Tuesday, April 24, 2012

‘Spectrum of Theistic Probability’ Survey

If you are unfamiliar with the ‘Spectrum of Theistic Probability’ it was popularized by Richard Dawkins in the bestselling book The God Delusion.  It really is a useful measure of one’s belief and some people, regardless of what they do or do not believe, may think a little harder or differently about what they believe if they ponder these categories. 

The categories and quotes are taken directly from Dawkins book. Please read through and consider your answer carefully. If you would like to discuss your reasoning please do in the comments of the post or within the survey if you would like to keep it private. Thank you. 

Through These Godless Eyes

via philhellenes

Monday, April 23, 2012

American Nuns vs. the Vatican Patriarchy

A report from the Vatican accuses a group of American Catholic nuns called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of having "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith,” due to stances of political, civil rights, and religious views that are contrary to Church doctrine. What are these heresies the nuns are committing? Open requests to the Pope (JPII) to allow women to be ordained, ministering to homosexuals, and not being aggressively “Catholic” enough on issues such as abortion, right to life, and health care. The report states that the nuns’ calls for women in the priesthood and other challenges to Church structure are an affront and "Some commentaries on 'patriarchy' distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the church.”

Reuters reports that Sister Joan Chittister said: 
“the nuns saw themselves as helping, not hurting, the church. Their difficult questions must be asked, she said, if the church is to remain vibrant, relevant and respected. ‘When you begin to suppress that, it's immoral,’ Chittister said. ‘It's a mistake for the church. And it's despair for its people.’ The nuns' motto, declared on their website: ‘We risk being agents of change within church and society.’" 
Sister Simone Campbell suggested that there was a link between their support of “Obamacare” and the Vatican’s crackdown: 
"I can only infer that there was strong feeling about the health care position that we had taken," Campbell said. "Our position on health care was application of the one faith to a political document that we read differently than the bishops." 
Embedded in all this, the Vatican makes the egregious claim that Roman Catholic Bishops “are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals," which basically is telling the nuns that the Y chromosome allows the Bishops to tell “Little Women” what to do. Besides the blatant and unapologetic sexism of the Church patriarchy we also have to consider how insanely self-righteous these criminals are. This statement that they are “authentic teachers of faith and morals” blows my mind! A short list of Vatican immorality and crimes from Atheist Revolution outlines the insanity of such a statement:

Clearly this is an institution that is sick, archaic, unable and unwilling to adapt. As Annie Laurie Gaylor requested of Catholics a month or so ago, Catholics should leave the Church; “en Mass.” This should include the nuns. Their motto “We risk being agents of change within church and society,” is admirable, but ultimately futile. The Vatican will never allow the kind of change they are advocating. They can’t even be trusted to act morally when it comes to the innumerable cases of child rape by priests. They have consistently acted immorally to preserve the status quo for the good of the order. And the crimes just keep happening.

I echo Ms. Gaylor’s request to Catholics: please leave. Most Catholics are good people that barely acknowledge Vatican doctrine anyway. Your support only enables and emboldens them. Change, in this instance, cannot come from within. It can only occur if you take their power away and their power is you and your loyalty.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dr. Peter Boghossian - Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and other Delusions: Just Say No!

Floyd's Law

The inspiration for this can be found in this post.

Friday Link Dump 4/20/12

Day of Silence “Sure, other kids might be getting picked on for their clothes or wearing glasses, but the hate and vitriol to a minority group is more of a constant barrage and on a fundamentally different personal level. It’s not that their clothes or glasses are perceived as wrong...”they” are perceived as wrong.”

Firefly & the Firewall of Faith “How does faith "operate" differently to ensure a correct belief?”

A little meme I whipped up for Hitchens’ birthday last Friday night.

Boy Scout leader has membership revoked due to sexual orientation Removed for being straight? Oh wait, no that wouldn't make sense either.

Tandem Quotes: Anders Breivik & Glenn Beck These a-holes think alike.

Life After the Westboro Baptist Church An excellent article by Nate Phelps.

Random Quotes of Lies & Hubris: Tony Perkins

Sunday Sacrilege: Sacking the City of God PZ Myers’ speech from the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia. It is great, but I am really irritated by it because I have half of a freakin’ essay written based on a thesis that sounds nearly identical to this: “The only process of evolution endorsed by any of these religious institutions is of god-guided, directed, teleological change, a mechanism completely unsupported by any evidence, in direct contradiction to known processes, and propped up only by an irrational need to make their holy dogma relevant to human origins.

