“Classical” Atheism vs. “Contemporary” Atheism

Once again, I find myself dealing with the tiresome issue of the competing definitions of Atheism. See my previous blog entries on this subject for references:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/make-up-your-minds-atheists/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/richard-dawkins-is-an-agnostic/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/is-agnostic-an-obsolete-term/

Now I learn that Aron-Ra, a fellow Texan and activist against promoting Creationist bigotry and lies in public schools, has not only accepted the “contemporary” definition of atheism, he asserts that the “classical” definition of it was a lie all along! Really??? Continue reading

Racism among Atheists too?

Jen McCreight, author of the blog Blag Hag, now finds herself having to confront the ugly issue of racism among her fellow atheists after she and other women dealt so much and for so long with sexism among them. I will provide links to her blog entries in question along with excerpts from them.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2013/08/on-silencing-anger-to-silence-minority-voices/

My favorite thing to wake up to in the morning is white straight cis men insisting they get to decide who your allies are and that you should not ever get angry, but rather calmly explain basic topics to hostile questions from every person that wanders across your path as if it were your personal duty on this earth. Continue reading

There is NO default position on religion

P Z Myers wrote an essay for the Washington Post that reads as follows:

Atheism is the default position. You don’t have to do anything to be an atheist, but you have to work awfully hard to not be one…..

I consider this to be a falsehood, based on my own personal experience. I was raised in a conservative Protestant family, so I naturally adopted the basic Christian beliefs of my parents and other relatives. It required no work at all to simply believe in God and to accept the Bible as the Word of God. So for me, evangelical Protestantism WAS the default position; it was not until I was attending college that I decided to stop believing in God and it was at the end of a long internal struggle that involved some emotional wrangling that I never would have experienced had I simply chosen to ignore the contradictions I had discovered and remain a Christian. Thus I had to work very hard to deprogram myself and think freely from the dogmas of any religion. And I had to undergo this process TWICE, since I later was seduced to join the Baha’i Faith and then deprogram myself from that as well.

From a universal perspective, there cannot be a default position on religion, politics, or any other subject involving dogmas (and yes, atheism is properly classed as a dogma). There are only defaults with regards to family upbringings.  The only way atheism can be a default position is if a child is raised in a family of atheists.

The Skepchicks vs. the Asses of Evil

With this blog entry, I intend to put all the past references to the battles Rebecca Watson and her allies have fought against sexism in the secular communities into one place. This will be a work in progress.

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/the-downfall-of-richard-dawkins-credibility/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/rebecca-watson-vs-stef-mcgraw/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/beware-of-justin-vacula/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/destroy-the-atheist-movement/

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/atheists-on-facebook/

Atheists on Facebook

The Center for Inquiry hosted a conference for women in which it’s CEO, Ron Lindsay, made a total idiot of himself and offended a LOT of the women (and enlightened men) for whom the conference was made by implying that feminists who wanted men to listen to them were no better than the men who were being disrespectful to them.

Continue reading

Logic fail in a comment

Someone made a comment below one of my oldest blog entries here and it ended up in my spam folder. I not only pulled it out of that folder and approved it, I wish to respond directly to it here to make sure that it gets maximum exposure, because I found it to be sheer nonsense! The original parts of the statement will be in red italics and my responses will be in green bold.

Continue reading

Mike Adams vs. Angelina Jolie

English: Angelina Jolie at the Cannes film fes...

The media has been buzzing about Angelina Jolie’s decision to have both her breasts removed to prevent her from coming down with breast cancer.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/14/showbiz/angelina-jolie-double-mastectomy/index.html

(CNN) — Actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Continue reading

Destroy the Atheist movement!

Read this, which I have edited for the sake of brevity:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/05/08/policing-their-own/

We want religious believers to police their own.

We want religious believers to stop being silent about atrocities committed in the name of religion. …….And when they don’t, we call them hypocrites.

So why is it that when atheists speak out against screwed-up shit that other atheists are doing, it gets called “divisive”?

I have been hearing a lot of calls for unity in the atheist community. I have been hearing a lot of calls for an end to the debates, an end to the infighting. I have been hearing a lot of calls for atheists to stop focusing on our differences, and look at our common ground….But all too often, calling for unity equals silencing dissent. All too often, calling for unity equals a de facto defense of the status quo. All too often, calling for unity equals telling people who are speaking up for themselves to shut up.

I do not want to be in unity with atheists who [speak, write, or behave in misogynous ways]. And I do not want to be in unity with atheists who consistently rationalize this behavior, who trivialize it, who make excuses for it.

And I don’t think I should be expected to. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of me. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of anyone.

And when people, however well-meaning, make generic calls for unity — when they tell all of us to stop fighting and just get along — they’re basically telling those of us on the short ends of those sticks to shut up.

Quite simply, we as civilized people cannot unite around atheism. Atheism is merely rejection of theism, and lots of people who rejected theism in the past were part of governments that not only mistreated women, but mass murdered people outright.

So if you wish to profess atheism, go for it. But we cannot define ourselves only as atheists. Doing so is meaningless. The Atheist movement itself is meaningless.

Let us turn to this instead:

http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/index.shtml

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

What Greta Christina wrote about on her own blog is exactly why I have fought with atheist fanatics and hypocrites on the internet. Being an atheist is not enough, and there is nothing wrong with someone choosing to believe in a god of some kind if he affirms the seven principles stated above.

We do not need atheism, nor do we need religious bigotry. We do need tolerance and a world embracing vision and thus we need firm principles, which we may find among Unitarian Universalists. Let it be so.

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/why-more-people-should-join-the-unitarian-universalists/

 

More Idiocy from Answers in Genesis

Opposing Views is a website that generally presents different opinions on various topics and allows its users to debate then freely. So it was a surprise to see the Creationist propaganda mill known as Answers in Genesis publish this rank nonsense for all to see on that site:

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/dear-atheists-bodie-hodge Continue reading

Is agnostic an obsolete term?

