Friday, June 29, 2012

Patrick Explains the 'God of the Gaps'

Friday Link Dump 6/29/12

I’m going minimalist this week, folks. We did a lot of reading, but real life is real and commentary takes time. Have a great weekend and see you next week.

Friendly Response To A Christian Apologist

Guest Post: Dancing On Pinheads by Colby Hess

"Sure we fit. We wouldn't be here if we didn't."

Conservative Radio Host to Tom Latham (R-IA) : Let’s pistol whip some nuns!

Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris & Ayaan Hirsi Ali

PZ Myers - Sacking The City Of God!

The Thinking Atheist's 'Afterlife'

TEDx - Reid Gower: Defining the Frontier

An Objective Moral Lawgiver?

An Interview with Martin S. Pribble

Could A God Prove Its Existence?

Who Invented Christ?

Jesus Vision Goggles Are Now Available!

In Which I Answer Leah Libresco’s Moral Philosophy Concerns So You Don’t Become A Catholic Too

On Harassment and Policies: An Open Letter to Skeptic and Freethought Leaders

Thanks to @Godless_Savage for the heads up on this speech. I had never seen it before. Go forth and follow him. 

Ancient Chinese pottery confirmed as the oldest yet found

An Interactive Map of the Dark-Money Universe

NASA finds hidden ocean on Saturn's moon Titan

The Big Bang Didn't Need God

In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins

Catholics Call Lesbian Employee's Lawsuit an Attack on Religion

Why So Little Religious Politicking in This Presidential Election?

Case shines light on obedience in Catholic church

Christian School Suspends Gay Student, Fires Mother

Today's Reasons to Quit the Catholic Church

LA Voucher Students Taught Creationism, Climate Change Denial, and Bigotry

GOP Opposes Critical Thinking: Party platform paints original ideas as a liberal conspiracy

Mysterious Fairy Circles Are 'Alive'

The galaxy that shouldn’t be there


A Three-Minute Song by Tim Minchin

I laughed. A lot.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Defining the Frontier" -Reid Gower at TEDx -

If you have never watched the The Sagan Series you are missing out. It is amazing! I cannot recommend it enough.

via TEDx

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post: Dancing On Pinheads by Colby Hess

Many people have at some point heard, or are at least vaguely familiar with the question, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” – a reference to the pointless theological debates that consumed much of European academia during the latter half of the Middle Ages.  Although it turns out this particular phrasing was most likely never actually discussed (not appearing in print until hundreds of years later as a retroactive jab at Thomas Aquinas and his “scholastic” brand of philosophy) it continues to serve as a handy metaphor for any dubious intellectual endeavor lacking in apparent practical value and without any foreseeable means of resolution.

Questions of this sort, while no longer at the forefront of serious scholarly inquiry, haven’t completely subsided in the modern age, especially in the United States where we have the unusual distinction of being by far the most religious of any advanced, industrial nation.  As the so-called “culture wars” rage on unabated in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election (with back and forth volleys ranging from Rick Santorum’s failed candidacy to President Obama’s recent declaration of support for gay marriage), the subject of religious belief and its role in American politics has been pushed to the forefront of national discourse, and with it has come a revival of interest in a wide range of formerly obscure ideas relating to God and his role in the universe.

Most visible and controversial among these various heretical doctrines to emerge, and standing in direct opposition to the mainstream Christian beliefs still held by a majority of the populace, is the moral and philosophical position that God is completely imaginary; that he is nothing but a vestige of primitive ignorance and confusion about the workings of nature, and that it is therefore up to humans alone to determine what is best for our species.  Rooted in science and fueled in large part by a perceived religious overreach in all manner of secular concerns, this passionate and vocal “new” atheism has burst onto the scene over the past decade – a rapid resurgence of a phenomenon that had gone virtually unnoticed in the U.S. since the days of Robert Green Ingersoll and the “Golden Age of Freethought” at the close of the nineteenth century.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Sure we fit. We wouldn't be here if we didn't."

