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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Very Scary!

Oh my goodness, the internet is a scary place!

And apparently only liberals use it...

Stumble Upon Toolbar


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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

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."

Stumble Upon Toolbar


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.

Stumble Upon Toolbar