Thomas Huxley, coiner of the term agnostic.

Thomas Huxley, coiner of the term agnostic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a previous blog entry, I showed via historical references that the definition of  “atheist” as merely “lacking belief in a god” had no historical foundation, being a recent invention (we used the term “non-Theist” for that already). Critics of my position (that the only true Atheists are those who deny outright the existence of any god and that therefore Atheism should be classed as a dogma) assert that the meanings of words may change over time and that there is nothing wrong with this. I disagree and here is why:

In the Middle Ages, the term “gentleman” was defined only as a nobleman who owned land and it had no behavioral or moral references. If you said a man was or was not a gentleman, you were neither praising him nor insulting him, but merely giving information about his social status. But gentlemen were expected to maintain certain high standards of behavior, and over time people began to argue that the behavior of a man was more important than his social status. This is indeed an enlightened point of view, but the critical mistake made later was to start saying not only that a man who was not a gentleman acted like one anyway, but to actually call men of good behavior “gentlemen” even if they were not of the landed nobility. This was simply inaccurate, but that usage became so common as time went by and the nobility became less important to European societies that the original use of the term was dropped completely and the mistaken usage became the norm. Today, you cannot even refer to a man in the Middle Ages as a “gentleman” without an explanation as to its original meaning. This is a barrier to communication about historical issues, and so the word “gentleman” has been ruined and it would have been better to have discarded it completely and another term invented for men of good behavior.

It is the same with “agnostic”. Thomas Huxley invented that term precisely because the only definition of “atheist” that existed in his time was “denial of all gods”, which Huxley did not do. Thus, he classed himself and other agnostics as being neutral with regards to the Theism/Atheism question, something that today’s New Atheists deny. But if Atheist is indeed merely “lacking belief in any god”, then agnostic is a useless term, just as “gentleman” is now, since it is indeed impossible for anyone to  KNOW whether or not there is a god; we merely choose to believe or disbelieve in gods. Therefore, EVERYONE may be classed as agnostic and the term can no longer be used for statistical purposes to define anyone’s beliefs, or lack thereof.

The New Atheists have a choice. They can either discard the term agnostic completely (and thus discard Huxley’s intellectual legacy), or they can reverse course and admit what we always have known, that it is indeed possible to be neutral on the issue of Theist/Atheist, that Atheism is a dogma and that agnosticism is something to be accepted on an equal level with Theism, non-Theism, and Atheism. The first choice, of course, will also disrupt communication about historical issues regarding atheists and agnostics in the past, so only the second choice is the viable one.

Beware of Justin Vacula!

First, read this:

http://skepchick.org/2012/10/secular-coalition-picks-anti-woman-leader-for-pennsylvania/

Doing so, I felt profoundly disgusted that such a misogynous bigot as Justin Vacula would be allowed to have any position of influence in an atheist organization. What are the leaders of the Secular Coalition for America trying to do, discredit their own cause?

Rebecca Watson said:

If I were a woman in Pennsylvania, I would never, ever want to get involved in any way with Justin Vacula. In fact, I will never, ever get involved with SCA so long as someone like him holds a position of power anywhere, let alone in a state I live in. So Vacula is actively driving people away from SCA. I’d like to know how they expect to overcome that – how they hope to reach out to progressive people, and particularly women in Pennsylvania, while an MRA is a co-chair.

Well, I am a man in Texas and likewise I want nothing to do with that guy. He just seems sick!

Men’s Right’s Activists (MRAs) are to sexism what the Ku Klux Klan is to racism. As I commented on the Skepchick blog:

  • A Voice for Men? How about a Voice for White People, a Voice for Christians, and a Voice for the Wealthy? Oh yes, we must always ensure that those who are already privileged in society get to yell louder than their opponents, to maintain the status quo in society, even if they are abusive and dishonest.

    Damn them!

Richard Dawkins is an Agnostic?

Read this story below:

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?

Mark Cheney on April 8, 2012, 12:00 AM

What’s the Big Idea?

Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, created a stir when he recently declared that he was not an atheist after all, but an agnostic. The news, which came during a debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury last month, seemed at first to be a big get for God. However, in The God Delusion Dawkins was frank about his agnosticism.

So, how does Dawkins square his public persona with his lack of certitude? Easily. No matter how strongly Dawkins is associated with atheism, he is first and foremost a scientist. Therefore, “the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other,” he claims.

Similarly, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title “scientist” above all other “ists.” And yet, Tyson says he is “constantly claimed by atheists.” So where does Tyson stand? He tells Big Think: “Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic.”

Uh, I thought the New Atheists defined atheism as “lacking belief in a god”. If so, then Dawkins IS an atheist. He even had his anti-religious book titled “The God Delusion”, not The Biblical Delusion, The Christian Delusion, or The Creationist Delusion. If you really think simply believing in a god is delusional, then you’d have to be asserting that there no god, or else your claim that Theists are delusional is pointless! Unless Dawkins actually repudiates his book, he is NOT agnostic!

In The God Delusion, Dawkins provides a seven point scale for scoring belief in God. Here it is:

http://bigthink.com/think-tank/atheism-easter-atheister
Richard Dawkins’ Belief Scale Scoring Rubric

  1. Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
  2. De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
  3. Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
  4. Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
  5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
  6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
  7. Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.

I would rewrite these definitions as follows:

Dale Husband’s Belief Scale Scoring Rubric

  1. Dogmatic Theist: I do not question the existence of God.
  2. Non-Dogmatic Theist: I am inclined to believe in God but I do not proclaim that belief as if it is fact.
  3. Non-theist Agnostic: I am neutral on whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical and live as if he does not.
  4. Non-Dogmatic Atheist: I am inclined to believe there is no God.
  5. Dogmatic Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God and assert such a position constantly.

