Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29 Links

Former President Jimmy Carter blasts religious leaders for treatment of women and girls.

Anti-Islam American blogger not allowed into Britain.  I have to admit, what she says is more like "hate speech" than anything I've seen on atheist blogs.  Still, you have to wonder about the U.K.'s laws.

Baptists are boycotting the Boy Scouts, thus proving how silly and bigoted they are. Perhaps this is why they have been conducting fewer baptisms.

PBS interviews an author and survivor of the Exodus pray-the-gay-away "ministry."

National Geographic asks, How much do you know about science?

Victor Stenger radio interview, mainly about the history of science, which is apparently the topic of his latest book:  God and the Atom.

Video of the Week "God's Loophole" by Garfunkel & Oates (lyrics NSFW):

Monday, June 24, 2013

John Lennox... who?

I'm continuing to follow the online debate about the Ball State course offered by physicist Eric Hedin (latest update here).  His "honors" course syllabus, and a course in the Astronomy department require a book by John Lennox called God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

It didn't take long to discover (heh) that he is heavily on the side of Godly doings in the design, or creation, or running the universe.  The conservative D.C. rag, the Washington Times, ran an interview with him in 2011:

Summary:  This guy shared the stage with Behe and Ross in Alabama, at a conference called In the Beginning.  Blech!  He appeared (briefly) in that Ben Stein movie about the poor downtrodden Christian teachers who promote creationism (Ex-pe-LL-e.d), and he believes in God because he doesn't like the alternative:

“[p]erhaps there is a subtle danger today that, in their desire to eliminate the concept of a Creator completely, some scientists and philosophers have been led, albeit unwittingly, to re-deify the universe by endowing matter and energy with creative powers that they cannot be convincingly shown to possess. Banishing the One Creator God they would then end up with what has been described as the ultimate in polytheism – a universe in which every particle has god-like capacities” (pg. 51).
Excuse me?  The One Creator God?  Who would this be? Yahweh?  Allah?  Zeus?  A really really big turtle?

Oh... there must be something to create something, despite what Hawking and Krauss say:

“Which simply shows – as I said in my book [God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?] – that nonsense remains nonsense even if a scientist says it.”

Hawking, who in 2009 retired from holding Isaac Newton’s old chair at Cambridge, also said that heaven is “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Lennox quipped in response, “Well if you want a one liner to answer it, atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light.”
Is this really someone who will give the atheistic viewpoint a fair shake?  Let's take a look at his website:

About:  He has written a series of books exploring the relationship between science and Christianity and he has also participated in a number of televised debates with some of the world’s leading atheist thinkers...
i.e., he debates only against atheists because he's a theist.  His website has a section on apologetics
He is a mathematician, not a physicist, biologist, or even a theologian!  His next appearance (in a few hours) will be at the U.K.'s national prayer breakfast, and next month he will be in Ohio at something called Xenos Summer Institute (which promotes "home groups" -- sounds creepy and cultish!)
The debate in the Hedin story involves many threads, but there has been no voice claiming that Hedin is not teaching creationism.  Requiring that students purchase this book is a pretty good sign.

Speaking of debate, check out Lennox debating Dawkins (long):

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22 Links

Just a few links, none about the pray-the-gay-away Exodus group closing its doors, though.  You should have heard about that already!

In Oklahoma, a Christian claims that the state's Native-American themed license plate violates the First Amendment.  Really?  A Native American Methodist begs to differ.  Interesting case.

Huffpo reports on Christian wife-spanking.  Sadly, Christians are not innovative enough to be kinky.  This is treating a wife like a child.  Barbaric

Christians vs Atheists in charity volleyball!

An Indiana Methodist church kicks out boy scouts because of the new stance on homosexuality.  Really?  So why was John the "disciple whom Jesus loved?"

Gene Roddenberry will get his wish to have his ashes go to space

Video of the week:

Russell Brand on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, teaching the experts a few lessons:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why this blog has no advertising

At one point I decided to make a few pennies off this blog, especially considering the number of libertarians who land on my doorstep due to someone linking it on a libertarian Facebook page.  I'd love to make money off of them!

But I made the mistake of reading the terms of service.  You have to promise not to do anything that could be construed as hate speech.  Now, I don't consider what I do to be hate speech, but someone else might. Here is google's definition for youtube:

Hateful Content is videos, comments or channel information which contain "Hate Speech". "Hate speech" refers to content that promotes hatred against members of a protected group. Protected groups include, but are not limited to, race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity.

