Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What would you like to see in an Atheist website?

An idea occurred to me while driving home last night, and idea for the website I needed when I first came out of religion. It would serve as a repository for articles on science and religion (from an atheist viewpoint). Basically, an entire site dedicated to saying “You are not alone, and you don’t have to suffer.”

There could be different sections dedicated to issues unique to former members of different religions, comparative religion studies, articles by well known freethinkers (like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc etc.), a bookstore (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “What are some good atheist books?”), links to videos like Skepticon and other talks, Blog hosting, social networking, the potential ideas are endless.

I’m looking for ideas in what you would have liked to have seen when you came out of religion. High level ideas are great, but I’m more interested in specifics, like “I wish somebody had told me about The God Delusion”, etc. If you have come across articles that helped you, or would have helped you if you had known about them, I want to know. If you have ideas you would like to see implemented, also let me know. Just post a comment. Every honest suggestion will be taken seriously and is likely to be implemented.

Trolls be warned, I will delete your comments because I’m really just not in the mood for it. I’m not looking to start a debate here, so troll comments are less than unnecessary. I’m quite serious about giving new atheists a resource for coming to grips with their atheism.

That said, please comment. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You’re a closed minded bigoted Atheist!

A friend recently blogged about a t-shirt she had seen that read “Fuck God”. An interesting discussion ensued in the comments and me being the opinionated asshole I am couldn’t resist but to jump in. The original post is here: http://yesweexist.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/fuck-god/ It’s worth your time to go read the whole thing.

Another friend once told me that sometimes my comments are better than my blog posts. I read the comment again I kindof agreed with her, so instead of the post I had planned next, I’m just simply posting the comment I put over there more or less verbatim (with an occasional spelling correction).

----------------------

First of all, you do not have the right to not be offended. While I would never wear a Fuck God shirt, my only objection to wearing it in public is the word “Fuck”, which would be awkward to explain to my kids. As far a Christian’s right to not see that, you don’t have that right. I drive by at least five churches no matter where I go, and I don’t get to object to that. I don’t get to object to the Christian dogma displayed at the Seventh Day Adventist based hospital where my mom went for surgery, because that’s where her insurance is good at. I just have to deal with it. If a Christian has to do the same, I’m not going to get upset about that.

I have found no Christians coming to my defense. Indeed, I find myself needing defense against Christians. No Christians objected when George H. W. Bush said Atheists were neither citizens nor patriots. This is the former president of the United States saying this, not a crazy pastor from Florida. An elected leader of the country of which I’m a citizen thinks I have no worth to this country because I don’t subscribe to your dogma.

Do Christians come to my defense when I’m fighting against the teaching of Intelligent Design in the public school system? No, they’re the ones I’m fighting. They see no problem with teaching Christian dogma in the public schools in direct opposition to proven science.

Did Christians come to my defense when I lost everything to my ex-wife joining cults? No, they’re running the cults.

Did Christians come to my defense when I was fired for not hiding my atheism in the workplace? No, they’re the ones who fired me.

Did Christians come to the defense of the Atheist who lost custody of his/her children for being an Atheist?

Did Christians stand up against the blatant violation of church and state that occurred by placing “In God We Trust” on our money in 1956? Or “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance in 1954?

Could you even imagine an open Atheist being elected President? Or to any public office? Did you know religious tests for public office are explicitly forbidden by the constitution, but we have to pass them anyway, don’t we? One of the crazy claims leveled against Obama is that he’s a Muslim or even worse (gasp!) an Atheist. How is that not a religious test? You have to be Christian to get elected. Period.

If you want to know what upsets Atheists, this would be a great place to start.

If you want to call it closed minded and prejudice, that’s your right. I call it real world experience. Christians are in politics fighting climate science, fighting evolution, fighting health care reform, fighting NPR, fighting Planned Parenthood, and running our country into the ground with debt from needless wars. I’m perfectly willing to accept other information, and I’m quite aware that these behaviors and actions do not represent all Christians, but it’s the vast majority. And I don’t see the moderate or liberal Christians fighting back, I see the Atheists fighting back, and for that we’re labeled “Angry” and “Militant” or “Combative” because we’re standing up against this bullshit. Fuck God? If he’s out there and lets these things happen, Yes.

If you want to present evidence for Christians who do not behave like this, I’m open to it, but your definition of “Closed Minded” is a little off. You seem to be saying “I should agree with you or I’m closed minded” and that’s bullshit. Religious groups CAN be painted with the same brush to a certain degree. Ethnic groups cannot, because the color of your skin does not determine your behavior. Your gender does not determine your behavior. BUT YOUR RELIGION DOES. You have a holy book that tells you what to do and how to behave. Sure, people interpret it differently BUT IT’S THE SAME BOOK.

Atheists, on the other hand, only have one thing in common, we reject superstition. That’s it. We can’t be painted with the “Evolution is a religion” brush or whatever other brush they like to paint us with, because Atheism is not about a set of beliefs, it’s about a lack of certain beliefs. Past that, it’s fair game. Atheists are liberal, conservative, libertarian, and every other variety of political orientation that you can think of. We’re scientists, artists, writers, every day working Joes, whatever. Not all of us study evolution. Some of us just don’t care.

But we get painted with the Atheist brush all the time, and if you run across a blog entry by an Atheist who’s pissed off about that, are you really surprised? You just did it yourself. She said “we get treated differently” and you said “you’re closed minded and prejudiced”. I would say if you only find angry atheists but no bigoted Christians, you’re either A) doing it wrong or B) falling victim to confirmation bias. In which case it would be YOU who is closed minded.

Let me leave you with another video about what being closed minded really means.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gelatogate

I got back from Skepticon IV late last night and it was a blast. I loved every talk I was able to attend. Sprint sucks ass, by the way.

But something happened while I was there, and I’m going to address this first. You may have heard of what became known as “Gelatogate”. Saturday evening, a gelato store just down the street from the theatre where Skepticon was being held put this sign up in the window.

Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business

I heard about this Sunday morning via the twitterverse. As soon as lunch hit I ran down to the store to see the sign for myself, but it was gone and Gelato Mio was closed (they’re not open on Sundays, fancy that).

We were pissed. I’m not sure how many attendees knew about this, but those of us who did were pissed. Some nastiness was said over twitter, and I was right in the middle of it. We ate lunch across the street at a place called Trolley’s who normally doesn’t open until 3pm on Sunday, but had opened early just for us and gave us an express menu so we could eat quickly and get back for the next talk. Restaurants being overwhelmed by us and lunch/dinner taking too long had become a bit of a problem, so this was appreciated, especially in light of the stupidity from across the street.

Let me be clear, this crap is not universal. We were, of course, in Springfield Missouri, capital of Jesusland, but most everyone was quite nice to us. I told our waiter at Trolley’s about the sign from the previous evening, and his response was “Jackasses!”. Yeah, he got a good tip.

Later that day, the owner apologized for the sign on the official website.

image

When I looked at this on Sunday, the second and third paragraphs were not there, they were added later. Here was my response

image

At some point during the day, the blog posts began showing up. First was JT Eberhard, one of the original founders of Skepticon.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2011/11/20/boy-he-sure-showed-skepticon/

Later came this one from @emilyhasbooks

http://pixelstampede.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/gelatogate/

Earlier today, The Friendly Atheist added his analysis of the same.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/11/21/lessons-learned-from-the-gelato-mio-sign/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

These are all good treatments, but something is missing. As a roughly middle aged white guy I don’t usually get discriminated against much. As a rule I oppose bigotry and discrimination in whatever forms I encounter it in, but aside from occasionally being treated less preferentially than thinner more attractive people, I don’t usually get to see the ugliness from the receiving end. It’s an eye opening experience.

One of the first things I noticed about Skepticon was that it almost seemed hidden. The Gilloz Theatre where it was held had no mention of a large 1100 person conference being held there on it’s website. When we arrived there, the sign above the theatre was advertising a John Wayne movie that would be shown there a couple of weeks from now. The first Skepticon sign I saw was inside the theatre.

On Saturday over lunch I was hard up for some foo foo coffee, and went in search of a Starbucks like coffee house. I found one not too far away. The friendly (and kinda hot) barista, who had to have noticed the “atheist” pin I was wearing, asked me if there was some kind of conference going on, because she had noticed a lot of people with nametags on. I told her about Skepticon, which was being held a mere block and a half away from her store. She was still friendly and smiled, but I was surprised that she didn’t know about a huge conference practically next door.

Lastly, on Sunday evening before we drove home, we ate dinner at a local restaurant. Some ugly glances came our way and somebody was overheard saying “yeah, they’re atheists”. 

Seriously?

All of these things combined to show me the ugly side of bigotry first hand. We were bothering no one, we were boosting the local economy, and yet we were hidden as much as possible, told not to come to a local store, and by (admittedly a minority) made to feel unwelcome.

It makes me feel ugly. Dirty. Violated. It makes me want to scream.

I argue with Christians, but only when they want to. I oppose religion in schools, but they Christians are the ones trying to bring it in. I respond to their internet hate, but it’s in response. I don’t go to their churches and protest. I don’t carry signs that read “God Hates Westboro” (even though that would be kinda funny). I want to live in a rational world. I don’t begrudge the religious their right to be religious, and I would certainly never ban them all from a restaurant.

This is bigotry, plain and simple. This is little different than how people with dark skin have been treated for years. Or Jews, or women, or any number of groups who have been discriminated against.

This is kind of new to me. There’s no real response for it except to make it known, which the community has. Gelato Mio’s ratings have taken a serious hit since Saturday. They also ought to know that we will be back, and most likely nobody will patronize their store next time, most certainly not me. The record profits shared by other local businesses will not be theirs. This is sad since they were apparently a sponsor of Skepticon initially. Perhaps they didn’t know that nearly all skeptics are also atheists.

But most importantly, it shows how far we still have to go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stupid Round Up #1

Someone said I haven’t been posting. She’s right, but I’ll be honest, I don’t have much to say. The stupid coming from the religious right is really the same stupid it’s always been. They don’t really come up with new stuff much. On the crazy psycho ex wife bitch front, more of the same crazy there.

The problem is that while there’s still an assload of crazy out there, it’s the same old shit. There’s just more of it lately.

So just for fun I went perusing YouTube and found a handful of videos that were so stupid I laughed. Some of them might be parodies, but Poe’s Law makes it hard to tell. Here they are.

The answer couldn’t possibly be “3000 year old goat herders with no concept of modern science.”

This is why Logic and Critical Thinking should be required classes in public education. I would bet money that the religious right would fight it if someone tried.

I really hope that one is a spoof.

Actually this one was more painful that funny. The stupid actually truly does burn. Help me…. I want to rebut this one so badly, but I have to remind myself of the futility of such action.

Ok, the only political entry. The spin is high but the insanity is low. The main thing that caught my eye was… well, two things. Damn. I mean DAMN! Does the fact that I’m not really sure what she was saying make me a sexist? It’s weird how she actually kinda makes me want to vote Perry.  Almost.

Ok, it’s Family Guy, but it’s funny anyway and fits the theme.

Feature = Related

A production with a little money to it. Yet the stupid is thicker than ever. OW OW OW OW OW BURNING OW OW MAKE IT STOP!!!

Ah, the classic Ray Comfort banana argument. If, by chance, this one is new to you, I’ll clue you into the answer. Bananas don’t occur naturally.

Ok, this one isn’t stupid, it’s smart. It’s well produced. It’s by one of my favorite speakers, The Thinking Atheist. Let’s say I put it here for balance, if you can call it that.