For more details about this problem, see:

Misdefining terms for purposes of propaganda

Make up your minds, atheists!

I wonder how disappointed BionicDance must be in Dawkins, assuming she knows of his recently stated position.

A Whine about the Atheist Movement

How the Atheist Movement Failed Me – Part 1: Cost

This has to be one of the most pathetic criticisms of the Atheist community I’ve ever seen. If it had been written by a Christian attacking Atheists, it could not have been worse.

Atheism is too often expensive.

Where are the picnics and hikes and movie screenings? We know that the demographics of the movement are diverse, and, therefore, it’s likely that the needs of the individuals are quite varied as well… so why is raising awareness about the historicity of Jesus (usually a ticketed event) always more important than delivering casseroles to the non-theist first-time parents? Where are the low-cost, easy-access events that tie us together as people, simply for us to get to know one another and organically create support networks?

We talk an awful big game about Christianity in particular, but ultimately religions have cornered the market on human emotional connection, and so far it seems that the atheist movement is content to ignore it altogether. A major reason it’s hard to leave the church is because of the wealth of social and emotional support you must leave behind. Learning about evolution and archeology are awesome, mind-opening opportunities that are great for everyone, but a lecture about evolution won’t pick your kids up from practice if your car breaks down. Or take you out for coffee if you’re having a rough week. Or play a pickup game of raquetball. Or come to your open mic night. Or whatever it is that you do. And the connections that make those interactions possible aren’t easy to create when you don’t have the money to join in.

I then commented there:

Indeed, that link should give a great solution to Amanda’s problem:

Atheism and Agnosticism: Theological Diversity in Unitarian Universalism
Atheists are people who do not believe in a god, while Agnostics are people who think that we cannot know whether a god exists. Both groups are welcome in Unitarian Universalism.

Today, a significant proportion of Unitarian Universalists do not believe in any type of god. Our congregations are theologically diverse places where people with many different understandings of the sacred can be in religious community together.

Another non-theistic tradition is Humanism, which focuses on human potential and emphasizes personal responsibility for ethical behavior.

Unless, of course, she is too bigoted to fellowship with anyone who is not an atheist. And that would only draw my contempt.

Is that a mosquito I hear?

P Z Myers pushes Atheism, not science, in this talk.

Science is a methodology for studying the universe and everything in it, as well as the conclusions reached over time from repeated use of that methodology. That’s all it has ever been and ever should be.

The traditional view of God is of a Creator of the universe. He is not a part of the universe, otherwise he could not have been its Creator, therefore science can never study him. And what science cannot study, it has no business making judgements on.

That religion has wrongfully intruded on scientific matters with ancient creation myths means that science CAN rightfully debunk those myths. It does not follow, however, that Theism itself has been disproven by science, because science cannot do that. It can only show what dogmas in religion that relate to things in the universe are wrong, but not dogmas  about anything outside the universe!

And that is why P Z Myers’ assertion here that “if you’re not an Atheist, you aren’t doing science right” is really a case of arrogant dogmatism on his part and need not be taken seriously by anyone who knows what the real conception of God by most theistic religions is.

Stop Overlooking Evil in Religion!

Rebecca Watson just reported on a supposedly “moderate Theist”, named Stan, who criticized her attacks on Helen Ukpabio, a self-professed “witch-hunter” and Christian fanatic in Nigeria.

Here is the message he sent her:

Subject: Moving beyond Skepticism toward agendas
Message: Thank you guys/gals for years of entertainment, lessons regarding logical fallicies, interesting interviews, laughs and the ‘how-to’ in approaching a supposed “science-based” essay.

I continue to download your podcast weekly, though lately I find myself only to listen briefly to your science news, check who may be interviewed and skip to ‘Science or Fiction.’

Over these years (in MY subjective estimation) you have continued to drift toward an ‘agenda-based’ position forwarding not only skeptical thinking but actively pushing atheism.

It’s no longer limited to Rebecca’s consistant slam on organized religion, but seems woven through most your dialogues whenever the subject arises.

OK, example please! Late examples would be the story of a supposed Christian lady leader in Africa killing witches (the one coming or who came to Houston, TX). These acts of this organization in Africa are terrible. And so, you blame it on the religious group(s) for allowing or supporting this. In the same vein, let’s poke at the religious for our history segment on burning witches at the stake (last week). Skeptically, I think the anthropologists would look more at the local government structures at the time to be the culprit; but, religion is an easy target for you.

I wondered today, that say a man entered a local bank, loudly declared himself to be an athiest and proceeded to rob the bank at gunpoint, how you would spin it on SGU.

By what I see as of late, I think you would not deem it noteworthy, since 1) It’s not a topic driven by my afore mentioned agenda; 2) You wouldn’t accept that he was an athiest just by his declaration; and 3) You would NEVER associate his atheism (if he was) to this disassociative act.

If the last two reasons above seem sensible to you, why not apply that with inflamed news that includes religions?

I don’t think you can defend the position that you do give religious news the ‘fair skeptical look,’… and thus my first point (not your agenda) has grounds.

Though I may slowly drift from your podcast, I do thank you greatly for your lessons, and for introducing me to various energized skeptics across the globe who can keep focused on the “Science” and fair “Skepticism,” not focusing on groups to slam in order to feel good or more right.

I absolutely hate when people write like this. It is so intellectually dishonest!

Fighting bigotry is not about promoting the atheist agenda. Unless and until the speaker in the podcast is explicitly stating he wants to promote atheism, any such assumption from Theists should be considered an outright lie!

Indeed, I consider the writer above to be a backstabber.  As the saying goes, it is not so much the evil doers that are the scourge of the world as much as the supposedly good people who do nothing….including Christians who ignore or make excuses for the extremists amongst themselves. Stan is an idiot.

