News From Around The Blogosphere 12.1.09

December 2, 2009

1. Carl Wieland, head of Creation Ministries International, dared David Nicholls of the Atheist Foundation of Australia to organize an “atheist” vs. creationist debate at the upcoming large atheist conference in Melbourne (you see, it’s an “atheists” vs. the creationists debate at an atheist conference because Wieland wants his flock to belief evolution is just the religion of atheism and not accepted facts that people accept regardless of whether or not they’re religious). Nicholls hilariously declined the request:

If you skirt the question about accredited articles, then it is no wonder you are having trouble finding people to debate. Debate is not science, it is playing upon the prejudices of the audience. Scientific conclusion is about peer reviewing work from accredited scientific journals. I really can’t see Professor Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers or any real scientist taking seriously or bothering to debate about alien abductions even though millions believe it to be true. There are just no credible studies on this as there are no credible scientific studies that support creationism.

Wieland of course went to PZ Myers himself, who responded with nothing but the image presented above.

2. Has science validated the ancient Ayurvedic ‘Neti pot’ as a legitimate medical treatment? – I first heard about the Neti pot a few years ago when it was featured in an episode of Six Feet Under. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of it but had since become somewhat skeptical of it from the little literature I’ve seen on it. A recent review article in American Family Physician found it effective adjunctive therapy for symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (and they say real “Western” medicine only treats the symptoms). Well a new study made some interesting findings about the Neti pot. It seems that while it may be effective in treating short-term nasal irrigation, long-term use can be harmful.

3. Freedom From Religion Foundation gets strong atheist sign up in Illinois Capitol Building for second year in a row – The text is very similar to the text used on last year’s Washington display that I wasn’t too pleased with, so this is kind of a mixed bag. While I’m willing to be more abrasive towards religion in other venues, I don’t think it’s appropriate to stick such a mean-spirited message on a federal building, regardless of the cause. You choose your battles and you take your audience into account. I don’t even encourage strong anti-religious sentiments on billboards but sticking it on government land is far harder to reasonably defend. It’s one thing when cranks complain that the entirely inoffensive billboards are attacks on their faith because they’ll be seen for what they are, cranks. But you put out actual attacks on people’s beliefs on government property and you’re the one who looks like the giant douche. And I’m really starting to think Dan Barker is a douche.

The Rufus Factor

4. Naked mole rats may be key to human survival from stroke

Two University of Illinois at Chicago researchers report in the Dec. 9 issue of NeuroReport (now online) that adult naked mole rat brain tissue can withstand extreme hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, for periods exceeding a half-hour — much longer than brain tissue from other mammals.

The findings may yield clues for better treatment of brain injuries associated with heart attack, stroke and accidents where the brain is starved of vital oxygen.


Atheist bus ads hitting Seattle means ‘War on Christmas’ season has begun

November 4, 2009

There is no real “War on Christmas.” Like the holiday itself, this was just a made-up marketing ploy. In this case, it was one invented by Fox “News” for ratings and fear-mongering. The idea was to find any case they could find where public institutions were choosing or being politically pressured to promote multiculturalism instead of promoting the establishment of any particular religion (you know, like it says in the Constitution), and then claim that it’s all just an elaborate conspiracy by the liberal devils to organizae in an elaborate plot to steal Christmas.

But since then, atheists and other secularists have chosen to have some fun with it. And that seems to be what the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) had in mind with their latest ads that will be going up on 100 buses in Seattle:

I have to say that like numerous other ads brought to us by the FFRF, I’m not a big fan of this one. While I’m all for aggressive challenging of religion, I don’t think public ads are the place for it, especially not during the holiday season. I prefer the ads that say things like “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone”, “Beware of Dogma”, “Imagine No Religion”, and “A million New Yorkers are good without God.” And during the holidays, I particularly encourage a more inclusive message such as the Tree of Knowledge display from the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, where the covers to numerous religious, philosophy, and atheist texts were hung on a large tree. Once again, this one just seems in poor taste and fairly impossible to defend, especially at this time of year.

News From Around The Blogosphere 10.29.09

October 29, 2009

1. 69% ain’t afraid of no ghosts – A new survey found that 69% of people would live with ghosts for significantly reduced rent. And 51% would live with a ghost in exchange for free rent. Now given that my status as a skeptic gives me 100% ghost-haunting immunity, if anyone knows where I can get free or reduced rent in NYC because the place is haunted, let me know (I’m serious. Let me know).

2. Church posing as councelling center is shutting down

The ABC understands that the consumer watchdog ACCC has been investigating Mercy Ministries, after media reports that young women seeking psychological and medical support were instead essentially enrolled in a Bible program.

Some young women say they could not leave the treatment centre and that staff would “exorcise” them.

But Mercy Ministries denies those claims.

According to its website, Mercy Ministries is a Christian organisation that helps young women suffering from eating disorders, self-harm, abuse, addictions or an unwanted pregnancy.