Well, that’s enough for me, I’m driving.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You don’t call, you don’t write…

I’ll be honest, I’m just too fucking tired to write anything meaningful lately. Not that I ever write anything meaningful. There’s a ton of shit going on in my life and a handful of good things. Actually, I think the specification of “handful” would be 3. I’m broke, I’m tired, I’m sad, I’m in pain, I’m a little broken, a smidge jealous, and Trevor, my inner monkey, is acting up a lot lately. And there’s something about Mormons that drives me absolutely fucknuts. Don’t ask, I don’t really understand it myself.

But it’s late, my laundry is finally done, I’ve had about 2 too many beers, and I’m neurotic that I’ll screw up the only thing going right in my life.

If I don’t make it back here before Monday, Happy Halloween everybody.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Because I Can

Fuckin bitch fuckin goddamn how the fuckin fuck fuck what? Seriously, what? FUCK! I mean, what the fuck? Seriously. Did I really fuckin FUCK! I really did not fuckin realize how fucking sick fucking humans could fucking be. I mean, FUCK! I fucking married that? FUCK! What the fuck was I fucking thinking? I’m fucking sick! That’s fucking sick. Fuckin’ seriously. I mean, who the fuck fuckin’ stays married to a fucking fuck like that for fucking HOW many fuckin’ years? Fuck. Fuck Fuck Fuck.

It’s like a parasite that you can’t remove. That’s it’s name now. The fuckin’ parasite. What a waste of oxygen.

Aw fuck.

End rant.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I saw the moon tonight…

Full moons always make me thoughtful
And sometimes just a little sad
I’m usually not sure why

I feel like I’m looking for something I’ll never find
Like a decades long game of cat and mouse
Maybe that’s all that life is

It was a little more comforting when I thought life was magic
Like a storybook. Climax, denouement, happy ending
But even then, there were no happy endings

It’s a daily struggle to make sense of so much crap
Sometimes you see things as you want them to be
But they’re not

I’m not very good at being alone
Life is better with a friend at your side
Shuffling through the crap with you

I’m not very good at being alone
Though I’ve had a lot of practice
It didn’t help

I don’t always feel happy with who I am
Like my life’s journey got derailed way back there
I ended up in Beijing when I was headed for Stuttgart

But there’s no train back
I’ll have to walk
It’s a long walk

Maybe I’ll make a friend along the way
Maybe a lifelong companion
Maybe just a passing ship

Sometimes I walk in a zigzag
Life keeps putting curves in the road
But I just keep walking

No matter how much it hurts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spank your monkey

A “new” video from philhellenes I hadn’t seen yet. I say “new” because it’s new to me. It’s quite insightful, and goes a long way towards explaining me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where the effin’ eff has effin’ Cowboy effin’ been? What the eff, effer?

I’ve fallen a little behind, but just in case anybody was wondering, I’ve started something like six blog posts, all of which are unfinished. Each one is a potential gem of poetic wisdom that, once spread in the wild, will surely unite mankind in peace, love and harmony, end war, feed the starving, and usher in the dawn of a new era of rationality and caring.

The problem, of course, is that due to various influences in my life, I’ve been simultaneously depressed, ecstatic, exhausted, invigorated, angry, happy, and confused.

No, I’m not going to explain that.

Hey, as awesome as I am, I’m just one guy. Stay tuned, the stream of consciousness wisdom you’ve come to count on as guidance in your daily life will soon resume.

Friday, September 16, 2011

And… we’ve reached a new level of crazy.

Michele Bachman has gone Anti-vax.

Yep, she went there.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/professors-offer-more-10-000-proof-bachmann-story-132647843.html

Seriously, if she wanted to adopt a left wing cause, why not one like health care reform or ending war? Why the nutty one? Because she needs to adopt as many causes that represent stupidity and death?

Excepting Jon Huntsman, all the Republican candidates seem to be anti-evolution and anti-climate science. Now Michele “Pray the Gay Away” Bachmann has upped the ante and gone anti-vaccination. This woman has a very real possibility of being the next president of the United States. Anybody with half a mind or more should be quaking in their boots. If elected, she could push this agenda through with help of the crazy Tea Party douchebags being elected by nutjobs like the ones who shouted during Ron Paul’s debate.

Kill the poor! Kill the poor! Kill the poor!

Honestly, John McCain is starting to look pretty fucking good right now. I’d take Nixon back over these people.

A president like these people could turn the United States into a laughing stock (more than it already is), but not a very funny one. These are people that if given their way would turn the United States into a backwards Theocracy (like Iran), but it would be a backwards Theocracy with the world’s most powerful military and largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. 

Think about that. This is not a game. Putting these people in to positions of authority (like they already are) has real consequences and affects real lives. Are we so in love with the dark ages that we want to recreate them?

Once again our choices seem to be between scary shit like this and Barack “Give the Republicans What They Want And Call It Compromise” Obama. The world may not end in 2012, but I’ve got a bad feeling about 2013.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Skepticon IV

I recently registered for Skepticon IV. I’m not going in an official capacity, FYI, just attending. It would be great to be a speaker, but that would require a certain percentage of the community actually knowing who the fuck I am first.

I love the fact that it’s occurring in Springfield Missouri, right smack in the heart of Jesus Central. It’s also nice that it’s within easy driving distance from here.

I’ve never attended any Atheist/Skeptical conventions before. In fact, the only large scale convention I’ve ever attended was DevConnections four years ago. Luckily, this one is a lot more affordable than DevCon (free vs. $3k or so). It runs November 19th and 20th. I was hoping to make it on Friday the 18th, because PZ Meyers is planning on taking a group down to the Creation Museum just for fun. Going to the Creation Museum with PZ Meyers and posting some photos of the ensuing insanity here sounds like more fun than I’ve had in years, but it looks unlikely I’ll make it on Friday at the moment.*sigh*

I recommend going if you can make it. It looks like it will be a load of fun. I’ve made several Atheist/Skeptic friends in recent months through local meetup groups, and many of them are going. I’ve personally met Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus, and he’ll be speaking there this year.

Here’s a list of this year’s speakers: http://skepticon.org/speakers.php.  The list grows year by year, and it’s exciting to see something like this catching on.

