Roger Ebert, atheist till the end

February 20, 2010

One of the world’s truly great cinema critics is dying. In all likelihood, Roger Ebert doesn’t have much time left. But is it true that there are no atheists in foxholes, no unbelievers on their deathbeds. Well, if Ebert is any indication, the answer is no:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled “Go Gently into That Good Night.” I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

There has been no death-row conversion. He has not found God. He has been beaten in some ways. But his other senses have picked up since he lost his sense of taste. He has tuned better into life. Some things aren’t as important as they once were; some things are more important than ever. He has built for himself a new kind of universe. Roger Ebert is no mystic, but he knows things we don’t know.

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

Ebert takes joy from the world in nearly all the ways he once did. He has had to find a new way to laugh — by closing his eyes and slapping both hands on his knees — but he still laughs. He and Chaz continue to travel. (They spent Thanksgiving in Barbados.) And he still finds joy in books, and in art, and in movies — a greater joy than he ever has. He gives more movies more stars.

Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for your lifetime of work, for your inspiring words, and for your grace at this late hour. You’ve touched millions of people and when you do finally reach that undiscovered country, you will not be forgotten.


Eugenie Scott and Roger Ebert talk ‘Creation’

January 14, 2010

Two days ago, I briefly posted my positive feelings for the new biopic about the life of Charles Darwin, Creation. Now Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education provided a lengthier review, also very positive. And although he’s holding an official review until the film’s official release, Roger Ebert also wrote about the film here.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.3.09

December 4, 2009

1. Men may be doomed by their sperm -

Men carry the seeds of their own destruction in the genes present in their sperm, research suggests.

Scientists working on mice have highlighted a specific gene that, although carried by both sexes, appears to be active only in males.

They believe it allows males to grow bigger bodies – but at the expense of their longevity.

2. Roger Ebert gives both creationists and New Agers the thumbs down – Ebert is growing awesome in his own age. First, he panned both the style and the science of Ben Stein’s awful mockumentary last year. Then earlier this year he wrote about his atheism. And now he’s done it again. This is up there with your review and follow-up remarks regarding The Brown Bunny.

3. Age of Autism has removed their entry with the controversial Thanksgiving image – But it’s still available thanks to Google’s cache. Suck it, Handley, Crosby, Wright, Stagliano, and the rest!

4. NY state senate says no to gay marriage -  Wow, this is disappointing. It’s New York, dammit! Home of Greenwich Village and Broadway. How is it possible that NY can’t pass gay marriage?

5. Dating site ‘True’ screens out “marrieds & felons & atheists” – I think Friendly Atheist nails all the obvious questions that come to mind:

How exactly do they screen for atheists? For that matter, how would they know who’s married or a felon? They’re assuming a lot of honesty in these online profiles…

6. Rick Warren doesn’t just know the mind of ‘God’ but the mind of every atheist -

“People become atheists because of hurt, then seek intellectual arguments to validate their desire to live without God.”

That’s an interesting hypothesis there, Rick. Care to back that little gem up with demonstrable evidence.

7. Religious classes count for GPA in Poland -

The Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that grades awarded for religion classes in school can count towards a pupil’s grade point average.

Two years ago the Democratic Left Alliance asked the Tribunal to look into the case, believing that it was discriminatory towards schoolchildren who came from atheist families or who had other beliefs.


Ebert gives religion 2 thumbs down

April 18, 2009

I suspected it after Roger Ebert gave his devastating review to the Ben Stein mockumentary Expelled, but then again plenty of religious people accept the science of Evolution. But now Ebert has more or less officially come out of the closet as a secular humanist (the secret codeword for atheist in these atheist-phobic times):

Catholicism made me a humanist before I knew the word. When people rail against “secular humanism,” I want to ask them if humanism itself would be okay with them. Over the high school years, my belief in the likelihood of a God continued to lessen. I kept this to myself. I never discussed it with my parents. My father in any event was a non-practicing Lutheran, until a death bed conversion which rather disappointed me. I’m sure he agreed to it for my mother’s sake.

