Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

High School Censors RichardDawkins.net

Granted, it might have been more beneficial for me to be paying attention in class, but I’ve always thought that the RichardDawkins.net website was pretty darn educational (it is the website of an educational foundation, after all). They have podcasts about evolutionary science, links to stimulating articles, a banner asking non-believers to donate to Haiti. Today when I tried to access RichardDawkins.net today from my school’s Internet network I got a message that said that the website was blocked.

Observe (click to embiggen)

Perhaps it was an honest mistake… I’ve very politely e-mailed the peeps who do this stuff so maybe they will unblock it. If not, I shall update here.

Update: Somewhat unrelated, but I just thought I’d share the mission listed in my school district’s twitter page.

To inspire every student to think, to learn, to achieve, to care

Far as I can tell RD.net does three of the four.

Update: So the school unblocked it (yay!). The e-mail I got was that the site was categorized as “social opinion” which ordinarily wouldn’t have been blocked for the high school but apparently the network was accidentally set on the elementary school filter which does block social opinion.

So…

  1. By bringing this to their attention I actually fixed a broader mistake
  2. I’m wondering how corrupting an influence a social opinion website really can be on the elementary schooler mind… Given the assumption that critical thinking is generally not present in elementary school (not that it becomes rampant in high school) I shall tentatively accept that somehow RD.net and other websites of a similar vein are inappropriate in elementary school.

ABC Article on Creation Museum Visit Misrepresents Atheist Bus Slogan

The recent Creation Museum visit taken by 300 secularists has been getting lots of attention and even an article from ABC. While overall I found the article to be pretty fair and balanced, I couldn’t help noticing that there was an error. You may have heard the story of Derek Rodgers (namedrop: I knew him personally before he became famous!) who got kicked out for wearing a shirt that said “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” In the article, the shirt, and the bus campaign slogan, is quoted as saying “There’s probably no God, so get over it.”

Now, a quick Google image search, and the above photo (although you still can’t really see the shirt all that clearly) are evidence that that’s not what the slogan actually says.

Minor error? You might say that, but there’s also some cheesy saying about the devil being in the details.

I would say that there is a big difference between saying that the shirt said “stop worrying and enjoy your life” and “get over it.” The devoutly religious will probably still be offended either way, but the average passerby who reads “get over it” probably thinks to himself or herself “humph, those rude Atheists are at it again being rude” whereas they’d be less likely to react negatively to the former.

So what did I do about it besides hash out a blog post? I sent ABCNews.com an e-mail using this comment form with the category of “Inaccurate Information”, told them I was an acquaintance of Derek Rodgers and happened to know what the shirt said, and politely suggested that they Google-image searched the Atheist Bus Campaign.

What I’d like to know is why more people don’t seem to get worked up about this sort of thing. My experience with a few non-atheism-related errors in articles in the past is that they get fixed. The BBC once did a sloppy job of changing an article that said the Columbine shootings occured “in Denver, Colorado” by saying they occured “near Denver” but these people pay attention to these things nonetheless. They do have reputations at stake.

And Atheists have reputations too.

News sources usually do have means of contact for tips like these from the general population and they’re not hard to find. What I don’t understand is why more people don’t do that. If you can write a letter to a senator, or, hell, if you can get worked up because somebody once spread a nasty rumor about you at school, you can find the motivation to fix errors in widely read news sources where people get their information from.

And again, here’s a link to that small little contact form.

Look to Norway!

Today this comic showed up on RichardDawkins.net:

lol.

Well, yeah, it’s funny, but something here caught my attention and made me flex my Google muscles and that is…

Norway is ranked first in the world in life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living.

Hold on… Norway has the highest life expectancy, literacy rate, education, and standard of living? Well… let’s take a look at a few links.