If you go, I hope to see you there. Be sure to comment on this post and maybe we can meet up while we’re there. If you need someone to room with, I’m not your guy. Already got plans ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Screwy Logic

I just ran across this article from beliefnet on the “insanity” of Mayor Bloomberg and his decision to not have a prayer at the 9/11 memorial service.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/09/no-thanks-to-god-or-first-responders-at-mayors-secular-911-ceremonies.php

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks to focus on the victims and their families — not on God or the heroes who rushed into the burning towers to save as many as they could.

Let’s forget that there are more than just Christians in the United States. Let’s forget that the first amendment of the constitution establishes a separation of church and state making it inappropriate for an elected official to engage in a religious activity as part of his duties as an elected official. Let’s forget Congress’s blatant refusal to help the “heroes who rushed into the burning towers” when they needed our help, not our thanks.

The statement here is we should be thankful to God. For what? For helping the heroes of 9/11 save over 20,000 lives? So I should be so condescending and arrogant as to say that they could not have done that themselves, that they required intervention from a supernatural deity to accomplish what they did? No. I will not do that. They were heroes, they put their own lives at risk. They ran into the buildings everyone else was running out of. And many of them were still there when the buildings collapsed. Many did not come back. I will not dishonor them that way.

So what else should we thank God for in regards to 9/11? The 3,000 victims? Surely not. The author, despite his irrational convictions about the supernatural, could not possibly be that insane.

Perhaps what he is trying to say is that God was present and helping out on 9/11. Nobody saw him, of course, but why not. 

So,  why  didn’t  God  stop  the  planes?

Perhaps the almighty supernatural creator of everything helped save lives that day. Why did he allow 3,000 others to die? Why did he not prevent the disaster in the first place? Surely that would have been trivial for him. The firefighters and rescue personnel on the ground could not have stopped the planes from hitting the building so they did everything else they could to save as many lives as they could. But God could have stopped the planes, couldn’t he?

So what answers might a theist give in response to this?

1) God works in mysterious ways/We cannot know God’s purpose/etc.

I hate this one. It’s probably the most common response of all, too. It’s a cop out. It’s a way of saying (and rationalizing) “Something bad happened and God did not stop it, so he must have had some greater purpose in mind that I just don’t understand.” Replace “God” with “Zeus” and the sentence means just as much. Muslims worship the same God, the God of Abraham, and on that day certain Muslims were rejoicing because God had struck a blow against the evil west.

2) God allowed it to happen to bring people back to God. There was a resurgence of religion in the intervening years.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Replace God with a man’s name and see if the sentence still sounds great. “George allowed 3,000 people to die in flames and horrible crushing death so that people all over the world would worship him and proclaim his glory.”  George sounds like a sick bastard to me. A god that allows thousands of people to die a horrible death so that I might love him? Pass.

3) God works subtly. He could not work overtly because we must have faith.

The “God can’t tip his hand” argument. If he stopped the planes in midair and placed them gently on the ground, we would have definitive proof that he exists, and we are required to love God without proof. This one never made sense to me. If it has to be my decision to “love God” of my own free will, what does that have to do with being given proof that he exists? I have no more proof that Yahweh exists than I do of Zeus. Who do I pick? Do I convert to all religions just to be safe? They all have equal validity.

This is the kind of warped logic we use to attack each other politically these days. We are in grave danger of becoming a Theocracy. Every day we behave more and more like the Christians of the 14th century, or like the Muslims of today. 9/11 was not about God except to the Muslim terrorists. Whether you believe in a God or not, he wasn’t there that day.

Imagine No Religion

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/2011

Ten years ago today the unthinkable happened. The TV has been filled with footage from 9/11 today, much of it I’ve never seen before. It’s a wound in the collective psyche of America that’s healing, but not yet healed.

9/11 meant different things to different people, but most of us can agree that it was a wake up call to the capacity for evil.

But whose evil? It’s easy to point to 9/11 and say that Muslims are violent and Islam is an evil religion, but in actuality Islam is in a state now that Christianity was in only a few centuries ago. The difference being that the violence perpetrated by the followers of Islam have 21st century weaponry.

I won’t pretend that the world would be a perfect place without religion, but it would be a better place. 9/11 was proof positive of the evil that can be perpetrated by those that can manipulate through religion. The most obvious examples come from Islamic terrorists, but we are not all immune to this. Listening to Pat Robertson can easily show you that we’re not that different on this side of the pond. A leader of the free world like Michele Bachmann would make us little different from Iran.

For me, 9/11 was a wake up call to the evil that can be perpetrated in the name of religion. I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that it’s just Islam though. We are mere footsteps from being the mirror image of the Middle East.

We must step back from the brink. We must not become evil to fight evil. We must be clear on what evil we fight. We must remember who we are as Americans. We must remember what America is about. It’s not God, it’s not Guns, It’s freedom. We are not a Christian nation, we are a nation of the free. We must stop sacrificing our freedom to our fear. We must call for our freedoms to be restored.

Ten years later, we must begin to heal. We must become what we were. We must stop the pointless bickering. We must stop allowing the clowns in Washington to play us like fools.

Each and every one of us must decide who we are. We must determine this absent of propaganda and religion. Once you have decided who you are, you can decide if you really agree with what is being fed to you. When I did this, I didn’t. Who I am is so different from who I was before 9/11, but I’m a better person. I’m finally true to who I am.

You can be too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Atheism vs. Religion Explained

Religion: “I believe in Life after Death”

Atheism: “I believe in Life before Death”

Any questions?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Here we go again…

North is South, Up is Down, Science is Anti-Science and believing in woo is smart.

Austin Casey, Columnist, wrote a scathing attack on “liberals” and Jon Huntsman, because he understands the science of Creationism in a way that mere scientists could never hope to. Huntsman, in a pathetic attempt to appear “intellectual” to “liberals” accepts the obviously wrong “interpretation” called evolution. [end snark]

Yes, that’s right. Dawkins just got skuled in science by a relatively unknown right wing pundit columnist.

