There’s only room for one god in this town

June 15, 2010

Most people probably have never heard of Monroe, Ohio but it’s the home of King of Kings, a 62-foot statue of Jesus at the Solid Rock Church, a 4000+ member Christian megachurch:

No, wait. That’s the four-toed statue from Lost.

What? That’s the same statue from Lost?

Sorry about that. Here it is:

King of Kings statue in Monroe, Ohio

That’s the one!

Yeah, about that statue…yeah, it’s no longer there. It was destroyed by a bolt of lightning.

"My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Even the Lost statue held together better!"

The legal term is “an act of god.” Apparently, Zeus was not a fan.

"Yeah, suck on that, bitch!"

To see more images of King of Kings Jesus on fire and the ruins, click here.

News From Around The Blogosphere 3.12.10

March 13, 2010

1. Texas school board pushing Conservative and Christian spin on American history – Who’s pushing it? Why it”s the recently voted out creationist Don McLeroy. Essentially, they feel that American history is too liberal and atheist, so therefore, students should be taught about all those times Conservatism won out. That should be easy, right? Slavery? No. Keeping evolution out of schools? No. Black suffrage? No. Women’s suffrage? No. Segregation? No. Abortion? No. I guess they want a class to teach about the Great Depression that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the early 90’s recession that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the current economic crisis that followed 8 years of conservative rule, and of course Watergate.

2. A Winnipeg man, Rob Johnstone, struggles to find non-religious alcohol rehab program – I don’t understand why everyone’s always whining that AA is religious. Just because a group of people congregate in a church to kneel before god, pray to that god for strength, confess their sins, and acknowledge that they’re sinners by nature and thus powerless to change their sinful ways–that’s no reason to accuse AA of being a religion.

3. ‘Under God’ sustained in Pledge by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – By a final vote of 2-1, Michael Newdow lost again to get the ‘Under God’ removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s a very small amount to lose by though. At least someone in that decision was persuaded so that leaves room to be hopeful that we may prevail in the near future. Here’s the decision (PDF). Newdow’s next step is to ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If that’s rejected he says he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court.”

4. Ancient DNA found in fossil bird egg shell –

“We were really surprised to discover that ancient DNA is well-preserved in fossil eggshells, particularly the heaviest bird to have existed the elephant bird called Aepyornis, which is now extinct,” said Murdoch doctoral student Charlotte Oskam, who undertook the research.

5. Scientists discover 600 million-year-old origins of vision

By studying the hydra, a member of an ancient group of sea creatures that is still flourishing, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a discovery in understanding the origins of human vision.

. . .

Hydra are simple animals that, along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria. Cnidarians first emerged 600 million years ago.

“We determined which genetic ‘gateway,’ or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity,” said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “This is the same gateway that is used in human vision.”

There once again goes the “irreducible complexity” of the eye argument. And of course for those keeping track, that’s 599,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Simon Singh leaves The Guardian

“Being sued for libel is not only ruinously expensive, writes Simon Singh, it takes over your whole life. Which is why this will be his last column”

This is deeply sad. Singh is a fantastic science journalist and we could use people like him more than ever. But it’s inspiring to see him continue to fight for his article exposing chiropractic and for UK libel reform.

7. Surgeon goes into the faith healing business

Dr. Issam Nemeh is a certified surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio but is now using his hands more for praying over people. Numerous medical miracles are being reported by people after visiting and being prayed for by Dr. Nemeh. However, Nemeh refuses to accept the credit for any miracle that takes place with an individual. He says GOD heals people with the Holy Spirit. Nemeh insists he is only an instrument.

Well, we agree on one thing:  he’s a tool.

8. Cancer researchers in British Columbia make lymphoma ‘breakthrough‘ –

The discovery by a team of 26 scientists from throughout North America and Europe shows a new way to predict the 15 to 25 per cent of patients who will have a poor prognosis if they aren’t treated more aggressively from the time of diagnosis.

As Carl Sagan said, science delivers the goods.

9. $cientologists try to censor German film

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

Oh, come on! When have the Germans ever been known for making propaganda films? Kidding. I hope the film makes a gazillion dollars.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.31.09

January 1, 2010

1. Russian space agency to the rescue – The Russian space agency may be sending out a spacecraft to intercept an asteroid and knock it off course to reduce its likelihood of impacting Earth. Though it’s unlikely to hit Earth anyway, there’s little risk in this precautionary measure (unless they accidentally set it on course for Earth) and it may make a good test to see how much we can alter an asteroid’s course so we can better prepare for future space debris heading towards us.

2. California Science Center being sued for backing out on screening of creationist propaganda film – They never should have agreed to show the film in the first place but after they did, they received a lot of criticism that led to them ultimately violating their agreement to show it. I’d argue that because the film is about promoting a manufactured controversy and not a real one, that the California Science Center okayed it under false pretenses. Also, the filmmakers seem to be deliberately choosing locations to create the illusion that these films are endorsed by legitimate scientific institutions when really they’re just agreeing to provide space for an event. But the center had a clause in their agreement requiring promotional materials to be screened before release to to prevent these kinds of deceptions.

