teaching of my church. But let me tell you, there are a lot of people of great confessional faiths, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others, who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They're intently as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views. I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception, but that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally, maybe even more devout than I am, seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society...

Sen. Joe Biden: ...what I've voted against is curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I've voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view, that it's a moment of conception. ... How am I going out to tell you or anyone else, that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith, and that's the reason I haven't. This is a matter between a person's God, however they believe in God, their doctor and themselves, and what we're going to be doing is make sure that we reduce considerably the number of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children.

This is an attitude I wish more religious people had. Biden is religious, but he does not want to impose those beliefs on anyone else, because he knows everyone has their own beliefs and are entitled to them.

If more religious people thought like this, I would have no problem at all with them.

But I do have a problem, because too many of them do not respect differing beliefs and want to impose their religious views on everyone else.

This is the biggest difference I see between the two parties competing for the White House. One assumes their beliefs are the best and seeks to impose them on everyone, while the other recognizes that their faith is not the only or best one.

Source

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Communion on the Moon


Here is a short article titled Communion between God and science by Rev J Williams.

Immediately after Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon in 1969 and his ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind’ speech, his colleague Buzz Aldrin celebrated Holy Communion in the landing craft.

Buzz, after whom the toy Buzz Lightyear is named, asked Mission Control for silence.

Then, to mark this historic moment, he took Holy Communion which had been prepared for him in advance by his church.

The first bread consumed on the moon and the first wine drunk there were the elements of Holy Communion.

This symbolic act was deliberate.

The astronaut was sending the world the message that Christian belief and science are in harmony.

He was at the cutting edge of science and yet, at the same time, a believer in God and a church-goer.

Science merely tells us how God makes things work. The Bible on the other hand, tells us why we are here.

Many people imagine that science and religious belief are incompatible, but in reality, across the world, millions of scientists believe in God.

These people see scientific discoveries as proof the universe has been designed by a Supreme Intelligence.

Science shows that the nucleus of every cell in the human body contains as much data as that found in a 30-volume encyclopedia. Such complexity cannot have happened by chance and is clear evidence of the existence of a Creator God.

Sadly, whenever reference is made to science and religious belief in the British media, it is done so assuming that there is conflict between the two.

In reality, many scientists believe in God precisely because of their scientific studies and see true science as the friend of religious belief.

With this fact rarely mentioned, it is no wonder that the UK is one of the few places in the world where church attendance is declining.


Well, I had never heard the story about Buzz Aldrin before, so that was...interesting.

And I am thrilled whenever I hear a religious person speaking favorably about science. Too often I see the articles or hear the stories of those that do not value it. I hope I am looking in the wrong places.

I am not sure, however, if the author is right. Are science and religon compatible?

Clearly a literal interpretation of their holy books is not compatible with a scientific worldview. In order to maintain religious belief and accept the findings of science, one must either "compartmentalize" or accept that many of the stories in their holy books are simply that: stories.

Since science led me to doubt the existence of God, I sometimes feel that is where it must inevitably lead everyone with an open mind.

But maybe I am wrong. I recognize that one can still hold belief in a greater power and call it "God".

Will Christianity and Islam, specifically, continue to modernize and adopt a more rational and tolerant worldview?

I hope that is the case: that they continue to take steps forward instead of trying to drag us all back with them.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

The Lesser



This will be the first year that I vote in a presidential election and the first year that I have paid close attention.

I will admit that I was of age in 2004, but I was still too young and naive to have a real opinion about it. I was still strongly influenced by my family and religious upbringing and hadn't formed any thoughts of my own on the matter. I figured since I couldn't make an educated choice, I would be better of making none.

I also happened to be in the wrong county when the day came, so that made the decision not to vote easier.

It seems that I'm not the only one who is all worked up about this election "thing", especially after watching the outrageous things being said by the right-wing pundits.

I must admit that it was a lot less stressful not paying any attention to all of this nonsense, but I cannot peel my eyes away. Every day I wake up and read the news, and my mood worsens.

I have been a proud supporter of Obama since the primaries and I will be delighted to vote for him when I get my absentee ballot in the mail.

However, I have gathered that some others in the "atheist community" will be making this choice with less enthusiasm, or possibly making other choices.

I am also disgusted by the blatant pandering of the democratic party to the religious. I am disgusted by it whenever I see it, on either side. Being young, I obviously do not have enough personal experience to see whether it has gotten noticeably worse among the democrats this time around. Regardless, I find it disturbing.

But I also hope that Obama is as committed to maintaining the separation between church and state as he was in the speech from 2006 that you have probably already seen:



This speech gave me hope. And despite all of the religious pandering, I have not yet lost it.

Here is how I see it: the country is filled with religious people. Atheists are a tiny minority. Barack Obama and the democrats want to win, so they are doing what they think they need to do to win.

Is it irritating? Absolutely.

But if it means not having McCain/Palin in the White House, I will be grateful.

Sure it is obnoxious to hear them talking about God constantly, but it is not nearly as obnoxious as it would be to have 4-8 more years talk of decisions made based on "faith" or waging wars against evil. It is not nearly as bad as the 4-8 more years we face under a republican leadership that neglects reason and logic.

I hear many people say, that it will be like picking the lesser of two evils.

I think this statement is ridiculous, because obviously no candidate is going to be perfect, and no candidate is going to represent everything you want in a leader. There will always be something imperfect about them.

But you vote for the person that gives you the most hope.

I have to say I am a little disgusted with the people that I have heard announcing, they will not vote for Barack Obama because of this.

Anyone who does not vote for Barack Obama because he is not a perfect candidate, and because the democrats are not a perfect party, is contributing to the victory of the greater of two evils, in my opinion.

So please, go out and vote.

We all know that atheists have a long way to go before we are no longer ostracized and demonized by our communities.

But I firmly believe that this road will be much easier with Barack Obama as our leader, and much more difficult if we allow McCain to win.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Does She Know?

I've been having trouble containing my anger regarding McCain's VP Pick. To avoid saying anything unamiable, I will just let Jon Stewart do the talking:



Thanks to Parenting Beyond Belief for the link.