Seriously, it hurts my head. It’s been a while since I’ve done a line by line thrashing of right wing bullshit. Let’s get started.

http://www.lsureveille.com/opinion/to-the-point-believing-in-evolution-doesn-t-make-you-scientific-1.2618065#.TmCHn6xwfBw.email

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has been losing in the polls, so his solution is to distance himself from the other candidates by portraying himself as the rational candidate.

Obviously it couldn’t be that he actually bothered to learn something about the science of evolutionary theory. It’s just a political ploy for sure [end snark]. Personally, I do find the thought of a Mormon who accepts the scientific consensus that evolution is true to be a bit intriguing, but I’m not complaining about the only Republican candidate who appears to not mix his religion with his science. Or his politics apparently.

After hearing fellow candidate Rick Perry's doubts on evolution, Huntsman jumped at the chance to attack Perry, gain attention and make himself appear smart and scientific to the media and liberals.

Or he just called Perry out for being yet another wingnut douchbag that’s all too common in the Republican party now (e.g. Michele Bachman). The official Republican playbook is "Reject scientific consensus and play to fundamentalist religion, oppose the separation of church and state, and defend the top 1% by convincing the bottom 99% that you’re acting in their best interests.” Personally, I find Huntsman refreshing. I find it more likely he’s dead last because he spouts rationality instead of bullshit. He’s a Republican. If he’s being sane for political gain, he’s playing to the wrong crowd.

In an interview on ABC's "This Week," Huntsman warned that having anti-evolution views made Perry and the Republican Party people who "shun science."

No idea if he actually said that or not, but they do “shun science” as a general rule these days. Spend a little time learning about the science of climate change and bear in mind where the Republican party almost unanimously falls on the issue. The only alternative offered in contrast to the theory of evolution is creationism, which is backed by the overwhelming evidence which consists of approximately a page and a half from the book of Genesis, written approximately 3000 years ago.

Like most liberals, Huntsman thinks if he uses the words "science" and "evolution" in the same sentence he'll be called an intellectual.

No, he’ll need to do more than that to be considered “intellectual”, but he is in serious danger of being called “rational”.

But nothing Huntsman has said demonstrates he actually knows what science is. Science is fundamentally a search for the truth about the universe, and Perry's acknowledgement of the holes in evolution theory manifests a much better understanding of science than Huntsman's faith in scientists.

Now it gets fun. We’re being schooled in “what science is” by a creationist. There are no holes in the theory of evolution. There may be a few missing facts, but you don’t fill in the holes with “God did it”. In science, you fill in the holes by looking for more evidence. Accepting logical fallacies and demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge on the subject of evolutionary theory is a “much better understanding of science” in the same way that knowing nothing about any foreign countries gives you a much better understanding of foreign policy.

Nevertheless, a growing number of noteworthy scientists have rejected evolution and are noted creationists, such as Ramond Damadian, the inventor of the MRI machine; John Baumgardner, a physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and non-Christian scientists like Michael Behe, author of "Darwin's Black Box," and the famous philosopher of science Karl Popper.

There’s no dissention in the scientific community about evolution. But let’s humor him here.

Ramond Damadian: BS in mathematics, and an M.D. He was a medical doctor, not a biologist. He was, apparently, a fundamentalist Christian and a Creationist. That doesn’t diminish his contribution to medical science, but it does not make him an authority on evolution.

John Baumgardner: (from wikipedia) John R. Baumgardner is a geophysicist, young Earth creationist, intelligent design supporter and Christian fundamentalist. Again, not a biologist, and hardly impartial. You’d think a geophysicist would know better though.

Michael Behe, our non-Christian turns out to be Roman Catholic. And a biochemist. And a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute.  His main focus seems to be on the faulty argument of "irreducible complexity”.

Karl Popper. I’m not even looking this one up. By his own admission he’s a philosopher. No, wait, I am. Oh, he is indeed a philosopher of science: the science of economics.

We’ve hardly produced a list of detractors with credibility on the subject, but even if we had, it doesn’t matter. The scientific community is very nearly unified in their acceptance of the evidence confirming the theory of evolution. Very few theories achieve this level of acceptance. The only other theory I can think of that has this level of acceptance is the theory of gravity. I suppose it’s possible that a supreme being is actually holding us all down to the ground, but…

Believers in evolution cling to the theory like babies to their moms, but most are so scared of hearing a different interpretation of evidence they refuse to listen to any skepticism. They speak of evolution as a fact, when, in reality, science never produces facts — only results we can interpret.

This is where arguments like this start to burn me. Spouting woo is not skepticism. “Evolution is just a belief and only as valid as any other belief”, as though it’s some kind of religion. “God did it” is not a scientific theory, and skepticism is not putting your hands over your ears and shouting “LALALALALALA”. Skepticism is the process of approaching a given claim and looking for evidence that confirms it or disproves it. In fact the first thing you do in science when you have a hypothesis is try to prove it wrong. Saying “you don’t know X so evolution is wrong and God did it” is not skepticism. That would be the opposite of skepticism. A review of the evidence shows that the theory of evolution has mountains of evidence ranging from the dispersion of fossils in the geologic record to DNA. Creationism has a page and a half in an ancient holy book and a lot of logical fallacies. Skeptics have looked at the evidence and found that the theory of evolution makes it’s case and “alternative views” do not. Evolution IS a fact. Find me a rabbit in the pre-Cambrian and we can talk otherwise.

To put into perspective why evolution will never be considered a fact no matter how hard liberals and Huntsman want it to be, consider walking into a room and seeing a lit candle with matches next to it. It seems as though someone lit the candle with the matches, but it is impossible to be sure how the candle was lit because you weren't there when it was.