“It seems the height of antiquated hubris to claim that the universe carried on as it did for billions of years in order to form a comfortable abode for us. Chance and historical contingency give the world of life most of its glory and fascination. I sit here happy to be alive and sure that some reason must exist for ‘why me?’ Or the earth might have been totally covered with water, and an octopus might now be telling its children why the eight-legged God of all things had made such a perfect world for cephalopods. Sure we fit. We wouldn't be here if we didn't. But the world wasn't made for us and it will endure without us.”
— Stephen Jay Gould, "Pleasant Dreams," An Urchin in the Storm, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1987, p. 206.

Conservative Radio Host to Tom Latham (R-IA) : Let’s pistol whip some nuns!

Jan Mickelson: "There’s a bus full of nuns headed towards Washington to lobby against the Ryan plan. Do you guys, do you have any power to pull the Nuns on the Bus over and pistol whip them?" 

Tom Latham: "It’s always fun to be on your show." [Laughs]

via Faith in Public Life

The Thinking Atheist's 'Afterlife'

via The Thinking Atheist

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Link Dump 6/22/12

I laughed. 
So You Want To Misrepresent Atheism?  My two favorite lines from this are: “passive atheism didn’t get 'boring.' It became a liability" and "People that think Jesus was all rainbows and kittens are deluded."

Coming Out Is Hard To Do (Especially If You Now Champion Evil) “If she is now Catholic, then she kisses the ring and trades her freedom for hierarchy, homophobia, genocide, protected pederasty, and misogyny.  They do not actually bend on this.  Canon Law is Canon Law...Her reservation about the church's stance on homosexuality is cute, liberal pap.”

Atheist blogger Leah Libresco converts to Christianity  Ooh, national news! It must have been important!

An Incredibly Poor Defense of Faith Maybe someday I will find something written by a Christian apologist that doesn’t make me roll my eyes. Someday...

Davey And Goliath Video And Memes I love these. I used to watch Davey and Goliath all the time. I can still hear the stupid dog’s voice in my head. “Hello Daaavee.”

Stream Gojira's new album - L'Enfant Sauvage

"The Unity of Life is an Empirical Fact."

An old friend and classmate of mine is running in the NYC Triathlon for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. I asked her to kick cancer in the crotch for me. Please consider donating/sponsoring.

This Is Atheist Charity Same charity as above, but a different event.

How Lies Spread My in-laws are nice enough to not watch Fox News when I’m around, but they say things that give it away. Last weekend I heard all about the drone surveillance of American farmers. I was skeptical, but also eating their food.

Scapegoating Ever wonder where the Christian concept of sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins came from?

When animals light up: Bioluminescence

HENRY ROLLINS: Who's the crazier man? Zen Pencils with another great one.

As America grows more polarized, conservatives increasingly reject science and rational thought

"Faith: Pretending To Know Things You Don't Know" by Dr. Peter Boghossian

Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator Honestly, who could tell the difference?

Scientology and Dead Space: how the horror series may carry a hidden message of religious skepticism “‘From their perspective, it makes sense. Some of them, when they see how it all goes down, they have a crisis of confidence.’ In fact, Dead Space 3 will explore what happens when followers of Unitology see what the prophecies really mean, and have to decide whether to abandon their religion or trust in their faith and the teachings of the church.”

Does a galaxy filled with habitable planets mean humanity is doomed? Nah.

All 786 Known Planets to Scale

The Letter - Jehovah's Witness Mother Ends Relationship with Atheist Son This just made me sad. I actually wrote some commentary for it and then decided against it using it. I figure I should just let this speak for itself.

Drug Enforcement Agent Won’t Admit That Crack Is Worse Than Marijuana Amazing. Stupid, but really amazing if you think about it.

Humanity escapes the solar system: Voyager 1 signals that it has reached the edge of interstellar space It has taken my entire lifetime for Voyager 1 to accomplish this. While this is an fantastic achievement, we need to do better.

Is the New Testament Reliable? Spoiler Alert! → No.