Rebecca answered him as follows:

I don’t understand the complaint at all. Helen Ukpabio founded an evangelical Christian ministry based upon her interpretation of the Bible. She preaches to congregations around the world about witches, telling them that God hates these children and demands that they be cured or murdered.

Why on earth would we discuss that without mentioning religion? She is literally using religious belief to convince people to murder children. We never said that this is what all Christians do. We never even said that this is what all Christians believe or support. So what did we say that was incorrect?

When Stan did not give a straight reply to her, she sent another message:

Apparently I don’t merit a direct response, but I’ll try once more, anyway. Witches are paranormal creatures that do not exist. Our podcast is called “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.” Skeptics often rationally discuss the paranormal.

Now, I’m very curious: please explain why we should not have covered the Helen Ukpabio witch-hunter story.

The answer, quite simply, is that the Bible itself condones and even commands the sort of brutal stunts against women and children who are labled “witches” that Ukpabio calls for. And Stan must know that.

This whole issue would not exist if Christian leaders would stop lying about the Bible itself and how it was made.

There is nothing moderate about asserting as fact what is actually a falsehood. Not in politics nor in religion!

You can be a theist without believing in the Bible as the Word of God. You can even be a Christian without believing in the Bible as the Word of God. In short, you can be a Christian without believing in any lies. Try it sometime!

Climate “skeptic” attempting damage control after being discredited

It should have been obvious from the 1990s onward that global warming was indeed real and that human activities were chiefly to blame, but many who were entrenched in conservative or libertarian political positions found those conclusions offensive and a threat to their interests, hence the ever-present attacks by climate change “skeptics” who would do everything they could to cast doubt on the evidence regarding the issue. They did that instead of examining their political positions, which a true skeptic should have done!

Now one of them, Richard Muller, has changed sides, but is still trying to justify his earlier attitude. That’s an example of a “notpology“, which is dishonest.

http://news.yahoo.com/skeptic-finds-now-agrees-global-warming-real-142616605.html

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly.

The study of the world’s surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of “Climategate,” a British scandal involving hacked emails of scientists.

<snip>

“The skeptics raised valid points and everybody should have been a skeptic two years ago,” Muller said in a telephone interview. “And now we have confidence that the temperature rise that had previously been reported had been done without bias.”

Muller said that he came into the study “with a proper skepticism,” something scientists “should always have. I was somewhat bothered by the fact that there was not enough skepticism” before.  (Emphasis mine)

That is bullcrap. If Muller was wrong before, he was certainly wrong a decade ago, so why not just say that and leave his ego out of it? Scientists, including proponents of the man-made global warming hypothesis, have to be responsible skeptics to do their work at all and prove it by subjecting their findings to peer review, and it was the peer review process that made that hypothesis credible in the first place. Saying otherwise as Muller is doing is slander.

http://www.dictionaryslang.com/notpology

An apology that doesnt ACTUALLY apologise, but is simply given to make the evil person LOOK/feel better.

The ultimate blow to global warming denialism

Denialists are not interested in truth or consistency of any kind. Instead, they have a dogma and an agenda and will take advantage of any arguments that serve these things, even if those arguments don’t really fit together. Nowhere does this become more obvious than in the issue of global warming.

John Cook, who runs the website Skeptical Science, has assembled a long list of contradictions made by global warming denialists. With this, he and other contributers totally wreck what little credibility these political and pseudoscientific hacks ever had!

http://www.skepticalscience.com/contradictions.php

 

Rebecca Watson vs Stef McGraw

The controversy over “Elevatorgate” just keeps getting more riotous. Now Rebecca Watson has gotten into a catfight with another “freethinking” blogger and student named Stef McGraw.

First, McGraw attacked Rebecca for her supposed hypocrisy:

http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-32.html

Someone who truly abides by feminist principles would, in my view, have to react in the same manner were the situation reversed; if a woman were to engage a man in the same way, she would probably be creeping him out and making him uncomfortable and unfairly sexualizing him, right? But of course no one ever makes that claim, which is why I see Watson’s comment as so hypocritical.

If you really want social equality for women, which is what feminism is, why not apply the same standards to men and women, and stop demonizing men for being sexual beings?

I found the ignorance of McGraw’s criticism appalling. Several years ago, I was at a gas station when I was approached by a woman I soon realized was a prostitute. She asked me if I wanted to go on “dates” with her and then asked for money. After figuring out that she was propositioning me for sex, I was so repulsed that I immediately went into station and told the employees about the woman, and the promised me that they would get rid of her, even as she was proceeding to hit on other men at the station!

Rebecca certainly did not say that men shouldn’t object to women hitting on men in an elevator at 4 AM, did she? No, and that made McGraw’s rebuke of her pointless, if not flat out stupid!

Rebecca then dealt with the attack by taking it right to McGraw’s own territory. No, not her blog, but at the CFI Student Leadership Conference, in Amherst, New York, on June 26, 2011.

That video is almost 50 minutes long. To focus on the part relevant to the dispute referred to here, look at this:

http://aratina.blogspot.com/2011/07/talk-by-watson-at-cfi.html

[12:04] There’s another comment I found on a blog from actually one of your own. And, I wanted to use it as an example, not to embarrass this person, but to point out that we have a serious problem when young women [quoted part of McGraw's blog post shows up under previous YouTube comment] are this ignorant about feminism. So let me read it to you. This is from the UNI Freethought blog. Stef McGraw, she posts a transcript of the story I just told you, the elevator story, and she writes:

[12:37] “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her. What’s wrong with that? How on Earth does that justify him as ‘creepy’? Are we not sexual beings? Let’s review. It’s not as if he touched her or made an unsolicited sexual comment. He merely asked if she’d like to come back to his room. She easily could have said–and I’m assuming did say, ‘No thanks. I’m tired and would like to go to my room to sleep.’”