He intentionally shies away from saying “the scientific community”. It’s liberals and Jon Huntsman that “wants evolution to be true”. That liberals tend to believe evolution to be true is a correlation, not a causal relationship. If you don’t have a religious reason for denouncing science, you probably don’t have any reason at all for denouncing science. Liberals tend to be less religious than conservatives.

Now the candle analogy is interesting, and might be pertinent if there were no evidence whatsoever for evolution. Had we never found a fossil, had we never dug into the earth’s crust, had we never developed any kind of dating methods, then this might hold water. The analogy is “we’re here, we don’t know how we got here, so let’s make something up and call it science”. The evidence for evolution makes that analogy more or less worthless, but it does apply to another “theory” of how we came to be.

This is the classic Ken Ham “Were you there?” argument. It’s designed to be combative and is not conducive to constructive dialogue. It implies that if you weren’t there you can’t know for sure therefore you’re wrong, which ironically falsifies all religion by the same logic. Followers of Ken Ham would be well advised to abandon that question as an ideological tool and try a different question: “How do you know?” It’s a much better question which opens dialogue and could, potentially, lead to someone actually learning something.

The most telling sign Huntsman has no idea what science is comes from his assertion that "we need to stick to the facts" in reference to evolution.

What’s science got to do with facts, right? The scientific methods is about sticking to the facts, and and the theory of evolution is a great example of exactly that. Perhaps Huntsman knows this.

Scientific observations are classified into three categories: hypotheses, theories or laws. Hypotheses are the weakest interpretations of evidence, while theories garner more support. Laws are said to be the strongest explanations, but even they aren't facts.

Well, no. This is a hierarchy that doesn’t exist. A hypothesis is the equivalent of a scientific “guess”, which forms the basis of further experiments, but it must be testable. A hypothesis is more or less worthless until it’s been tested. At a certain point, a hypothesis that survives testing will become a theory (more or less). Theories have certain properties: they must predict future results or discoveries, and they must be falsifiable. “God did it” (that’s creationism in a nutshell, by the way) is not falsifiable or testable at all, which makes it not even a hypothesis. Scientific theories that have as much evidence backing them as evolution does are the equivalent of facts in science. in much the same way that 0.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999(etc.) is mathematically equivalent to 1. You can argue all day that it’s not, and that there’s holes in that argument, but you just sound stupid when you do and it proves you don’t know that much about math.

We are all familiar with the law of gravity, but we can't claim it's a fact. And yet evolutionists defend their theory like there's no tomorrow.

I’m afraid gravity is a fact. If you don’t believe me, feel free to float off in to space. “Evolutionists” defend the theory of evolution because it’s a fact. Scientific literacy is important to maintaining our status in the world, which has already suffered a lot of damage. You can tell me that 0.9(repeating) isn’t 1 all day, and I might defend that it is, or I might just call you a moron and save myself some time. Your belief has no bearing on scientific facts.

Moreover, the theory of evolution comes from one interpretation of available evidence. Contrary to Huntsman's claim, the Republican Party is proving more scientific because of its legitimate recognition of the gaps in evolution.

*sigh*. Belief without evidence is not science. It’s faith, otherwise known as religion. Accepting logical fallacies as truth is not science. Debating stupid is kind of pointless. Creationism is not an interpretation of the available evidence, it’s a denial of the available evidence. Intelligent design, is a denial of the available evidence as well.

To point out one weakness, evolution relies on the assumption that beneficial genetic information has been repeatedly added to genomes throughout the history of the universe. But not even Richard Dawkins, a leading evolutionary biologist from Oxford University, could name a single mutation that has added beneficial information.

Yes he has. 10 minutes with google. I did, however, find the same claim about Dawkins on several other sites, including islamicvideo.org (snicker). And that video has also been well debunked as clever editing.

Evolution is, at it’s heart, really quite simple and elegant. Any mutation that helps a creature to reproduce is beneficial and tends to become part of the gene pool in a given subset of the species by nature of reproduction. Those that do not help or hinder tend to get weeded out. It’s more like a several billion year game of Yahtzee than “God playing dice”.

On the other hand, it’s also possible we all got shot out the ass of a giant blob of spaghetti. We could teach that too, I suppose. I mean, I wasn’t there, so I can’t know for sure, right?

Evolution has so many gaps that refusing to search for new explanations of the evidence available to us would be completely unscientific, but Huntsman insists skeptics "run from science."

Here again, we’re confusing what skepticism is. Skeptics don’t “run from science”. Skeptics don’t just deny things they don’t want to be true. Skeptics examine evidence. Scientists, by the very nature of what they do (science), are skeptics. Rick Perry is not a skeptic, and neither is the author. The author is what’s known as a “pundit”. There’s a difference. I’m not going to google it for you.

The Republican Party doesn't need a candidate like Jon Huntsman, who has no clue what science is and refuses to accept that alternative explanations to evolution are plausible. It needs candidates like Perry who would allow the freedom for true scientific inquiry.

Oh, I think the Republican Party very much needs a candidate like Jon Huntsman to avoid becoming a complete joke. Once upon a time the Republican party stood for something other than religious blathering, anti-science, oppression of homosexuals and tax breaks for the wealthy. It wasn’t all that long ago. Things began to change with Reagan, but the TV generation has trouble remembering last week, let alone thirty years ago. Republicans need to take their party back from the iron grip the religious right has on it and try to make the party “Grand” again. GFL with that.

I’m not sure I entirely trust Jon Huntsman. To be honest I find it unlikely that any Republican candidate could have gotten elected to anything in the current political climate without spewing some kind of nonsense to somebody. I haven’t heard any BS from him yet, though. I do however, take issue with Glenn Beck wannabes trashing him for actually saying something sane. Sanity doesn’t seem to be appreciated on the right lately, and they’ll attack their own for it. It’s a disturbing and unfortunately common trend in politics now. Ideological purity is not a virtue to be coveted, folks. It’s more likely a symptom of leanings towards fascist thought. Diversity is good.

