News From Around The Blogosphere 5.2.11

May 2, 2011

T-Minus 19 days until The Rapture.

And T-Minus 20 days until Family Radio and Harold Camiping are mocked mercilessly.

1. Another actor turns against Scientology – Actor Michael Fairman has been expelled from the cult and was officially designated a “Suppressive Person”:

Fairman is not leaving the organization quietly. Posting his expulsion letter at Marty Rathbun’s blog, Fairman blasts Scientology for dismissing him after he had spent years promoting the church with work in its videos and television commercials. Despite all that work, the SP letter vaguely accuses Fairman of various deficiencies, such as “financial irregularities.”

“I have been debt free since early 2010, and am supporting two households.
I make car and insurance payments on my Mercedes…So what ‘financial irregularities and out-exchange’ are they fucking talking about?” Fairman writes.

They also amusingly charge him with being a “squirrel,” which in Scientology-speak means he continued to practice Hubbard’s methods outside of church control. It seems that Fairman, like Rathburn, still believes in some of the methods of Scientology, but has grown disgusted with its management.

2. Friendly Atheist jokingly stumbles onto the best billboard campaign idea yet – Actually, I came up with this idea as a serious proposal last year. It seems great minds think alike. My idea was what I called the “Isn’t it about time you read the whole thing?” Campaign, where an atheist organization put up billboards illustrating or quoting specific inconvenient and unpleasant Bible passages with a big headline reading, “Isn’t it about time you read the whole thing?” How much fun would it be defending such a billboard on Fox News? you could simply respond that you’re just trying to get more people to read the whole Bible, so what’s wrong with that? Of course you can also make your own billboard, advertising your own atheism.

3. Pastor caught molesting woman during demon-banishing service – This happened in South Africa, and it’s just one of those titles that says it all, doesn’t it? You can read the details in the link above. I’m suddenly reminded of the “put the devil back into hell” story from The Decameron.

4. Atheists in Spain double practicing Catholics

The number of young people practicing Catholicism has plummeted, from 29.2% in 2002 to 10.3% in 2010, according to the Youth Institute of Spain (Injuve). Also, the number of non-believers (19.1%) and atheists (9.6%) have increased nine points and three points, respectively. Non-practicing Catholics are the majority, making up 45% of the total.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is a battle we can win.

5. Comparing the necessary funding for SETI to other expenses – The other day I reported that Search for Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) is being defunded in the U.S. SETI’s funding equalled $2.5 million a year. Now Phil Plait has broken down the equivalent costs to demonstrate what it would mean to continue to fund possibly one of the most important science programs out there:

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This week in science 12.22.09

December 23, 2009

1. 4.5-million-year-old whale fossil found in Spain

In 2006, a team of Spanish and American researchers found the fossil remains of a whale, 4.5 million years old, in Bonares, Huelva. Now they have published, for the first time, the results of the decay and fossilisation process that started with the death of the young cetacean, possibly a baleen whale from the Mysticeti group.

So for those keeping track, that’s 4,494,000 years before the creation of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

2. Evidence of Modern Behavior of Early Humans

Evidence of sophisticated, human behavior has been discovered by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers as early as 750,000 years ago — some half a million years earlier than has previously been estimated by archaeologists.

. . .

Analysis of the spatial distribution of the findings there reveals a pattern of specific areas in which various activities were carried out. This kind of designation indicates a formalized conceptualization of living space, requiring social organization and communication between group members. Such organizational skills are thought to be unique to modern humans.

So for those keeping track, that’s 744,000 years before the creation of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

3. Mystery of the golden ratio explained

“It” is the golden ratio, a geometric proportion that has been theorized to be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye and has been the root of countless mysteries over the centuries. Now, a Duke University engineer has found it to be a compelling springboard to unify vision, thought and movement under a single law of nature’s design.

Also know the divine proportion, the golden ratio describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width. Many artists and architects have fashioned their works around this proportion. For example, the Parthenon in Athens and Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa are commonly cited examples of the ratio.

Adrian Bejan, professor of mechanical engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, thinks he knows why the golden ratio pops up everywhere: the eyes scan an image the fastest when it is shaped as a golden-ratio rectangle.

This Week In God 9.9.09

September 10, 2009

1. New Hampshire court orders home-schooler to attend public school – The judge criticized the “rigidity” of her mother’s religious views and said the 10-year-old needed to consider other worldviews as she matures. This definitely isn’t a case of a judge overruling parental rights particularly because one of the parents was calling for it:

The girl’s mother, Brenda Voydatch, has engaged the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., to contest the ruling, in which the judge granted a request by the girl’s father, Martin Kurowski, that the girl go to a public school.

While other groups are also protesting this decision, I fully support it. I think home schooling should be illegal unless it can be regulated to ensure children get a proper and well-rounded education that isn’t just religious indoctrination.

2. Spanish astrophysicist EXPELLED for criticizing the Catholic Church – Now I admit that I don’t know the full story here. For all I know Javier Armentia deserved to be fired. But it seems as though it merely was the result of his being accused of being an anti-Catholic atheist. But I just love the irony of it, since Ben Stein’s mockumentary made such a big deal out of false claims of people losing their jobs merely because they had the audacity to criticize evolution.

danish-cartoon-bomb3. Finnish politician EXPELLED for criticizing Islam – Yup, there’s a theme today. Jussi Kristian Halla-aho went to court for saying:

Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.

