Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Why Atheists go to church" by Cole Morgan

This is interesting.  One of our own good friends, an atheist, attends church almost every weekend and he publishes articles in the "Faith" section of the Kansas City Star... (Oh my goodness.) Here's a sample.

Why an atheist goes to church
Special to the Star
“Why do you go?” Friends ask me this whenever I mention that I enjoy going to Bible studies. I suppose that’s because they know I am an atheist. 
About a year ago, some buddies and I started going together to different churches. The initial surprise on our fellow churchgoers’ faces when they learned we were nonbelievers was priceless.
To answer the question, there are a few reasons why I go. First of all, it’s fun. I like to learn, and attending a new church is always a rewarding experience for me. I like to hear how each denomination interprets the Bible, and why people think the way they do. So often we’ll hear someone explain why members of other denominations are not real Christians. 
For the past four weeks, a group of us have been attending a 10-week “Alpha Course” at a church.The purpose of this class, the facilitator told us, is to provide a place where people can feel relaxed about coming and talking about their beliefs. We start off with dinner, then a DVD discussing Jesus, and finally we go to our small groups. The people are friendly and we don’t keep getting asked why exactly we’re there.
When I tell people there how I feel about religion, they don’t take offense. I like that. That hasn’t always happened at Bible studies I’ve attended. Still, I feel a disconnect with my new friends in the Alpha Course. They tell me to “open the door” (the door being my heart) and if I do, “Jesus will come in.” What does this mean? I can’t even begin to understand this idea of “letting Jesus into my heart.”
As a natural born skeptic, I know that the natural world is all we need and all we have. I find the natural world exciting -- there’s so much to learn. I stay active promoting science whenever possible. I feel we only have this life, so I encourage people to be active and to support research that will help us live longer and healthier.
I am a member and help organize several nonreligious meet up groups in the Kansas City area. We have movie nights, science nights, topic nights, breakfasts and picnics to keep us busy. We also keep each other informed with voting issues and other topics we feel are unfair in our society like women’s rights and gay rights. We invite Christians many times to our groups, but few ever accept and fewer show.
I would like it if we could learn to be more rational and laugh at our differences more often. That’s another reason why I go to church. It’s nice to be able to show Christians that we don’t have horns and tails. Atheists live normal lives just like Christians do. We just believe in one fewer god.
Cole Morgan is one of 13 contributors to the Faith Walk column. Reach him at faith@kcstar.com.

Good for you, Cole Morgan, and more power to you.  (But personally, I think I'll still be skipping church.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009



Now that the 25th of December has come and gone we'll have the opportunity to enjoy a lasting peace.  Bill Donahou's War on Christmas has ended once more. And good riddance.  Perhaps Bill will have the clarity of mind to neglect declaring the next offensive in 2010.  Let's hope.

I have a though to share in the mean time.  That the "War on Christmas" is a misnomer and a divisive one at that.  What we've all just survived has not been a war "on" Christmas but rather it was the seasonal war "of" Christmas.  Year after year it is nothing less than the same old  persistently self-serving Christian attitude that the Christian Christmas Holiday is so exceptionally special it must be observed reverently by everyone ... Bah Humbug!

When next November and December come knocking, I hope this simple message will be remembered: The winter season belongs equally to everyone; Christmas does not.

Friday, December 18, 2009

United CoR, update:

United CoR, update:

I promised to give a report on some of the "ins and outs" of getting involved with United Coalition of Reason... Well, the answer is an easy one.  There are no "outs" to it.

United CoR does everything it claims, nothing more and nothing less.  They give support to local area groups who are willing to work in a coordinated way and they lend their assistance to helping establish public recognition of those groups through their billboard and media assistance advertising program.  It's a snap getting started as a United CoR affiliate group - no secret agenda, no strings attached, no fees involved.

Check it out and get your group together with your closest neighboring groups to form a Local CoR today. Its a reasonable thing to do.  Here's the link: United Coalition of Reason.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's your opinion? Cast your vote..!

What's your opinion? Cast your vote..!

A controversy here in the Land of the Free is currently being settled across the country, case by case.  The question: Does the winter holiday season, December, belong to everyone in cases where government and public property are involved?

In my home state of Arkansas, according to the courts, it apparently does.  A two year struggle between Arkansas Society of Freethinkers and the State of Arkansas has culminated in a decision.  This year, for the first time, a holiday display that competes with the traditional "single-view" Christmas display consisting of a manger and a tree has been given space on the Arkansas State Capital grounds to display its holiday message along side "what everyone expect to see," Christmas.

Did the judge decide correctly?  Should space on public property be made available for displays that differ from the traditional "Christmas decorations"?

You can answer if you act quickly.... The local news media wants to know.  Search the left hand column of this link and look for "Your Opinion": VOTE

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh my, look at who still doesn't get it... Bill O'Reily

Oh my, look at who still doesn't get it...

Bill O'Reilly is far a drift on plenty of things, but on the Humanist winter celebration, he's outdone himself and is hopelessly lost at sea.  Read his full "Bah.. humbug" painting of atheists and Humanists here: Have Yourself a Godless Little Christmas

Mr O'Reily... do your journalistic homework.  Humanists have quite a nice little holiday celebration and we like it.  The symbols and whatnot used as reminders to celebrate are commonplace among us... even Santa gets a nod right along side Happy Human and our Human Light decorations.  You, Mr O'Reily, are apparently seeing only what you'd like to see.  It's time to wake up, sir.  Happiness and celebration are things that happen even in the absence of Jesus.

Happy Holiday to all... You, too, Bill.

Friday, December 11, 2009

On reading anything, first know the author

On reading anything, first know the author

A few days ago, I caught myself thinking while reading, drifting off the subject and taking stock of the things found between the lines.  Having such wandering thoughts while reading is sometimes an annoying occurrence yet it's more frequently a very valuable and sometimes useful habit.  On this particular occasion, I was busy gleaning nuggets out of Susan Jacoby's "The Age of Unreason" and I wondered: How in the world has Susan amassed such an impressive command of scholarly knowledge? How astonishing she is...!  Yet, there really isn't any wonder about it.  She's smart.

Reflecting back on my fleeting thoughts of awe for Jacoby's ability has caused me to consider the importance of it.  For her case, the facts are readily available. She's an accomplished author and scholar known to many.  Her credibility is unquestionable.  And now compare.  Do the authors of such books as the Bible and the Qu'ran have equally known and reputable authors?

Some readers approach some books differently than others.  They may carefully peruse a modern book's jacket for tid-bits of insight into what and who they are about to read before deciding to turn a page and lend an open mind to its writer.  However, that same prospective reader may trade off his thoughtful book selection practices when electing to pick up a Holy book.  But why?

In the case of the Bible, for example, knowing anything at all about the author(s) is nearly impossible - its authors are virtually unknown outside of the Bible itself.  By contrast, in the case of the Qu'ran, Mohammad is well known; yet, does it follow without fault that he is a reputable source for what he claims?  and the same could be said about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  By additional contrast, now consider the reputations of Confusious, Buddha and Lao-Tse, the founders of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.  Such men were well know in their own times; they were celebrated, revered and even criticized by their peers and each one was challenged to possess a credible reputation, in deed, the likes of which could satisfy any potential reader in much the same way we find satisfaction in knowing the reputation of any modern-day author - a Jacoby for example.