Visit here to Learn more about Palin.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Imagine This


Wish I was there to see it!

Group of atheists, agnostics put up billboards in Phoenix

PHOENIX - Billboards touting freedom from religion and separation of church and state are going up around the downtown Phoenix area.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., paid advertising company CBS Outdoor to put up five signs around Phoenix that read Imagine No Religion. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom From Religion, said the billboards will be in place for a month.

The group of atheists or agnostics promotes free thought and the separation of church and state. They have sponsored similar billboard campaigns in other U.S. cities and so far, Gaylor said, there has been little opposition. She doesn't anticipate any protest in Phoenix.

Religious leaders say they are seeing an increase in atheist activism.

"I don't have a problem with people expressing their points of view in public," said the Rev. Bob Mitchell, senior pastor at Central United Methodist Church of Phoenix.

"I would prefer that there was serious tolerant dialogue that might emerge from this publicity campaign because it is much needed."

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Arrogance


I just read an article titled Fundamentalist atheists show arrogance, too, by Paul C. Campos, in which he discusses what he considers to be militant atheists.

I'd like to point out a couple of problems I have with this article:

Needless to say, just as most religious people aren't fundamentalists, the same holds true for atheists. Those who are, however - what we might think of as the Taliban of atheism - often have a prominence well beyond their sheer numbers.


I have a real problem with him comparing some atheists to the Taliban. I have great difficulty understanding the comparison between stubborn and opinionated atheists and a violent and intolerant movement that drastically limited peoples' freedoms.

It seems to be a favorite way to condemn outspoken atheists these days, using such words as "militant" to make it seem like they are dangerous or violent, when all they are doing is letting their opinion be heard and criticizing beliefs they find dangerous.

The intellectual naivete of the fundamentalist atheist is reflected in the sorts of arguments he puts forth when he dismisses religious beliefs as not merely mistaken, but nothing more than childish superstitions that can't be taken seriously by any enlightened adult.


Nobody hesitates to label a belief in fairies or in Santa Claus a "childish superstition". I would like to know what exactly elevates religions above this title, besides the fact that many adults continue to believe them?

The alternative to fundamentalism involves embracing the idea that the world is a deeply complex and mysterious place, which human beings have in all likelihood barely begun to understand.


I don't know many atheists who would claim to have the universe figured out. All that is claimed is that religion's explanations are inadequate and/or false.

The non-fundamentalist atheist recognizes that many religious beliefs are just as rationally defensible as his atheism...


Why should an atheist recognize that many religious beliefs are just as rationally defensible as atheism, when they clearly are not?

What is so rational about believing in the virgin birth or a divinely inspired book that is filled with flaws and contradictions as the inerrant truth of god?

...and that indeed he might well hold those beliefs if his genes or his upbringing or his education had made him a slightly different (but equally rational) person.


It is my rationality above all, that led me to my atheism, more so than my upbringing, education, or genes. I was, in fact, born into a Christian family and raised as a believer. My rationality led me to doubt these beliefs, and my education helped me to find the answers.

Given the same rationality, but with different genes, upbringing, or education, I would have had the same doubts about my beliefs, although perhaps I wouldn't have been as free or as equipped to reject them for atheism.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Response to Kitty Foth-Regner

This is my response to a comment left by Kitty Foth Regner, author of the book Heaven Without Her.

Original comment is here.

You mentioned several different topics in your comment to me, which you probably realize have already been addressed and answered hundreds of times by more qualified people than me, and that the responses are available for you to see on the internet and have been for a long time.

Clearly if the answers were enough to change your mind, you would have, just as if your arguments were enough to change my mind I would have already done so. Your arguments and mine are not original thoughts, but things that have already been thoroughly discussed by many qualified people.

So these answers are not really for you, because I know you are aware of the responses to your arguments and that they will do nothing to change your mind coming from me. But I have decided to try to provide responses to your arguments point by point mainly because I want those responses to be available to anyone who happens to see your comment.

Now, I am the first person to admit that I am no scientist, and I believe that you are not either. But I spent a lot of time researching the arguments you referenced against evolution and I will try to either answer them or refer you to existing responses:

Why do so many people oppose evolution? Is it because they do not like its implications? Regardless of whether we like the conclusions, the evidence overwhelmingly points to this. Just because it makes many people uncomfortable, does not make it any less true.


…children are not learning “differing viewpoints.”… They are learning only evolutionary fairy tales.


Intelligent design does not deserve equal standing in a science classroom with evolution because it is not a science. Science is a system of acquiring knowledge and intelligent design is based on personal religious belief.

Equal time would mean teaching every other creation story that mankind has believed in (Muslim, Hindu, Native American, and countless others). But they obviously do not want fair and equal time, because that would be ridiculous. What they really want is for the intelligent design to get preferential treatment simply because the Christian faith is dominant throughout the western world. But that does not give it any more validity.

The main argument for intelligent design is that the world seems like it was created. If that is the case, then why, necessarily, was it created by your creator? You have no specific proof that it was created by the God of the Bible.

Intelligent design is creationism disguised as a science in an effort to get it taught in schools, after the Edwards v. Aguillard made it unconstitutional. It is promoted by Christian groups because its main purpose is to promote the idea of the Biblical God as designer.

For more information on why intelligent design is creationism visit Talk Origins.

Another reason intelligent design does not deserve equal footing with evolution is that it has no evidence. On the other hand, evolution has mountains of evidence, and many other fields of science support the fact of evolution. Evolution is one of the most heavily criticized theories of science, and yet it has stood up to all of this intense criticism. If the evidence for evolution were not extremely strong, people would have succeeded long ago to refute it. But they cannot because the evidence is there.

Instead its proponents merely try to poke holes in the theory of evolution. But just because you think you can disprove Theory A, does not necessarily prove Theory B. You have to provide evidence for the “theory” of intelligent design, not just try to poke holes in evolution.