Paul Verhoeven Finds Backing And A Writer For Controversial Jesus Christ Movie

My Secret Atheist Blog: No Longer A Slumdog Book Review - Part 1 - The 4/14 Window This is really interesting. I never heard of this before.

Vatican accuses media of "imitating Dan Brown"

VatiLeaks Puts the Pope in Publicity Hell

Exhausted in the Vatican Anachronistic and dying. *clasps fingers together and mutters* “Excellent."

Ancient Turtles Died Copulating  ▲ eh?

Joe The Plumber & the Bible vs. Science Such a moron.

Finally, A Map Of All The Microbes On Your Body “The human body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only maybe one in 10 of those cells is actually — human. The rest are from bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.” Cool.

UGANDA: Police Raid LGBT Meeting

Almost 120,000 Christians pledge to vote for Jesus Christ as president this November This is almost certainly a massive overstatement, but it’s nice to think that some people are so stupid as to remove themselves from the voter block.

David Barton * shakes fist*: 'Many of the Clauses we Find in the Constitution are Literal, Direct Quotations out of the Bible' Right Wing Watch challenges “anyone to find these "literal, direct quotations out of the Bible" printed anywhere in the US Constitution.”

Report calls on government to back open access to science  

A Size Comparison Chart of 20 Real-Life Spaceships With the Starship Enterprise

Fight Church I can’t even explain why I find this so funny. I just do.

George Takei Fires His Phaser at Facebook

Mark Ruffalo and Tom Morello launch Robin Hood tax plan to outlaw Wall Street excess This...this is actually a good idea!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"The Unity of Life is an Empirical Fact."


Ever wonder where the Christian concept of sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins came from? It's called "scapegoating."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fight Church

I have no problem with MMA, but this is hilarious.

via Gawker

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Coming Out Is Hard To Do (Especially If You Now Champion Evil)

Coming out is hard to do.  I know.  You’re never sure how people are going to react.  I’ve gotten the full spectrum of reactions, everything from “Awesome, me too” to “No, you’re not” to the ever popular “You know you’re going to hell, right”.  I’ve never asked that people accept my atheism, just that they respect my right of conscience.  That’s why when I read about Leah Libresco’s announcement that she’s switching sides, I didn’t feel the need to jump all over her.  Even the fact that she continued writing "as an atheist" for another month after her realization didn't bother me.  In a way, it was kind of expected.  I read her blog off and on, always more interested in how she was going to argue her point rather than what she was arguing. She was a "theist's atheist", much as S.E. Cupp is, although I would have hesitated to make that comparison.  That is, until I actually read her post explaining her conversion. 

I wasn’t upset that she had become a theist, just disappointed.  That she “feels” morality is a person is about as ridiculous a reason as I’ve ever heard for belief in the supernatural.  It’s weakness couched in sophistry.  That she wants there to be some force for good in the universe doesn’t change the fact that she can’t possibly know whether or not there is; and the fact is that the universe behaves exactly as we’d expect it to without a supreme moral agent working for good.  Not to mention she ignores every other argument in favor of non-belief.  All this didn’t really seem worth my time to rebut.

A conversion to Roman Catholicism, however, is worth a rebuttal.  Of all the religious traditions available, she chose one of the most wretchedly immoral of the lot.  With everything that the Catholic Church has done and believed throughout its history and all that it continues to, she chose it

The church of the golden throne and the starving child. 

The church of the Madonna and dying mothers.

The church of Highest Truth and greatest lies.

If she is now Catholic, then she kisses the ring and trades her freedom for hierarchy, homophobia, genocide, protected pederasty, and misogyny.  They do not actually bend on this.  Canon Law is Canon Law (unless the Pope changes his mind).  Her reservation about the church's stance on homosexuality is cute, liberal pap. They don't care if it makes you squeamish.  I expect more Lewis and Chesterson (really, Leah those are the philosphical shoulders you stand upon?), and probably some Teilhard de Chardin. You know, to show us how good Catholicism is.  How about some Francis of Assisi?  I mean, seriously?  St Patrick's Breastplate

In the comments, some asked her why not deism, Unitarian Universalism, or some other moderate form of belief.  Given her choice, I’m wondering why not Wahhabi Islam?