And now, I must ask: How should one pick up a holy book? ... as a blank slate ready to be inscribed - blindly trusting the book's author to speak knowledgeably and truthfully? ... or as one armed by forethought and by some reasonable knowledge of who he is about to read?

I recommend: On reading anything, first know the author.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A friendly atheists advocate: Stephen Prothero

A friendly atheists advocate: Stephen Prothero

In order to follow this blog well, I'll refer you to Hermant Mehta's blog, Friendly Atheist, where Hermant has written a commentary on Stephen Prothero's Time Magazine article urging atheists to soften their approach for advocating atheist popularity.

First: I will neither agree or disagree with Stephen Prothero and the aims of his article nor will I take any issue with Hermant.  Each has made points well take and I'll leave it at that for now.  My interest is to speak, instead, about Stephen Prothero, writer, religious scholar and historian.

I've recommended Prothero's books on other occasions, merely touching on them by title, and this seems an appropriate time to say a tad more. If there are first things to mention about Prothero, the man, they would have to include words like "intergity" and "fact-minded".  His works could not be better grounded by his dedication to honest analysis and reporting than they appear to be.  Prothero is religious, a Catholic, yet he seems as capable as the best science researcher at compartmentalizing his personal beliefs in order to avoid tarnishing his work - his books.

I was especially impressed by "American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon".  It speaks mountains on the the subject of religious changes of attitude in America over the course of history.  That book is a "must read" for anyone wanting to understand American religious (and, reading between the lines, non-religious) society today.  Atheists ought to find it more than just interesting even though atheism is not its focus.

My bottom line...?  Stephen Prothero may say otherwise, but he writes for the benefit of the atheist movement and advances our interests, knowingly or not - and in a friendly way, of course.

POST SCRIPT: Since writing this, I've heard from Stephen and he thanked me for the post while correcting an error I've made.  He writes "Thanks for your kind words. I am not a Catholic, however. Steve Prothero "

My error... my apology.     


Monday, December 7, 2009

On Atheist Activism:

On Atheist Activism:

Defining the aims of atheist activism has come up as a topic in the past few days.  Gretta Christian's and vjack's blogs have spoken on it and I want to add my two cents since I don't completely agree with either one of them.

Let me begin with Gretta's ideas.  Simply put, she touts that an atheist activists ought to aim to tear down religion and god-belief straight to their foundations and abolish them. Her aim is for a religion-free world.  Vjack takes a softer approach as seem in his definition.

Atheist activism refers to the process of promoting atheism through activities such as promoting a worldview free from gods, reducing the privileged status of religion in society, and promoting atheist civil rights.

While I can't say that I disagree entirely with either Gretta or vjack on all counts, I disagree with each enough to quibble.

I strongly support atheist involvement in all walks of life and I personally encourage non-believers to become involved and active.  Atheist activism as I see it (and as I practice it) is merely taking steps to give venue to atheist opinions... to all atheist opinions.  I try to take care not to narrow which atheist opinions ought to be given top priority but rather to simply encourage the sounding of atheist voices.

My own voice is certainly not one that I wish to muzzle nor would I like being told what to think - I have my own opinions and I reserve the right to state them.  And herein is where I differ with both Gretta and vjack.  My personal style of atheist activism is merely to help organize the stage for atheists to speak their minds. I prefer to promote, preserve and protect the liberty of atheist individuals and organizations without regard for any specific "atheist aims".

Let atheists define the aims of atheism... let atheist activists provide the stage.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A local Holiday dispute: Settled

A local Holiday dispute: Settled

The residents of Little Rock, Arkansas, had better prepare themselves to be rocked this holiday season thanks to the efforts of its Central Arkansas freethinging and skeptic groups.  The dispute over weather or not atheists would be allowed to place a holiday display on the state capitol grounds along side the familiar Christian tree was a two year long struggle that has finally settled.  Upon hearing the decision, Leewood Thomas, an atheist group member and one of the projects chief contributors exclaimed: "Hip Hip Hooray!!! State Capitol here we come!"

The last stages of the battle for equal representation were finally fought between Arkansas's Secretary of State and the local ACLU chapter as the story begin to raise broader interest, reaching media agencies online and on the air.  Fayetteville CATV producer, Donald Morton, of FreeThought NWA said of the decision, "How ironic.  We covered this issue in a taped show at same hour and the same day it was being settled."

To view the display, visit its website at: Arkansas Society of Freethinkers or wait a week or two and visit the real deal on the Little Rock Capitol Building grounds.  It will be there.

Its time to get the word out:

Its time to get the word out:

I've been as thrilled as I can be by one of the unexpected results of attending last month's highlighted events - Skepticons II.  That result is the very strong possibility of a similar event following suit in Joplin this coming spring - Four State FreeThought Convention.

A handful of group leaders sat themselves down for breakfast on the second morning of Skepticons and did a little brainstorming.  That brainstorming session is still happening and its fruit has grown into creating the first of what is likely to become an annual convention style meeting of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas freethinking groups.  Whoopie...!

A Facebook page has been created to organize the ground workers for the event and it's been actively doing so right from the start.  Check it out to get involved.

Friday, December 4, 2009

In memory of...

In memory of...

A great deal of religious thought and energy is spent on contemplating "afterlife" or, in other words, on surviving the natural state of being dead as a door nail.  Somehow this kind of thinking makes no sense to most non-religious people, me included.

Being saved to live on after death, ascending into Heaven (or going to Hell) or being raptured to live with Jesus, Allah, God or whomever one dreams holds the keys to his escape from ultimate oblivion has no real substance to give critical thinking minds reason enough to accept faith in an afterlife.  So, what of it?  Why does the devout believer go through so much personal sacrifice and torment on account of this empty hopefulness for surviving death when death is so obviously and empirically inescapable?  What brings them to believe such nonsense?

The answer might be found somewhere hidden within the words "In memory of" since, as the preachers often put it, "Ones rightful place in heaven will be decided by how one lived his life."

It is argued by religionists, by Christians and others, that one cannot "buy" his way into Heaven - that making donations and doing good deeds is not enough; and yet, there are a seemingly endless stampedes of the faithful, each stumbling over the next and competing with his neighbor to be recognized for what good he gives to others and to his lord.  I'm of a mind to say that this behavior, that of being focused on seeking positive recognition, is in deed an attempt to buy a seat in Heaven and to be thought of well enough by ones peers during life to insure being remembered equally well after death.

Eastern religions seem to have a better idea of how to treat the want we may have to be remembered well.  They tout honoring their dead ancestors, but not as living souls having managed to cheat death, rather, as truly bygone lives, as passed lives, as dead people each having contributed a small part to the whole of humanity. and to life By this form of "afterlife remembrance" they gain comfort in spite of death's onset.  Easterners allow themselves to know that each will ultimately die, truly die, and that each will become oblivious to everything  that is such that they're able to realistically recognize the fact that all life is ifinite.  This honest affirmation ultimately yields one very few concerns for imagining his own impending doom.  Short of knowing that one may know pain and suffering during the process of daeth, living such a philosophy as theirs causes no dependence upon false beliefs. For anyone who has conducted his life honestly and morally, deadness is not feared.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's not an attack, it's a counter-offensive.

It's not an attack, it's a counter-offensive.

There are a whole lot of people complaining that atheists are ruining their Christmas.  They claim that Christmas is under "attack".  Bah, humbug.

