Atheists & pastafarians most generous on Kiva

July 31, 2009

I’ve blogged about before. It’s the site that allows people to lend money to micro-finance institutions in developing countries which in turn lend the money to small businesses. Well back in March, I reported that the number one donating team on Kiva is the “Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious.” Now, we’re still leading on Kiva with over 5,000 members, while Kiva Christians are number 2.

But if you sort by category, under “Religious Congregations,” The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster with over 600 members is leading with the Catholic Kiva as number 2. This news has also made it into USA Today. Bobby Henderson Bobby Henderson from the The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is trying to get his team to surpass the $100,000 mark.

Let nobody ever tell you that atheists and pastafarians aren’t charitable.

Colbert Report – Womb Raiders – Orly Taitz | July 28, 2009

July 31, 2009

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Fox News on Indiana atheist bus ad

July 30, 2009

As if you needed any more proof that Fox “News” is just a bunch of blithering idiots who don’t make any sense at all:

Okay, first up:

Steve Doocy:  “So is this a victory for freedom of speech or do the ads just send the wrong message?”


I don’t think these are 2 mutually exclusive, conflicting ideas.

Then there’s Pastor Tony Taylor. Absolutely nothing this man says the entire time comes even remotely close to a rational thought. . .or you know, a coherent thought. Further, none of his arguments even logically follow from what has been said.

But let’s break this down, just for fun, shall we?

Steve Doocy:  As an atheist, you do not believe in god, and yet you sued to put god in your ad? Why?

Is Steve Doocy serious or is he just pretending to be the stupidest person on the planet? You see, Steve, what the ad is saying is that you don’t need to believe in your god to be a good person. Hence, there’s no contradiction between his being an atheist and promoting a sign with the word “god” in it. It’s called context, Steve. But I guess that’s a new concept for you boys at “Fox News.” And they sued Bloomington Transit for discrimination. It’s really not a hard concept to understand. Besides, I don’t think “You can be good without” would have made a very effective ad.

Steve Doocy:  “So you saw a loophole and you thought you’d test it.”

No, Steve. You’re still not getting it. There’s nothing overtly offensive about the mere suggestion that morality has a secular basis and not a religious one. Rather, that is about the least offensive ad an atheist organization could possibly think of. So I very much doubt they chose that particular slogan because they wanted to have it censored. I’d think they’d go with something far more critical of religion if they wanted that to happen. But Steve Doocy over here seems to think the word “God” itself is offensive. Well, glad we agree on something. But as the court ruled, this slogan is only offensive to the easily offendable. . .like this guy, for instance:

Tony Taylor:  “I feel it’s an outright attack on Christianity. I feel like the language of it is inflammatory… I think that this is just an agenda trying to get passed by the Left.”

Wow Tony! The ad actually doesn’t even mention Christianity. And it’s definitely not inflamatory unless you’re the kind of person who can’t handle anyone that disagrees with you and think that laws should reflect your own personal sensabilities. And what the hell does “the Left” have to do with this? Are you just reading this off of a pre-scripted teleprompter?

And if your faith in the teachings and absolute power of your god to control the universe is threatened by a 6-word-long bus ad,  you’re in real trouble, buddy. A strong belief system should value skepticism because it tests one’s faith, which in turn should lead to stronger faith when that belief is verifiable as the truth. Only false prophets, preaching a weak faith, fear the questioning of that faith, because they know they might be wrong and that scares the crap out of them.

Eoban Binder:  “What agenda?”

Tony Taylor:  “Well, just the agenda of…of farther removing God out of anything to do with public or politics.”

OHHHH! You mean the First Amendment! Actually Tony, as your boyfriend Steve just pointed out, they fought to keep “God” in the ad. Try to keep up. And how exactly is their expressing of their free speech and fighting to prevent discrimination remove God from anything?

Tony Taylor:  “I just think this is an entirely hypocritical stance…”

Um, Tony. Do you know what the word “hypocritical” means? Cause I don’t think ya do. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines hypocrisy as:

a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

The ad says “You Can Be Good Without God” and Mr. Binder believes you can be good without God. Where is the hypocrisy? Now a true example of hypocrisy would be if you professed to uphold the unalianable human and civil rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as stated in the Declaration of Independence or the freedom granted to every American in the Constitution, and then took an anti-free speech position. That would be hypocrisy:

Tony Taylor:  “. . .because the Bill of Rights, you know, ensures us, you know, that the Founding Fathers said we found these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. And I know just what it says. It says we find these truths…truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and given certain unalienable rights, endowed to them by their creator, God.”