[13:00] So, there are many things wrong with this paragraph; I won’t really go into them all. I’ll mention that asking someone back to your hotel room at four in the morning who you’ve never spoken to is the definition of ‘unsolicited sexual comment’. And in the transcript that Stef posted, she conveniently edited it to begin after I told everyone at the bar that I was exhausted and going back to my room–kind of an important point in which I state exactly what my desire is because later this man in the elevator specifically tried to talk me out of doing that. So I did actually make it quite clear that I was tired and going to my room to sleep.

[13:45] But the real problem is actually in the first sentence, and it’s sort of the same problem that the other commenter has [note that McGraw's quote is still shown below the YouTube comment ending with "Congratulations" on the screen]. “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her.” This is unfortunately a pretty standard parroting of misogynistic thought. And it’s not new; it’s something that feminists have been dealing with for ages. In fact, it’s Feminism 101. [Slide changes to a page taken from some website.] In fact, it’s covered on a blog called Feminism 101 [laughs] which you should definitely check out because it’s great. They go over a lot of concepts that may be new to many of you. But in this case, what we’re talking about is the difference between sexual interest/sexual attraction versus sexual objectification.

McGraw responded with this:

http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-33.html

Then, a day later at the conference, Watson delivered a keynote speech on the religious right’s war against women. Before she got to her main content, though, she decided to address sexism in the secular movement, which she views as a rampant problem. I shared her disgust as she showed screenshots of people online calling her demeaning names, making comments about her appearance, and, worst of all, making rape comments.

Then, switching gears, Watson made a remark to the extent that there are people in our own community who would not stand up for her in these sorts of situations; my name, organization, and a few sentences from my blog post then flashed on the screen before my eyes. She went on to explain how I didn’t understand what objectification meant and was espousing anti-woman sentiment.

My first reaction was complete shock. I wasn’t surprised that she had seen my post, but I didn’t think she would choose to address it during her keynote, let alone place it in a category with people advocating for her to be raped. In fact, I was excited to possibly speak with her afterward in order to discuss the matter face-to-face. Instead, all I could do was just sit there and watch myself being berated for supposedly espousing anti-woman views and told that I wouldn’t stand up for women in sticky situations with men, as one hundred of my peers watched on. I found both of those accusations to be completely and utterly incorrect, as anyone who actually knows me could tell you I care deeply about fighting sexist thought. I started thinking, how can I respond? It didn’t feel right to have to endure a widely respected keynote speaker’s accusations that I was a living example of what was wrong with our movement while I sat there unable to defend my position.

There was no time at the conference where I, as a student attendee, could appropriately make any sort of public statement addressing what Watson claimed about my argument and me. She has said over Twitter that “An attendee has every right to counter during Q&A or by publicly blogging again later,” but there are issues with both of these approaches. First, the Q&A was not an option in my mind, as I wasn’t going to get up after her great talk and argue with her about something unrelated; I have more respect for a speaker than that. And second, yes, I currently am blogging about the issue, but this won’t reach everyone who went to the conference; I write for a successful student blog, not one like Skepchick that a large percentage of the secular community reads.

The real issue, of course, was that Rebecca used McGraw’s own words against her, right in front of her no less, in such a way as to make her look clueless before her peers. That would never have happened if McGraw had not actually made a complete idiot of herself on her blog in the first place!

And for that, Rebecca has been called a bully, and her critics have said what she did was unprofessional and inappropriate. Oh, and Richard Dawkins’ sarcastic response to Rebecca several weeks ago wasn’t?!

So who’s the damned hypocrite now?

The ultimate take down of Intelligent Design

Intelligent design

Image via Wikipedia

At the Panda’s Thumb blog, a commenter asked a simple question:

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2011/07/design-and-fals.html#comment-265729

Does anyone have an example of something which is not “intelligently designed”? In Paley’s exposition of the “watchmaker” argument, he contrasts a watch with a stone. But the problem for a traditional theist is that God is the Creator of all things, including rocks. So, to be fair, I suppose that the request should include also unreal, hypothetical things. But the only unreal things that I can think of – centaurs, for example – are intelligently designed. (Which, by the way, shows that intelligent design is not sufficient to explain existence.)

So, what is the difference that intelligent design makes?

He got this reply:

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2011/07/design-and-fals.html#comment-265730

The designer herself is, presumably, not intelligently designed. Hence her existence disproves ID because a non-designed living thing exists. Of course, conversely, her non-existence would show that all living things are designed and hence that ID is true.

:)

rossum

Later, my seeing that hit me like a truck going 100 MPH. I then said:

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2011/07/design-and-fals.html#comment-265838

Amazing! If I weren’t already a non-theist, such a simple but profound argument would have probably converted me from any God-centered religion you could name! You show that Intelligent Design, already impossible to support empirically, can’t even be supported by reason. It is simply WORTHLESS!

Roy Spencer pulls another misleading stunt

Check out this story:

http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-data-blow-gaping-hold-global-warming-alarmism-192334971.html

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

Forbes
By James Taylor | Forbes – Wed, Jul 27, 2011

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted.

The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate.

Scientists on all sides of the global warming debate are in general agreement about how much heat is being directly trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide (the answer is “not much”). However, the single most important issue in the global warming debate is whether carbon dioxide emissions will indirectly trap far more heat by causing large increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds. Alarmist computer models assume human carbon dioxide emissions indirectly cause substantial increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds (each of which are very effective at trapping heat), but real-world data have long shown that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing as much atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds as the alarmist computer models have predicted.

The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA’s ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth’s atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a “huge discrepancy” between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

The Heartland Institute is NOT a scientific organization affiliated with NASA at all, but a right-wing think tank.