I have always contended that I am open to the existence of the divine, that I will gladly shed my atheism for belief in the presence of evidence.  What I have never, and will never concede, is that the divine powers of any of the extant religions are examples of good moral agents, and especially not the tyrannical god of Abraham.  If that were to be the god of this world, I would fight it with every fiber of my being, no matter the futility.

I wish Leah well on her journey.  She has said that her conversion is not over.  I certainly hope so.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Link Dump ~ 6/15/12

Virginia Lawmaker Says 'Sea Level Rise' Is Liberal Propaganda Yes because FACTS are Liberal Propaganda.  It seems that anything contrary to the Conservative narrative can be labeled as part of the Liberal plan to take over the world and make everyone hug trees and eat babies.  I think when they label factions of society like the media, the scientific community or secularism “Liberal” -what they mean to say is that they are of the out-group.  Loyalty to the in-group is a primary ideological aspect of Conservative thought.  It’s a classic Poisoning the Well Fallacy.  They discredit the statement by attempting to discredit the source.

‘You’re not special’ graduation speech sparks buzz “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.  We are all part of the same compost heap.”  Trust in Tyler

Is Japanese Dock A Noah's Ark Or A Trojan Horse? Those are metaphors.  Read this.

Evolution and its real ‘magic’ First paragraph clearly indicates that this moron doesn't understand the difference between evolution and origin theory.

Putting Fear In Your Ears: What Makes Music Sound Scary ”The musical pieces containing nonlinear elements elicited the highest level of emotional stimulation, as well as the most negative feeling.”  Maybe this explains why Country music terrifies me.

Big Bang Theory a Bust? The title is misleading. The multiverse theory, (which is not new) just incorporates the Big Bang as an event within a cycle.  Maybe we’ll change the indefinite article from “the” Big Bang to “this” Big Bang.

Should intelligent people fear Islamism? "Being aware of the risk of being labelled as an Islamophobe,...I would point out that a phobia is an ‘irrational fear’ and I feel that my fear is very rational."

Michigan State Representative Silenced By GOP For Saying ‘Vagina’ “If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” Brown said at a press conference. “What language should I use?”

Atheist's bizarre bid to convert Christian It’s a little known fact that urinating on someone’s doorstep adds extra credibility to your arguments.

Megachurch Pastor Creflo Dollar Busted For Choking Out And Beating His 15 Year-Old Daughter With A Shoe I bet you’ll be shocked to know that this is not the only time he didn’t “spare the rod.”  There is naturally was an outpouring of support from the congregation and some blame tossed at the daughter for reporting her abuse.

I love this guy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jerry DeWitt Quote

Friday Link Dump 6/8/12

Faith is a Locked Door “...the process is not about finding or rejecting God, it's about finding truth.”

Above All…Faith My guest post for Martin Pribble’s blog. Thanks again to Martin for allowing me to reach some new readers. I hope I held the fort down adequately for a few hours.

Religion For Atheists – Alain de Botton Martin takes the bullet for us and reads and reviews de Botton’s book so we don’t have to. Godspeed, Martin. Godspeed.

You v. Satan: Why People of Faith Do Not Consider Themselves “Bad”

Reasonable Doubt: What’s it Really Mean?  “We rationalists, freethinkers, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, or however else we self-identify certainly don’t own reason or rationality, but we tend to respect and value these things highly and for what we consider good reasons indeed.”

The Fine Art of Pentecostal Snake Fondling “Pentecostal snake handlers - They actually prefer the term serpent handlers, but, I have long standing tradition of not respecting the wishes of stupid people.”

Tribute to Christopher Hitchens - 2012 Global Atheist Convention

Nonbelievers who aren't atheists?