Wow! First of all, don’t you just love how he inserted the word “God” into the Preamble even though IT’S NOT THERE!!!! In fact, the reason the word “God” is not there or in the Declaration of Independence is because the writers of those documents were Deists who only believed in a vague Deist god and not your ridiculous god.

But I think more important here is that at no point did Taylor come close here to anything resembling a real logical argument. He’s just spouting out patriotic-sounding nonsense he has no clue about. The guy even makes a point of mentioning the word “equal” twice and yet he as well as the pundit for the “Fair and Balanced” network are promoting a position of  inequality. Ugh!

Wait. There’s more incoherent nonsense:

Tony Taylor:  “And so anyway, they use that fundamental right. . .”

Okay, I had to stop there for a moment. That’s right, Tony, they’re taking advantage of their fundamental right to free speech and to be treated as equals. Sorry, you were say?

Tony Taylor:  “. . .to walk into the Supreme Court of Indiana based upon these self-evident truths, and then to turn around and make a mockery of it and sue based on what they said that they can be good without God. I just think it’s a hypocritical stance. And I think that a lot of citizens of Bloomington are upset about it.

Again, how is it hypocritical to sue for being discriminated against by being deprived of what you yourself, Tony, admit is their unalianable right to be treated fairly and equally in exercising their Constitutionally protected free speech? How cares if people find a completely benign slogan offensive? There’s not law protecting people from being offended. And it’s not their opinion that you can be good without God; it’s a fact. Deal with it.

Steve Doocy:  “Why didn’t you have more of an atheist message, like, “You can feel good about yourself,” or something like that? Why did you have to include God?”

First of all, Steve, you obviously don’t know what an “atheist message” is, as this is actually just a secular message. And one would be hard pressed to find a more “atheist message” or secular message than “You Can Be Good Without God.” It’s certainly far more of an “atheist message” than your dopey and meaningless slogan, especially since atheism is itself a meaningless term when divorced from theism. That the mere suggestion it’s not impossible to be a good person and not believe in your god at the same time is deemed offensive to you just illustrates what a horrible human being you are, Steve.

Steve Doocy:  “But you have to realize that there are a lot of Christians in that area who are highly offended by this.”

And there’s a lot of sane people who are highly offended by your show, Steve. So when can I expect your resignation then?

Eoban Binder followed up this interview by sending Fox “News” some corrections of some of the babble that came out of Tony Taylor’s mouth:

The Constitution, and therefore the Bill of Rights, does have legal standing, but God is not mentioned in it. Therefore, the entire premise of Mr Taylor’s argument is false. Given that our campaign surely has many detractors as it does supporters, I was disappointed that Fox News was unable to find a guest who was capable of delivering any kind of remotely sensible argument against our campaign, but then again, I suppose I could have been expecting too much anyhow.

All the same, thank you for having me on your show.

Yeah, I’m sure Fox will be making those corrections any minute now, since they’re so commited to journalistic excellence. Yeah, I won’t hold my breath either.

Sudanese woman punished for wearing pants

July 30, 2009

Lubna Hussein was just sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing pants. This is how the justice system in Sudan works. A woman wearing pants in public while out to dinner is a violation of their decency laws and punishable by 40 lashes!

There were chaotic scenes as Lubna Hussein, a former journalist who works for the United Nations, attended the hearing wearing the same green slacks that got her arrested for immodest dress.


Seriously, this is one of the most absurdly barbaric nations in the history of the cosmos. Fortunately, Hussein is courageous enough to put herself on the line to change the system:

After the hearing, defence lawyer Nabil Adib Abdalla said Ms. Hussein had agreed to resign from the United Nations in time for the next session on Aug. 4 to make sure the case continued. “First of all she wants to show she is totally innocent, and using her immunity will not prove that,” Mr. Abdalla told reporters. “Second she wants to fight the law. The law is too wide. It needs to be reformed … This is turning into a test case. Human rights groups will be watching this closely.”

He said Ms. Hussein was ready to face the maximum penalty for the criminal offence of wearing indecent dress in public, which was 40 lashes and an unlimited fine.

. . .

“Thousands of women are punished with lashes in Sudan but they stay silent,” she said. “The law is being used to harass women and I want to expose this.”

7-year-old desperate to get out of church

July 30, 2009

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Evolution finds women are getting hotter

July 29, 2009

bikiniA new study suggests that evolution is making women progressively more beautiful. Though the same can’t be said of men:

In a study released last week, Markus Jokela, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, demonstrated that beautiful women had more children than their plainer counterparts and a higher proportion of those children were female.Those children also tended to be attractive and to repeat the pattern of having more female children once they became adults, according to the study.