3. Religious vandals again prove not to be very bright – Last week I’d posted about the poorly thought out vandalism to the atheist billboard in Moscow, Idaho in which, instead of just crossing out the “out” in the slogan “Millions are good without God,” they crossed out the whole word “without.” Amateurs. Well now another billboard put up by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has been vandalized by equally inept vandals:

I don’t know what offends me more, that they vandalized the billboard, which can be viewed as a hate crime, or that they didn’t put the word “FAGS” over the crossed out “Religion” as to change the sign to read:  “Keep fags out of government.” Just sloppy work. But the FFRF isn’t laughing. They’re offering a $1000 reward to anyone with information as to who’s responsible.

4. Daren Lee of “The Zeitgeist Movement” wins a grammar contest – I suspect that it was his misuse of the word “ironic” that really tipped the scales ultimately in his favor.


Chuck Norris – ignorant douchebaggary

July 22, 2009

Chuck Norris is a religious moron. Nor only have I written about his epic stupidity but I’ve written to him before. And even though I wrote in a very civil tone, I never got a response. And back then I pointed out the irony of his proudly quoting Benjamin Franklin in an article accusing those who don’t worship his god of being unpatriotic.

Now he’s ranting against the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) lawsuit to prevent the separation of church and state from being clearly violated with an engraving of “In God We Trust” in the Capitol Visitors Center after it passed unanimously in the Senate and the House voted 410-8 in favor of it.

Sadly, Norris doesn’t seem to have learned anything about patriotism, the constitution, or American history since last I wrote him:

I’m a fighter for the freedoms of speech and religion. They are our constitutional rights – what the First Amendment is all about. But those freedoms don’t give atheists the entitlement to eliminate or revise America’s religious heritage in the new $621 million taxpayer-provided Capitol Visitors Center, or CVC, in Washington, D.C.

Norris’ whole response is citing all the other violations of church and state as precedent. And in doing so, “The Texas Ranger” illustrates what I’ve been saying for a long time. The motto, the pledge, the congressional acknowledgment of Christmas, all the congressional prayers, etc, etc.–they’re not small issues that aren’t worth our time to challenge. Every issue that gets written off as something secular Americans shouldn’t be wasting their time on are used against. Every time Christians try to force Jesus into the public schools or into government, they will always cite all these little things as precedent. They’re say, we already in god in our motto, on our money, and in our Pledge of Allegiance, so why not ____?” You give these assholes an inch of rope and they will hang you by it.

Also, I think those who voted against the engraving deserve to get recognized:

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA)
Rep. James McDermott (D-WA)
Rep. Ronald Paul (R-TX)
Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA)
Rep. Fortney Stark (D-CA)

But let’s hear more from “The Texas Ranger”:

How could anyone have anything against the engraving of our nation’s motto, which is above the very speaker’s rostrum in the House of Representatives? How could anyone have anything against the same for the Pledge of Allegiance, which has been recited each day since its inception in both houses of Congress?

Actually Chuck, the “Under God” part wasn’t added to the Pledge until 1954 as a McCarthyist way of saying “FUCK YOU” to the godless Commies. But thanks for playing.

“Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

Atheist News 7.14.09

July 15, 2009

shredding-constitution1. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing over the use of “In God We Trust” at the Capital Visitor Center.

Last week, the House and the Senate passed resolutions directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent places in the Capitol Visitor Center, which is “the entrance for the thousands of tourists who visit the Capitol every day.” The engraving project is expected to cost up to $150,000…

2. “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Alabama angers Christians – You know your faith is strong if the mere suggestion that you imagine no religion is a legitimate threat to your beliefs.

3. Atheist writes a new version of Dante’s Inferno that places the evangelicals in Hell and where Mark Twain is the guide.

Hypatia’s story hits Cannes

May 18, 2009

I’ve blogged about this before. But now Alejandro Amenabar’s historical epic film, Agora, starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, the last currator of The Library of Alexandria, has premiered at Cannes.

Hypatia was an atheist, a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and librarian working in a man’s world in 4th century A.D. Egypt before the dark times came, before the Christians. She struggled to preserve scientific knowledge amid militant Christianity. But she failed. The Christians declared her a witch, stripped her, dragged her body through the streets, and burned her at the stake before destroying the library, leading the Western world into a thousand years of darkness. She died a hero and a martyr for science and atheism.

Of the role, Weisz had this to say:

“Really, nothing has changed. I mean, we have huge technological advances and medical advances, but in terms of people killing each other in the name of God, fundamentalism still abounds,” Weisz said. “And in certain cultures, women are still second-class citizens, and they’re denied education.”

As for the title of the film:

“Agora” — named for the great square at the city’s center — is far from a dusty treatise, though. A lot of stoning and sword-skewering goes on in “Agora” as Amenabar intersperses Hypatia’s philosophical musings with bloodletting in the streets.

Every year, in her honor, the Freedom From Religion Foundation hosts the Lake Hypatia Advance in Alabama.

Freedom from Religion Foundation partially redeems itself

February 14, 2009

Just the other day I blogged about my frustration with the recent activities of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, namely their atheist “display” in Olympia, Washington and their recent, poorly conceived “Praise Darwin” billboards.

But now they’ve got a pretty good set of ads that will be going up in Madison, Wisconsin buses to run for the next couple of months:

Now these are ads that I can get behind. I still prefer some of the ones that came out last year but these are pretty damned good. . .no pun intended.