They’re all intelligent design creationists, in other words, and they’re all wrong.”

Damn it!

Tribute to Christopher Hitchens - 2012 Global Atheist Convention

Obama and the failed war on drugs I disagree with President Obama on a lot of things. I’m not saying this is the worst, but this is the most surprising and perplexing. 

God Particle Discovered This may be my favorite thing Andy at Laughing Purgatory has ever written. Brilliant satire.

Why More Nonbelievers Are Openly Identifying “What nonbelievers are increasingly discovering, however, is that their reluctance to openly identify as secular only plays into the hand of the religious right. By not standing openly as nonbelievers, via the identity of atheist, agnostic, humanist, skeptic, freethinker, or some other identifier that clearly places them outside the umbrella of believers, they are creating the appearance of unanimity on the question of theism: Of course, everyone believes in God, right?”

EXCLUSIVE: ATHEIST MOVEMENT‘S ’GEORGE SOROS‘ SAYS BIBLE HAS ’MORAL’ & ‘FACTUAL’ FLAWS; TOUTS HIS VISION FOR SECULARISM This article is from Glenn Beck’s website “The Blaze.” It is a surprisingly fair and....not....crazy interview. Although I have to laugh at the headline.

Noodles in the Sand

Submit a Nomination for the 2012 President's Citizens Medal PZ Myers, JT Eberhard and Matt Dillahunty have all suggested Jessica Ahlquist. LET’S DO THIS!

An Invocation for Beginnings I have watched this so many times. I just think it’s brilliant.

Girls going wild in red light district This isn’t what you think it is. Watch it. all the way until the end. Then share.

Catholic League ‘Thought Experiment’ On ‘Weeding Out’ Unborn Gay Babies This man...*seethes*...I need to move on...

Tea Party Speaker Reportedly Tells LGBT Protesters: 'We Will Not Be Silenced By F*ggots' Not even remotely surprised.

The Anti-Vaccine Debate: When False Beliefs Risk Public Health “The fun ends when believing nonfactual and unscientific information drives people to make decisions that put a considerable number of others at risk. This is exactly what is happening with vaccines today as some parents choose not to vaccinate their children due to a belief that vaccines cause autism and other health problems, a belief that cuts against the conclusions of the scientific and medical communities.”

Vatican nun crackdown hits US group for 'radical feminist' ideas Jack sent this to me and said: “If there's one thing the [Roman Catholic Church] can't stand it's a group of women thinking for themselves without a man around to make sure they're doing it right ... apparently.”

Catholic Priest Receives Standing Ovation For Shunning Anti-Marriage Equality Petition Drive Good for him and good for that congregation. Fight the Vatican!

The rise of atheism in America

150 schoolgirls poisoned in Afghanistan for seeking an education  ‎"As a source of objective morality, the Bible is one of the worst books we have. It might be the very worst, in fact—if we didn’t also happen to have the Qur’an." -Sam Harris via The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos

Christopher Hitchens - The Problem of God

I think I learned more in that nine minutes of video than when I spent a few hours reading about Epigenetics. Yay Internet!   

Apes' Simple Nests Are Feats of Engineering

Bill would define holding hands, kissing as "gateway sexual activity" Only conservative, Bible-thumping, God-bothering ignoramuses would propose something so stupid. This is just further demonizing sexuality calling it “Gateway Sexual Activity?” We are equating sex to drugs now? You know what is gateway sexual activity? Being alive.

Christians Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government?

Nine planet solar system found, with room to grow

3.5 Hours of Richard Feynman Movies

This is my new mantra: 

“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.”   –Christopher Hitchens

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day of Silence

Friday April 20th, 2012* is the Day of Silence.
On the National Day of Silence hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools.
This is a fantastic student/youth movement that illustrates how attitudes have changed rather quickly in recent years. Media reports of violence and harassment committed against LGBT teens and adults has made hateful actions and rhetoric against these groups  taboo.

Of course, progress in human rights is not easy. Hate groups, such as American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Save California and many others are opposed to this event or anything that does not conform to their theocratic, Christan Nationalist worldview.