3. Eighth grade science teacher fired for promoting Christianity – John Freshwater, an eighth grade science teacher from Mount Vernon, Ohio reportedly committed numerous abuses by promoting his faith including preaching Christianity in class, denouncing evolution, not teaching the proper scientific curriculum, burning crosses onto the arms of some students, “causing swelling and blistering”,  calling gays sinners, keeping the Bible and Ten Commandments on display in class, and encouraged students to see “Expelled” for extra credit. Fortunately, this guy has been officially canned.

4. This decade in Skepticism – And finally as the Naughties come to a close, Steven Novella takes a look at how well skeptics have done in bringing down woo this decade. There were some things I feel he left out though.

Another win you can add to the list is Scientology, which has suffered so much damage in the last few years that it may be on the verge of collapsing completely in the next few years.

Also, atheist/agnosticism/whatever you want to call it has reached America’s living rooms and has perhaps never been this popular. Numerous so-called “New Atheist” have been major bestsellers and like-minded individuals have used the internet to come together like never before.

And similarly, the skeptical movement has grown and become more organized like never before. There was no TAM, no NECSS, no skeptical DragonCon track, no SkeptiCamp, no skeptical podcasts, or even really skeptical blogs until the Naughties. And now younger people are getting involved like never before. That in itself is a major win for us.

News From Around The Blogosphere 12.18.09

December 18, 2009

1. Illinois baseball team makes baby Jesus cry – An Illinois baseball team called the Joliet Jackhammers put up a deliberately amusing sign that seems to mock the sanctimonious invocations of “God” by athletes. Not surprisingly, this offended the fragile Christians who are just so darned persecuted. If only they had some all-powerful, supreme being that was looking out for them. If only.  This gave me an idea for a joke. What can’t tell the difference between the number one and the number three, feels it needs to fight an omnipotent god’s battles for it, and goes “Wah! Wah! Wah!” all the time? Christians.

2. Gov. Jan Brewer saves Arizona from. . .something. I’m not really clear from what – Brewer made an executive order saying that following the First Amendment to the Constitution by providing people the freedom to celebrate their religious holidays.

She similarly barred those agencies from stopping state employees from wishing others either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.”

That’s a great idea. Someone should think about making that some kind of Constitutional Amendment or something. Checkmate non-existent atheists trying to stop people from saying “Merry Christmas”!

3. New South Portland, Maine mayor asks secular humanist to deliver invocation – Well I don’t really understand what the point of an invocation is if aren’t trying to, you know, invoke something, but whatever floats your boat. Mayor Tom Coward chose a college senior named Andrew Lovley who founded the Southern Maine Association of Secular Humanists (SMASH) on his campus to perform the ceremony. Gotta love those names.

4. Screw over your neighbors and win a free trip to Hooters – That’s apparently the latest evil plot by health insurance companies to provent doctors from saving more lives. A new campaign by Chamber of Commerce is actually trying to bribe people into signing up for emails that tell them “how to protect your family’s future and bring common sense solutions to the health-care debate” by offering them free gift cards to Hooters. And by “common sense solutions” they of course mean just continue to let 20,000 uninsured Americans die each year.

5. Ohio school removes ‘belief in God’ from mission statement – Actually, I think that’s more of a demand than a statement. But anyway, they did it to avoid a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Lake Local school board near Canton has voted to delete the reference to belief in God. A final vote is planned next month.

Does anyone else suspect that the real hero of Canton is the man they call Jayne?

One Nation Under Will Phillips

November 20, 2009

I blogged about Will Phillips the other day. He’s the 10-year-old who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school because of the lack of marriage equality in the U.S. He’s already got several Facebook Fan Pages like this one. And he adorably appeared on CNN the other night:

I also blogged about Daniel Royston, the Wasilla, Alaska high schooler who, inspired by Will Phillips, also refused to stand for the Pledge.

Well, now there’s Roxanne Westover, a 17-year-old from Ohio who also now made news for not standing for the Pledge after learning in her history class that she didn’t have to:

“I’m an atheist, and I believe the pledge isn’t something toward our nation,” she said. “It’s more like a religious oath, and I believe that if I stand I’m still participating in it.”

And like with the previous cases, she’s being punished for doing so, despite the fact that such punishments are violating their civil rights. The ACLU contacted the school, so now it looks like there won’t any further punishment from school administrators at least.

Westover said she encourages others with similar beliefs to stand up for them by sitting down.

“I do encourage students to not stand up and to stand up for what they believe in,” she said. “Even throughout the whole entire thing, I had a lot of people backing me up who felt the same way about it.”

Roxanne made a point to say that her actions have nothing to do with Will Phillips but that she supports his actions.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.12.09

November 13, 2009

1. MILF cleared of abduction charges by Irish priest – Okay, get you minds out of the gutter. Of course I’m talking about the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In the Philippines, Irish Fr. Michael Sinnott was held hostage for 31 days and after being freed, said that his abductors were the original lumad of Mindanao who lost their homeland and everything else when the merchants came in, but not the MILF. In fact, the MILF Central Committee are credited for effecting his release.