Well, it’s not actually first at any of the things listed in the comic so it’s not exactly honest, is it? But yes, that is damned good, and it shows that nations can be just as good as the U.S. with a primarily atheistic population…

But might I point out one thing? Canada ranks higher in life expectancy than Norway, ranks equally in literacy, is in first place for most educated, and is also among the top ten countries with highest living standards. The U.S. also doesn’t do too shabby with a life expectancy of 78.06 (so Norwegians get one or two more years), a shared literacy rate, second place in education, and also has a place on highest standards of living.

I’m going to go ahead and say, though it’s not as secular, statistically speaking…

Canada > Norway

Update: I present a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.

You know what this means? FDR had the foresight to know that Norway would be the cause of the Iraq War! Another reason why Canada > Norway!

Putting it Simply

Recently this article appeared in the Guardian which appears to be accusing Hitchens, Dawkins, etctera of wanting to take away the liberty of freedom of religion and, therefore, not being liberals.

Russell Blackford has a great response here but as it is something that people could potentially accuse the Atheist movement in general of, I thought I’d sum up Terry Eagleton’s error in one sentence:

In all his fancy wording about the “liberal state” he makes it clear that his flawed assumption is that Atheists want to make our beliefs about the harmfulness of religion public policy.

Well, he’s right insofar as we want a secular state in which religious beliefs which require “faith” don’t form public policy. This is for a good reason. We shape our morality around our perception of reality. If your morality is shaped around something that can’t be empirically demonstrated to people  who don’t share that faith (i.e. God told me that gay marriage is wrong), then you can’t expect them to form morality around your perception of reality.

Yeah, I’d like there to be more Atheists in the world (at least fewer fundamentalists), but I don’t plan on doing that by taking public office and banning religion (although I may tax churches). I plan on doing that by the less effective, but “liberally” permissible means of free speech through debating Christians, writing blog posts, while others add to Atheist literature.

That’s it. All we want. Tell me about how us Atheists are just-as-bad-as-fundies again? “Militant” rationalists? Western supremacists? kthx

Blog Rankings and Stuff

The Atheist Blogger has recently created his own Atheist Blog ranking system. I’m not in one of the top 30 spots anymore, but that’s perfectly fine with me. I got a better spot.splendid42

If you don’t get why that’s better than 27, go pick up a copy of Hitchiker’s Guide and don’t you dare set foot back here until you’ve read it cover to cover.

I’m Popular*!

*In the blogosphere. Not by far at school.

Yesterday Hemant Mehta put out a list of the 30 Most Popular Atheist Blogs. Yours truly managed to squeeze herself onto the list at number 27, with Teen Skepchick just a few spaces up at number 25.

Well, that was a surprise. There was a point in time when I checked my Technorati Authority somewhat regularly but I haven’t done that in a while.

Anyway, this is cause for celebration.

But wait! There’s more! Apparently my Technorati Authority is exactly 42!

On a completely unrelated note, I frequent a chatroom called Secular Chat. It’s a great place to socialize with Atheists, agnostics, the occasional secular theist, and general skeptics of religion. Discussions aren’t just centered around religion but cover a wide range of intellectual to casual topics. Pop in and say “hi” to me sometime if I’m there.

Buses and Things

I just thought I’d share two of the bus ads I made through the bus ad generator of win.

It turns out that I also have an obsession with the Obamaicon generator

Okay, say it. “Darn kids with your new-fangled online image-generating devices!”

Atheist Ticket-Holders Turned Away at Hitchens/D’Souza Debate

Last Monday, Christopher Hitchens was up in Boulder debating Dinesh D’Souza. I didn’t go because it was a school night and tickets were sold out before I could change my mind, but it seems from this e-mail I just received that it’s possible I wouldn’t have gotten in anyway. Listen to this:

Neither of the organizers of DAFT are in any big hurry to drive all the way up to Boulder for an event at Macky Auditorium after we were so recently turned away from the Hitchens/d’Souza debate even though we had tickets in hand. (Note that the upcoming event has a completely different sponsor who was in no way involved in the debacle at the Hitchens debate.)

