Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Link Dump 3/11/11

Support the Atheists of Florida

More Reasons to Be Nice: It’s Less Work for Everyone - Co-authored by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo.

The New Information Theology by Victor Stenger

Autism Speaks is shining a light on autism by raising awareness in communities across North America. Please join us.

A New generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity

Unreasonable Doubt & Illogical Apologetics - Funny story.  Somebody wasn’t paying attention and our anti-apologetics article here ended up in the The #Apologetics Daily on Twitter. Here was my reaction. So, from now on we should all flood the #apologetics hashtag, yeah?

Rabbi Adam Jacobs reasonable argument for God’s existence - It’s probably a good idea to poke around this website for awhile (once you have read the entirety our our site, of course). It has a lot of info in it.

Explore the 3-D depths of Mars

Mid-Week Rant: Storm by Tim Minchin

Watch: Sphincter-Obsessed Grandma Testifies at CO Civil Union Hearing - You'd think she would be cool with it due to the giant stick up her ass.

How did humans really evolve?

Top 20 Bible Passages to Use Against Fundamentalists - If you’re into that sort of thing.

Philadelphia Archdiocese places 21 priests on leave - I’m sure the Vatican sends them to Thailand for vacation “sensitivity” training.

Christopher Hitchens on 60 Minutes

Profile of the BBC's new face of religion - “Stay cool, Steve.” *fixes hair* “Why wouldn't she want to be friends with a blogger from the States?”

Seriously jaw-dropping picture of the Sun

Alabama GOP Official Explains Racial Disparities In Schools: ‘Blacks Misbehave’ - As someone who went to school in Bama (ROLL TIDE!) for a few years and still has friends from “down there;” I assure you not everyone in Alabama is a racist asshole. It’s just that...there are...a lot of racist assholes.

The Professor Brothers: Sodom & Gomorrah - I laugh every time.

REPORT: Ending Tax Dodging By The Rich Would Save More Money Than Gutting Ohio’s Unions

Cactus Walking On 20 Legs Found In China

Merlin’s Guide to Enchanted Naturalism - Interesting blog.  Skepticism mixed with philosophy.

Neutron star has superfluid core

Hagfish Just Got More Disgusting

New Zombie-Creating Fungi Discovered - Always aim for the head. Also, machetes don’t need to be reloaded.

Are We in the Middle of a Sixth Mass Extinction?

There's one person playing race cards and it's Maggie Gallagher - More NOM hate. We at LH are in the process of collecting more NOM talking points and press releases for a future takedown, but let me tell you: it is hard to keep up! They produce large quantities of hateful rhetoric. None of which is logical.

Bishops boot 'booty' from revised Bible - Jack pointed out that the larger issues is this:
“The 1970 version of Isaiah 7:14 says ‘the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.’

The 2011 text refers to ‘the young woman’ instead. It elaborates that the original Hebrew word, almah, may, or may not, signify a virgin.”

... seems like kind of a big deal to try and sneak past everybody.

Welcome to Rapture in the Air  - Check this out.  RELEASE TEH TROLLS!

yes. yes! my pretties...

Soldiers wrongly punished for skipping concert

Religious Right Group Says Anti-Bullying Programs Will "Homosexualize" Children - Jack  thinks that sometimes “it's their strategy is to say stuff so mindbogglingly stupid that all our heads just explode at once.” Possibly.

Fail Beyond Belief - Once the again the U.S. Military shows its true colors as an Christian evangelizing wing of the U.S. government.

Don’t hate the children. It’s not their fault.

Vatican confirms report of sexual abuse and rape of nuns by priests in 23 countries - The knows no limits.

Drunk Priest Offers Oral Sex to Cops - I made the following joke on Twitter. I was quite proud of myself: “Way to tell straight vs. gay priests: gay priest offers bjs to adults. Straight priest insists children blow him.”

Early humans began in southern Africa, study suggests

The Phelps Decision: Supreme Court Decision Undercuts Religious Right Lie - This is a very good point.

Image of the Day: 2 Billion-Year-Old Nuclear Reactor Fossil! - Do what now? It never occurred to me that this was possible. It is one of those things where if you think about it it makes perfect sense.

Was Alien Bacteria Discovered In Meteorites? - nope.

Sunday Morning Crazy ~ Kirk Cameron  - We re-tooled the Sunday Morning Feature a bit for reasons described in the link.  Not that the “Hate” will never return, but is was getting redundant.


Monday Morning Quotes: Carl Sagan - Everyone should watch, listen and read more Carl Sagan. He is soothing. Whenever some smug, ignorant theist says atheism or naturalism is depressing because it has no point; please refrain from smacking them across the face and instead point them to Carl Sagan.

South Dakota Bill Would Mandate Religious Counseling Prior To Abortion - Do you ever get tired of repeating the same logical argument over and over again. I do.

What is creating all that energy beneath the ice on Saturn’s moon Enceladus?

Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans - This doesn’t have much to do with the link but I started to rant and couldn't stop. Here goes: I am completely re-evaluating my political viewpoints. I never liked the Democrats, but I had always perceived them as the dam against the tide of hawks, conservatives, theocrats and hyper-capitalists. Not anymore. They are either all the same party and the Dems are just meant to shake shiny objects at left-leaning people so they don’t realize they are being really fucked (as the GOP does with shiny crosses to the right leaners), or they are impotent. We are being choked by corporations and their cronies and the Christian Nationalists/Tea Party are at the door. Also, WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE STILL DOING IN AFGHANISTAN?

- exhales -

Ancient human sacrifice temple found in Peru - oooo neat...

TED: Deb Roy & The Birth of a Word - A really amazing study after the jump.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unreasonable Doubt & Illogical Apologetics

Once again we wade into the muck that apologists produce. 

This began with Steve and I reading this article and realizing that we are atheists because our fathers never loved us. Then, after a good cry, we decided to subject these arguments to our combined scrutiny (and ridicule). The original is fully reproduced below (in white), but as always the link is available. LH arguments are color coded:

The reasons for unbelief are more complex than many atheists let on.
by Jim Spiegel

The recent publication of Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's The Grand Design has reignited debate over God's existence. The ironically titled book proposes that the cosmos was spontaneously generated "from nothing," with no God (or gods) required to make sense of existence. Never mind the question-begging: How can nothing produce something, let alone hundreds of billions of galaxies? Many atheists celebrate this bestseller as further grounds for dismissing religious belief.

Steve: “How can nothing produce something...?” How can a nonexistent god produce the universe?

In all seriousness I am not a physicist (neither are you) so I am not going to speak out of turn here. However, your question and criticism is mired in a lack of self-awareness. Did nothing produce god? And you don’t get to say god is eternal and has always existed because that is still possible for the universe. The Big Bang may have been the rebirth of the universe from a previous universe. There is no longer evidence of this earlier universe due to Planck time. Honestly, we don’t know. This is where theists say “AHA!” and insert their huge throbbing god into that gap. It’s hubris, disingenuous and intellectually lazy. Also gross.

Adam: I have addressed this before, Stephen Hawking does in fact say that something came from nothing but only at the end of a lengthy description of how a few natural laws (specifically gravity) lead inevitably to the creation of this expanding matter-soup that we call the universe. The only worthwhile question that this begs is : Where did the laws come from? We don’t know, yet, and we may never be certain. That’s what scientists do. They get excited by the prospect of not knowing something. If you insist on inserting a god into this gap, and say that He created the laws of physics, then I ask you: Why create laws that allow for explanations of a universe without his existence? To put it another way: If you are a god who is beyond time and space, then what would be the purpose of creating natural laws that you had to break to get anything done? Why not, for example invent a universe with magic so that skepticism really is close-mindedness?

Most atheists would have us think they arrived at their view through cool, rational inquiry. But are other factors involved? Consider the candid remarks of contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel: "I want atheism to be true …. It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and, naturally, hope that I'm right about my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that." Could Nagel's attitude—albeit in a more subtle form—actually be common among atheists?

Adam: I can only speak for myself here. The transition from theist to atheist was difficult because like most theists, I completely ignored the aspects of the bible that I did not agree with. I had the cognitive dissonance to overlook the moral atrocities commanded and committed by God throughout the bible. I thought all of that nasty business was quoted out of context or mistranslated. My god was loving and all forgiving, and he didn’t care if you ate shellfish. The same went for all of the glaring contradictions in scripture. When I began to study Psychology and Philosophy it became clear that fear is the most formidable enemy humanity has ever had. Most people will believe anything to avoid feeling alone in the world, let alone the universe. Humans will develop thought distortions to alleviate anxiety. The need for pattern recognition and assigned causality is primal. Once I was free from belief (that is really what it feels like) I was able to see just how far humanity needs to twist something to keep it from being nothing.

Steve: I do not know Nagel’s work so I cannot refute the quote you excerpted. I do wonder what the context of that statement is. Regardless, I know if it were me that had said that, the context of the statement (which would be a philosophical one) would be this:

I do not want there to be a god because then I would be a slave. I would be a slave to this god and his imperfect and immoral precepts that I must follow. I would be a slave to this god’s creation and not a part of it where I can study the mysteries of the universe and ask new questions. I would be a slave to the god’s followers, their religions and dogmas that dictate the way in which I am to live including not being free to think for myself. I would be a slave to everything that is clearly not perfect. And, ultimately, there would be no escape. It is not some punishment after death that offends me. It is the punishment of a life with god.

Again, I have no idea if this is what Nagel means, but I just made the distinction of Nagel vs. myself irrelevant. I, as an open atheist, admit to the same hope and have a clear reason as to why I would make the statement: “I do not want there to be a god.”

1 Samuel 18

via AHughman08

Monday, March 7, 2011

Return to Earth (Star Trek TNG)

Monday Morning Quotes: Carl Sagan

“Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature.”

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”
“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

“Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?”

“The way to find out about our place in the universe is by examining the universe and by examining ourselves - without preconceptions, with as unbiased a mind as we can muster.”

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

“Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.”

“A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.”

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

“I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.”

“In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

“Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.”

“The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.”

“The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.”

“The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.”

“We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

Many of these quotes were compiled via BrainyQuotes and the Carl Sagan Quotes app for iOS.