Focus on the Family, by way of their True Tolerance website (*stifles vomit and anger*) spreads propaganda that anti-bullying campaigns are actually an elaborate plot by “teh gays” to indoctrinate our children. THE HORROR!

For example:

In public, they claim it’s all about protecting kids. But behind the scenes, they are using these policies to accomplish three things:

1. Get the leverage they need to get what they want into public schools—such as mandatory diversity trainings, homosexual-themed curricula all the way down to the elementary level and school wide assemblies and/or celebrations on homosexual and transgender issues.
2. A tool that lets them evade parental rights.  
3. A way to circumvent traditional, marriage laws.

As the Friendly Atheist pointed out:  “Apparently, GLSEN is telling everyone they should be engaging in sodomy. I don’t remember getting that memo.”

These hate groups (always Christian and always claiming concern with “family values”) will make the claim that ALL bullying needs to come to an end and LGBT bullying is only a fraction of the reported bullying cases and shouldn't be singled out. While correct on the first point, the second point is only correct in the sense that they are intentionally ignoring population numbers and significance. While the numbers are always in question, it is likely that the population of LGBT people is somewhere between 1.5% and 10%; probably around 3%. Even with this uncertainty, anyone familiar with statistics can tell what is wrong here. The populations of LGBT teens and adults is vastly smaller than the rest of the population. Why is this important? A 2009 National School Climate Survey found that

  • 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as "faggot" or "dyke," frequently or often at school.
  • Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
With a smaller population size, any group that is specifically targeted for harassment and violence will have a higher incident rate within their group. Sure, other kids might be getting picked on for their clothes or wearing glasses, but the hate and vitriol to a minority group is more of a constant barrage and on a fundamentally different personal level. It’s not that their clothes or glasses are perceived as wrong...”they” are perceived as wrong.

This is what these Christian hate groups do not want to address. It is religious-based discrimination - plain and simple. Anything that their religious scriptures, clergy and beliefs have taught them to find abhorrent must remain abhorrent regardless of reason. There is not another single valid reason for the majority population to discriminate or persecute LGBT people except that it is ingrained in the cultural ethos of monotheism. Do you know why? Because the ancient Hebrews were fixated on human sexuality as a negative. Additionally, they hated their neighbors (the ones they were commanded to kill and steal their land) and these neighbors participated in homosexual practices during their religious ceremonies. Yahweh didn’t find that kosher. That is just one more cultural inheritance from religion we need to realize and discard.

Human progress has largely occurred due to secular principles replacing or influencing the “sacred” principles of religions. Any religion that finds secular humanist principles and goals to be against “god” and resists change is the enemy of human progress. You will be hard pressed to find a religion that does not do this at some point and to some degree.

*originally posted on April 15, 2011

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tandem Quotes: Anders Breivik & Glenn Beck

The trial of Anders Breivik began this week in Norway. I haven’t been following up on it too closely, but I did read how he was found sane despite everyone assuming he wasn’t. During his testimony Anders Breivik stated regarding the children he slaughtered on Utoeya in July 2011: “They were not innocents…They were in many ways similar to Hitler Youth at an indoctrination camp.”

As irreverent and disgusting as that is, it is not the first time we have heard that comparison.
Nine month ago and only three days after the murderous rampage Glenn Beck said the camp "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth or whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing."

Yes, who would have a political camp for kids?

Finally, in spite of the sanity ruling the media and pundits refuse to cease calling Breivik a “madman” and call him what he is: a Christian Terrorist. They are deflecting. There is no such thing as a Christian terrorist after all…

Not Christian Terrorism…

UPDATE: Breivik clearly states"Well, I am a militant Christian; to prevent the de-Christianisation of Europe is very important," 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Random Quotes of Lies & Hubris: Tony Perkins

“…over the weekend we saw the news of the President’s Secret Service detail in Colombia and the issue of them hiring prostitutes and now the White House is outraged about that. Actually in a meeting this morning my staff asked, ‘why should the President be upset’? It was actually legal; it was legal there to do that, so why should we be upset? Well, the fact is we intuitively know it’s wrong, there’s a moral law against that.

