Archive for December, 2008

26 Out of 50

Okay, Hemant… Let’s play the bold-facing How-Hardcore-Are-You-Game!

  1. Participated in the Blasphemy Challenge.
  2. Met at least one of the “Four Horsemen” (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) in person.
  3. Created an atheist blog.
  4. Used the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a religious debate with someone.
  5. Gotten offended when someone called you an agnostic.
  6. Been unable to watch Growing Pains reruns because of Kirk Cameron.
  7. Own more Bibles than most Christians you know.
  8. Have at least one Bible with your personal annotations regarding contradictions, disturbing parts, etc.
  9. Have come out as an atheist to your family.
  10. Attended a campus or off-campus atheist gathering.
  11. Are a member of an organized atheist/Humanist/etc. organization.
  12. Had a Humanist wedding ceremony.
  13. Donated money to an atheist organization.
  14. Have a bookshelf dedicated solely to Richard Dawkins.
  15. Lost the friendship of someone you know because of your non-theism.
  16. Tried to argue or have a discussion with someone who stopped you on the street to proselytize.
  17. Hid your atheist beliefs on a first date because you didn’t want to scare him/her away.
  18. Own a stockpile of atheist paraphernalia (bumper stickers, buttons, shirts, etc).
  19. Attended a protest that involved religion.
  20. Attended an atheist conference.
  21. Subscribe to Pat Condell’s YouTube channel.
  22. Started an atheist group in your area or school.
  23. Successfully “de-converted” someone to atheism.
  24. Have already made plans to donate your body to science after you die.
  25. Told someone you’re an atheist only because you wanted to see the person’s reaction.
  26. Had to think twice before screaming “Oh God!” during sex. Or you said something else in its place.
  27. Lost a job because of your atheism.
  28. Formed a bond with someone specifically because of your mutual atheism (meeting this person at a local gathering or conference doesn’t count).
  29. Have crossed “In God We Trust” off of — or put a pro-church-state-separation stamp on — dollar bills.
  30. Refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
  31. Said “Gesundheit!” (or nothing at all) after someone sneezed because you didn’t want to say “Bless you!”
  32. Have ever chosen not to clasp your hands together out of fear someone might think you’re praying.
  33. Have turned on Christian TV because you need something entertaining to watch.
  34. Are a 2nd or 3rd (or more) generation atheist.
  35. Have “atheism” listed on your Facebook or dating profile — and not a euphemistic variant.
  36. Attended an atheist’s funeral (i.e. a non-religious service).
  37. Subscribe to an freethought magazine (e.g. Free Inquiry, Skeptic)
  38. Have been interviewed by a reporter because of your atheism.
  39. Written a letter-to-the-editor about an issue related to your non-belief in God.
  40. Gave a friend or acquaintance a New Atheist book as a gift.
  41. Wear pro-atheist clothing in public.
  42. Have invited Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses into your house specifically because you wanted to argue with them.
  43. Have been physically threatened (or beaten up) because you didn’t believe in God.
  44. Receive Google Alerts on “atheism” (or variants).
  45. Received fewer Christmas presents than expected because people assumed you didn’t celebrate it.
  46. Visited The Creation Museum or saw Ben Stein’s Expelled just so you could keep tabs on the “enemy.”
  47. Refuse to tell anyone what your “sign” is… because it doesn’t matter at all.
  48. Are on a mailing list for a Christian organization just so you can see what they’re up to…
  49. Have kept your eyes open while you watched others around you pray.
  50. Avoid even Unitarian churches because they’re too close to religion for you.

I count a 26/50. That makes me about 52% hardcore.

A bit of commentary before I end:

Number 29 occurred because a hardcore fundie conservative was standing behind me in the lunch line. I did it just to see how he would react. ‘Twas amusing.

Number 47, I assume, refers to my astrological sign. Though skepticism-related, I don’t see what the has to do with Atheism.

Number 49 occured on a trip through my old middle school to Juarez, Mexico where, through a religious organization, we built a house for a family in need. We had been told that there would be a prayer meeting before we left the hotel to go to the house and that we could opt out of it if we wanted but they didn’t even ask if any of the kids wanted to leave before the made us join hands, bow our heads, and close our eyes. I raised my head and opened them a bit bewhildered. I can’t remember if that was 6th or 7th grade… or maybe 5th… hm…

Anyway, 26 out of 50. How militant!

I <3 Reed

I just read this and just had to quote it.