In deed, our atheist and secular communities are laying claim to an equal share of the holiday season; we're grabbing up small segments of advertising space on buses and along roadsides, securing patches of grass on state capital grounds and erecting placards here and there - and for what? Well, how about for the purpose of celebrating our idea of what the winter holiday season is all about.... Its not only about the birth of Jesus H. Christ.

Atheists, agnostics, Humanists and the host of other non-religious people as well as Jews, Muslims, Hindus and the rest of the non-Christian religious population of America aren't "attacking" Christmas... not at all.  Non-Christian Americans are merely stepping froward to celebrate the holidays according to their own ways of thinking.  Attack?  No.  If it's anything, it is a counter attack.  For every "Merry Christmas" wish heard, there can now be heard a resounding echo of "Happy Holidays" and for non-Christians, that's a nice change to hear.        

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's happening on the little stage?

What's happening on the little stage?

We get oodles of news on the national level, the big stage of the secular/atheist movement, but what's happening on our smaller stages?  What are our local groups doing?

I really enjoy attending the monthly meetings of my local group, Fayetteville Freethinkers,  Arkansas, and I also take time out to attend the meetings of a few other nearby groups - often, just to see what's going on.  There's a good deal of variety out there and I encourage everyone to get their fill of it by visiting outside their own neighborhood once in a while.  Here's why...

This month, my own group featured a Doug Kruger "original"... What a hoot.  Doug has been giving presentations to our group for years.  He's the author of  "What is Atheism: A Short Introduction,"  he teaches at the collage level and he's a highly polished speaker - a real piece of human inventiveness especially when it comes to selecting topics.  This month he offered an overview on dowsing, of all things. It's the art of ( ...the  art of?) finding underground water, lost and hidden items, and a lot of other sorts of foolishness.

The conclusion: If dowsers would turn their dowsing attention and skills (...skills?) to seeking out nonsensical thinkers with foolish beliefs (and if dowsing worked) the seeking dowsers would end up chasing their own tails around endlessly, just like little puppies often do and they'd look just as brainless as they do when seeking out other such silliness as they claim to be able to do.

You can't guess what fun it is to look critically at the wacko ideas humans come up with... at all of it.  Science and history, philosophy and ethics, politics and government are certainly not to be slighted in the least. Knowing these things is important; yet, doing without an occasional debunking of this and that or failing to poke some fun at the silliness some segments of our societies believe, kind of runs a close second in many, many categories.

Attend your local meeting... Don't miss it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Preacher man, abandon your post!

Preacher man, abandon your post!

If religion's thinking members (and there are plenty of them) would suddenly adopt courage enough to honestly recognize that the moral grounds applied by the holy scriptures are not entirely defensible, that the gods touted in the Bible, the Qu'ran and Torah and by all the other ancient holy texts are clearly not infallible in every way; then, the doors of a new dilemma, a modern intellectual dilemma, would open wide on the public stage.  And that new dilemma, "What ought we to believe and live by?" is the single most neglected question of today's society.

But who should be called upon to take the first brave steps?  Who should become the leaders of meaningful religious reform. Preachers; that's who!

One who assumes a leadership responsibility for others is obligated morally to examine the direction he advocates.  Is it right to teach that those who fail to believe as others do deserve death?  Is touting slavery as an institution a worthy endeavor?  Is advocating "eye for an eye" justice a just avocation?  And women... is it okay to to cast them as second class people, obedient to the whims of men as has been done since long before the year one? Are aggressive war and genocide supportable? Aren't there moral grounds today for casting off the amoral standards of the past, those less than holy standards reflected by old-world scriptures, whether they are said to be "divinely given" or not? ... I believe there are.

One at a time or as a mass exodus, a new clergy must take-up the lead for a new cause. That being: to officially and completely abandon any book of scripture and any religious doctrine that is so tarnished by such uncivilized teaching as the kind seen above such that whatever remaining good which might be derived from  religion and its texts must be rescued away to begin again elsewhere, untarnished and based in reality.

Honest clergymen, wherever they can be found, must take the first steps out of their wrongfully taken yesterday-attitudes for idealization of that which is clearly not ideal.  Preachers need to answer a new calling outside the old ideals of church and far away from the ill-thought moral teaching found in the old holy books.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What non-believers DO believe

What non-believers DO believe

Atheism, agnosticism and the trailing pack of additional isms that are so often attached to the first two as if they were mere after thoughts are not entirely devoid of belief, not even from the most extreme beginning, atheism - the ultimate abyss of nothingness and hopelessness as god-believers might call it.  Certainly, a Taoist has beliefs and yet he claims no beliefs in gods.

"Hey... What's that?  Beliefs?" you say.

It's true.  Even atheists have beliefs.

I'm personally not an avid reader of philosophy, yet I do have a personal philosophy that I live by.  We all do. I'll refer you to Richard Carrier to argue against this, if you'd like to refute the truth of the matter.  Yet here, my purpose is simply. I wish to raise the level of awareness of for readers to recognizing the fact that we non-beleivers do, in fact, believe something.

Collectively speaking, it would be a fine mess to attempt lumping all non-believers into a single pile. Our beliefs vary enough from person to person that even listing the least common denominators of our every individual philosophy ofour midst would present a task of the highest order - it might be possible, of course, but impossibility is likely its nearest up-the-street neighbor.  Yet let's try.  Respect for basic honesty, respect for self and others, valuing and improving upon our own critical thinking skills, and accepting irrefutable reality might head such a list, (or not).  But the point, I hope, is clear. We are not, any of us, entirely without beliefs.

I urge each of you to explore your own beliefs, and then to seek that which is common and uncommon between you and the guy or gal next to you.  We all need to talk about our beliefs a lot more.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hands-on projects

Hands-on projects

There's nothing like contributing time and effort to a hands-on project... Give it a try where you live.

I've just come away from the great success of Skepticons II and sent out my personal thanks to some of the people who put heads and hands together pulling this event off.  It was fantastic...!

I've done my bit in several ways, organizing new groups and setting the stage for local group meetings, organizing book tours and such, and I know the sort of feeling the Skepticons crew of contributors, from stage manager and information desk person to emcee and principal speaker, are each feeling today - pooped-out-wonderful and accomplished.  Its a feeling I hope every one of us will one day experience by giving an effort to producing a project of his own projects.

Whether one chooses to help produce a large event like Skepticons or simply give a talk for their local group, whether its a large effort given or a small one, a pet project or a dutiful job, the reward is equal, the benefits are universal and its all found in the giving.  Get involved, hands-on and on-the-ground. Make something you care about become real.  Give your talents and yourself to making a difference for everyone's sake.  You won't be disappointed that you did.

Congratulations to Skepticons II.  And full speed ahead to the makers of all the projects that come next... Get involved - everyone. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Skepticons II... HOW KOOL IT WAS.

Skepticons II... HOW KOOL IT WAS.

I almost hate to say it, Skeptions II has come and gone.  But what a terrific seminar its was - it a was full two days and two nights to remember and it was a big, big booster shot for atheism here in the central region of the country.  If you were there, you know what I mean.  If not, I'm sorry.

If you recall the thrill of meeting up with a fellow atheist  or agnostic, a skeptic and critical thinker yourself, multiply that feeling by 500 or so.  There is no better surroundings for a rational mind than to be in the company of a small multitude of others like itself - all alert and tuned in to reality.