No taxpayer-funded teacher or professor ever mentions, for instance, that before he died, the late great evolutionist Stephen J. Gould of Harvard resorted to resurrecting the “hopeful monster” theory of our origins – “punctuated equilibrium,” he called it to give it more dignity – because, as he admitted, the transitional fossils that evolution theory requires simply do not exist.


This is an example of quote-mining and a misrepresentation of what Gould actually said in his essay “Return of Hopeful Monsters”.

Please visit Answers in Genesis Busted for more info on the misuse of this quote.

"Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists--whether through design or stupidity, I do not know--as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups. Yet a pamphlet entitled 'Harvard Scientists Agree Evolution Is a Hoax' states: 'The facts of punctuated equilibrium which Gould and Eldredge...are forcing Darwinists to swallow fit the picture that Bryan insisted on, and which God has revealed to us in the Bible.'"

That was a quote from Gould’s essay “Evolution as Fact and Theory”

And you can visit Talk Origins for more discussions of misquotations commonly used by antievolutionists.

No taxpayer-funded teacher dares to look at the irreducible complexity or at the fact that positive, additive genetic mutations do not occur.


Irreducible complexity implies that a system cannot function if one of its parts is missing, therefore it couldn’t have evolved by the addition of single parts without a loss or change of function. But there are still other evolutionary mechanisms that have been observed in genetic mutations:

• deletion of parts
• addition of multiple parts
• change of function
• addition of a second function to a part
• gradual modification of parts

Even if irreducible complexity did provide difficulty for the theory of evolution, intelligent design does not necessarily follow. This is an argument from incredulity or “god of the gaps”.

For more information on irreducible complexity: Talk Origins.

Here are Responses to Michael Behe

And here is more about the argument from incredulity, or “god of the gaps”.

No taxpayer-funded teacher dares to even wonder aloud how the laws of thermodynamics or biogenesis fit into evolutionary thought.


Intelligent design supporters believe that the second law of thermodynamics does not permit order to arise from disorder, therefore showing that macroevolution is not possible. But the second law of thermodynamics says no such thing.

“It says that heat will not spontaneously flow from a colder body to a warmer one or, equivalently, that total entropy (a measure of useful energy) in a closed system will not decrease. This does not prevent increasing order because: the earth is not a closed system and entropy is not the same as disorder.”

“The only processes necessary for evolution to occur are reproduction, heritable variation, and selection. All of these are seen to happen all the time, so, obviously, no physical laws are preventing them. In fact, connections between evolution and entropy have been studied in depth and never to the detriment of evolution”

For more information on the second law of thermodynamics and entropy check out Talk Origins: here and here.

The law of biogenesis states that modern organisms do not spontaneously arise in nature from non-life.

“The spontaneous generation that Pasteur and others disproved was the idea that life forms such as mice, maggots, and bacteria can appear fully formed. They disproved a form of creationism. There is no law of biogenesis saying that very primitive life cannot form from increasingly complex molecules.”

For more information check out Talk Origins Abiogenesis FAQs

Essentially, “no taxpayer-funded teacher dares to even wonder aloud” about these things, because they have already been addressed many times over by scientists. It is not as if these points are being hidden, they are discussed in the open and not viewed as a threat to evolution. These issues require a lot of background in biology to even understand, and that is why they are not taught to beginning students.

Also, attempting to expose weaknesses in the theory of evolution does not in any way make intelligent design more viable. This assumes that evolution and intelligent design are the only two possible models, which is false. Problems with one model do not imply that the remaining model is true. Another unknown explanation could be correct.

… why are evolutionists afraid of having the arguments for intelligent design and creation science presented alongside their proofs for evolution?


Scientists are not afraid of intelligent design. Intelligent design does not even qualify as a scientific theory because all of its claims of evidence have been shown to be invalid.

The threat is not to science, the threat is to education and the separation of church and state in this nation.

I am afraid of having the arguments for intelligent design presented alongside evolution in science class because I am concerned with children learning about the actual scientific method and learning critical thought. Intelligent design is simply a wedge used to get religion into schools. They only attack evolution because they see it as a threat to their Biblical explanations of the world. When intelligent design is given equal standing in science classes with the theory of evolution, it will mean that the nation’s children are not learning what actual science is, and they are not being taught to use their critical faculties.

Intelligent design relies on supernatural explanations. But science is about finding natural, reproducible, testable explanations. Teaching our students otherwise is harmful to their development of critical thinking. It is also harmful to our nation’s scientific and technological development.

The truth is, real science confirms Genesis, not Darwin. But real science does not get a hearing in our schools these days. That was my point: For nearly 50 years, our schools have been teaching that evolution accounts for the universe, that anti-Christian worldviews are intellectually sound, and that tolerance is the highest virtue. Our courts have in fact outlawed any mention of Christianity in our schools. So who’s closed-minded?



Please explain to me what your notion of “real science” is?

Distinguishing science from pseudoscience requires a definition of its methodology:

Science is a method of acquiring knowledge that uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. It must be testable and reproducible.

Intelligent design is not based on any of these things, but simply on the desire for the Biblical explanation to be true. But wanting does not make it so.

…Our schools have been teaching…anti-Christian worldviews…


This may come as a surprise, but there are many different worldviews that differ from your own. A person who can’t see the value in learning to view the world from a different perspective is being closed-minded and ignorant. The Christian worldview has as much validity as any other worldview out there, and to claim that it is superior merely because it is dominant in the western world, would be arrogant.

In science, worldview is irrelevant. Worldview should not be taught in science class because science is fact regardless of one’s worldview. The vast majority of scientists from all over the world with many different worldviews all come together in agreement on the fact of evolution, as well as on many other scientific facts.

As I mentioned before, just because science does not fit your worldview or because you don’t like its implications is not enough reason to disqualify it. You must provide other valid alternatives that are based on more than religious beliefs and emotions.

…our schools have been teaching that…tolerance is the highest virtue…


Are you advocating the teaching of intolerance to our children in schools? Would it be better to teach our children to hate and disregard those that are different? We have seen the kind of hatred and violence that results from intolerance too often during our recent history and I honestly cannot believe that you would suggest that the teaching of tolerance is a bad thing.