Sam Harris - Death and the Present Moment I think this is the best talk that I have seen from Sam Harris. I really do.  

Primate Fossil Suggests Human Ancestors Originated In Asia, Not Africa Another example of why the Huffington Post is shit (screw providing a link to them). The fossils do not indicate human origins in Asia. They indicate the origins of anthropoid primates. There is a difference. Here is a an accurate article on this subject.

Preachers in Alabama Bully an Art Theater

Mysterious radiation burst recorded in tree rings

Ancient Suburb Near St. Louis Could Be Lost Forever This is what I do for a living. The difference being that I rarely get to work on anything nearly as significant as a Cahokian suburb. Archaeologists realize and consciously try to mitigate the fact that it is a destructive science, but this type of archaeology is considered “preservation archaeology.” The other option is just pure destruction and loss of of the resource. Care to guess what happens when the funding isn’t there?

Good News: People Eat Other People on a Pretty Regular Basis

EVOLUTION TO FALL IN 2012? Kept in all caps from World Nut Daily so you know it’s, like, super serious!

Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett. Oxford, 9 May 2012 Interesting as always.

Atheism to Defeat Religion By 2038 There are too many assumptions of affluence and progress with this. The world economy could just as easily collapse, climate change could exacerbate resource needs and therefore fundamentalism may rise.

Boy Scouts to Consider Allowing Gay Scouts and Leaders "I love the organization and I refuse to stand by idly as it forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most," said Wahls, author of My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.

Do You Believe In...

That Condescending Feeling You Get From Dudes in the Office? Yeah, That’s Real

President Obama Says Green Lantern Has To Be A Gay Now Can’t we straights have anything anymore?? When I pick up a Green Lantern comic, I expect to read about a hot buff dude in tights who wears a magic promise ring he got from a purple-headed alien for being without fear, not something gay.”

I love you, Filmdrunk. Don’t ever change.

Jason Alexander offers the greatest apology in history for ‘gay cricket’ joke I don’t know if it is the greatest apology ever, but I thought it was sincere and that he actually thought about it. Basically, it doesn't sound like his publicist wrote it. As always, don’t read the comments. They will just ruin your fucking day.

Hagee Tells Atheists to Leave the Country; They Are Not Wanted and Won't Be Missed This is the exact type of thing I would normally make a “Random Quotes” post about, but I don’t know. The hate is getting boring and predictable. Also, there is no “god of heaven.” Grow up.

Storm Corrosion 'Drag Ropes'

In the US, belief in life after death is linked to belief in a just world and lower anxiety

North Carolina Republicans Add Discrimination Against Gays To Party PlatformArticle III: Individual Liberty states ‘Government should treat all citizens impartially, without regard to wealth, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sex, political affiliation or national origin. We oppose all forms of invidious discrimination. Sexual orientation is not an appropriate category.’”

Fungal fidelity: some ants have been eating the same meal for 5 million years!

Meet the two newest additions to the Periodic Table of Elements


Allergy vaccine a reality?

How A Radical North Dakota Ballot Initiative Could Allow The Religious Right To Ignore Traffic Lights  Define "Sincerely held religious belief."

What if one's religion requires them to stone adulterers. Oh wait...bad example. OK, what if one's religion required a woman to marry her rapist. Hmm...wait...ummm....let's see. What if one’s sincerely held religious belief was that God required a man to kill his son. Oops. What if….

Measuring the Universe A nifty and informative video explaining how we—well—measure the universe.

Plagiarism And Racism Force Top Religious Group To Cancel Top Ethicist’s Show

Atheists with 'atheists in foxholes' banner again booed in Memorial Day parade Annville is about 15 minutes from my house. This is the second year they have been booed.

IRS Warns Churches About Political Activities, Tax-Exempt Status If the IRS really went after this it would be a shitstorm beyond all shitstorms. That’s why religious tax exemptions should just be revoked altogether. See? A nice, clean and simple fix. Nope, there wouldn’t be gnashing of teeth and tearing of shirts anywhere. Easy peasy.