Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Link Dump 4/29/11
 Tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Fun with the May 21, 2011 Rapture predictions

Calling all nonbelievers . . . Come out of the closet!: Freedom From Religion Foundation has a ‘Come out of the closet” campaign.

David Barton On Earth Day: David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

Respect for Other's Beliefs...: ...It’s not a one way street.

Martin Rees: Atheists should drop anti-religion campaigns: This is worthy of an entire post, but let me just say this: political niceties with the moderate-mainstream religious does not change the fact that they are part of the problem. How about the moderate-mainstream religious drop the pretense and openly reject the fundies by being as outspoken to protect secular government, science, education as the non-believers. After all, the fundies will come for you next.

Contingency or Convergence?


Meet the Religious Right Charlatan Who Teaches Tea Party America The Totally Pretend History They Want to: David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

Lawrence O'Donnell - NOM Defector Louis Marinelli Turns Gay Marriage Advocate: Eat it, NOM.

Thought Experiment: Fundamentalist Atheism

Mass hysteria! Science world buzzing over rumours the elusive 'God particle' has finally been found : Oh wait. Scratch that. The media jumped the gun again.

In the 15th century, Satanic automata wigged out churchgoers: Who you think enjoyed grabbing Satan’s crank and winding him up more: Nuns or Priests? I await the answers in the comments.  

Japan's Radiation Contamination Protocols Align with Old Testament Laws: This is not an Onion article. No. Really.

New theory of evolution for spiral galaxy arms

Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus: Good one Phil Zuckerman! Wait...where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah...awkward.

Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian

The ad that could help fuel a health crisis: It’s too bad the children potentially suffer and not their idiot parents.

US Catholic charity charged poor folk for free flu jabs, and pocketed the cash: If you can’t trust the Catholic Church who can you trust?

Perceived Atheist Prevalence Reduces Anti-Atheist Prejudice

The Skeptic’s Collection: A collection of movies and videos from Atheist Movies.

Poll: Belief in supreme being strong across globe: Reports of religion’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

AFA Video Uses Fake Quote From John Quincy Adams To Prove "The Biblical Foundations Of Government": David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

"The Thing": A 140,000-Year-Old Organism Discovered in Antarctica's Ice-Shrouded Lake Vostok


Chimps will follow their leader even when it’s the stupid thing to do: Obviously, this explains a lot.

Everything Should Operate According to Biblical Principles: David Barton! *shakes fist angrily*

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The primary function of the human brain is to integrate sensory stimuli into what we call "experience."

We marvel when we see a connection between the objects or events that we perceive and assume that the connection is an act of divinity.

We praise the symmetry of the world around us while completely ignoring that the synthesis of the mass of sensory static occurs in our brain.

God is literally in our head.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No End in Sight : A Commentary

Inspired by Working for the End Times:

The world will end on 21 May 2011 at 6:00 PM [PST]. I am not certain about the time zone, but the prediction came from a man who lives in California and I imagine that the Almighty would account for this while providing the revelation. The charlatan in question is Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, CA. Camping is the originator of the latest End Times craze and the founder of the ubiquitous Family Radio Network. This network owns 66 stations and is responsible for the rash of billboards across the US.

Camping reveals the secret to his calculations in an article in The Independent.

He says the world will end on 21 May, because that will be 722,500 days from 1 April AD33, which he believes was the day of the Crucifixion. The figure of 722,500 is important because you get it by multiplying three holy numbers (five, 10 and 17) together twice. "When I found this out, I tell you, it blew my mind," he said.

This blows my mind too, but for different reasons. First of all, there are a lot of holy numbers: 3, 7, 12, 40, 666 (well, its in the Bible right?). And he multiplied the numbers by 2. Is 2 a holy number? WELL IS IT? Second, (assuming that Jesus was a real person). How do we know that April 1st AD33 is the actual day of his death? The Calender of Jesus (first find on a google search) says:

Jesus was crucified at 9 AM on the Passover, 14 Nisan 3791 [Mark 15:25], which was Wednesday, April 25, 31 AD; suffering pain-unimaginable, Jesus died shortly after 3 PM that dark afternoon [ref. Mat 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46].

I am not pointing this out to discredit Camping's calculations. There is no point to doing that. I didn't even verify his math. I just want to call attention to the very high probability of Camping coming to any other date.

Third, is the money. The ridiculous number of followers who are giving their last cent to this man and his delusional campaign with literally no concern for their future. Does anyone think these people are starting college funds for their children? Or having mammograms? Are they making mortgage payments on their homes? In a struggling economy, can America afford this brand of madness? Mark my words: within 7 days of May 21st, someone is going to kill their child, or themselves, or both. It will be either in preparation for the Rapture, or in the aftermath when they realize that they are now homeless or poverty stricken.