Do you consider it a good thing that some Muslim children are being taught religious intolerance? Is racial intolerance a good thing? I honestly don’t understand where you are coming from on this one. Is it your idea that Jesus promoted intolerance?

Our courts have in fact outlawed any mention of Christianity in our schools.


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That was the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which prohibits the government from establishing a religion, from showing preference to one religion over another, or from showing preference to religion over non-religion.

Any mention of Christianity is not outlawed in our schools, but the promotion of Christianity above other beliefs is. This is the right that our founding fathers fought for, and this is a right that also protects Christians, so I honestly cannot understand why they would want to get rid of it. If ever in the future Christianity is not the majority religion in the United States, Christians would surely lament the loss of this freedom in the event that someone else’s religious beliefs were being imposed on them.

These rights were set out from the beginning, so to imply that they are something that has been imposed on you and other Christians or that religion has been “taken out” of schools or the public sphere, is blatantly false. These are rights that protect us all and rights that we should try very hard to preserve for future generations.

For more information about the First Amendment and the freedoms it provides us, look here.

In conclusion, I would like to remind the reader that I am not an expert, but I was able to find all of these answers online and you can do the same yourself. All of the typical arguments of antievolutionists have been refuted. Unfortunately this fact does not prevent them from being continually used.

The best source by far, and which I relied heavily upon for this response, is Talk Origins where you can find a long index to creationist claims and responses and tons of other helpful information about evolution.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's in the Water!


Here's a book review I stumbled upon. The book is Heaven Without Her by Kitty Foth-Regner, the story of an atheist turned believer after her mother's death. This is a clear illustration of the fact that people do not turn to religion out of rational thought, but out of pure emotion. Because there is nothing rational about it.

But what particularly struck me is the opening line of the review:

We've all heard the charges: Secular colleges and universities negate the need for a Creator by teaching that evolution accounts for the universe, expose students to anti-Christian worldviews, and then teach tolerance as the highest virtue.

Could these charges possibly be true?


Say it isn't so! Our children are learning science, differing viewpoints, and tolerance in school? The horror!

It really is a shame that a lot of Christian families fear even the prospect of their children being exposed to other ideas. Simply the closed-mindedness and ignorance of that is enough for me to have a basic disgust for their type of belief.

Are they that insecure in their faith? Deep down do they realize that their beliefs can't hold a candle to science and rational thought?

My family also has this fear of education. It reminds me of the tree of knowledge in the Bible. I always wondered, why on Earth is it such a bad thing to have knowledge?

Because knowledge is power and religion thrives on the powerless.

I remember times when I would learn something new in school. Excited, I would share it with my parents when I got home, only to be disappointed by their response.

"That's ridiculous. Your teacher doesn't know anything."

At first I was a little hurt and confused by their response. Why didn't my parents appreciate the new information I had to tell them? I began to realize that my parents did not value science or rational thought. They did not value new ideas or anything that opposed their way of thinking. They were more content to keep believing whatever it was their parents had tought them, regardless of the evidence.

As an adult I am still shocked and dismayed by their reactions.

When I discussed with my brother a little while before I became an atheist how amazing it was to watch orangutans and to see the similarities we have with these relatives, my mother overheard and said, "But what about what the Bible says? That can't be true."

I replied, "But you can't take the Bible literally, Mom."

"Of course you can."

This was the first time I realized to what extent she was willing to ignore reality.

I was upset that so many people that I trusted as a child actually taught me ridiculous stories out of the Bible as literal truth. Did they really believe it themselves? How could these seemingly intelligent adults that I trusted actually believe such nonsense?

Even more recently I informed my grandparents that I had been in Berlin and had heard Obama's speech. They were disappointed when they realized I had made a trip there especially to hear Obama, and wasn't just in Berlin "by coincidence".

My grandfather warned me not to believe everything I had heard to which I replied,

"Don't worry, I don't believe everything I'm told."

But they only want me to believe certain things I'm told, they just wish they could censor the rest. Just as amusing (and/or depressing) was when they were saddened to discover that no, I unfortunately do not get the Fox News Channel in Germany. Apparently it's too risky watching other news channels because I might be brainwashed by the liberals that "run the media"! Terrifying thought, I know.

This is a fundamental problem I see with religion. It is so closed-minded that the potential of differing viewpoints even being overheard causes them genuine distress.

Of course there are people on every side of every issue who want to censor opposing viewpoints. I am in opposition to this idea no matter what viewpoint they support. But I feel that religion is especially eager for this type of censorship.

I do not oppose intelligent design in school because I fear my children will be converted to creationists. I oppose it in science class because it does not meet the requirements of a science. I oppose it because I am afraid it will lead to the total removal of critical thought and real science from the classroom and that my children will never hear about evolution. I have absolutely no problem with my children hearing about intelligent design and about religion in the appropriate venue. But that appropriate venue is not science class.

There is no fear of their children not hearing about their god and their creation story. They hear it at church. I wish they would be content to leave it at that. But the fear that their children might actually hear another side to the story is what leads them to try to censor and condemn differing viewpoints.

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Who's That Girl

The Atheist Spot has a series on their blog where they interview atheist bloggers so we can all get to know the atheist community a little better.

I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute, and here is my interview!

Check it out, and please read the other interviews. Two of them are from two of my favorite bloggers Adrian and Vjack.

I am looking forward to getting to know the others and to having the opportunity to meet new ones!

If you have an atheist blog and would like to be included in the series, you should leave a comment on the blog asking.

And you should also check out The Atheist Spot while you're at it, a place where you can share and rate atheist articles.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Awe Inspiring


Since I have had the awesome opportunity to live in Europe, I have seen several beautiful cathedrals.

I can easily see how these massive structures inspired awe.

These buildings could be seen from far away and people traveled great distances to visit them.



It is mind-boggling to consider how difficult it must have been to build these cathedrals without modern machinery and it is easy to imagine how the sight of one of these beautiful buildings would be enough to convince a person back then that their god truly did exist.