The same is true for what the President has done to the military enforcing open homosexuality in our military. You can change the law but you can’t change the moral law that’s behind it. You can change the positive law, the law that is created by man, but you can’t change the moral law, it’s wrong. So what you have is you have a total breakdown and you can’t pick and choose. Morality is not a smorgasbord; you can’t pick what you want. I think you’re absolutely right, this is a fundamental issue going forward because if we say ‘let them do what we want,’ what’s next? You cannot maintain moral order if you are willing to allow a few things to slide.” (emphasis added)

--Tony Perkins the president of the Family Research Council, a known hate group.

Welp, they are lying again. Conservative Christians simply cannot base their agenda on truth, logic, or anything valid so they have to lie. It’s all they have. Aside from the absurd notion that the repeal of DADT led to the “moral” decay that allowed good, honest, presumably heterosexual males to screw (female) prostitutes in Columbia; we also get treated to the lie that President Obama is “enforcing open homosexuality” in the military. This is pure dipshittery. The real of DADT doesn’t mandate homosexual soldiers “out” themselves and sashay through the barracks. It allows them to serve without fear of being discharged simply for being gay. The truth is that gay servicemen and servicewomen have served with distinction, honor and valor throughout history; but previously would have been discharged for admitting they were gay or being “found out.” This is regardless of their professional and personal behavior, in and out of uniform. It is the very definition of discrimination; which is antithetical to any valid morality.

Speaking of morality; the hubris that is required for a human to instruct other humans on matters of morality while “speaking” for their supreme deity is immense. How bloated must one’s ego be? Perkins also states that one “can’t pick and choose” which morals to adhere to and that morality isn’t a smorgasbord. I don’t see Perkins or any of these Christians living their lives strictly by Biblically mandated “morals.” If they did they would be in jail—and rightfully so—but even if they ignored the more hateful, murderous and vile “morals” of the Bible to stay legal in our secular society, many would no more adhere to the rest of it. It would be terribly inconvenient for them.

Tribute to Christopher Hitchens - 2012 Global Atheist Convention

via AtheistFoundation

Monday, April 16, 2012

Noodles in the Sand

An Invocation for Beginnings

Apparently Ze Frank has been around for awhile now, but I just ‘discovered’ him over the weekend. This video is only tangentially, at best, relevant to the typical content of this site; but it is too good to not share. I have watched this probably close to a dozen times. One of the best lines:

“Let me find and use metaphors to help me understand the world around me and give me the strength to get rid of them when it’s apparent they no longer work.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Firefly & the Firewall of Faith

When I watch this video I have to laugh to myself because it is beautifully written as a confirmation for the audience’s beliefs. A confirmation for all of the audience’s beliefs. What I mean is that depending on whether or not the individuals in the audience accept or reject faith as a means to believe in something this scene works either way.

The “believer” is going to listen to the Shepherd and nod their head when he says “It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something and letting that belief be real enough to change your life.  It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.” That is considered profound by a lot of people.

The non-believer simply hears “It’s broken. It doesn’t make sense.” This is a factual statement. The Bible doesn’t make sense. It’s broken. What’s to get?

Additionally, the non-believer also hears the Shepherd’s words but instead of nodding in agreement we wonder: “What the hell does that even mean? That is an awful way to operate!”

And then there is the fanboy that says OMG Summer Glau!

When it comes to challenging faith there is really no way to get through that shield. When you consider that faith is willful belief and acceptance without a shred of evidence and the rejection of which is considered foolish…well…good luck getting through or even trying to make a point. It is a very effective firewall of ignorance.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, of course.

By what method does faith operate that it can be claimed to be correct in one instance and incorrect in another? Each set of believers via faith can claim the other wrong—and they do—however, you will never see them clamor to reject or criticize the concept of belief or the mechanism by which they believe. They cannot. That would undermine one’s own modus operandi. This is the true firewall. I think it is suspicious that disparate religions stick up for each other. Do they all know its bullshit or do they subconsciously realize that no matter the differences they still have exactly the same level of evidence for all of the claims? Better to stick together against the horrible rationalists.  

Two disparate beliefs based on faith can never logically claim the other to be incorrect.  Regardless of differences or contradictions, one belief may reject the premise and conclusions of the other belief; but it can never reject the mechanism by which they believe. The method of all faith-based beliefs is, of course, faith.