Ideas blossomed, common thoughts were shared and new friendships were made to the left, to the right and all around. Not age, not gender, not race not anything stood between us, the uncommon people, on our personal quests to seek others in common.  This was an orgy of reason and a feast on the delicacies of what tastes so delightful to our hungry minds.

And here's a plus: one of the spin-offs of a great meeting like Skepticons II is that it can sometime help spawn a similar event... Guess what, that may be happening as we speak.  Stay tuned to this blog for more information on this exciting topic.  Something new is possibly brewing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'd like some proof, please:

I'd like some proof, please:

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, said that the motto and pledge recognize the “undeniable truth that our freedoms come from God.”

I'd like to see some proof of that Mr. Sekulow, wouldn't you?  I'll bet you would since that might carry your case for you.


It stands for American Center For Law and Justice but it could just as easily mean American Center for Law and Jesus since by its own Mission statement "God-given... rights" are one of its chief reasons for being.

And now, the stage appears to be set and the time seems ripe for the lawyers on both sides of the "In God We Trust" issue, an issue aimed at blocking the legality for engraving "under God" and the "In God We Trust" motto on the Capitol Visitor Center walls, to put on their gloves. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation filed its complaint against giving the go-ahead-nod to the engraver back in July and today US Representatives Michele Bachmann and John Kline answered.  Backed by Representative John Boehner and 40 other conservatives of Congress, Bachmann and Kline delivered their brief for filing to the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin, the home of FFRF.

This case has all the markings of the famed Monkey Trials from back in the twenties of the last century.  Quite honestly, I suspect it will be a brawl, but we'll all have to wait and see how quickly the courts intend to act.

(Don't hold your breath....)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The God Virus Spreads and Spreads...

The God Virus just spreads and spreads...

.. but guess what? That's good news for a change.

I received a recent update email on Dr Darrel Ray's marvelously energetic activities for atheism and non-religion. Dr Ray, as most people already know is the author of "The God Virus" and he has taken the time to share the experiences of what his writing efforts have yielded both for him and for the causes he represents.

Here's a reprint of his email:

Friends and friends of the book:

I just had to tell all that today the book hit #2 in books on atheism on Amazon. It is right behind Richard Dawkins mega best seller, The God Delusion. I never thought my book would be mentioned in the same sentence as Dawkins' and now it is #2 behind his and ahead of Hitchens mega best seller God Is Not Great.

I have been on book tour for the last three months and much more to come in the next three and doing a radio show or podcast on average, every two weeks. The emails I have received from people touched by the book have been incredible. The stories are often amazing to read. Most relate it directly to specific chapters in the book that brought them understanding about their own religious upbringing.

Our new organization, Recovering from Religion (RR) has grown rapidly and is over 20 groups across North America and adding new groups each week. Portland, OR, NY City, San Diego and Ivine, CA all started in just the last two weeks. I am off to New Orleans in Dec. and five stops throughout the South in January. You can listen to my latest interview on The Infidel Guy podcast/internet radio show. Here is the link: http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=49897&cmd=tc I'll be on the Point of Inquiry podcast with DJ Grothe next week.

Forgive me for bragging, but this is just too much fun, I had to share it and enjoy it while it lasts. Its bound to come down sometime.


Buy the book and give it a read. You'll very likely enjoy it just as well as I did. And for the record: Dr Ray is one heck of a great guy. I hope each and every one of you gets a chance to shake his hand in chat.

Coming Out Equals Gaining Liberty

Coming Out Equals Gaining Liberty

For anyone who's faced the prospects of divulging his up-'til-that-moment secret of disbelief in gods to either a close friend or a family member, there is a world of anticipated trauma, anxiety and dread to carry around - a very heavy burden, in deed. And what is the cost of carrying that burden? Silence. Keeping silent on matters of ones personal beliefs comes at the high cost of yielding away ones most precious freedom, the right to openly speak an opinion.

Yet, just as one anticipates the possible traumas which may surround confessing his heretofore unspoken atheist thoughts, there exists a parallel plane of knowing that once divested of his secret, freedom awaits, and one can finally know liberty. And it is in that certainty of knowing such impending joy is at hand, of knowing it is possible and real, that the courage to move ahead drives us to seek openness fully in order to realize our own liberation, to often, from long-held years of silence.

What's at stake? What is the price of openly speaking ones mind? Sometimes its plenty but usually not.

A popular Twitter personality and blogger of Godless Girl, has written an account of her recent profession for atheism, titling the piece "I Came Out." Its worthy of a look and I encourage that what follows will likely be just as worthy since it is from what comes next that we will hopefully see and hear how she's benefited by her newly claimed liberty. Just one look at the photo attached to the article is already telling a lot.

Congrats, Godless Girl.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Group + Group + Group = Coordinated Groups

Group + Group + Group = Coordinated Groups

I've recently gotten together with some people in my home state of Arkansas - atheist people - and we're planning to do what others have already done: get organize.

There is no obligation, financial or otherwise ... United CoR's efforts are cooperative and supplementary to the work already being done by national and local nontheistic organizations.
United CoR (United Coalition of Reason) has gotten our attention. They're one of the nationwide organizations who have been putting up billboards, and Arkansas is looking in CoR's direction to lend a helping hand. That's what United CoR does according to their website; and, according to the groups who have already sought help from CoR, Chicago, Cleveland-Akron, San Diego, Colorado, Arizona, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Morgantown, Dallas-Ft.Worth, Houston and others, they do what they do very, very well.

I certainly plan to share our experience with CoR from here in Arkansas with everyone interested in doing something similar in their own home state. The aim, of course, is to share what works. And since the people at Cor apparently have a few clues on what works, Arkansas is ready to learn them. I hope I'll be finding out what the first of those clues are in the next few weeks.

I do know this part... The beginning steps are easy enough: find out where groups near your area are located, contact them and make a plan to work together for the good of all; and then, make a call or send an email to United Coalition of Reason. The details are as simple as that and they're posted on the United CoR's website.

Watch for additional installments on this subject, and I hope your local group will soon decide to join in with others to organize and publicize non-religion.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Catholic mystery of faith

The Catholic mystery of faith

According to the US council of Catholic Bishops, there are 68,115,001 Catholics in the United States, (that's 22% of the U.S. population). This alone is somewhat of a mystery since it doesn't quite agree with other statistical reports, but that's not the subject of this blog. It's the mystery behind the mystery of proclaiming "the mystery of faith" that's got my attention today.

As part every Catholic mass there is time taken out to profess the mystery of faith, Catholic style. They all stand and recite together. I'm wondering if anyone adding a voice to these weekly choruses of profession has actually considered the meaning of the word "mystery" in a what he's saying.

Mysteries are generally unsolved questions... that's what makes them mysteries, isn't it? And if anyone knows the answer to a mystery it can no longer be called a mystery. Hmmm?

So... when making their profession of faith by reciting the Apostles Creed, aren't Catholics actually saying that they fully understand they haven't got a clue? Aren't they saying they're adrift and at sea? And, I wonder, does the garden variety Catholic realize what he's professing isn't knowledge that includes a precise answer to the mystery but rather that its a profession of ignorance?