But today these impressive structures seem to me to be a testament to the enormous waste. How many people went hungry or had no place to live while these great monuments were built to glorify their gods?

True, these buildings are gorgeous and a wonder to see today. But sometimes I cannot fathom the amount of energy and money spent, and in my opinion, wasted on creating these giant monuments to non-existent deities.

It is true when people say that religion has given us very beautiful music, art, and architecture. But would the same beauty have resulted in the absence of religion? Some say it wouldn't, but it can only be conjecture.


Perhaps a secular country would waste their money glorifying other things.

An ideal society, however, would not have wasted so much money creating a building that served no real purpose when its citizens were homeless, sick, or hungry. Whether religious or secular shouldn't the goals be the same?

But I am quite convinced that one does not need god to inspire such beauty.

First photo: Milan Cathedral, Italy
Second and third: Meissen Cathedral, Germany

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Thoughtful Parenting

I just wanted to promote a blog I discovered recently which many of you might have already heard about: Parenting Beyond Belief.

Someday I hope to have kids and I already anticipate what a challenge it will be to answer their questions and encourage them to be skeptical and thoughtful individuals.

I read an entry where the blogger talks about death with his two daughters, ages 6 and 10. I am absolutely awed by their thoughtfulness and intelligence at such a young age. I am positive that when I was that age I never tackled challenging topics like this.

It's a great read and you should check it out sometime!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Spore and Atheists


Here's an interesting interview with the creator of the game Spore, Will Wright.

In the interview Wright talks about being an atheist, his initial fears about offending religious people with the representation of religion in the game, and the surprising fact that most criticism of the religious aspects of the game are from what he calls "militant atheists".

"I'd probably be best described as an atheist. I'm open to the idea that there is some creator somewhere. I can almost envision humans one day being able to create a micro-universe."

"I think our bigger fear was that we didn't want to offend any religious people; but looking at the discussion that unfolded from this thing, what we had was a good, sizeable group of players that we might call militant atheists, and the rest of the players seemed very tolerant, including all of the religious players."

"I didn't expect to hit hot buttons on the atheist side as much; I expected it on the religious side," Wright revealed. "But so far I've had no critical feedback at all from anybody who is religious feeling that we were misrepresenting religion or it was bad to represent religion in the game. It was really the atheists."



I'm not going to get into my dislike of the ridiculous term "militant atheism" in this post. We'll save that for another day. But what do you think about what he says? Do you think it is offensive that a video game would have a religious aspect to it?

To me, it seems like that is the entire premise of the game and one should obviously know that going in. You are playing a "god-like role" by creating life, or something. I haven't played it, but would like to give it a try sometime. Tell me what you think.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Making Assumptions


I often make the assumption that all atheists are rational.

I know this is a silly assumption, especially since atheists are usually compared to a "herd of cats". We have nothing necessarily in common with each other except our disbelief in gods.

But never the less, I usually make this assumption subconsciously.

Perhaps it is because I know that rational thinking has led me to my disbelief in gods, and that now that I am a disbeliever, I try my best to be rational and think things through for myself, instead of just accepting what people say. I am probably assuming that other atheists try to employ rationality as well.

So it is always so shocking to me when I engage in discussion with some atheists, how similar it feels to debating something like evolution with fundamentalists.

I am often disappointed when I discover that a fellow atheist is just as irrational and emotional as I imagine fundamentalists to be. This is ridiculous, since I should know that we are all just humans, and on every side there will inevitably be mean or ignorant people along with the kind and thoughtful ones.

For example, I remember once engaging in a discussion about male circumcision with other atheists. I was surprised to hear that many of them had no problem with male circumcision, and so I asked them why.

Some of the responses I got went like this:

"If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for my boy."

"Foreskins look gross."

"Foreskins are unclean."

"It protects from diseases."


The last one may have some merit, but I have yet to see any conclusive findings on the topic. Besides, isn't that a precaution that a sexually active adult can make if he so chooses, and not a decision to be made for him by the parents?

These are all pretty ridiculous rationalizations for mutilating a child's body.

I was really disappointed to hear so many arguments that I viewed as irrational from the very people that I expected to be most rational.

I also cannot believe the reaction I get from other atheists sometimes when I disagree with them. I would expect them to be rational and to be accepting of disagreement or constructive criticism, but instead I sometimes find them to be mean, petty, and intolerant of any dissent from their views. It is eerily reminiscent of my past in the church, and their discouragement of any contradictory view points and intolerance for disagreement or questions.

I think the feeling is probably the same one a believer might have. As a Christian I remember wanting so desperately to trust everything my pastor and youth pastor said. I remember hearing about the money scandals within the Southern Baptist church and being a little disappointed. I trusted these people because they believed in my God. To me that meant that they must also have the same values that I have. They would know it was wrong to steal or to lie. So how could they be so dishonest?

There is probably this desire to think that someone who has a certain belief is the kind of person you expect them to be.

For example, There is probably a great desire by many believers for someone like Todd Bentley to be genuine.

This person supposedly shares the belief in God and the Bible that many Christians all over the world have. But just because he believes in your God, you should not make the mistake of lending him instant credibility.

Often Richard Dawkins is called the "leader" of atheism. This is nonsense, because not all atheists agree with everything he says, and if he said something questionable or told us to all go out and do something tomorrow without good explanation, most of us would refuse.

I like a lot of what Richard Dawkins has to say, but that does not make him my leader, and that does not mean that I would believe everything he says. I wish that more believers would employ this kind of skepticism instead of accepting everything their religious leaders tell them.

I suppose the point of this is that we are all just humans. We should not always jump to conclusions about the character of a person based on whether they believe in your god, another god, or no god. Question what you are told even by those that you trust.

Sometimes it's in a good way, and sometimes it's not, but oftentimes, people will surprise you.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Persuasion



Oh how I love to beat a dead horse...

This will be brief. I tend to dwell on a topic, but it's only because I want to be sure I have satisfactorily stated my point.

I have been called a prude (among the nicer names) since my recent "crusade" against profanity. But I want to assure you all that I am no saint, and that I do use profanity in real life occasionally.