Obviously this is batshit. That is not up for debate. Even the vast majority of Christians agree because most reasonable people know crazy when they hear it. The media attention is about on par with Balloon Boy (another hoax). This is an example of theology gone off the rails. Very few people are taking it seriously but it's still dangerous. There are real world consequences. Do I think he should be silenced? Of course not. I think there should be a criminal investigation if Mr. Camping profits financially from this charade. I don't expect one, because my belief system is based on evidence and precedence. This is not extremism. Its fundamentalism. It should not be exempt from, or immune to --ridicule. Check back with us on May 22.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Morning Quotes: James Randi

  • “To make sure that my blasphemy is thoroughly expressed, I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition, that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s), that devils, demons, angels and saints are myths, that there is no life after death, heaven nor hell, that the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and that the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place -- not to mention the "ethnic cleansing" presently being performed by Christians in our world -- and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women.”
  • “Sir, there is a distinct difference between having an open mind and having a hole in your head from which your brain leaks out.”
  • “The New Age? It's just the old age stuck in a microwave oven for fifteen seconds.”
  • “The only difference is that religion is much better organised and has been around much longer, but it's the same story with different characters and different costumes.”
  • “Heroin also makes people feel better, but I wouldn't recommend using heroin.”
  • “If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, then he's doing it the hard way.”
  • “Far from being a curse, it might be lucky to disturb a pharaoh's tomb. These people beat  the life span expectation for those days by about a year.”
  • “I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He's proven — time and again — to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as He sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In His wisdom, He directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and He wouldn't have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse Him as we flail about vainly trying to appease Him. I vote that we dump Him.”
  • “There exists in society a very special class of persons that I have always referred to as the Believers. These are folks who have chosen to accept a certain religion, philosophy, theory, idea or notion and cling to that belief regardless of any evidence that might, for anyone else, bring it into doubt. They are the ones who encourage and support the fanatics and the frauds of any given age. No amount of evidence, no matter how strong, will bring them any enlightenment. They are the sheep who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized… the U.S. Patent Office handles an endless succession of inventors who still produce perpetual-motion machines that don't work, but no number of idle flywheels will convince these zealots of their folly; dozens of these patent applications flow in every year. In ashrams all over the world, hopping devotees of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will never abandon their goal of blissful levitation of their bodies by mind power, despite bruises and sprains aplenty suffered as they bounce about on gym mats like demented (though smiling) frogs, trying to get airborne. Absolutely nothing will discourage them.”
  • "I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world--the real world--around me as is possible. Now, you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control. I've never involved myself in narcotics of any kind, I don't smoke, and I don't drink because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality--fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers--and I want to be as aware as I possibly can. That means giving up a lot of fantasies that might be comforting in some ways, but I'm willing to give that up in order to live in an actually real world, or as close as I can get to it."
  • “Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic. And it doesn't work.“

On Christian Faith Healers:
Well first of all they don't do any faith healing, I think I can say that from a point of view of authority. I investigated for my book 'The Faith Healers' 104 cases of people who said they had been healed by faith healers or about whom it was said they were healed. And I found out those 104 people belonged to three classes: first class is people who never had the disease that they thought they did. A quick example of that is a woman who said she'd been healed of throat cancer where the faith healer admitted he touched her on the forehead. So I questioned her further, and eventually got to talk to her doctor. And her doctor sort of shook his head and he said, 'I have examined her for throat cancer at least 15 times in the past few years. Her mother died of it some years ago and every time she gets a sore throat of any kind, or a frog in her voice or whatever, she swears she has throat cancer. She comes to me and I examine her, and say, "No, no trace of any abnormality there" but she still wants to believe she has throat cancer.'

The second class of people that I examined in those 104 people, were people who still had the diseases of which they said they'd been healed. One gentleman, he said he'd been healed of diabetes. W.P. Grant, who had apparently treated this man by again hitting him on the forehead with his palm. There has never been a recorded case of diabetes being healed but it can be treated effectively either with insulin or other drugs that simulate the effect of insulin. He said, 'I'm aware of that, but I want to testify to my healing.' I said, 'OK, can I talk to your doctor?' and he said, 'Yes'. There was a pause and he said, 'By the way, my doctor won't agree that I've been healed.' I said, 'Wait now, either you are healed or you're not healed.' He said, 'Yes, but my doctor's not a Christian you see.' And he said, 'Oh I see, you're one of those sceptical people?' I said, 'Yes indeed I am, Sir, I admit that.' And he said, 'Well, I don't think I want any more of this conversation.' I said, 'One question more: are you still taking insulin?' He said, 'I thought you'd ask that.' He said, 'Yes, the Devil makes me take the insulin.'