For those who don’t know, the Hitchens/d’Souza debate was sponsored by the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, at the Catholic Student Center at CU Boulder. To guarantee a Catholic majority in the audience they gave away free tickets at masses and prior to the debate, resulting in such a large crowd that the Macky Center turned away a number of people (including DAFT organizers) who had paid for their seats at the debate, even though there were actually plenty of seats available.

If you or anyone you know had tickets and could not get in, refunds should be sought from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. TicketWest was not responsible, but they say they are working with the St. Thomas (etc.) Church to ensure that nothing like that happens again.

Wow. Just wow.

Quotes

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve gotten a rather frequent commenter on my posts. This was brought about by me commenting on one of her blog posts and expressing a dissenting view.

These have been posted publicly on the Internet. I therefore have the right to repost them.

Enjoy reading them.

And I never said it’s ok to be stupid!! I’m saying that Bella knows that she is being stupid by being with him since he’s so dangerous. That doesn’t mean she ACTS stupidly! Honestly, “Elles,” you should reread what you wrote and look at how ridiculous it sounds. It really does sound stupid.

Abby

I wonder if any lesbians read the book and voted for “Team Jessica”.

Cassie

Cassie’s not a troll. I’m just quoting her because she’s awesome.

Whoa whoa whoa… you’re saying that there is no God???? Wow. Ok now I’m mad at you for TWO MAJOR THINGS!!!!!!! How dare you??? There IS a God and he is AWESOME!! He created everything. He sent His own Son to die for our sins!!!! And there is also a TON of evidence that there is a God. It’s called the HOLY BIBLE!!! You should read it sometime.

Abby

It would also seem that God created H2G2 to test our faith by providing us with information on logical fallacies.

Ok, well God created the Word, and the Word was life. That comes from the Bible. And if you’re going to start stepping on my beliefs, then you better shut up because… oh I will get pissed like none other!!!

Abby

I admitted I had been a tad bitchy with her after telling her that she should use her brain.

You do come off b****y.

Abby

My favourite bit was what she said before that.

But I will get PISSED so SHUT UP!!

Abby

Well, I, unlike some people, never tell anybody to “shut up” whenever they say something I don’t like. I use well-reasoned arguments to refute things which I disagree with. I’ll slip in some snark ocasionally, but in the end I don’t truly hate anybody just for disagreeing with me.

I believe that expressing dissenting opinions is essential for exercising our free speech. Playing Bill O’Reilly on my blog, though, is a bit different from free speech.

Abby will go on comment moderation until she learns to express her disagreement in a more rational, civilized manner. If she still fails to do this I’ll simply put her on the ‘blacklist’ and she’ll go directly to the spam filter.

In the meantime, I recommend she reads this post.

Update: Abby, yet again you have failed to make a comment that contains any intelligence and it has been deleted. Two more times and I’m routing your comments directly into the spam filter.

Really, if you want people to think of you as an unintelligent, immature brat I’d be happy to keep approving your comments, but for your sake I’m going to keep deleting them.

Materialism: Dropping Watermelons from Great Heights

Please give me instances which prove materialism?

-Dawkinswatch

You went to Dawkinswatch’s blog, you commented, he decided that the main reason we were all Atheists was because we were materialists, he wrote a new post.

Well… I think I should first make two things quite clear:

Materialism here does not mean the same thing as consumerism (just to make sure we’re all on the same page).

I’m an Atheist for the same reason why I’m a materialist. There is about as much evidence for a god as there is evidence fo ghosts. Nada.

It’s not that I’m an Atheist because I reject the possibility that there is a spiritual realm out of hand. It’s just as simple as this: If there’s a realm outside of our own, if it can affect our realm it will leave evidence.

Objection to materialism number one:

1) Many People Have Experience The Spirit World

People who have converted to Christianity have gone from believing in the non existence of God, to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Well It is rather arrogant for those Atheists to dismiss their experiences.