Did I start calling myself an agnostic or an atheist? No, and I still don’t. I avoid that because I don’t want to provide a category for people to apply to me. I would not want my convictions reduced to a word. Chaz, who has a firm faith, leaves me to my beliefs. “But you know you’re one or the other,” she says. “I have never told you that,” I say. “Maybe not in so many words, but you are,” she says.

But I persist in believing I am not. During in all the endless discussions on several threads of this blog about evolution, intelligent design, God and the afterworld, now numbering altogether around 3,500 comments, I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist–which I am. If I don’t believe God exists, that doesn’t mean I believe God doesn’t exist. Nor does it mean I don’t know, which implies that I could know.

Let me rule out at once any God who has personally spoken to anyone or issue instructions to men. That some men believe they have been spoken to by God, I am certain. I do not believe Moses came down from the mountain with any tablets he did not go up with. I believe mankind in general evidently has a need to believe in higher powers and lives not limited to the physical duration of the body. But these needs are hopes, and believing them doesn’t make them true. I believe mankind feels a need to gather in churches, whether physical or social.

I’m reminded of an old clip that surfaced on Youtube a while back of a Siskel (a Jew) and Ebert (raised Catholic) outtake where they joke around (with NSFW language) about Protestants and president at the time, Ronald Reagan:


Roger Ebert thanks Bill O’Reilly

April 9, 2009

This is apparently Eberts response to hearing that O’Reilly included the Chicago Sun-Times on his list of newspapers he considers shameful. He begins:

Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your “Hall of Shame.” To be in an O’Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.

Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an American war against Hitler. I’m sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.

I understand you believe one of the Sun-Times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that “very few” readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, “many more complained about Nancy.” I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that “wow” was “mom” spelled upside-down.

And here’s a great highlight:

That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn’t choose a mad dog.


Ebert gives Darwin 2 thumbs up

February 17, 2009

A few months ago, Roger Ebert gave a much delayed review of the creationist film, Expelled. He gave the film a very bad review. Ebert showed in that article that, while not an expert in Evolution, he understands it pretty well. So on Darwin Day he published an article on Darwin and evolution. It’s a pretty good read.


Roger Ebert doesn’t give Ben Stein his thumb, but rather the finger

December 3, 2008

Apparently people (who am I kidding, it’s the creationists) have been accusing Roger Ebert of not reviewing Ben Stein’s mockumentary Expelled because Ebert’s in leaque the evil dark lords of Evolution.

So Ebert decided to finally review the film. And well, he didn’t quite care for it, to put it mildly. This is a truly awesome demolishing of Stein’s silly, little propaganda film and well worth the read.

The mighty Ebert has spoken.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.3.08

November 4, 2008

FOR MY U.S. READERS, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE REASON AND SANITY BACK INTO WASHINGTON TOMORROW!

POLITICS:

The misnamed quack journal, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons reaches new low – In addition to their usual anti-science-based nonsense, now they’re suggesting that Barack Obama is literally hypnotizing his audiences during his speeches.

The color switch:

Isn’t that first guy Cal Turk?

Colorado Prop 48 up for vote tomorrow attempts nothing short of defining personness itself – This proposition is a somewhat back door approach by anti-abortionists (aka the religious) to define a person as an legal entity at the moment a human sperm fertilizes an egg. Here Phil Plaint points out some of the absurdities of this proposed law.

PZ Myers’ passionate defense of Bill Ayers – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Elizabeth Dole’s bigotry in her own words – Humorously, she accuses her opponent of literally being out to steal Christmas, a claim that I’ve always said I’d jokingly make against myself in a self-attack ad if I ever ran for public office.

How would Jesus campaign? - How did these reporters get their jobs? Seriously.

M&M’s prove Darwin was right – This relates to a rather strange message film critic Roger Ebert received in his blog. And c’mon, with a title like that, how can you resist?