Sometimes there is a fine line between what is and what is not considered hate speech. For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation, but not okay to make insulting generalizations about people of a particular nationality.
I don't hate Christians, really.  Some of my best friends are Christians... really! I don't promote hatred toward them, or most believers, though I'm annoyed with the more reasonable ones for not speaking up against the dangerous ones more publicly.  As for the dangerous ones, is it hate speech to say I hate the child abusers I've written about on this blog?  They are a protected group by virtue of their religion, but shouldn't butt-fucking priests, faith-non-healing parents, and organizations that torture teenagers be exempt from that protection?  I think so.

And what kind of speech would "promote hate?"  And what is hate anyway?  It's a feeling, not an action.  Promoting violence would definitely be something I could see google prohibiting, whether motivated by hate or otherwise.  That's the real risk in unrestrained "hatespeech."  I would never promote violence, though I might make a few rhetorical suggestions about the appropriate punishment for child abusers.

Can garden variety atheist ranting be construed as "hate speech?"

Apparently it can.   Dusty Smith, of the "Cult of Dusty" has posted a chilling video about his experience being deemed hateful by google.  He's stopped advertising other people's crap on his channel and now advertises his own T-Shirts to make some money.  He's an atheist in Mississippi.  He has my sympathy, and I could use a couple of new shirts:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 15 Links

Jesus Christ appeared on a dog's butt.   Hallelujah!

Rover finds evidence of neutral pH water
... the kind that could support life.

NASA has mapped all of Mercury

Jerry Coyne's blog updates the Ball State creationism course investigation.  The local paper gives the names of the group investigating the complaint and quotes some letters sent from around the country.  I'm impressed that there is a group investigating the complaint!

Rchard Dawkins' new video on faith-based schools in the U.K.  (For comparison here are some stats on U.S. education: -- appproximately 10 percent of America's school children attend private schools, at least 80% of which are religious)

The second video is new to me, but I don't know when he gave this speech. It's "The Case Against Faith"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Support these Atheists!

The Freethought Society of East Tennessee hosts a call-in show and they archive the show on youtube.  This week's theme:  sacrifice. The guy on the left really knows his Bible. It's worth viewing!

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 8 Link Round-Up

Oldest (yet) primate fossil found in China.  It's as small as a mouse and was probably cute as a button.   Who's my widdle primate fossil?  *tickle tickle*

Frank Lautenberg's legacy includes legislation that enabled Jewish immigration from Russia.

How the human face may look in 100,000 years.  I think they grossly underestimate the time to sense-enhancing implants and grossly overestimate the changes to our eyes, but you can't get into Forbes by keeping the eyes the same!

Essay confirms (my) theory that evangelicals are more interested in the psychological effect of their love-bombing religion than in the theological tenets. 

Piers Morgan interviews schizoid game-playing parent-killer, Joshua Cooke, who credits God with whatever sanity he currently possesses.  (Link is to the part about video games, but by the time you see this there may be a link to the whole interview)

Baptists still divided over predestinationThe Southern Baptist Convention issued a statement because seminaries are turning out hard-line Calivinists who are out of step with the majority.  Hey, if they can't agree within their own denomination, why do they think they should take over the government?  Meanwhile, their numbers are falling.

The FBI will follow hate crimes against more religions, including Hindus and Sikhs.  Atheists were already on the list!

Hick town south of Dayton, Ohio considers creationism in the schools.  The Tea Party approves of the creationism idea.  Big surprise!

Methodist pastors have doubts about creationism.

Video of the Week:  Dan Dennett "You Might be an Atheist if..."

Second Video of the Week: Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks) interviews Todd Stiefel:   "Is Religion a Drug?"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

This Breaks my Heart

There are so many horrible things in the news every day.  I can't say that I understand murder, rape, suicide bombing, genocide, "honor" killings, etc. but at least most of these crimes have a motive, albeit a sick one.

Throughout history there have been religiously or personally inspired crimes and brutalities, and I have some sympathy for people who want to blame these things on "the devil" or the "sinful nature" of humans.  I don't agree, but I sympathize with the desire to explain away the inexplicable.

My Facebook buddies and I are animal lovers, so I have seen many instances of neglect but this one just really got to me.  "George the Friendly Duck" of the San Antonio River Walk was killed by two young men who had no more regard for him than for a gnat.  They seemed to have specifically gone after him because he was friendly to restaurant customers and well loved by the locals.

I do believe that there are "evil" acts and "evil" people, but I don't believe it's supernatural.  I hope someone tracks down these two guys and gets an explanation, however demented, out of them.

Thousands of people loved and fed "George," and two people killed him.  I still believe in humanity, but I am mystified what goes on in the minds of outliers like these two.

R.I.P. "George"