The Apostles Creed makes it that clear enough that the content of the claims it includes are based only upon belief - the words "I believe" reoccur a couple of times, in fact. Wowzers. That means, that every time a Catholic recites the Apostles Creed, he's actually saying "Duh... I don't know the real answer but I'm gullible enough to follow along with the crowd?" ...that's a lot of following, I'd say.

I really wonder how many of the 68,115001 Catholics have given this question even a moments' thought... Someone must have, eh? I mean, gosh and golly, they say it week after week, don't they?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Europe is on the ball...

Europe is on the ball...

The European court has acted in a decision to ban displaying the Christian Cross in Italian public schools. That's good for them and good for all of us, too. Europe is certainly on the ball. And the United States could do itself well by taking a few lessons from Europeans.

It was decided by the European court that the aim of schools is to teach critical thinking skills to children and that displaying religious symbols was not in keeping with that ideal. European judges were not about to allow children to be "forced" by mere habit of familiarity into believe the unfounded notions of gods without preparing them first with a start-up of maturity and healthier state of mind for dealing with adult philosophy.

Here in the US, religious symbols are banned from public school classrooms... but not all schools are public schools, are they? And, not all public money for education is harbored exclusively for public school classrooms - some goes for subsidizing parochial schools, dosen't it?. And there's something wrong with the system which allows that practice to continue.

Historically, legal efforts to deny subsidized payments of public tax money to religious schools have been raised time and again, and arguments have been given at both the state and federal Supreme court level to end such practices. Mostly, they've failed, and the reasoning behind the failures is difficult to tolerate, at best. It amounts to hair little better than splitting where the thinking goes something like, 'Paying for secular books and computers used for parochial education isn't a subsidy of parochial education.' Bunk...! That's nothing but bologna no matter what else it might be called.

And, of course, we still have to deal with the legacy of Dub-ya, George Walker Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiative.

Eeek! Wake up America. Religious schools divide up our kids into opposing camps of belief. This is not how things ought to be in a united country.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grrr...! Is the American Legion in it too?

Grrr...! Is the American Legion in it too?

Atheist Camel raised a complaining issue recently - one that involved putting a new Christian twist on the ceremonial practice of folding the American Flag. Please note: You'll find NOTHING in the history of Christianity or in its Bible that calls for this kind of BS.

The comments to Hump's article have been interesting to read and I've followed them as each was added. The latest comment, however, revealed something disturbing, in deed. In part, here it is:

Hump, I just learned that (1) the American Legion is advocating these supposed meanings for the ceremony (2) the legion is taking this into public schools as part of their respect-the-flag campaign [which I otherwise applaud], and (3) that the legion is chartered by congress.

Now, I don't know what the actual source of this bad news is since I didn't discover it myself, and I certainly don't like spreading rumor, it's not nice; but if this is true, there's a fight to fight with the old American Legion vets. Personally, I have a great deal of respect for the military, for veterans and for the American flag, but contrastingly, I have little to no respect for Christian doctrine and even less for this newly concocted intended religiosity being added on to the already established flag folding ceremony.

My first impression was that the new christian notion is just nonsense - its worthy of a laugh at best; but this... when a group like the American Legion, gets bent over and out of shape to push this as an agenda, morover, to try to teach it to kids. Grrr...! Something stinks.

Check it out for yourself at Atheist Camel... be sure to read the comments.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A low-fat article on "belief"

A low-fat article on "belief"

If "belief" is the word which equates to what we stand for, and this is commonly the case when speaking in common circles, than we'd each do well to have a ready answer to a frequently asked question, "What do you believe? (...or 'believe-in' as religionists will often say it.)

Richard carrier has put some serious effort into reducing down what he sees as the garden variety of "atheist belief" - and, dissatified by the obvious negative "There are no gods," he concentrates on the positive. So what are they?

Here's a low-fat article that gives quick incite to Richard's ideas on the subject and I think he's struck some nails soundly on the head with it: What an atheist ought to stand for

Having a willingness to doubt, to make honest inquiry, to follow logical thinking methods, to cautiously apply value upon everything one knows and to pursue happiness: these are Richards bottom lines. Read it for yourself to see if you agree.

Richard Carrier is scheduled to make an address at Skepticons II on November 20th - 21st at the campus of Missouri State University, Springfield. He'll be sharing the spotlight with PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Joe Nickell, DJ Grothe, Victor Stenger, Robert M. Price, and Dan Barker, along with local presenters Dr. Mark Richter and JT Eberhard. (Don't miss it!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christians lay claim to the US Flag... What's next?

Christians lay claim to the US Flag... What's next?

Holy cows...! Now they're claiming the flag...!

Atheist Camel, everyone's favorite dry hump, has uncovered the latest Christian tactic to take over the country - they've concocted a way to add "their God" to the traditional flag folding ceremony. How presumptuous is that..????

You can read Hump's original article here, but make sure you're sitting down and being careful about not having food or drink while reading... I don't want anyone to choke from laughing out loud. Hump's article.

Be sure to read all the comments and pass it on... this is to "good" a joke to keep to yourself.

See a "proper Christian flag folding" here: animation

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Catholic League - Donohue's War

Donohue's War

In response to a new bus ad promotions by The American Humanist Association, placards displaying a Jolly Santa Clause along with the message "Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness sake," Bill Donohou, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, declared the first day of the war on Christmas. But he wasn't saying that he was at war against Christmas - he proclaimed his war as a defender of Christmas. The interview was carried by Fox News and AHA representative, Jesse Galef, was there to answer. (video)

The enemy, Mr Donohou claimed, is "a rash of militant secularists, sticking there noses where they don't belong [and] taking a cheap shot at Christmas. There's an agenda," he said, and he went on to drop a few names, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Jeffery Dahmer, stating his opinion that they were all the product of philosophies like Humanism.

It seems to me that Mr. Donohou is a tad over-the-top on all of this. First off, "war" generally includes guns and bombs as opposed to bus signs; second, "militant" implies soldiers and not civilians; and finally, what in the world does Jeffery Dohmer have to do with anything...? Donohou's war, in sum, amounts to little more than firing off a few rounds of cannon fodder. He is willing to make a lot of noise, but he's not finding anything specific to aim at.

The fact is, as the bus signs tell us, "being good" doesn't require belief in God, Christmas or not.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The End is Not Near

The End is Not Near

If you're like most people, you aren't likely to put good money in something that won't last very long. You wouldn't, for example, buy a boat and water skis because there were lingering flood waters nearby; nor would you invest your hard earned cash in a personal library of ten thousand volumes on the day of your on hundredth birthday. It just wouldn't make sense to behave so foolishly knowing what you know about such matters.

Well then... figure this one out. Baptists are among those who claim intricate knowledge of "the end times" and "Armageddon" and "the rapture" and because of that they ought to be rather unwilling to toss away their savings on material things which will only be left behind here on Earth when they all fly up to Heaven to be with Jesus. That wouldn't make sense, would it? But apparently that isn't the way it is for Baptists in Dallas Texas. Do they know something all other Baptists don't?

According to Dallas Business Journal, First Baptist of downtown Dallas is preparing to invest $130 million dollars into a new state-of-the-art church campus. Have they lost their minds? Aren't they worried that it will all be for naught? What about the rapture? And what happened to the threats of impending Armageddon and the end times???

I can only guess, of course, that the end is actually not so very near (just as I'm sure investors into this new Baptists church must be guessing....) Or do you think they know? Could it be that, if truth be told, they're fully aware of the fact their Bible predictions are a bunch of bologna?