I never wanted to condemn all users of profanity or claim that it should be disallowed. I just wanted to stress how ineffective its use is in communicating.

This all started when I realized that the negative stereotypes of atheism were only being reinforced every time a believer read an atheist blog that was peppered with profanity.

So I felt it would be a good thing to address the topic, because I think every little action counts. So if I try to be civil, and just one Christian who has a negative image of atheism sees it and is impressed or surprised by it, I think I have done a good job.

I also wanted to note that there have been studies conducted that show that profane language in persuasive messages generally has a detrimental effect on the perceived credibility of the communicator.

So why would you want to limit the strength of your message from the get-go by using profanity? It's just not a good persuasion technique.

Now let's change the $#!@ing topic already, shall we?

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Dirty Word


I mentioned in a previous post that it seems like it is taboo for an atheist to admit that they want to convert people.

One of the reasons this word is so taboo is that many atheists are wary of being called a religion.

First of all: Atheism is not a religion. There is no atheist philosophy. Atheism does not tell you where life came from or how it ends, and it does not give you rules to live your life by. All that is necessary for atheism is disbelief in a god.

Perhaps the reason this comparison is so often made is that believers cannot understand how one can live without something that for them is such a big part of their lives. But nevertheless, it is an odd thing that believers attempt to insult atheists by saying this. Odd that they would want to insult somebody by comparing them to themselves.

So what is the deal with converting? To convert is to change someone's opinions or beliefs, usually having to do with things like religion or politics.

A lot of atheists resent the fact that religious people actively seek converts by going door-to-door or handing out tracts. They see this as a negative thing, so it is understandable that they don't want to be accused of doing the same thing.

But what is wrong with wanting to convert someone's opinions?

I have heard from many atheists that they do not want to convert people. All they want is for believers to think critically and to stop being so pushy.

This sounds really tolerant, but I see a big problem with this.

First of all, isn't critical thinking what led most of us to become atheists? Wouldn't most of us agree that if one were to think critically, it would ultimately lead to the rejection of the supernatural?

Saying you just want them to think critically is no different than saying you want them to stop believing in their god. It just sounds better.

Secondly, it is nearly impossible to ask a believer not to be "pushy". I know from being raised Christian that a central theme in this religion is wanting to convert the "lost", and they believe they will be rewarded in heaven for it. The theme of evangelizing is very central to their religion. They need and want to spread their beliefs.

It is also hard to ask believers not to interfere in the laws of the land, because many of them consider the United States to be a Christian nation, and many of them see no problem with taking away individual liberties if it means being a more "Christ-like" country. The Bible teaches that we need rules and punishment because we are sinners and they fear having a secular society because they see it as a threat to their way of life.

So asking Christians not to be so "pushy" is no different than asking them to stop being so Christian.

Basically when an atheist says that all they want are believers to think critically and leave everyone else alone, they are asking for the impossible. We can't have it both ways.

When I hear atheists say this, I view it as a sign that they want to be tolerant and they do not wish to be associated with the word "convert", but to me it seems like they are being dishonest with themselves.

Of course we want people to stop believing in the supernatural! To claim that we don't would be dishonest.

The difference is, we are not attempting to tell people the meaning of life, how they should live it, and where they will go when it is over. Atheism does not attempt to answer these questions.

It is not our goal to disallow belief in the supernatural, it is only our goal to change minds.

It's what we do when we argue, when we debate, when we express our opinions. We are hoping to change other peoples' minds. And there should be nothing embarassing or taboo about admitting that.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Catching Flies Revisited




I received many varied responses to my previous entry Catching Flies where I talked about the ineffectiveness of using profanity and personal attacks, specifically when writing an atheist blog, and just when communicating in general.

I would like to address some of the typical responses I received:

"There are appropriate uses of profanity."

I would agree with this statement, there are appropriate uses of profanity. When I stub my toe at home, or when I'm watching the game with my friends and my team loses, this would be an appropriate time for profanity.

But, when I am writing about the existence of god or the validity of science and hoping to appeal to a crowd of people who I know do not generally appreciate profanity, that would be inappropriate. As adults we should value the ability to have a civilized conversation, because sometimes they are hard to come by.

Take Richard Dawkins for example. Would he be as effective if during a debate or interview, he decided to resort to using personal attacks and vulgarity to get his point across?

The example of Penn & Teller was also brought up to justify the use of profanity. They use profanity on their show and it is entertaining to many. But is it entertaining mostly because you agree with what they have to say? For someone who does not agree this might be a bad way of trying to reach them.

When you use profanity on your blog, the people who will find it entertaining are most likely to be those that already agree with you. And this is fine! If you are writing a blog for other atheists to read, this may be the tone and approach that you choose. But for a blog that is attempting to discuss issues with believers, this is a very ineffective method.

I don't know of any believer who would read such a blog and say, "You know what, they're right! I do need to pull my %$!#ing head out of my @$$!"

"We have the right to use profanity, and they do not have the right to censor us or to not be offended."

This is true and I couldn't agree more that none of us have the right not to be offended. That is exactly why I am not suggesting that any blog with profanity should be censored. But our right to use profanity does not always justify the use of it.

Just because we have the freedom to insult people, does not mean it is wise to do, or that it is an effective way of communicating.

And this is not just because religious people are "prudes" or don't want to hear profanity. If someone was trying to tell me something, but was using personal attacks and profanity to do so, I would not be too happy about it either and would more than likely reject their message simply because of its packaging.

"We are past the point of civil dialog / The ridiculous deserves to be ridiculed / We are frustrated and provoked."

Trust me, I understand your frustration. Anyone who has had an argument with a young earth creationist, for example, will know how easy it is to lose one's cool and use inflammatory language. But has resorting to uncivility ever made you more successful in the argument? Probably not.

And I also agree that the ridiculous deserves ridicule, or atleast does not deserve our respect. For instance, I agreed with PZ Meyer's desecration of the eucharist because I think that we have no obligation to consider something holy just because someone tells us we should. I also do not think we should bow to the pressure of Muslim extremists when they do not like their prophet's picture drawn in cartoons.