Don’t pet the Hawking! -

Get your stinkin paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

Get your stinkin' paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

Pope Benedict told a gathering of scientists including the British cosmologist Stephen Hawking on Friday that there was no contradiction between believing in God and empirical science.

Don’t get me wrong but while I’m happy to see religious leaders accept science, I just think this claim that religious belief is not inconsistent with known science is total bullshit. (Thanks Brian)

god-hates-signsThe Phelps kid that got away - Fred Phelps is known for fucking into creation “The Most Hated Family In America,” those who declare themselves members of the Westboro Baptist Church, the greatest media whores in religious history who regularly protest outside of funerals with signs that read, “God Hates Fags.” But apparently one of Phelps’ spawn, Nathan Phelps, managed to escape his vile cult and become an atheist (a Christmas miracle if I ever heard one) and says that he “agrees with prominent atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins, who has said that religion can be ‘real child abuse.’” Nathan Phelps is now telling his story.

How did the family react? Shirley Phelps-Roper is his sister, so you can only imagine:

“Nathan Phelps is a rebel against God,” she said. “He has nothing to look forward to except sorrow, misery, death and hell….Great peace fell upon our house when Nathan left….He spit on the goodness of his mother and father. In spite of that, his father and mother loved him and did their duty to him…and required of him that he behave while he lived in their house. They loved him in the only way that the Lord God defines love! They told him the truth about what the Lord his God required of him. He was not going to have that!”

lovely people, aren’t they?

Another great de-conversion story

The old address of Stop Sylvia Browne is now apparently being sold on eBay under false pretenses

Crop Circles in Argentina – Really people, it’s not that hard to do! Get over it already!

saps-taps-parodyI know a lot of people think there’s strong, compelling evidence for ghosts because that’s what gets conveyed often in the popular media but really most of the time the “evidence” for ghosts is very, very lame. How lame? This lame.

WHAT’S THE HARM?

groin-kickTeen hangs herself over ghost - Carissa Glenn, an 18 year-old British teen, hanged herself over the weekend because she was being haunted by the former tenant of her flat.


AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyTiny Fungi May Have Sex While Infecting Humans – “A fungus called microsporidia that causes chronic diarrhea in AIDS patients, organ transplant recipients and travelers has been identified as a member of the family of fungi that have been discovered to reproduce sexually. A team at Duke University Medical Center has proven that microsporidia are true fungi and that this species most likely undergoes a form of sexual reproduction during infection of humans and other host animals.” Kinky.

Early Hebrew Text Where ‘David Slew Goliath’ – “The earliest known Hebrew text written in a Proto-Canaanite script has been discovered by Hebrew University archaeologists in an ancient city in the area where legend has it that David slew Goliath – the earliest Judean city found to date. The 3,000 year old finding is thought to be the most significant archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls – predating them by 1,000 years.”

Space Telescope Sees ‘Ghost Of Mirach’ Galaxy – “NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer has lifted the veil off a ghost known to haunt the local universe, providing new insight into the formation and evolution of galaxies.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.4.08

October 5, 2008

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing President Bush and many others over making the National Day of Prayer a federal holiday.

A man in Tuscon allegedly ran a house of prostitution camouflaged as a church.

Is Age of Autism telling Jenny McCarthy to back away from a fight? – Ah huh. They say they don’t think McCarthy should debate Amanda Peet because–are you ready?

“. . .this war between two young non-doctor icons really cheapens the debate over the safety of vaccines.”

Really? YOU JUST FIGURED THIS OUT?! So I suppose you guys will no longer be pushing Jenny as your spokesperson anymore then, right? Oh, and here’s what they wrote in their open letter to Amanda Peet:

“Whether one mom is right or wrong about how to raise our children should not be up for public debate. You were right for your child and I am right for mine.”