But at the same time, let’s be clear on what science is, what it is not, and stop these games of calling evolution a religion and calling religion science. If you want to believe the earth is 6000 years old and was created by a mystical invisible father figure, that’s your right but don’t call it science, call it what it is: religion. Don’t teach it in public schools, teach it in church where it belongs. And don’t attack your own for making your party look less insane.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Things Like This Give Me Hope For The Future Of Humanity

This: http://www.lifebeforethedinosaurs.com/

I just stumbled across this via a link from Pharyngula. I perused the site a little bit, and found it to be what seems to be an exceptional blog dedicated to cataloging life in the pre-Cambrian era. Then I noticed the section “About Me”.

The author is seven. SEVEN! He’s seven years old and obviously knows more about life in the pre-Cambrian era than I do. Certainly more than Ken Ham, Ann Coulter, Ray Comfort, or any of those other bozos do (but that’s not really saying much).

I’m adding this blog to my reader list. I’m going to enjoy sitting back and reading a blog from an intelligent child who writes about scientific fact, rather than blathering on all day about idiots who oppose science, or even worse, blogs by the idiots who oppose science. I would suggest you add it too.

Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Ann Coulter, and myself all put to shame by a seven year old. That’s beyond awesome.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New and Improved End of The World Date!

Perhaps Dec 21 2012 next?

I wonder where the next date will go?

Folks, this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a horrible insanity inducing monstrous presence!

Prepare to be devoured!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ooops, they’ve got me now…

Synopsis: There's no water cycle.

Bonus points to anybody that can spot the bad science.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jesus Camp

A couple of months ago I ran across this video:

And posted it here. I’ve never really decided if this is a joke or propaganda, but I find it about as likely to be true as Russell’s teapot. Dawkins is an educator and wants people to see reason, expand their minds, and learn: not kill them.

Today I ran across this:

It’s the trailer for a movie called “Jesus Camp”. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the trailer scares the crap out of me.

Nobody ever talks about the “Army of Atheism” or the “Army of Dawkins” or any other kind of army (except the ones with giant robots built with evil technology). People do, however, refer to the “Army of God”.  Frequently. These people are indoctrinating children and giving them a jihad to fight. At least part of this movie is right here in Kansas City just over the state line in Lee’s Summit.

Seriously, are you all coming to kill me?

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Prayer for Michele Bachmann

Here I bow my head to pray
But not to MY God, I am ashamed to say
For He is not sanctioned by the state
So some other prayer I must make.

It all started out so well and good
'Put God Back In School' we said we would
But then the society around us changed
The 'official' God now has a different name.

We were warned, but we couldn't wait
To abolish the separation of church and state
Because the majority was on our side
Our religion was worshiped far and wide.

But the world grew smaller as years went by
And others moved in as we began to cry.
'They don’t believe the same as we do!'
Suddenly, our decision we began to rue.

Politicians in office now had a different God.
They vowed to make us follow Him, they would.
And since the state now decides our belief
We can blame only ourselves for our grief.

So now I bow my head to pray
And wish I could go back to that day
When we didn’t know what we would lose
And I could worship the God I choose.

From ReligiousTolerance.org

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Truth of Science is Not Determined by Public Opinion

In a sleepless bout of late night web surfing, I ran across this:

Let’s get the easy criticisms out of the way first. Yes, she does believe evolution is a myth. No, she did not answer the question (but that’s normal for politicians). A national education standard is not a violation of the constitution. And letting local school systems decide what should be taught is a terrible idea.

For those schooled in logic, yes I am about to invoke the slippery slope argument. I don’t think it’s out of place though, because the slippery slope is their agenda. While it may be bad logic to say “because A happens then B will happen”, It’s not necessarily bad logic to say “They want A to happen because it enables B to happen.”  The slippery slope does sometimes happen.

Only a creationist would argue this. It’s the same rehashed party line nonsense that’s been coming from the right (google “State’s Rights”), but this is a frightening turn for it. The problem is that some parts of the country are more fundamentalist than others, and this policy, if it came to pass, would enable those parts of the country to begin teaching religion (read “creationism”) in schools. Creationism is religion. There is no scientific basis for stating that a higher power created the earth and mankind. That science cannot explain everything is a poor excuse to interject religion into federally funded schools. People, Kansas would jump on this in a heartbeat, and I have to live here.

Allowing local schools to determine their own standards could lead to all kinds of nonsense. Would this policy still make sense if a local school system in rural Kansas decided Algebra was too hard, and it was no longer necessary? That’s what she’s arguing for, the right to do that. A national standard for education is not a bad thing.

Once again, there are not two sides to this argument. There is science, and what people believe with no evidence (e.g. not science). In science class, you teach science, not not science. If we can prove there was a big bang, but we cannot say what caused it, then the schools teach that there was a big bang, and that we cannot definitively say what caused it. You don’t say “God” because we don’t know!

The answer is simple here. Teach science in science class, teach religion in Sunday school. If we don’t know what caused life to begin, teach what we do know in science class. Teach them that “God did it” on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What? No death threats? No hate mail?

Apparently Dave Mabus a.k.a. Dennis Markuze, a mentally ill Canadian with religious delusions, has threatened to kill more or less every Atheist, science blogger, and rationalist on the internet.

 

Except me.

 

WTF? I feel sorta left out here…

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Multi-Level Marketing (or “I’ll never need math in real life”)

In my life I’ve run across a few multi-level marketing schemes organizations. I’ve never become heavily invested in one, mostly because there’s a little voice in my head that always screams “somethin’ ain’t right here” every time I look into one. Since the cult, I’ve noticed that some of the ones I’ve been approached by (Yeah, I’m talking about you, Primerica) exhibit some traits that reminded me of the practices of cults. I’m not saying they’re cults, but they sure smelled like one.

One thing that never occurred to me until recently is to do the math. When you’re entertaining the thought of joining one of these groups, they spend a lot of time and money wooing you. You see people a few levels up who are simply rolling in cash. Giant conventions in Texas where stadiums of people are cheering a couple who “went diamond”.  A guy who just bought a $200,000 car. Your desire for success and wealth kick in and drive out any kind of rational or critical thought. I sort of figure that the voice in my head that’s kept me out of these all these years are those parts of my brain desperately trying to reassert themselves when I go all googly-eyed at the thought of wealth.