{{{NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.}}}

The greenhouse effect is NOT about how much heat is being released by the atmosphere into space, because that would be the same no matter what the composition of the atmosphere! It’s about how long the heat that is in the Earth’s atmosphere remains BEFORE it is released. If LESS heat was being released, the atmosphere would soon grow so hot that life would be impossible and then the oceans would completely boil away, and the temperature would just keep rising to infinity! No “alarmist” climate scientist has ever claimed that would happen. This article is one long strawman type fallacy!

Roy Spencer is a FRAUD! Not only is he a climate change denialist, he is also a CREATIONIST. He has NO business doing science if he doesn’t even support the theory of evolution, a basic concept of modern biology!

Not to mention that last year he was caught doing this to his own data presentations:

Another phony global warming denialist busted!

The Credibility Effect

There is a website, stuffmadesimple.com, that claims to take complex subjects and make  them easy for the average person to understand. But in doing so, it seems to have some underhanded agendas.

First, note that it puts out some videos that are actually very useful and full of valid information, like these two about diabetes and swine flu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGL6km1NBWE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGWOAL1PTl4

It soon becomes obvious that the people running that website are Mormons and are using it, and a sister site, to teach the Mormon religion:

http://mormonsmadesimple.com/index.html

Certainly, the other videos made by this group are consistent with Mormon attitudes. It is common knowledge that Mormons are overwhelmingly conservative in politics, are heavily involved in genealogical research, and are hostile to the idea of same-sex marriage.

I have dealt with Mormonism earlier. For that reason, I don’t respect the makers of the Made Simple video series. It seems they are trying to take advantage of what I call the Credibility Effect.

The Credibility Effect is when someone or some institution that puts out valid or useful information at an earlier time tries to use the reputation built up from that to entice people to accept information that is actually dubious, even downright false or nonsensical, for ideological or religious purposes.

Here is another example of that effect in action:  http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/shane-killian-sells-out/

No matter how noble or right you appear to be at certain times, that doesn’t mean your claims should EVER be taken at face value. ALL claims from ALL people should be tested and when those claims fail the test, the claims should be discarded.

The downfall of Richard Dawkins’ credibility

The atheist community, of which Richard Dawkins has been seen as a leader for many years, has been rocked by this latest controversy which has shown, once and for all, that just because you are atheist doesn’t mean you leave behind all your outdated attitudes and become consistently rational. If anything, Dawkins’ blatant sexism has only made him and his atheism look worse.

He wrote this in response to a complaint by Rebecca Watson about her and other women being mistreated and disrepected at atheist and freethought conferences.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/always_name_names.php#comment-4295492

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard

Talk about missing the point!

Others have denounced Dawkins and defended Rebecca on this, including Rebecca herself:

http://www.blaghag.com/2011/07/richard-dawkins-your-privilege-is.html

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/oh_no_not_againonce_more_unto.php

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

Dawkins is dead wrong about this! Indeed, he couldn’t be more wrong if he were to suddenly endorse Young Earth Creationism. And since his position is so repulsive, the only honorable thing for him to do at this point is for him to state, in a public forum or even on his own website: “I’m sorry, I was being sexist and hypocritical and I will never make such foolish statements again.” And then shut the hell up afterwards for a long time.

Until he does that, I will never listen to him again.

A case of false advertising for atheism

Take a look at this chart, a “Periodic Table of Atheists and Antitheists”:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Bay4lTZyHTE/TgYmEIFDbbI/AAAAAAAAAEM/uk50wWHaofw/s1600/tableofatheists150.jpg

One of my basic principles is Truth in Advertising, that whenever you illustrate something or state something, that depiction or statement must be as accurate as possible. This is one of those cases in which that principle has been violated.

Carl Sagan is on the list, at the 11 position. So is Neil deGrasse Tyson, at position 3 and Charles Darwin at position 38. But all these are or were  NOT  atheists, but agnostics.  To understand the difference, just look here:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

But there are striking omissions from the table. Where is Ayn Rand??? By all accounts and appearances she WAS indeed an atheist. She should have been listed among the philosophers for her founding of the Objectivist movement. Likewise, there are no leaders of the Communist movement either, not even Karl Marx!

This chart is a lie and it needs to be taken down and replaced with a more accurate one!

Even worse than Conservapedia!

Wikipedia has become so immensely successful and useful that it has caused others to create competition to it. Some delusional people with extreme political views have even created alternatives to it, in the interest of countering Wikipedia’s supposed “left-wing bias”. Thus we have things like the laughingstock known as Conservapedia, founded and run by Andrew Schlafly, son of Phyllis Schlafly.

That is bad. But this is WORSE!

http://www.climatewiki.org/wiki/Main_Page

Welcome to ClimateWiki
The Definitive Climate Change Encyclopedia

Global warming is a complicated issue. It’s easy to get confused by all the scientific arguments and conflicting claims. We created this site to help everyone from high school students to scientists working in the field to quickly find the latest and most reliable information on this important topic.

ClimateWiki is an encyclopedia of climate change research organized by topic. If you are new to the issue, consider reading the Introduction to Global Warming. If you are already well versed in the issue, search the Featured Categories in the search box to the right or use some of the other navigation tools on this page.

ClimateWiki is moderated and edited by The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank with offices in Chicago and Washington, DC. Interested in becoming a contributor? Contact John Monaghan at jmonaghan@heartland.org

What kind of an idiot would take such an openly biased source at face value?