2. Nanotechnology kicks cancer’s ass

Led by Elena Rozhkova, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago’s Brain Tumor Center have developed the first nanoparticles that seek out and destroy glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain cancer cells without damaging nearby healthy cells.

Nanomedicine, an offshoot of nanotechnology, refers to highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues, such as bone, muscle, nerve, or brain cells. Nanoparticles – anywhere from 100 to 2500 nanometers in size – are at the same scale as the biological molecules and structures inside living cells. Cancer detection using nanoparticles shows great promise as a therapy for certain types of cancer. And the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) is taking nanoparticles very seriously. The NIH has established a national network of eight Nanomedicine Development Centers, which serve as the intellectual and technological core of the NIH Nanomedicine Roadmap Initiative.

3. South Carolina rules religious license plates unconstitutional – The smoking gun of the case seems to this:

When State Sen. Yance McGill was asked by the Associated Press in May 2009 whether he would support a Wiccan tag, he said, “Well, that’s not what I consider to be a religion.”

When asked about a Buddhist tag, he said “I’d have to look at the individual situation. But I’m telling you, I firmly believe in this [Christian] tag.”

Rep. Bill Sandifer also backed the “Christian” plate, but emphatically asserted that he would never do the same for a plate featuring Islamic symbols and language.

“Absolutely and positively no,” he said.

And, let’s not forget, [ed: Lt. Gov] Bauer himself also said no to the same question.

“I would not [support a tag for Islam] because that is not the group I support,” he said.

Oops. Thanks guys.

4. Rhode Island governor vetoed domestic partners burial bill – This bill would have allowed a same-sex partner to make funeral arrangements for a dead partner. Governor Carcieri, have you no decency, sir? Have you no decency?

5. Catholic Church gives Washington D.C. an ultimatum – The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to pull aid to homeless if the state doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law. Yay extortion!

6. Cincinnati Coalition of Reason billboard taken down due to death threats –  And while extremely unfortunate, it both illustrates why these completely unoffensive ads are so important in the first place and on the plus side, the billboard was just moved to a new location. And this will no doubt generate more publicity than the billboard itself.

7. Alabama Atheists and Agnostics get publicity – Last month, they went around chalking their university to advertise their upcoming meeting. Then it got erased and so they chalked everything again, only to have that erased to. And now the story has gotten them some great new publicity, which like the Cincinnati billboard incident, will likely reach a much larger audience than originally intended. Thanks assholes!

8. 10-year-old refuses to stand for Pledge for gay marriage – 10-year-old Will Phillips refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegience to show support for gay marriage:

“I’ve always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.”

At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will’s answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?

“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

9. Why chimps can’t speak

Scientists suspect that part of the answer to the mystery lies in a gene called FOXP2. When mutated, FOXP2 can disrupt speech and language in humans. Now, a UCLA/Emory study reveals major differences between how the human and chimp versions of FOXP2 work, perhaps explaining why language is unique to humans.

Published Nov. 11 in the online edition of the journal Nature, the findings provide insight into the evolution of the human brain and may point to possible drug targets for human disorders characterized by speech disruption, such as autism and schizophrenia.


This Week In God 9.5.09

September 5, 2009

Jesus revolver1. Neighborhood Watch Jesus with kung-fu grip – Residents of Columbus, Ohio have decided to fight the rising local violent crime and robberies with. . .wait for it. . .wait for it. . .PRAYER:

The Workmans have joined with the Victorious Life Christian Center Church on Tamarack Circle North to organize a “Circle of Prayer.”

“We want to circle the circle with enough people to pray over the community,” Mrs. Workman said.

“We know that with the state of the community right now, the only thing that’s going to change it is prayer,” she said.

Then in that case, why not just keep all your doors unlocked while you’re at it? I mean, since you’ve already got God looking out for you.

2. Christians lose lawsuit fighting World Religions class – After Christians in Quebec tried to stop the teaching of “a broad range of world religions” in public schools, the court ruled against them:

In the Canadian province of Quebec, a trial court judge has rejected a challenge by Christian parents to the mandatory new course in grades 1 through 11 in Quebec schools that teaches about a broad range of world religions. The Ethics and Religious Culture course covers Christianity, Judaism, aboriginal spirituality, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism… It replaces parents’ choice of one of three separate courses that focused on Catholic or Protestant thought, or moral instruction.

3. New comic book:  SUPERGOD

The story is SuperGod by Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny and you can see a preview of it here.

… In the world of SUPERGOD, superhumans are the ultimate expression of the Messiah complex, and scientists can build Messiahs who will fly down from the skies to save the world. No-one thought about how they’d do it — or even if they’d want to. So begins the apocalyptic tomorrow of SUPERGOD — the story of how supermen killed us all and ended the world just because we wanted to be rescued by human-shaped things from beyond Science itself! Take every superhero comic ever published, shove them into a nuclear-powered blender, soak it in bad vodka and set the whole thing alight — and SUPERGOD will crawl out and eat your brain!