I totally support the ridicule and criticism of dangerous and ignorant ideas or beliefs.

But this does not mean that I would support using profanity or personal attacks on these people to tell them how much I disagree with their views. There is a big difference between attacking an idea and attacking a person.

Again, take the example of Richard Dawkins. He has probably answered the same silly questions thousands of times from people who have not bothered to read his books or listen to his previous interviews. How frustrating must that be for him? And yet, he tries not to resort to being uncivil, because he knows that would be an ineffective way to communicate his message.

"We aren't trying to change anyone's mind or convert anybody."

This is a response I got from the blog after I told them that I thought their method was ineffective in reaching believers.

This is clearly untrue. Anytime that a person argues a point or posts their views on the internet for all to see, they are obviously attempting to change someone's mind, or to atleast make someone think about the topic at hand.

That is the point of debate and discussion. Ultimately you hope that your argument is successful and that others will accept what you have to say.

Of course, this is kind of taboo for atheists to say, because we are so wary of being compared to a religion. We do not want to seem as if we are looking for converts, but the truth is, we wouldn't mind if other people embraced reason, rejected god, and accepted evolution. I think many of us would welcome such a thing.

To claim that the goal of my blog is not to change peoples' minds would be dishonest, and even more so if I was clearly trying to engage in discussion with believers.

Ultimately it is up to you to choose the tone and language you use every day, but it is important to realize how this tone and language will affect how well your message is received.

As an atheist, if I am actively seeking dialogue with believers, but then resort to insulting them and using profanity instead of sticking to facts and rational dialogue, what is my purpose? Is it purely to insult them because I disagree with them?

Chances are we are not ever going to change the minds of the most die-hard fundamentalists out there. But there is an opportunity to engage in a civil discussion with the many rational people that are out there on all sides of the issue.

By no means am I saying that this is easy. Just like anyone else, I can become frustrated when debating with people about topics I feel passionate about. Getting angry and resorting to insults or profanity is the easy way out.

Let's not alienate each other with insults, because we can communicate so much more effectively without them.

Keeping your cool is a lot more challenging, but it is definitely worth it. I can't ever think of a time when I regretted keeping my cool and being civilized during a disagreement, but I can think of many times when I have regretted doing the opposite.

I'm sure I might slip up once in a while, but I think it is a worthy goal, and that is why I will continue trying my best to be amiable in my discussions.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Coming Out Godless

Coming Out Godless is a site that allows people to sumbit their personal stories and read other stories about nonbelief.

Perhaps one of the most moving types of stories are ones of personal experience. The idea here is to encourage atheists and other nonbelievers to come out in hopes of normalizing the idea.

They were kind enough to post my story. It is the same one you can find in my first post which talks about how I realized I no longer believed in God. If you are interested, do check it out, and I encourage you to submit your own stories!

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Catching Flies


Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"?

I do not wish to compare my readers to flies, but I think there is a lot of truth in this, and wanting to "catch flies with honey" is one of the motivations behind this blog and its title.

I recently engaged in a discussion with other atheists about the tone of our message.

I read some words written by an atheist that rubbed me the wrong way. This is not a smear campaign and I am not even going to say who, I only want to discuss what I think are ineffective ways of communicating.

The first problem I had, which was definitely not the biggest, was with the profanity.

This may be partially due to the remnants of my religious upbringing, but I really dislike profanity.

Of course I use it sometimes. But I think the setting is entirely important. It is one thing to use it with my friends or in private, but to use profanity in a loud and public way, I find, is very juvenile.

When I meet people who overuse profanity or who use it inappropriately, I usually interpret that as a lack of consideration or politeness.

Just because we have the freedom of speech, that does not justify our saying anything that comes to mind!

When one is attempting to make a point, or to spread their ideas, I find the use of profanity to be highly ineffective and think it is really a turn-off.

The thing that most bothered me was that this person was obviously representing an atheist view-point with his/her writing. It bothered me that a believer or someone looking for answers or who is just curious might stumble upon these words and be turned off by them.

If I were to walk into the public library looking for information or help, I would definitely be put off by the librarian yelling at me, and using personal attacks and profanity. I would probably stop my search for the information or atleast never patronize that library again.

I found the tone and language to be very ineffective at conveying any kind of message, and it bothered me that this kind of attitude or message is only perpetuating negative stereotypes of atheism.

I was then told that it is the reader's own fault if they choose to associate these words with a group, not the writer's. But don't we do the same thing every day when we read Ray Comfort's blog or hear about some denomination or church doing something ridiculous in the news?

I was also told that I was basically labelling atheism as a religion just like "fundies" do, which I find to be completely ridiculous because of course when you are writing a public blog that attacks religious beliefs from an atheist view-point, you are representing atheism. I'm not saying it is right or that people should see you as a representative, but they do and they will.

I am a representative for atheism on this blog, and I know that. As such, I do my best to be polite and to give thoughtful responses, not just rants, hatred, and profanity.

It is a fact of life that we are constantly representing a group by our actions and words. As a person living in a foreign land, I am constantly seen as a representative of my country. As a young person, I am often seen as a representative of my age group. I could go on to include hair color and many other factors, but I think I've made my point.

The issue is not whether or not it is right that your words represent the group as a whole. The fact is, that they do. Whether you like it or not, your words are posted on the internet for the world to see. Why would you use language that alienates instead of using "honey" to communicate your message?

Obviously the point of having a blog is to communicate a message, to share your views, and hopefully, to atleast make them think about it. If this is not your goal, then perhaps your blog would better be labelled as a private diary if it is only a place to vent your anger at the world.

And if you wish to continue using vinegar in your methods, understand that you will probably not have much success catching any flies. This fly was definitely not impressed.

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Comic Relief

I almost busted a gut watching this. You will either laugh or be completely annoyed...