If you’re not comfortable with the how the world portrays your religion, or you get upset when someone points out that all Christians pick and choose what verses they follow, change that.

You have two options if you still want to be a Christian:  You may give up the charade of following the Bible and be honest about what guides your moral compass, or you may follow all of the laws in your book.  If you want to discriminate against gays, you’re not allowed to wear poly-blend.  If you want your wife to be a submissive June Cleaver and give up her job to raise your plethora of non-birth-control kids, stop eating ham.  You can NOT use the Bible to justify your own bigotry when you obviously do not follow every edict in that dreadful tome.  Tell me why you pick certain verses over others or stop pretending that the Bible justifies your prejudices.

Cause I couldn’t have said it better myself.

And, remember…

Are Ye Pining for the Bloody Blog Meme?

I’m pining for the bloody blog meme because it’s something to do that’s not an anti-derivative. So here goes…

The rules:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you. (Rev. Reed Braden)
  2. Post the rules on your blog. (Done.)
  3. Write six random arbitrary things about yourself. (How random?)
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog (That takes work. I’m pining for the calculus now).
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up (That’s assuming Reed is still online when I’m done).

Okay… 6 random things…

Random thing of randomness number 1:

I’ve been reading Twilight outloud to a fifteen year old Canadian named Travis (who needs to blog more often) and a Norwegian named Eirik (International book club?). It is terribly unimpressive and mediocre at best, and tedious at worst. I imagine somebody will get pissed because everybody loves it dearly, but all I can say is that I just have different subjective values for what I think is a good book and what I think isn’t. Let’s not go for each other’s throats when we criticise books.

As I was saying, it’s tedious. I for one was sick of hearing about how “perfect” Edward looks. It’s unimaginative and lazy descriptiveness. So, to make things more interesting we started replacing words. Edward became “Velociraptor” and Bella became “Bristol Palin”. All the character names were replaced, as well as a few verbs and nouns (walk became “flollop”, car became “wombat”) and we got some interesting results…

Eirik looked satisfied. “Would you like to take a ride in my wombat? It’s either that or Pope John Paul’s wombat.”

And then…

I managed to wedge Travis in between me and Eirik in the wombat.

So that’s one of the things I’ve been up to.

Random thing of randomness number 2:

I love potatoes with a passion. Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, fried potatoes… Damn, this is making me hungry. Mmm… starch…

Random thing of randomness number 3:

My AP World History textbook said that mammals first appeared 65 million years ago. That was blatantly wrong. Mammals first appeared around the end of the Triassic period so at least 200 million years ago. I e-mailed the textbook authors one night informing them of the error at the beginning of the year. My history teacher told me that I was “stirring the pot”. A palaeobotanist said “I think that the pot needs to be stirred”.

Random thing of randomness number 4:

One of these days I’d like to have a pentecoastal-style religious experience just once to feel what it’s like. I don’t know if you can really do that if you don’t actually believe (I doubt it) but I’d like to try.

Random thing of randomness number 5:

I had a science teacher in the 7th grade who was, to be quite frank, a complete dumb ass. What would you have expected from a 23 year old environmental science major? Okay, that was a disparaging remark to environmental science majors and was unwarranted. Not all environmental science majors are dumb ass teachers. Seriously, though. The man couldn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know about cell biology and discouraged me from ever asking questions that were more in-depth than what we needed to know because it was “too complicated” (code for “I have no clue and I’m embarrassed to admit it”).

Anyway, this one time he was riding on his bike when he had some sort of accident where his face somehow hit the handle of his bicycle and he got a black eye. He gave us a homework assignment that night to research why black eyes take a longer time to heal than other bruises (or something along the lines of that, or probably something completely different cause I don’t remember anymore). I Googled it, found nothing. Searched a few textbooks, found nothing. Went to school the next day empty-handed.

I wasn’t alone. Nobody had found the answer. He was pissed at us. He projected a web browser up on the screen for us and opened Google with the intention of showing how easy it was to find info on it. He spent about five minutes searching and found nothing, the same result as the rest of us.

“Well, anyway, if you kept trying you would have found something…” he finished lamely.

Way to go! After all, why would you need to try the assignment yourself to make sure it’s completable within a reasonable amount of time before assigning it?

I eventually ended up calling him “Professor Snape” in front of the class one time. He knew enough about Harry Potter to take offence to that.