Look at this:

http://www.climatewiki.org/wiki/Category:Economics

“There is ample evidence that a warmer world is also a safer and healthier world, yet this fact is seldom mentioned in the debate over climate change. Economists can measure the impact of climate change on various measures of economic wellbeing and calculate, for example, the effect of warmer temperatures per-capita income, the price of food and other essentials, and even on life expectancy. They can also measure the loss of income and jobs that result from restricting access to inexpensive fossil fuels. “

Yeah, because the increasing spread of tropical diseases like malaria are very safe and healthy! NOT! Also, if this new web encyclopedia is really about climate, why mention economics at all? Need I also mention that since fossil fuels are non-renewable, the jobs they provide will eventually disappear anyway and as those resources become increasingly scarce, their price will skyrocket? We must break our dependence on fossil fuels before our world economies are broken in the next few centuries, whether or not we have to worry about climate change.

To show how worthless ClimateWiki really is, just look at this:

http://www.climatewiki.org/wiki/Vincent_Gray
Vincent Gray has had a long career in research laboratories in the United Kingdom, France, Canada, New Zealand, and China. He has specialized in climate science for the past 17 years. He has been an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports from the beginning and submitted 1,878 comments (16 percent of the total) on the 2007 report.

Gray has published widely on a variety of topics. His work on the climate includes The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of ‘Climate Change 2001.’ He was a visiting scholar at the Beijing Climate Center in 2006 and attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.

I wrote about that bastard here:
http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2008/05/31/a-fake-expert-vs-real-ones-on-global-warming/

But ClimateWiki goes even further than Conservapedia in making sure its claims are not challenged by anyone, at least not on site. When you click on what appears to be the discussion page on any entry and try to edit it, you get:

http://www.climatewiki.org/index.php?title=ClimateWiki%3AUsers&action=edit
You do not have permission to edit this page, for the following reason:
The action you have requested is limited to users in the group: Users.

On other words, the Heartland Institute, which is supposed to champion a free market, censors this site by not allowing any critics to post anything on it! HYPOCRITES!!!

A tribute to Daria Morgendorffer

If only she were real and I was again a teenager, I would have been proud to be her boyfriend!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daria_Morgendorffer

While she is hardly perfect (which makes her realistic and thus acceptable to most TV viewers), she seems to embody more than most the Honorable Skepticism I follow.

Her first appearance was in the TV show Beavis and Butthead (B&B). Surprizingly, she didn’t seem to hate the morons as much as others did and they in turn respected her more than one might have expected:

When Daria got her own show a few years later, she blazed a trail for cartoon characters few ever dared to go before, or since.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI4YaLJKFw4

Yes, I was a lot like Daria when I was her age, except I was a born-again Christian. But otherwise I didn’t tend to follow the crowd, I was very into science, and I wore glasses. Today, I am even more like her, having dropped Christianity for agnosticism.

Here is some behind the scene information on the Daria show:

I have heard they are bringing back B&B, with all new episodes. They need to do the same with Daria, with her now being depicted as a college student. Because while B&B were hardly role models for teenage boys, Daria is a great one for teenage girls! We need MILLIONS more girls like her, rejecting the shallowness of modern culture and embracing rational thought.

The New Atheists step up their campaign against the NCSE and the BCSE

This is the direct sequel to:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/atheists-shrieking-about-the-aaas/

Once again, P Z Myers and Jerry Coyne have decided to push for the elimination of all mentioning of religion in scientific organizations, including the NCSE (National Center for Science Education, the American organization defending evolution) and the BCSE (British Centre for Science Education, the version of the NCSE in the United Kingdom).

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/a-bright-spot-at-the-chronicle-and-an-open-letter/

Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE
Dear comrades:

Although we may diverge in our philosophies and actions toward religion, we share a common goal: the promulgation of good science education in Britain and America—indeed, throughout the world.  Many of us, like myself and Richard Dawkins, spend a lot of time teaching evolution to the general public.  There’s little doubt, in fact, that Dawkins is the preeminent teacher of evolution in the world. He has not only turned many people on to modern evolutionary biology, but has converted many evolution-deniers (most of them religious) to evolution-accepters.

Nevertheless, your employees, present and former, have chosen to spend much of their time battling not creationists, but evolutionists who happen to be atheists.  This apparently comes from your idea that if evolutionists also espouse atheism, it will hurt the cause of science education and turn people away from evolution.  I think this is misguided for several reasons, including a complete lack of evidence that your idea is true, but also your apparent failure to recognize that creationism is a symptom of religion (and not just fundamentalist religion), and will be with us until faith disappears. That is one reason—and, given the pernicious effect of religion, a minor one—for the fact that we choose to fight on both fronts.

The official policy of your organizations—certainly of the NCSE—is apparently to cozy up to religion.  You have “faith projects,” you constantly tell us to shut up about religion, and you even espouse a kind of theology which claims that faith and science are compatible.  Clearly you are going to continue with these activities, for you’ve done nothing to change them in the face of criticism.  And your employees, past and present, will continue to heap invective on New Atheists and tar people like Richard Dawkins with undeserved opprobrium.

We will continue to answer the misguided attacks by people like Josh Rosenau, Roger Stanyard, and Nick Matzke so long as they keep mounting those attacks.  I don’t expect them to abate, but I’d like your organizations to recognize this: you have lost many allies, including some prominent ones, in your attacks on atheism.  And I doubt that those attacks have converted many Christians or Muslims to the cause of evolution.  This is a shame, because we all recognize that the NCSE has done some great things in the past and, I hope, will—like the new BCSE—continue do great things in the future.

There is a double irony in this situation.  First, your repeated and strong accusations that, by criticizing religion, atheists are alienating our pro-evolution allies (liberal Christians), has precisely the same alienating effect on your allies: scientists who are atheists.  Second, your assertion that only you have the requisite communication skills to promote evolution is belied by the observation that you have, by your own ham-handed communications, alienated many people who are on the side of good science and evolution.  You have lost your natural allies.  And this is not just speculation, for those allies were us, and we’re telling you so.