Thanks to The Skeptical Sorcerer

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Fill my Pills



This is an excerpt from an article that was posted over at RichardDawkins.net:

A Bush administration proposal aimed at protecting health-care workers who object to abortion, and to birth-control methods they consider tantamount to abortion, has escalated a bitter debate over the balance between religious freedom and patients' rights.

The Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing a draft regulation that would deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, IUDs and the Plan B emergency contraceptive.

Conservative groups, abortion opponents and some members of Congress are welcoming the initiative as necessary to safeguard doctors, nurses and other health workers who, they say, are increasingly facing discrimination because of their beliefs or are being coerced into delivering services they find repugnant.

"They are manipulating the system by manipulating the definition of the word 'abortion,' " said Susan F. Wood, a professor at George Washington University who resigned from the Food and Drug Administration over the delays in approving the nonprescription sale of Plan B. "It's another example of this administration's disregard for science and medicine in how agencies make decisions."


The draft states that numerous cases have been reported of health-care workers being "required to violate their consciences by providing or assisting in the provision of controversial medicine or procedures." It adds that many states have recently passed laws requiring health plans to pay for contraception, pharmacists to fill prescriptions for birth control, and hospitals to offer Plan B to women who have been raped.

"In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care industry that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions," the document states.

The most controversial section defines abortion as "any of the various procedures -- including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action -- that results in the termination of life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."

That definition would include most forms of hormonal birth control and the IUD, which most major medical groups believe do not constitute abortion because they primarily affect ovulation or fertilization and not an embryo once it has implanted in the womb.

"You could imagine a group of people with less than honorable intentions seeking to get hired at a family planning clinic with the specific objective of obstructing access. Under this regulation, there is little you could do about it," said Jill Morrison of the National Women's Law Center.


I don't know about you, but this makes me furious.

It is one thing to oppose abortion, but to redefine it to include forms of birth control is outrageous. This is just another example of the Christian right wanting to push their ideology on everyone. Ultimately I'm sure they hope to monitor every individual's sex life, since this is what this amounts to.

These people want to tell me what kind of sex life I should have.

If someone has an issue giving birth control prescriptions, then they need to just suck it up, or ask a co-worker to do it. But refusing to serve people is discriminatory and dangerous.

I'm sure that vegetarians or members of PETA don't apply at KFC and then refuse to serve meat to the customers. It's just completely idiotic!

There was also a really interesting comment on the article at RichardDawkins.net that talked about a friend being uncomfortable performing male circumcisions because she is opposed to them. At first my instinct was to think, she shouldn't have to do them!

Of course, this was my first instinct because I am opposed to male circumcision. But I realize now that this is very much the same situation, and just because this woman doesn't like it, doesn't mean she should impede the procedure in anyway.

If she disapproves she should transfer to another department, or she can spend her time fighting for her cause when she is off-duty. This is the same thing I think these people should do who have a problem with filling a woman's prescription for the pill.

Even though you may not like something, it is the law and you were hired to perform your job. If you don't like your job, then quit. If you don't like the law, then fight to change it, but do this on your own time.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Christian Sex Ed in Australia


A sex-ed program that was devised by Presbyterian and Baptist Churches is being taught in schools in New South Wales.

The program pushes an anti-abortion and pro-abstinence message

The Education Act in Australia demands that public school instruction be strictly non-sectarian and secular.

Read the article here.

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Why I don't Kill People

This is a very amiable video from Troylus2 on YouTube that attempts to explain to a believer where atheists get their morals from, and that belief in your god is not required to be a moral person. Also, the dog in the video is entirely adorable.




Thanks to Raytractors for the video.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Protecting the Church

State judges determined that harm done to a 17 year old girl during an exorcism performed by her church are protected by the First Ammendment.

And while this might mean "certain harms may go unaddressed...the larger protection of the church and religious freedom is the overriding concern."

The protection of the church overrides our children's safety?


"The government can't get involved in overseeing religious practices. The best way to say it is it's not American.

"If she did prevail that would erase about 150 years of law in this country from the Supreme Court saying the government does not get involved in the internal affairs and operations of the church. It would effectively be the end of church independence and religious freedom in our country."


In other words, these judges refuse to hold religion responsible for its crimes. Once again, religion is escaping criticism. When are we going to remove religion from its pedestal of un-earned respect and hold it up to the same standards of decency we require of ourselves?

At what point would these judges consider the abuse to be severe enough to warrant interference?

Luckily, three of the judges did not agree with the ruling:

[the ruling] was "inconsistent with US Supreme Court precedent and extends far beyond the protections our Constitution affords religious conduct."

Laura Schubert Pearson, now 29 and mother of two, says she plans to take her case to the US Supreme Court. Let's hope they show a little more sense.

(Thanks to RichardDawkins.net)

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Every Sperm is Sacred


A 44 year old woman in Canada just gave birth to her 18th child.

"We never planned how many children to have. We just let God guide our lives, you know, because we strongly believe life comes from God and that's the reason we did not stop the life," said Mr Ionce, who works in construction.

None of the couple's children were multiple births and all were born naturally apart from their four-year-old son Filip, who was born by Caesarean-section.


"[W]e strongly believe life comes from God"

Someone needs to explain to these people where babies actually come from! They seem to have some confusion on the subject if they think it is only because God wills it. I just hope they have the finances and patience to raise all 18 of these children properly.

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Surfing for God at Work

A city council in the UK has blocked its staff from looking at websites about atheism.

The Birmingham City Council has established rules that prevent its staff from visiting websites promoting atheism, witchcraft, Satanism, the occult, sexual deviancy, and criminal activity.

Under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their religion or belief, which includes atheism.

The National Secular Society is currently seeking to get the rule changed, otherwise they will pursue legal action.

Why atheism is lumped in with sexual deviancy and criminal activity, I don't understand. Assuming that atheists are immoral, criminal, sexual deviants, is ridiculous, but nothing new.

And while these people should probably be working instead of surfing the net, this is clearly a violation of atheists' (and Wiccans') rights as staff are still allowed to visit sites relating to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions. They either need to limit access to all religious sites, or stop including atheism and wicca in their definition of criminal and deviant activities.

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