Random thing of randomness number 6:

When I was in 6th or 7th grade I was in the school choir and we sung “On My Own” from Les Misérables. Recently it has gotten stuck in my head so I’ve been humming it randomly.

And now I get to tag six people. Come on, Sesame Street, I need you to help me count. Don’t fail me now!

1. The Doubt and Disbelief Blog

2. Andrew

3. Chicken Girl

4. Homo economicus

5. Nullifidian

6. “Marina Lee”

I suppose you want me to go comment on their blogs now… *sigh*

Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission Aims for White House

Remember those folks who tried to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver and didn’t? They’re going for an even bolder step.

For release on 3 December 2008

*White House Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission Expected*

Denver, CO — The possibility of a new White House Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission has put the Denver ballot initiative to create a similar commission on hold — for now. Jeff Peckman, author of the Denver initiative, has already applied for the position of project coordinator of the anticipated new White House commission and is urging others to apply for positions.

*sigh*

Somebody please explain to me how these people get these ideas? Surely it would be easier to start on a city level, then turn the state of Colorado into a laughing stock, and then go for the White House.

Only 21% of Americans voted to elect Barack Obama as President. Three to four times that many Americans believe that the U.S. government has covered up secret files concealing evidence of extraterrestrial beings frequently visiting our planet. Testimony from hundreds of credible whistleblowers would support the claim that these secret ‘UFO” files contain trillions of dollars worth of critical solutions for clean energy, economic growth, job-creation, national security, and reducing government waste.

Wait, what? 63% to 84% of Americans believe that extraterrestrial beings have been visiting us?

This is one of those times when I really wished these people would cite their sources. Who did this survey? How was it conducted? Where did they do it? Did they hand out a survey at one of their lectures and decided that that pool of questionees accurately represented the mindset of most Americans?

Did they ask “do you believe in UFOs”? I would have answered “yes” to that one. Of course there are unidentified objects. A better question is “do you believe that UFOs are alien visitors?” In which case I’d have to remain agnostic on the answer to that one until they showed me some physical evidence other than appeals to authority (which these people have yet to show me).

Even if there were a source for these statistics I can easily find statistics showing that 50% of Americans believe that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. No matter how many people you get to believe that radiometric dating doesn’t work there’s no way you’re going to contradict the laws of physics.

And, no, just because you can edit together a four-hour-long-or-something video full of talking heads doesn’t mean that those people weren’t mistaken about what they saw. Said people couldn’t have also snuck us a piece of metal from a space ship? Organic tissue that uses a completely different biochemistry than our own?

So, because loads of people, according to you, believe this we should just stop funding real scientists who could come up with a source of renewable energy? I see. Since loads of people also believe that the Earth is the direct product of a supernatural being let’s also halt all other scientific endeavours and say “God did it”.

The press release then goes on to quote various people who wield government power making them seem like they believe that there is a government cover-up of UFOs. I haven’t had the time to poke around for the original sources of these quotes, though, so we have no way of knowing if they were just taken out of context… but even so… Appeals to authority do not constitute evidence in favour of your half-baked plans.

It’s the same-old story. They point to people who they claim say they believe in “UFOs” without clarifying whether or not those people really believe UFOs are the same thing that they think it is, say that loads of people agree with them, then claim that they can solve all of the world’s problems if only the government gives them the false appearance of having anything to say that isn’t complete codswallops.

Let’s hope that President-Elect Barack Obama is a reasonable man after all.

Plugging Fellow Youths

It’s time to flex my plugging muscles and give you links to a few other youths out there on the Internet (because yes, I can understand sometimes the willingness to believe all teens are un-thinkers, but many of us do think, and we do exist).

First up, Kyle at ND MacGeek, a twelve-year-old who is going through his Catholic confirmation ceremony even though he has come to the conclusion that he doesn’t believe in a god. He’s publicly posting a record of what’s going on for us to see.

Twelve! I remember the time Phil Plait put “fifteen” in italics. Twelve!

What are you all doing here reading this? He’s even more impressive! If only all of us became freethinkers at around that age.

I just found out about the Young Australian Skeptics website through Bad Astronomy and I thought I might give it a plug here as well.

Young Australian Skeptics is a group blog for, well, young Australian skeptics (as if your psychic powers didn’t see that coming) and includes forums and a chat room. Young Australian Skeptics has a wide range of contributers including Naon Tiotami of Homologous Legs.

Kudos to them all for building up their Internet presences and showing the world that the thinking teenager is not a myth.