Sincerely,
Jerry Coyne

Let’s look at some excerpts from this open letter:

There’s little doubt, in fact, that Dawkins is the preeminent teacher of evolution in the world. He has not only turned many people on to modern evolutionary biology, but has converted many evolution-deniers (most of them religious) to evolution-accepters.

Note that Coyne does not specify that Dawkins has converted all these former evolution-deniers into atheists.

Nevertheless, your employees, present and former, have chosen to spend much of their time battling not creationists, but evolutionists who happen to be atheists.

How so? By not openly supporting atheism?

you have lost many allies, including some prominent ones, in your attacks on atheism.

HA HA HA HA HA HA! So not affirming atheism is the same as attacking it? REALLY?! Show me ONE official statement by the NCSE or the BCSE that attacks or denies atheism. Just one!

your repeated and strong accusations that, by criticizing religion, atheists are alienating our pro-evolution allies (liberal Christians), has precisely the same alienating effect on your allies: scientists who are atheists.

Coyne, you are alienated only because you are so convinced that only atheism is true. But that has nothing to do with teaching science. The fact remains that many children from Christian backgrounds will be learning evolution in schools and if they see a conflict between evolution and the Bible, they will remain Creationists rather than give up their faith and accept evolution. The efforts at accommodation by the NCSE and the BCSE are intended to show that you can choose to be religious and deal with science as it is also. It is YOU that is being intolerant, Coyne! It is YOU that choose to be alienated. You can still advocate atheism on your blog while promoting evolution too. No one in the NCSE or the BCSE is saying you cannot.  So what is the problem?

Then P Z says on his blog:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/04/the_bcse_blows_up.php

How often do we have to repeat ourselves? There is no goal of turning the NCSE or the BCSE into an atheist organization; we think having an organization that is honestly neutral on the religious issue is extremely useful in advancing the cause of good science education for all. We want the NCSE/BCSE to support neither atheism nor religion.

You know what? The atheists in this argument have a crystal-clear understanding of the difference between atheism and secularism, and are saying that the science education organizations should be secular. It’s these sloppy accommodationists who have allowed liberal christianity to become their default position who have violated the distinction.

First, no one is asking Myers and other atheists to repeat themselves, so that is just rhetorical crap. Second, the NCSE has made clear its own religious neutrality.

http://ncse.com/about/faq

What is NCSE’s religious position?

None. The National Center for Science Education is not affiliated with any religious organization or belief. We and our members enthusiastically support the right of every individual to hold, practice, and advocate their beliefs, religious or non-religious. Our members range from devout practitioners of several religions to atheists, with many shades of belief in between. What unites them is a conviction that science and the scientific method, and not any particular religious belief, should determine science curriculum. (Emphasis mine)

Sorry, but until atheists become the vast majority of American and British people, the screaming about accommodation by atheists is pointless. I just don’t accept it. If the atheists wish to have all science organizations never mention religions or treat any religious people with respect again,  they can push for that. And once they get their way, the political support for scientific organizations will most likely dry up.  And the only ones who gain from that would be Creationists. The atheist fanatics are giving them exactly the talking points they need to fight longer and harder the public relations war over science education!

Please support both the NCSE and the BCSE. Here are their websites:

http://ncse.com/

http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/

The Stupidity of Ayn Rand, round 2

First, read this, if you haven’t yet done so:

http://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/a-bitter-rant-about-ayn-rand/

Gee, I wish I’d written this brilliant comment!

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/5729-the-tea-party-and-ayn-rand

#futhark 2011-04-24 16:46

Kudos to Ayn Rand for “objectively” choosing to receive Social Security benefits and Medicare in her old age. To not do so would have been contrary to her best interests.

Shame on her for jeopardizing her health through a life-long nicotine addiction, causing her to require assistance from socialistic institutions supported by a collectivist state. But even more shame on her for her arrogant, social-Darwinist values that the sick, hungry, ill-clad, and ill-housed are only reaping the rewards of their personal lack of industry and creativity. Her compassion rating is a big, obese ZERO!

Indeed! (Clap, clap clap, clap!)

Religion, imperialism, and oil

Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, with about 2 billion followers all over the world. Islam is the second most popular religion, with over a billion followers. Part of the reason Christianity is larger is because it is older, since it is about 2000 years old, as compared with Islam being only 1400 years old.

Another reason Christianity is more popular is because of its association with imperialism. First, it took over the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, the religion continued as the dominant ideology of the Byzantine Empire, which was a direct offshoot of the Roman one. Later, the Arabs built a vast empire using Islam as their unifying force, challenging the Byzantines. Finally, the Turks, another Islamic power, destroyed the Byzantine Empire.

Then the European powers spread their empires all over the world, taking Christianity with them. Islam remained relatively weak until two things happened to make it more powerful: European imperialism fell apart and oil was discovered in most parts of the Middle East. Suddenly,  the Arabs became  extremely rich due to their oil revenues, and with that wealth came the ability to spread Islam around the world. But in Europe, Christianity declined as the people became increasingly secular. The tragic events of World War II probably did more to destroy Europeans’ faith than anything else. Today, the USA is the most powerful Christian dominated nation in the world, but it is still secular in its government. And even here, religious influence is slowly declining.

I suspect that within another generation, Islam will surpass Christianity as the most popular world religion, but its power cannot last long, because oil is a nonrenewable resource. And when that oil runs out, the economies of the Middle Eastern  states that depend on oil will break down, and so will Islam.

What can freethinkers, atheists,  and secular humanists do to overcome this situation? They must do everything possible to end the dependence on oil, and indeed all other fossil fuels, and establish societies based on renewable and sustainable sources of energy such as wind, water, the sun and geothermal sources. Once at least some parts of the world are free from needing resources that are doomed to run out, we will have even less need for religions like Christianity and Islam.