Hmmm... ?

Friday, November 6, 2009

A point of view worthy of attention:

A point of view worthy of attention:

I'm a regular reader of several bloggers and I want to take time out to recommend one: Paul Fidalgo.

Paul writes a daily Religion and Spirituality blog for Examiner.com and comes to my home state on Little Rock's page. He's also made a recent speaking presentation for the Northern Virginia Ethical Society which he calls "The New Atheism and the Great Divide (audio)." That engagement and what he spoke on was the subject of his blog this morning. I was impressed by what he had to say. You might be as well.

Download Paul Fidalgo's audio reproduction from his Examiner.com page or get it here: Download MP3

Special privilege: Church Group Discount

Special privilege: Church Group Discount

Seeing himself as 'a majority of one' and by recognizing that his own opinion counted equal to that of any other citizen, Henry David Thoreau stood firmly in the way of social injustice. He rejected yielding to social subjugation, legal or otherwise, by opting instead to publicly exercise his personal right to take independent action even if it meant assuming a posture of civil disobedience. And, willing to suffer the consequence of jail for the sake of upholding his principle, Thoreau sat it out to make his voice understood. He would not yield.

Atheists will sometimes find themselves as alone as Thoreau, living in a virtual sea of religion where special privileges and special deals are granted to some for mere reasons of belonging to special groups, church groups. Discounted Sunday meals are a case in point. Its viewed as a boon to business for restaurants to offer "dollars-off" price reductions to customers presenting church bulletins when paying their tabs. And, although it isn't a permitted practice under federal law or in accord to most state law, some businesses boldly offer these discriminatory discounts. Atheists, having no churches, are left out in the cold when such policies are employed and that isn't fair. But what's for it?

If you're a Thoreau at heart and faced by such prejudice, you might raise a fuss on the spot... and, like Thoreau, you might wind up in jail. Thoreau's way isn't my recommendation, yet doing nothing at all isn't my recommended either.

When faced by illegal discrimination, neither turning tail nor standing alone makes much sense. First, doing nothing at all to thwart injustice fails to fulfill ones obligatory duties of citizenry - we must, each one of us, make every effort to demand equality and fair treatment in all situations. Second, acting the loner, likewise falls short of our obligation to one another. Single handed actions are unlikely to be as successful as steps taken with the strength of parallel support. Even the Lone Ranger depended on Tonto.

We non-believers have our own groups now, nationally recognized groups with reputations of success against religiously bias practices. It's my recommendation is to use that strength. Blow the whistle, sound the bell. Get help. Putting an end to religiously motivated inequality is the responsibility of everyone. Let's all see it done together.

Freedom From Religion Foundation can be easily reached by phone at: (608)256-8900. Americans United for Church and State Separation can be reached at: (202) 466-3234.

Make the call.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What price peace?

What price peace?

A guest columnist, Jeff Nall, wrote a piece published by AHA recently. He calls the article "Saving the Soul of Secularism."

I'm not quite certain that I can agree with Jeff's point of view on everything, but he makes a good point. His bottom line is that Humanism, secularism and atheism are still a mixed bag when it comes to arriving at any agreement for ending the cycles of war around the globe and especially our American involvement in them.

Mixed bag or not, Jeff Nall makes clear his opinion:

The very legitimacy of secularism and freethought is at stake. Humanists, atheists, and assorted freethinkers along with the organizations that represent them: the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, Secular Student Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Center for Inquiry, among others, should join anti-war/peace organizations in calling for a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy away from neo-liberal imperialism and militarism. (emphasis added)

Humanism might suggest the most passive root possible, yet neither secularism nor atheism could unanimously agree with that philosophy. And statistics will bare that out. The anti-war solution always looks good on paper but somehow it just doesn't seem to fit well with reality.

My own rationality leads me to accept that wars will likely plague mankind long into the future, even after religious influences are removed from causing the social rifts supporting war. It just happens that there always seems to be some aggressive government somewhere - North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Malaysia or elsewhere - and there doesn't appear to be any clear reason for it.

Prudence tells me that keeping a strong nation militarily is better rather than worse. It's the safer thing to do. Using that force, however, is something of a different question - something that has to be decided case by case rather than taking a dogmatic stand.

If Humanism takes its stand, dogmatically, in an anti-war philosophy, hands down and no questions asked, I couldn't be comfortable as a Humanist. There are times when war must be waged and we, unfortunately, are currently at one of those times.

More billboard vandalism

More billboard vandalism

The vandalism that occurred to a Freedom From Religion Foundation billboard in Colorado isn't a lone case. The same sort of thing happened to a billboard placed in Moscow, Idaho by the American Humanist Association and this billboard has been defaced twice in just two weeks.

There is little doubt that these acts are examples of individuals who are over-the-top fanatic religionists... such people certainly can't be considered mainstream.

"The irony here is worth noting," said David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. "Some individuals are committing criminal acts while apparently claiming that their religious view of the world leads to good behavior. It's not a very convincing argument on their part."

But what to do?

It's for the remainder of the religious community and kin to call out the wrong doers and bring them to justice. The local church communities ought to take this sort of unlawful activity to task - its the doings of one of their own, its not right and they all know it. Someone among them has been dishonest in deed.

Amplify your atheism

Amplify your atheism

This looks like a good tool for spreading the word of atheism - "Amplify.com"

Getting the news out to everyone sometimes has its tough going. Our blogging community has to be thanked for doing all of us that good service, and now we can all pitch in.

Amplify.com and OpenCongress.org have recently been elevated to use by congress... yup, that's right! Congress is now posting some of its most controversial news and issues on public access sites and forwarding tid bits and clips to social sites like Twitter and Facebook. Lately they've been posting excerpts from the current health care reform debates. That's good news to know and we can all get involved in the debate. But although health care is an important issue to me (as it probably is to all of us) there are other issues, too, atheist issues, popping up in my mind.

Web tools like Amplify and sites like OpenCongress may come in handy for all interested atheists in time and perhaps we'd be wise to get more familiar with them now. The "Amplify" application is easy to use and OpenCongress allows tracking of specific issues and congressmen. Check it out.

Perhaps when the time gets around to debating tax reform again, we may be able to add in our two cents worth and try to even-up the score a tad with regard to "religious exemptions" ... and who knows, the next time "In God We Trust" enters into question, like weather it ought to be used when redesigning the back-side of a dollar bill, our atheist voices might finally be amplified enough to count.

Let's hope... and let's all take action.

Playing god is murder

Playing god is murder

People who believe in god sometimes decide to play god and the result is the same weather the god they believe in is Allah, Yahweh, Ganesh or Jesus H Christ.

It is part and parcel to religion to seek and maintain control over individuals. The rules are laid out and everyone is expected to follow them. That's fine and dandy for just about everything until someone makes the mistake of playing god.

Here's news of the latest religion related death - a death that need not have been. "Iraqi woman run over by father in US in 'Honor Killing'" The girl has since died.

For a father to take it upon himself to cause injury upon his own daughter - injury so severe that it leads to death - requires a motivation beyond the personal understanding of most people; but we can perhaps see that the father's actions were self-righteous and rooted in his belief. He was playing god.