Call me arrogant, but when Joseph Smith claimed to have experienced seeing twelve golden tablets conveniently shoot off into heaven I didn’t believe him, and neither did Dawkinswatch. Call me arrogant but when Travis Walton told me he experienced being abducted by aliens I didn’t believe him. Call me arrogant, but when the man standing on a street corner told me he had a vision of Puff the Magic Dragon coming and loosening destruction upon the Earth in 2012 I didn’t believe him. Call me arrogant, but people “experience” things all the time, not just the Holy Spirit.  Followers of voodoo have experiences similar to pentecoasts in that they try to be posessed by spirits. Muslims feel the spirit of Allah. New Agers feel “strange energy signals” from crystals and rocks. You dismiss all of those experiences, but choose to accept only those whose “experiences” support your beliefs.

Experiences are a part of empiricism and that’s all well and good as long as other people can verify your experiences. I’m perfectly prepared to believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn once you show her on a thermal camera, when you show me her footprints in the sand, and when I have eliminated all other possible causes of those phenomena.

While I’m at it… religious experiences, alien abductions, and ghosts can be induced by things other than gods, extra-terrestrials, and restless spirits. See article in Newsweek about Michael Persinger and his work.

2) Yoga and Eastern Religions are About Yoking with gods (spirits)

I have featured Yoga gurus claiming to have experinced visions of the Spirit world after opening themselves up to  the spirit world. Now to a materialist. this does not make sense, but I have been around when I felt the existence of spirits. Former guru speaksout on Yoga.

See above.

3) Muslims Meeting Jesus

In Fact this how many Muslims are converted they experience Jesus and see him. Muslims Visions of Jesus.

Again Materialists need dismiss everyone out of hand without giving reasons why that should be.

See above.

4) Have You Ever Seen A Hypnotic Show

Anyone who has studied hypnosis knows that it is Mesmer or animal magnetism.  Now mesmer was a magician, in these situations Atheist/Materialists see the physical manifestations and do not perceive what it is.

Er… Magicians don’t use spiritual or other-worldly thingies to make their trick work. They use slight of hand, psychology, etc.

Ever seen Darren Brown? Or for that matter, any magician? The good ones will usually tell you that they don’t use any psychic powers. Look up James Randi on YouTube, or Penn & Teller.

5) Theurgy

I have mentioned the likes of Sir John Dee, the astrologist to Queen Elizabeth I , was into Angel Magic and he once drew a grey alien called Lam who he was communicating with.

Now to make Freemasonry more acceptable his successor as the leader of the Rosicrucian, Sir Francis Bacon withdrew theurgy and cabala from the lower orders and reserved them for higher degrees.  Was Lord Bacon Shakespeare?

I once drew a picture of Harry Potter in my science class. Was I communicating with Harry Potter? I once wrote a horoscope and had a room full of people rate it’s accuracy and I averaged 4.1/5, but I’m not an “astrologist”. I just used a technique called Cold Reading (see this post).

As for the rest…

What the fuck?

6) Intelligence Experiments with Psychics

Well there is not demarcations between the world of intelligence and the occult some of the best spies were conjurers, Alister Crowley was a MI6 agent, Sir John Dee and Sir Francis Bacon were in valuable in the founding of British intelligence.  In “the Cold War”, both the KGB and CIA were heavily involved in psychic experiments.

Again, conjurers use non-supernatural methods.

Look, Bush got the intelligence agencies to say that there were WMDs in Iraq. I’m not all that impressed that the same people did experiments on psychics. Also, see Project Alpha.

Please give me instances which prove materialism?

Sure.

See your hand? What do you think it’s made out of? Phlogiston?

Take a watermelon to the top of a tall building. Make sure that nobody is bellow. Drop the watermelon. Record results.

In the mean-time, I think you’ll have to explain this comment you left on my blog last time…

– I should have really asked are you against the English Grand Lodge and in favour of Grand Orient Fremasons , the originators of Atheism.

The British believe in The Great Architech of the Universe.