The third class of people was even sadder. They were people who were already dead by the time I got around to interview them. And one case was in St Louis, Missouri, we went up to the front door and we were just knocking on the front door and they opened the front door and the gentleman was being wheeled out in the body bag on a gurney. He had died of the disease he said he'd been healed of, just the night before.

I can't say that faith healing has never worked or that it doesn't ever work. All I can say is my experience is 100% failure.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Age of Reason: An Excerpt

"From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea, and acting upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the christian system, or thought it to be a strange affair; I scarcely knew which it was: but I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee of the church, upon the subject of what is called Redemption by the death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man, that killed his son, when he could not revenge himself any other way; and as I was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. This was not one of those kind of thoughts that had any thing in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of doing it. I believe in the same manner to this moment; and I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.
It seems as if parents of the christian profession were ashamed to tell their children any thing about the principles of their religion. They sometimes instruct them in morals, and talk to them of the goodness of what they call Providence; for the Christian mythology has five deities: there is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, the God Providence, and the Goddess Nature. But the christian story of God the Father putting his son to death, or employing people to do it, (for that is the plain language of the story,) cannot be told by a parent to a child; and to tell him that it was done to make mankind happier and better, is making the story still worse; as if mankind could be improved by the example of murder; and to tell him that all this is a mystery, is only making an excuse for the incredibility of it."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hitchens Letter to American Atheists

Dear fellow-unbelievers,

Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.

That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit...) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson's wall of separation. And don't keep the faith.


Christopher Hitchens

via Pharyngula

Friday Link Dump - 4/22/11

An (Atheist) Easter Message From Ricky Gervais

The Pope says: “Technology can’t replace God” I agree. Technology can actually heal the sick, feed the poor and move mountains. Someday technology may even be able to regrow lost limbs. God never does that.

The Holy Gospel of the Easter Rabbit

Richard Dawkins : Global Athiest Convention 2010

Death Anxiety Prompts People to Believe in Intelligent Design This is a perfect example of Terror Management Theory

What does a self-respecting metalhead wear to Easter dinner?

Old Stuff Here’s a little something for the new readers. A random sample of our old posts from the birth of Left Hemispheres.

Monday Morning Quotes ~ Mark Twain

I don’t know why this guy is yelling at Sarah Palin, but I understand.

Anonymous - Race for Human Redemption

The kids will be Sondheimized Either the Illinois Family Institute has no sense of humor, or they really believe that the gays are out to rape their children.

Mr. Deity and the Afterparty

A Church with a Sense of Humor Really! If only they could all take a page from this book.

Conservative Christians Mark Holy Week With an Attack on Our Rights

Fischer: “I Would Never Participate in an Interfaith Dialog With a Muslim Hmm, I bet Jesus would have.

Missionaries of Hate This is abysmal, but you need to watch it anyway.

Neanderthals Might Have Believed in the Spiritual World Before Homo Sapiens

Church Blames Girl for Being Raped

What Will Happen if Gay Marriage is Legalized?

Does God Hate Less Than Jake? *Sigh* Yet another example of Westboro Baptist Church dumbfuckery. They were probably in Pensacola protesting the sun for being in the center of the solar system when they found a flyer for the Warped Tour. If God were really this arbitrary, there would be even more flaws in His Design.

Massive Star Observed Ripping Through Interstellar Cloud at 24 km per Sec

Report: In 12 Years, Income for Richest 400 Americans Quadruples, Tax Rate Nearly Halved

The Triceratops Panic A great article about the way scientific “facts” change when new evidence is discovered to challenge previously held beliefs. Of course people are freaking out.

New PBS Doc: An Atheist Mom Goes to the Supreme Court - and Wins
The Likely Atheists

Ricky Gervais on the Daily Show

Physicists create a quantum mirror image This is insane.

Think for Yourself

What Will The Universe Look Like in One Trillion Years?

Mysterious Pioneer Anomaly May Be Solved Why does science have to solve all the cool mysteries? Who does Science think he is anyway?

Solar Activity Heats Up: Sunspots Finally Return

Scientists Make Teleportation Breakthrough This is as awesome as it sounds. It also talks about one of my favorite thought experiments: Schrodinger’s Cat

When I Almost Died and I Didn’t Find God

Atheists Do Have a Well Grounded Morality I know! I was shocked too.

Sam Harris: Should We Be Mormons in The Matrix?