I see similarities between this murder and the murder of Kansas' Dr George Tiller and of the Tennessee UU church shooting. The common thread is motivation... religious motivation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

New atheist groups:

New atheist groups:

Non-religious and atheist groups are forming up fast. We call ourselves Freethinkers, Skeptics, Atheist, Humanists and a bunch of other names, and that's all just fine, but... we need more groups on the ground in every city and town.

You know what to do. Get involved. Join a group or start one today.

High school aged people are getting on the ball, and thank goodness and reason for that. Chicago's Roman Catholic Cardinal, Francis George, is even a tad worried about it. (Um, that's an understatement. He's messing his pants over it.) And even the research data of religious outfits like the Barna Group are reporting higher and higher trending numbers of non-believers in every age group. Its a hands down issue. Atheism is on the move.

But, still, we need to keep growing and organizing. Pitch-in and help keep the movements for atheism and secularity successful. Join or start up a group today.

I'm getting anxious (...and worried about Skepticons.)

I'm getting anxious (...and worried about Skepticons.)

Skepticons II is happening in Springfield, Missouri, this November 20th and 21st. I wanna be there but little things keep setting me back (like TWO blown up cars).

The meeting is featuring some really great speakers; Dan Barker, P Z Myers, Richard Carrier, Dr. Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson and more; it's a good line up and it ought to be fun. Its also the KOOLEST thing happening on a big scale in my little part of the world. But - eeek! - I've got to get these car headaches settled and finally have a reliable way to get there.

You don't think God had anything to do with this, do you?

Anyhow, here's the schedule of events:
Friday, November 20

11:00-11:40 - Arrival, people getting stuffs.
11:40-Noon - Welcome, thanks yous, etc.
Noon-1:30 - Panel Debate, Does God Exist? (students)
2-4 - Panel Debate, Does God Exist? Carrier, Stenger, Price vs. Charles Self and others from the Assemblies of God. DJ Grothe moderator.

4-5:30 - Break

5:30-6:30 - JT Eberhard, Why do we criticize religion?
6:30-7:30 - Rachel Dawn-Craig (or PZ Myers #1)
7:30 - Whenevs, hang-out with speakers at a yet-undecided location.

Saturday, November 21

10-10:15 - DJ Grothe
10:25-11:15 - Victor Stenger, The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
11:25-12:30 - Robert Price, The Gospels and Thorough-going Skepticism

12:30-2 - LUNCH

2:00-3:20 - Joe Nickell, Investigating the Paranormal
3:30-4:50 - Dan Barker, A Book of (Bad) Numbers

5-7 Dinner break

7-8:15 - Richard Carrier, Where the Hell Is Jesus!? Weird Stuff from the Gospels to the Apostles
8:25 - 9:40 - PZ Myers
9:50 - 11:00 - Rebecca Watson


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christians know...

Christians know...

It looks like they're finally getting it. They've been getting less and less popular by the day and finally they're catching on to why.

Have you heard of the Barna Group... and David Kinnaman? David is the group's president. The group is a Christian research company. And the newest research is that the news for Christianity isn't so good. I read this article on teen skepticism.

"UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity... and Why it Matters" is the title David Kinnaman chose for his new book - a book about how the perception of Christianity has been changing over the course of several generations and most rapidly over the past ten years. Importantly, moreover, is that the trending line for Christian popularity has been on a downward slope. "Outsiders" (as David tags non-Christians) are on the rise - no news there - but now there's research from "insiders" suggesting why. And guess what, there's really no new news there either...

What David Kinnaman and his research group have been finding out sounds just exactly like what atheists have been saying forever: Christianity is judgmental, hypocritical, old hat and way to involved in politics.

But here's a little something that may wet your whistle to read Mr Kinnaman's book anyhow: Christian teens, the book promises to claim, have the same complaints about Christianity as there counterpart "outsider" friends. Now that's an interesting finding, isn't it!?

It does appear, at last, that Christian researchers, or at least this group of them, are getting it. Christianity is growing negatively for good reasons. Let's hope the news spreads to the ordinary Joe Biblethumper on the street. I know I wouldn't mind (in the least way) seeing some Christian change take place from within - less judgmental-ism, less hypocrisy, a lot less emphasis on old notions and less (oops... make that NO) political nosiness - these are all on my wish list for Christian change. But I guess I ought to add one more, eh? How about less ov'em. Yea, that would work...

Halloween ... Eeeek! It must have been the work of a ghost.

Halloween ... Eeeek! It must have been the work of a ghost.

Unless you're a totally over-the-top believer of ghosts, ghouls, goblins (and gods, including Jesus H. Christ) Halloween is a great time to have a little family and community fun. But apparently that's not how Pat Robertson's CBN sees it.

According to bloggers, Trian Hoaks and "Hump" (Atheist Camel) an article written by Kimberly Daniels and published on CBN blasted the traditional Halloween fun as being a night filled with the doings of Satan - even the candy is suspect of being demonic according to Daniels.

But what's this...? The article has suddenly gone missing. Could it have been a ghost at work? (LOL) I doubt it. I suspect Pat's site was getting a tad to many negative hits...

Courage of conviction must not be a virtue, eh?

But so what... What are you waiting for...? Its Halloween! Toss on a bed sheet, cut a couple of eye holes and go out trick-or-treating. Just have fun. That's what Halloween is for.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One small step of reason... one giant leap over taxpayer-paid faith-healing.

One small step of reason... one giant leap over taxpayer-paid faith-healing.

This is something religionists have to get comfortable with: Reasonable decision making. Our congress has recently acted to scratch-out all clauses pertaining to "paid medical faith-healing" and "paid spiritual healing" from its upcoming health care reform bill... Thank reason.

Religionists on the whole won't likely not be very surprised by the news. It's not like congress is saying don't pray for your sick friends (since everyone knows prayer doesn't work.) What they're saying instead is, we know prayer doesn't work so we're not letting tax money pay for it. You see, there isn't any difference between the two positions stated with regard to the effectiveness of prayer, yet there remains a difference... individual liberty is protected. People who want to pray can continue to act stupidly and believe in prayer if they like. Those who want to beat drums, shake rattles, make smoke and chant or bend their knees and clasp their hands to save their sick and dieing relatives, can... and the public won't have to pay for it. That's good for all of us.

That's how reason works for everyone and I hope believers will get use to the idea that our legal system isn't "out to do them wrong" but rather it is out to make reasoned decision based on evidence and to protect the remainder of society from being forced into taking any part in or paying for stupidity. And that's KOOL, isn't it...!?


Desire for reason:

Desire for reason:

People, religious people, are always on about why their atheists, agnostics and non-religious counterparts are who they are. The ask the silliest questions with regard to why non-belief is attractive - things like "Why can't you just believe?" and "Don't you feel uncomfortable not knowing?" Ugh! The list goes on, of course.

In addition, believers and religionists frequently tend to reissue how they hear non-believers answering their oddball queries by adding-in their own insulating posits - pock shots plucked completely out of the blue. They say, "You probably do believe and don't know it yet," and "You're just being stubborn right now." I guess it's their way of buffering the acidity of meeting a real non-believer face to face. I've been told by religionists and believers, contradicted straight-up immediately after saying that I'm atheist, that I'm not... as if they might know my mind better than I do. "Oh, you're not really atheist. You're probably agnostic." Jeez... that irks me! Case in point example: Oprah.