They all operate similarly, it doesn’t matter if they’re selling soap or supplemental life insurance. It goes something like this: you sell X amount of product, on which you make N commission (which isn’t usually very much), but the real way you make money is by bringing in people under you. You build your own “network”. You bring in something like 5 people under you, and on all of their sales you make Y commission, which is not much either. But then they each bring in 5 more people, and by the time you have 4 or 5 levels below you, you’re super mega rich and you don’t have to do a thing to earn it anymore! Woot!

Now, let’s run some actual numbers. At the top of the pyramid is one guy. We’ll call him N0. The count of this tier (0) is 1. This can also be expressed as 50.

The next tier will have 5 people, because N0 brought in 5 people. This can be expressed as 51.

The next tier will have 52 people.  Each member brought in 5 more, so this tier has 5+5+5+5+5 or 5x5 or 52 which is 25.

Tier 4 will have 53 or 125. You should be able to see the pattern by now. Each tier will have 5(N-1) people in it. It’s important to note at this point though, that the total number of people required by tier 4 is 156.  This is 125 + 25 + 5 + 1 or image (If I remember my sigma notation correctly). Nobody is making any money yet though.

Let’s jump down to level 13. If you’re joining a MLM, you’re probably down the ladder a bit, right? This tier requires 305,175,781 member in the organization. 304,687,500 of these do not have enough people under them to make any money. They’re in the bottom 4 tiers. This leaves 488,281 of the members actually making money, or about 0.1%. As a side note, the U.S. population as of the last census was 311,933.344. Let’s go just one level deeper so that some of these people at the bottom can start making some money.

Tier 14 has 1,220,703,125 people, bringing the total number of people in the organization to 1,525,878,906. Wow. The number of people in the bottom 4 tiers is now 1,523,437,500, with 2,441,406 people actually making money now. Wow that’s a lot! It’s also 0.1%. Let’s go another level to get those numbers up, shall we?

At Tier 15, the number of people in the organization number 7,629,394,531. Roughly 854 million more people than actually exist, according to the estimate of world population. Whoops, I think we’ve passed a logic barrier here. Let’s ignore that and run the numbers again. 7,617,187,500 people constitute the bottom 4 tiers leaving a mere 12,207,031 in the range that makes money, or 0.1%. I’m detecting another pattern here.

If we roll this back to more reasonable levels, say 8, Then the organization requires 97,656 people. The bottom 4 tiers have 97,500 people with the remaining 156 actually making money. Only 156 people in an organization of around 100k actually making money sounds abysmal. It’s also about 0.1%.

Basically, no matter how you roll the numbers, 99.9% of all members of the organization lose money, while 0.1% of them actually do make money (in varying degrees).

By way of comparison, roulette contains 36 possible numbers, so the odds of winning by betting on a single number of roulette is just below 3%. You’re actually more likely to get rich by placing your entire life savings on a single number of roulette than you are by joining a MLM.

Thank you, little voice in the back of my head. And thank you Skeptoid.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Help! Help! I’m being Repressed!

There’s been some noise around the interwebs recently about how oppressed white men are.  Who knew? I’m under the thumb of The Man (or rather The Woman I suppose) and nobody told me. It’s all out there in The Manosphere.

I’ve actually kept kindof quiet about the recent Richard Dawkins flap, but it seems to me a lot of people blew a few passing comments out of proportion. I actually literally laughed out loud when Mr. Deity mentioned how they threw Richard Dawkins under the bus.

I think I’ll just sum the whole thing up here: Guys, don’t be dicks.

I find it personally disappointing when we devolve into this kind of blame game so and so is bad and so and so is wrong. Makes us look like politicians. Issues that are important to me include the quality of American education (including keeping religion out of schools and teaching real science), fair pay, jobs, and care for the underprivileged at home (which is vehemently opposed by the religious right, otherwise known as Republicans), and human rights violations around the world and at home (most of which occur in the name of God).

It occurred to me at some point that most of the issues I care about are caused by or exploited by religion in some fashion, and I threw my lot in with the Atheists. Rebecca Watson was right to speak out on her issue. It matters to her and she raised awareness of it. Her audience is quite a bit larger than mine, so she’s succeeded admirably. Meanwhile I’ve lost nearly everything in a fight to protect my children from fundamentalism. It has truly cost me dearly. That’s why I don’t disagree with Dawkins either: certain issues are just a little bit more important to my life at the moment. When I’ve finished deprogramming my children and teaching them to appreciate the world as it is and not how some ancient goat herders wants it to be, I’ll make sure I cover jerks propositioning women in elevators too. I can’t wait until the day when that’s what I have to be worried about.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All you really need to know about Politics

Via Pharyngula. Best summation of the American political environment EVAR.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Should math be taught in schools?

Recently all Miss USA candidates were asked if evolution should be taught in schools. 

The actual answers. Watch at your own peril.

The answers were varied, and most overwhelmingly indicated that they did not personally believe evolution. That’s an appalling statement on American education and the iron grip the religious right holds over our country.  While there were a couple of definite “yes” answers, many “yes” answers were of the variety “well we should teach both sides”. It’s such an appalling state that so many believe there’s “two sides”.  If we teach whatever anybody believes, we must also include creation stories from Hinduism, Daosim, Pastafarianism, Raelianism, and so on.  It’s not just evolution and the Abrahamic faiths.  Evolution differs from all of the creation stories in one important respect: It has evidence.  It’s science. It’s not faith based. We should not teach religion in schools, but we should teach science. Creationism in all it’s varied forms (including Intelligent Design) is RELIGION. Period.

Consider this from another angle: what if the question was “Should we teach Math in schools?”

I think we should teach both sides: Math and … um, not-math.