The Times online reported that data was gathered in America, from 1,244 women and 997 men, who were followed over four decades.

As is common with these sorts of tests, they used photos to rate the attractiveness. Though one criticism that seems kind of obvious to me is in the study, pictures of women are presumably being rated based on modern standards of beauty. What is considered attractive today is not what was attractive hundreds of years ago. The standards have changed. Though perhaps if I take a closer look at the study I’ll find that this was taken into account somehow.

And given that I’m not exactly reading about this from  serious science sources, I remain rather skeptical of this study.

Wet naked girls in India

July 29, 2009

A village in Bihar, India is having a little drought problem. But they’ve figured out how to best motivate their weather gods to cooperate. By embarrassing them by making naked unmarried women plowing fields:

Farmers in an eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plow parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials said on Thursday.Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.

“They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains,” Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar’s remote Banke Bazaar town.

“This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue this practice until it rains very heavily.”

Oh, the stupidity! Or maybe it was  a brilliant excuse by the men to get the young ladies naked. Either way, this is still no stupider than Scott Teague’s attempt to appease his Christian rain god by fighting to keep the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse.

Food for Freethought 2009

July 29, 2009

Food for Freethought 2009 is a great idea for an atheist charity. Joel Guttormson from the Metro State Atheists in Colorado came up with it. You give them non-perishable food and they’ll give you a banned book. And that food will go to Food Bank of the Rockies. You can also donate money to help them purchase the books or donate books from the banned list.

Ken Miller gets it wrong on Francis Collins criticism

July 29, 2009

The other day, I blogged about Sam Harris’ criticism in the New York Times of Francis Collins new appointment as director of the National Institutes of Health as well as Jerry Coyne’s criticisms of Collins. Well now Ken Miller has written a response, where he essentially accuses those opposed to Collins’ appointment of discriminating against Christians:

Dr. Collins’s sin, despite credentials Mr. Harris calls “impeccable,” is that he is a Christian. Mr. Harris is not alone in holding this view. A leading science blogger, also attacking Dr. Collins, demonstrated his own commitment to reasoned dialogue by calling the scientist a “clown” and a “flaming idjit.” When reason has such defenders, Heaven help us.

The blogger he’s referring to is PZ Myers. But as PZ Myers points out in his response to Miller, the mere fact that Collins is a Christian is not the issue:

No, that first sentence is completely false. The head of the NIH can be a Christian, a Jew, a Moslem, even an atheist, and it won’t disturb us in the slightest. Here’s a list of past directors of the NIH; can you identify their faith, their hobbies, their sexual orientation, their favorite kind of music? Do you care? The fact that Collins is a Christian is not a problem at all — we are not interested in narrowing the search pool for science administration to the extent that we exclude the majority of people in this country.

What is disturbing is that Collins is a fervent evangelical believer who inserts his superstition where it doesn’t belong, in the execution of his job. James Wyngaarden and Bernadine Healy and Harold Varmus did not do that. I cannot trust him not to Christianize his responsibilities — from reading his book, it is clear that he actually feels a moral obligation to add religious instruction to everything he does. That should bother everyone.

If Collins could just leave his religion at home, he would not be so criticized. But he won’t do that. Instead, he is using his position and his scientific credentials to promote Christianity. And that is unacceptable.

News From The Blogosphere 7.28.09

July 28, 2009

1. Creation “Museum” fears the godless – For weeks now, PZ Myers the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) have been organizing a giant trip to the Creation “Museum.” The number of people planning to attend is currently 240 and counting. 240 godless heathens converging on them? Mark Looy, the Chief Communications Officer at the “museum” is scared, so scared he sent PZ and the SSA a hilarious message telling them to behave.

2. Is the Kendle a tool of Big Brother? – I must have been out of the loop on this one because I’d never heard of this conspiracy theory until my brother told me about it over the phone last week. The story goes that Amazon removed downloaded copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from Kindle devices. This is of course seen as some conspiracy. But of course, as with most other conspiracy claims, there’s a far more benign explanation:

Far from being some kind of shadowy government conspiracy to extinguish the truth of an anti-establishment book you can easily pick up for a couple of quarters at a high school library rummage sale, this was a simple legal issue. Somehow, Amazon sold Kindle copies of 1984 from publishers who didn’t have the right to print the book. It was stupid (I feel like Barack Obama here…) of them to simply go into people’s Kindles through the wireless modem and delete the things, but they did give everyone’s money back. And you can still buy an authorized copy if you want. In other words, this is a non-issue. Though I suppose nothing can convince Kindle Truthers that this wasn’t an inside job.