Um, you are aware that Jenny and Amanda are making too diametrically opposed claims, right? If one is right then the other is wrong. And funny again how you suddenly started kissing Amanda’s ass now that there’s talk of a possible debate. It seems to me that if your evidence was so strong you’d welcome the debate since you’ve been pushing non-doctor icon Jenny McCarthy as your big champion. I’ll say the same thing I said about the Republican Party when they wouldn’t release Sarah Palin to the press for interviewers. What are you so afraid of, guys?

Roger Ebert gave Religulous three and a half stars! – I just saw it today myself and plan to write a review tomorrow. So stay tuned.

The Smithsonian has recently put a set of photos from the 1925 Scopes trial on Flickr.

Stephen Hawking tells us why we should go into space.

And on a related note, The Money Shot – From Space – Very soon Virgin Galactic will launch its first tourists into space. But this week, an “unidentified party” offered Virgin Galactic $1 million, up front, to film a sex-in-space movie aboard SpaceShipTwo. Virgin Galactic rejected the offer. And follow the first link to learn about the complications of sex in space. Apparently, it’s not as easy as it looked in the the movie “Supernova.”

In Defense of Militant Atheism – Part 1


Roger Ebert’s satire gets 2 thumbs down

September 24, 2008

2 days ago, I posted about a creationist essay seemingly posted by Roger Ebert’s on his webpage that I guessed was a hoax. Now Ebert has come forward to proclaim it satire/social experiment. And what irritates me about his explanation is that he attempts to blame the audience for not getting it. Newsflash Mr. Ebert: if nobody in the audience gets it, it’s the artist who failed. Ebert accuses “evolutionists” of essentially being humorless for not recognizing the satire even after admitting to having received no response from creationists because he figures his writing was too spot on with what they believe to cause them to even question it. I never thought I’d have to school Ebert on how satire works, but there’s something you have to understand when satirizing religion. Something I learned long ago is that there’s no belief too absurd that it can’t gain a religious following. That’s why when one chooses to satirize religion they’ve got to work really hard to make sure that the satire isn’t mistaken for the real thing. You’ve got to be over the top and drive the logic towards an overtly absurd conclusion. If it’s indistinguishable from the real thing, you’re not a satirist; your just a douche inadvertently aiding that ideology’s propaganda campaign. If you’ve left people scratching their heads for too long wondering if it’s a satire then it’s bad satire. Here’s 2 examples of great religious satire by Edward Current. The first is actually the first Edward Current video I ever watched and admittedly left me scratching my head for several seconds wondering if it was satire. The second posted here is perfect satire:

Ebert wrote:

“Were there invisible quotation marks about my Creationism article? Of course there were. How could you be expected to see them? In a sense, I didn’t want you to. I wrote it straight. The quotation marks would have been supplied by the instincts of the ironic reader. The classic model is Jonathan Swift’s famous essay, “A Modest Proposal.” I remember Miss Seward at Urbana High School, telling us to read it in class and note the exact word at which Swift’s actual purpose became clear. None of us had ever heard of it, and she didn’t use a giveaway word like “satire.” Yet not a single person in the class concluded that Swift was seriously proposing that the starving Irish eat their babies. We all got it.”

The difference, Roger? We all DIDN’T got it! And the difference is that nobody in Swift’s day was seriously proposing cannibalism whereas lots of people today are seriously promoting creationism. And it takes serious balls of steal for Ebert to compare himself to Jonathan Swift, one of the greatest satirists in history. Though to be fair, I did once have an editorial column myself that co-opted Swift’s title, “A Modest Proposal.” Though in my defense, my column wasn’t often satirical though that was the original plan when I named it.

PZ Myers gives a good, concise explanation of where Ebert’s satire went wrong:

“That’s Ebert’s mistake. He presented a plain statement of creationist beliefs with satirical intent, but that intent cannot possibly be scene in a world where millions say exactly the same things with sincerity.”

Now here’s another CLEAR example of satire by “Pastor Deacon Fred”:


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