Non-believers seek reason. We're very acutely aware of the difference between sloppy guess-work thinking, reiterated junk ideas, and their far more accurate opposite: evidence based opinion; and we're honest about it. When it happens, its an outrageously frustrating experience to encounter the persistent unreason believers so often offer in conversation. The urge to speak up with bruit rebuttal is sometimes difficult to corral.

So, why are atheists and no-believers who we are... why are we opposed to religious thinking and belief... (and let's hope a few believers read this) the answer is simple: it's because belief is dumb.

And now, fellow heathens, here's a breathe of hope... a very up-lifing evidence based reason to trust that things are getting better. Indiana University has just hosted Richard Dawkins on campus and he drew an unexpected packed house... Reason seeking is on the rise. Thank goodness! Lets hope it continues and becomes pandemic. Read it and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Larry David pissed...?

Larry David pissed...?

This whole Larry David pissing on an image of Jesus is so loony. All the Christian twitter-bugs have gone nuts with declarations of personal disgust and promises to never ever watch HBO or Larry David again... NOT EVER! Well... whatever.

The funny art about the story isn't pissing on Jesus but the reaction of the old bags who thought the piss-picture was a miracle. They saw a tear drop - not a piss drop. Good gosh ladies... it's a bathroom! Which is more likely? A picture crying real tears or an off-course sprinkle of golden dew, i.e., PISS?

It's just a show, of course... scripted for laughs, but when you stop to think that humor has its roots in truth - that it's often a clear a reflection of reality - the reaction of the little old Christian ladies is pitiful, isn't it.

Anyhow, I personally don't think a piss drop on Jesus is going to make a whole lot of difference to anyone in a week or so... so Christians, enjoy being pissed today and move on tomorrow. It's no big deal... its only another joke played at the expense of your Lord and Master (and on you, of course, for believing such nonsense.)

Say "HELL NO" to Voodoo

Say "HELL NO" to Voodoo

The country is getting closer to passing its long waited for Public Health Care program... reform a that can't be put off any longer. But there's a rub... It's called Voodoo Medicine/Faith Healing.

Believe it or not, there are still some wacko politicians who are willing to push for paid prayer - Faith Healing - and it just can't stand.

Most of the intelligent people of the world know, even if not by first hand experience, that real medicine and faith healing are a world apart in their ability to effectively restore health to ailing individuals. Smoke, incense, chanting, drum beats, clasped hands, bent knees, tightly closed eyes (that look remarkably like the blind eyes of Pat Robertson) are NOT efficacious treatment methods for disease. Faith Healing KILLS.

I generally don't encourage action taking as direct as this.... Take action! This has got to be stopped before it kills again. Click the link and send an email to your congressperson NOW.

(On a similar question: Isn't it also about time to protect the public from wasting money and risking health on nut-job Chiropractors, too?)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hurray for Hillary... and Whoa!

Hurray for Hillary... and Whoa!

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton wields a lot of muscle around the world. What she says has clout to it. Well, she's spoken up boldly for liberty and I have to applaud her and the Obama administration for taking the stand they have.

The question: Is is okay to talk bad about religion, i.e., blaspheme? The answer: YES.

Working internationally through the UN, a virtual union of Islamic led nations has been seeking world support to suppress individual rights that express opinions in opposition to Islam. Simply put, Islamic regimes want world support to punish (... and punish severely) those people who blaspheme their god, Allah. Hillary says: "I strongly disagree." Hurray for Hilliary!

Adding fuel to the fires that this US policy might have ignited in the Islamic world, at least one US news reporter, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, a Catholic, has come on strong with a column that smacks of saber rattling. His opinion on the recent "merger" between Catholicism and the Anglican Church is that it forms a unified Christian front against a common "foe," Islam.

It is doubtful Mrs. Clinton had any knowledge of Douthat's article at the time she made her statement... why would she? But the timing couldn't have been worse. Between the official news from the US state and which came out of a widely read and respected news columnist, Allah's devoted servants took a whopping kicking in the rear yesterday. Their reaction is still to come. Let's hope they respond reasonably.

(For getting the flavor of Islamic punishment, this link leads to videos showing people receiving their just punishment under Islamic law. Videos Not recommended viewing for the faint of heart.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Persecution confusion:

Persecution confusion:

The religious minded just don't get it, do they? They really, really don't see how they've been more than privileged here in the United States and now they're either pleading for tolerance or claiming persecution - eyes closed the whole while.

Non-religious people and people of religious beliefs not connected to Christianity are making our ways into the public arena. We're claiming our right to advertise publicly and to have our say over how society and the government ought to be. There's noting wrong with that - nothing! Yet it seems that every turn brings on vociferous objection from the Christian fundamentalist right and from some moderates, too.

Atheists complained from the outset that "In god We trust" on coin and currency and "under God" in the pledge were unrepresentative of our views. We fought then, through the single voice of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, that it was a mistake on the part of government to yield so much to Christianity. Well, we're still fighting, but now the tactics have changed a tad and it isn't only Madalyn speaking out.

Our organizations have been forming up and our memberships have been rising; as a result, the special treatment of favoritism for Christianity is feeling threatened. Suddenly they seek tolerance (or is it mercy)... just imagine... while we seek only a level playing field.

If churches are allowed to advertise their messages on billboards and buses, so are non-religionists. If religions can push their agendas to have prayer invocations at public meetings, prayer in schools and seek the teaching of ID/creationism in schools, atheists can protest and file court suits. The days of Easy Street Christianity are gone.

The non-religious have new strength. We aren't quite at parity with religion but we're getting there. And it isn't persecution or intolerance being felt by religionists - it's only fairness and equality. So what are the religions complaining about? They're complaining about their own PANIC...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

When will reality come crashing in...?

When will reality come crashing in...?

The long and the short of things are seldom hard to discover if one decides to look. Debunking religion's touts for the "all powerful" ability of their gods are no exception. And religionists would do well to become aware of this truth. Where doubt raises questions, those questions deserve inspection.

I was reminded of this by reading the current post from Examiner.com reporter, Trina Hoaks: "God not responsible for morality - Window cleaner is". Trina dug up a research study rooted at Brigham Young University and led by researcher Katie Liljenquist, which seems to indicate that we're socially motivated to be "morally better" people whenever there's a scent of citrus spritz in the air. Trina's call: Window cleaner spritz- 1|God- 0.

Frans de Waal and his study to expose the moral character of monkey behaviors, those pro-social traits of morality that monkeys very certainly possess, might now move ahead to reach a whole new level of findings by merely adding a touch of mist to the experimental controls. And who knows, by such a simple addition of citrus spritz perhaps de Wall's little primate friends will show us their efforts to organize themselves at forming-up new charitable unions for the salvation of cageless deprived alcoholic monkeys. I can see it now... monkey's in Santa suits, all ringing bells on every street corner.

In any case, my point is this: Seek and ye shall find. If you're willing to look for evidences for the causes of morality, or for any other unanswered question, if your head isn't doing the ostrich buried in-a-hole thing, you may discover that the heretofore assumptions that Goddidit have been wrong. In the case of morality, the exclusive link between gods and goodness aren't quite as exclusive as they've been claimed to be. Morality isn't necessarily god-given.

If only a few more studies of these types can be brought to light, we might turn the heads of a few more god-believers... and if a few more god-believers pay attention to their own doubts we may see that happening sooner rather than to late... And, that's my hope.

Yeah science!


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