I would like someone to explain how their faith operates differently from the faith of Fred Phelps, Rick Santorum, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Pope Benedict XVI?

The question I am trying to get answered is a sincere one. How does faith "operate" differently to ensure a correct belief? What is the difference? I contend there is none. It is a false and ultimately irrational manner to view reality. 

Christopher Hitchens - The Problem of God

via pangeaprogressblog

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why do humans exist?

3.5 Hours of Richard Feynman Movies

Friday Link Dump 4/13/12

It is, of course, Christopher Hitchen’s birthday. The first since his passing. I’m drinking to him as I type my favorite quote:  

"I burned the candle at both ends and it often gave a lovely light" - Christopher Hitchens

Rock Beyond Belief Nick’s excellent summary of the atheist event on Fort Bragg. Even Justin Griffith thought so!

Discarding Relativism “...shedding this relativism is a greater moral stance since it doesn’t silence and impede my internal morality which is the only morality I can attempt.”

The Bible Challenge A friendly challenge to any Christian willing to read the Bible with some questions in mind and report back to us.

Are we Sheep? That damn sheep really is creepy.

Teen Pregnancies Highest In States With Abstinence-Only Policies Psst...also the most religious...

Guestpost: Attitude Inoculation Guestpost from Joey Joe-Joe Junior Shabadoo. That’s the worst name I’ve ever heard.

Minimalist posters explain complex philosophical concepts with basic shapes

Of what use is philosophy?

Bruce Lee: “Be water, my friend.” I love Zen Pencils.

Would You Believe In God Because A Church Is Nice?

Tennessee antievolution bill passes the House  Zod damnit Tennessee...

Darwin's Acid by Baba Brinkman

The Amazing Trajectories of Life-Bearing Meteorites from Earth

Sam Harris ~ The Illusion of Free Will

Jessica Ahlquist Gets Nasty Hatemail Heinous people.

Locked Out: How the Church Responded to their Pastor’s Coming Out That famous Christian love again! My how the apostasy stings.


CHARITY WATER: http://mycharitywater.org/thethinkingatheist

RESPONSIBLE CHARITY: http://www.razoo.com/story/Thethinkingatheist

Peter Boghassian has made the rounds this week! I saw posts from Friendly Atheist, Atheist Revolution and friends sent me these two articles: Should We Challenge Student Beliefs? and Faith No More. The dude is pretty boss.

CCOKC - Child Celebrities Opposing Kirk Cameron Awesome.

Scientists Closing in on Black Hole at Center of Our Galaxy

The Responsibility of Religious Moderates for Religious Extremism a great quote by Nate Phelps in this post. Also, Vjack inserts one of his old posts on the subject so I’ll do the same: Everything In Moderation? Maybe Not.

An awesome graphic of the deepest lakes and oceans from xkcd.

Will This Post Make Sam Harris Change His Mind About Free Will? A rebuttal to Sam Harris. Sam posted this article on Facebook with the following message: “John Horgan of Scientific American subscribes to my email list and complains that I ‘keep emailing’ him. The man's a genius.”

I lol’d.

Reasoning the Unreasonable

Free Will and “Free Will”: How my view differs from Daniel Dennett's and suddenly I realize how much Sam Harris is in this FLD. Oh well...

Fox’s misinformation effect Conservatism survives only via authoritarianism and lies.

My definition of a conservative.

Experts: Norway mass murder suspect sane and some wanted him to be declared insane so bad. Why?

Huh. No mention of organized, hierarchical religion as a result of agriculture? Pretty good video other than that. Oh and the snail thing...don’t know about that.

Was Jesus Happy? So one projects their personal and cultural beliefs onto their ideas of a higher being? Shocking!

Bill Hicks Last Performance

Shaking Off the Cobwebs of the Crypt: The Evolution of the Zombie The author of this article has an awesome last name.

Zombie survival Google Map allows you to find food and guns for the undead apocalypse

Speaking of which...Saturday Matinee Monsters

Mass atheist suspension on Twitter So this happened...

A parable I read that I really like:

An old man walking along a beach at dawn noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth he asked what he was doing. "The starfish will die if they are still on the beach when the sun roasts them with its mid-morning heat," came the answer. "But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish," countered the old man. "How can your effort make any difference?" The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it safely in the waves. "It makes a difference to this one," he said.  --Unknown