Now I happen to agree with every word he said here but, fine, take the guy to court. What I find shocking, however, is that Halla-aho lost the case and has to pay a fine because of nothing other than words. He didn’t hurt anyone. He just said things that offended some people. . .things that happen to also be true. Though even if they weren’t true, why shouldn’t he have the right to say them anyway? Finland, I expected this kind of crap from the U.S. but I thought you were better than this.

Probablemente Dios no existe. Deja de preocuparte y disfruta la vida

March 22, 2009

The Union of Atheists and Freethinkers (UAL) in Spain wanted to put up atheist bus ads but the Transportes Urbanos de Zaragoza (TUZSA) ignored their calls. So the UAL came up with a better idea:

The UAL, for now, has installed a large canvas of 160 square meters in a building under construction in the number 60, Avenue de Goya, including the slogan of the campaign and… also Article 20 of the Constitution, which enshrines the right to freely express and disseminate thoughts, ideas and opinions by word, writing or any other means of reproduction, and prohibits any form of prior censorship.

The objective of this campaign with UAL… is not whether God exists or not, but to discuss whether the atheists have the same rights as believers and make visible the reality of these people.

In case you were wondering, the sign translates to “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 01.08.09

January 9, 2009


creationism-cartoon-i-will-not-teach-horse-shitNot Mississippi too? – The state is introducing yet another textbook disclaimer bill warning children of the dangerous learning contained inside. NOOOOOOOOO!!! Protect the children!!

But Texas on the other hand might soon be safe again from creationists – The final proposed science standards for the state actually strengthen science and deprive creationists of their favorite tool, language manipulation. Way to go y’all in Texas! I am slightly less afraid of your state.

A geologist on “Intelligent” Design – Shockingly, he’s not a fan.


Bus ath-vertising spreads to Italy and Spain – I just posted the other day about how godless Spain has become but now we’re entering even into Pope-territory. Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be awesome if the Pope-mobile broke down and he was spotted on a bus with an atheist advertisement along the side?

“If you’re not Christian, you’re going to die” – Okay, obviously very few religious people in the U.S. are this nuts but some lunatic stormed a ski resort in Colorado and killed 1 person. He’s alleged to have shouted the above quotation. Make of it what you will.


Autism test could “hit maths skills” – BBC reports that prenatal testing for autism is being developed and with that comes a possibility for prenatal treatment.  But this could result in less math geniuses.

ABC trying to make up for the awful first episode of Eli Stone? – Last year, ABC introduced a new show called Eli Stone. Sadly the premiere episode promoted all sorts of woo including the myth that vaccines cause autism. ABC’s only response to the many critics who wrote the network prior to the airing of the episode was to include a little disclaimer at the end of the episode. Well a show on ABC that’d I’d never watched until tonight, Private Practice, addressed this issue from the medical perspective. And although the show wasn’t nearly as preachy as the Eli Stone episode, they definitely came out in favor of vaccines and didn’t pander to the kooks. For that I commend those who worked on this show for taking a position that without doubt will lead to tons of hate mail.


Glastonbury, England is actually afraid of Wi-Fi – Oh no, internet without a wire! Run for your lives! Give me a break. I wonder if they also think the voices on the other end of their telephones are trapped evil spirits.

CNN promoting the CAM Scam? – Afraid so, thanks to the network’s senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen

Did reason kill the Holocaust denial movement? –  Holocaust denial is so yesterday.

Do the little green men hate that we’re going Green too? – A bunch of very credulous people in England seem to think so.


the-more-you-know8 reasons you should keep Coke away from your vagina – Here is a debunking of the classic urban myth that the soft drink makes a good form of birth control.

Prop 8 wasn’t the blacks’ fault after all

It turns out only about 58% of black voters supported the ban.


‘Tetris’ May Help Reduce Traumatic Flashbacks – “Playing ‘Tetris’ after traumatic events could reduce the flashbacks experienced in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), preliminary research by Oxford University psychologists suggests.”

Human Antibodies Take ‘Evolutionary Leaps’ – “With cold and flu season in full swing, the fact that viruses and bacteria rapidly evolve is apparent with every sneeze, sniffle, and cough. A new report explains for the first time how humans keep up with microbes by rearranging the genes that make antibodies to foreign invaders. This research fills a significant gap in our understanding of how the immune system helps us survive.”

War between Church and State in Spain

January 7, 2009

War between Church and State in Spain – The highlights:

In an unprecedented decision here, a judge ruled in November that the public school must remove the crucifixes from classroom walls, saying they violated the “nonconfessional” nature of the Spanish state.

. . .

Since 2004, the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has legalized gay marriage and fast-track divorce, and it is seeking to loosen laws on abortion and euthanasia.

. . .

As such, Spain represents not only the Catholic Church’s past in Europe, but perhaps also its future: an increasingly secular country with a muscular Catholic opposition, or what Benedict has called a “creative minority,” smaller in number but more ardent in faith.

At stake is the vision of the country: Will Spain join the rest of secular Europe or stand as a final Catholic foothold?

. . .

[secretary general of the Spanish Bishops Conference, Msgr. Juan Antonio Martínez Camino] called the 2005 law legalizing gay marriage and adoption “very strange and very irrational and very unjust.”

Let me get this straight. Ensuring that more people can adopt children is irrational and unjust? What?! Yeah, that dumbass statement nicely sums up why religion is, always has been, and always will be fundamentally evil to the core. Way to go, Spain! Give ’em hell.