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Archive for March, 2008

Expelled Exposed by Eugenie Scott

Posted by Skeptigator on March 27, 2008

Eugenie Scott of NCSE fame has setup a website, It is dedicated to exposing all of the lies, half-truths and deceptions in and surrounding the Ben Stein movie, Expelled.

For those who don’t know but would like to get a taste of some of the tactics of the creationists, oops, I mean Intelligent Design proponentists, check out PZ Myers blog and Richard Dawkins entry appropriately title, Lying for Jesus.

Found via Skepchick

Posted in Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From Radar Magazine: Scientology Under Siege

Posted by dystressed on March 26, 2008

Radar Magazine has a wonderful article on Scientology imploding from the advent of bloggers and social networking. Check it out.

Posted in FreeThought, Humor, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Awareness Test

Posted by Andy D. on March 26, 2008

See if you can get the count right in this video! I found this from John Loftus’s Blog Debunking Christianity. Enjoy!

BTW: The room for the April meeting is in the Business and Technology meeting room on the 2nd floor. This is my first official blog with a video quote, too!!!



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Our next meeting is April 9th, 2008

Posted by Skeptigator on March 25, 2008

The next meeting, open to the public, April 9th, 2008 @ 7:00PM. It will be located at the Main Branch of the Allen County Public Library in the Business & Technology Meeting room on the second floor.

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We will be discussing the special Root of All Evil hosted by Richard Dawkins. If you haven’t already seen it then here you go, if you have here’s a refresher.

Part 1

Part 2

If there is anything else you would like on the agenda, just a drop a comment.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Skepticism | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Promoting religious advocacy for secularism

Posted by Skeptigator on March 24, 2008

I am writing this to contribute to the Blog Against Theocracy 2008 campaign however it’s something that’s been sitting in my rough drafts folder for a while and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get this idea out there.  To be honest I have read a number of articles over the weekend that are being submitted to this blog carnival and most are a “negative” position. I don’t mean negative in a bad sense just in an “against” something sense. I thought it might be good to have a “for” something thrown in the mix. I’m aware of the difficulties in writing a “for” something post when the campaign is “against” something but here’s my best shot.

The best way in America (in particular) to guard against the pitfalls of theocracy is to encourage our religious fellow citizens to embrace Secularism. That’s right, the big, bad, god-destroying, bring out your daughters secularism. This won’t be easy when we would have to work against the likes of Pat Robertson but it is necessary for a lasting peace between the religions appetite for power and our freedoms.

The first step of this new renewed effort is to spend some time explaining that religious advocacy for secularism was there in the beginning of our country and written into the Constitution itself. Many of the Founding Fathers in particular were very well aware of the dangers of mixing religion and politics. In fact, they went out of there way to ensure that religious authority had no explicit political power. Unfortunately, many people will not be persuaded by this since the arguments at the time were about the different and competing Christian denominations, but everyone believed in God. The concern was that one particular branch of Christianity would hold power over all others, not that God in general should be removed from our government.

We must be diligent in explaining that the underlying philosophy of the separation of Church and State is sound. It was simply being represented historically as a sectarian issue. You could take this one step further if you have an open audience, to simply state that our Founding Fathers went out of their way to remove the possibility of sectarian Christian political power and we should be even more diligent now that America has a pluralistic religious (and non-religious) citizenry.

The second step must build on the historical foundation laid down in the first step. There must be a renewed campaign to explain within the historical context mentioned above that removing God (or more accurately keeping him out) of government is the important safeguard to religious freedom today.

The more pessimistic and probably alarmist argument could be made that the early Americans were scared enough of their Christian brothers, can you imagine what would happen, if in their religious fervor Christians tore down the wall of the separation of Church and State, and in a few short decades Islam (or Scientology) or some other fairly hostile religion used that precedent to institute Sharia law (or perhaps more frighteningly Dianetics) in America. The safeguards to religious freedom that have directly contributed to the stability and freedoms in America, ironically, were torn down by the very people who felt their religious freedoms were being infringed upon. How short-sighted they will appear. I think I once heard a sermon that said something like, “if you beat a path to the devil what will prevent him from turning around on you.”

I know this isn’t an easy task. I know this message will fall upon deaf ears particulary within fundamentalist and evangelical communities (and unfortunately more strident Atheists) but it’s important to get this message out nonetheless. This sort of education needs to begin in the history and government classes at the high school level and continued through secondary education. It’s an important argument to make every time that legislation, resolutions and other governmental acts begin to chip away at our religious freedom or blur the line between personal religious belief and a secular government.

Posted in FreeThought, Politics, Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Why is James Dobson worried?

Posted by Skeptigator on March 19, 2008

One of our members sent me this article, Anti-gay kingpin Dobson looks to future generations to maintain the cause, at PageOneQ. It seems that James Dobson, the voice of the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, is worried that there will be no one from the younger generation to carry on the conservative Christian message. Well at least Dobson’s message.

I can see why he is worried, he’s not getting any younger. Falwell has already died and the other “big names” aren’t exactly spring daisies either. Pat Robertson is still around but he’s pushing 80. I’m pretty sure Billy Graham actually died a decade ago but no one has told him yet. I think the Joel Osteen’s with their What Will God Give Me Prosperity Gospel will never quite make the same in-roads or have the same broad appeal that the Falwell’s enjoyed. I suppose Ted Haggard was looking pretty good until he… uh… pulled a boner ***.

After the big names in the Evangelical movement pass away, who will tell us which foriegn leaders we should assassinate? Who will tell us when God is pissed about a gay pride parade and then drown a whole city? Who will warn us of the gay-ification process of children’s cartoon characters (and yes gay-ification is word)? Who will warn us of the Jews in the media? I guess I don’t share Dobson’s concern, I wonder why that is?

*** You know that was funny.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bill Clinton coming to Fort Wayne

Posted by Skeptigator on March 18, 2008

Just a quick note to our members, President Bill Clinton will be giving a free speech at the Grand Wayne Center on Tuesday, March 18th. Doors open at 6:45PM. Here’s some more information from Fort Wayne

Posted in Events, Local, Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Steve Waldman on Fresh Air

Posted by neuralgourmet on March 15, 2008

Founder of BeliefnetSteven Waldman is the founder of Beliefnet, perhaps the most highly trafficked website on religion and spirituality. He has a new book out entitled Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America in which he debunks some of the myths surrounding the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers. He says that the United States was not founded to be a “Christian nation” as many politicians and clergy on the right (and some on the left) are fond of declaring these days but neither was it founded as a secular nation. Instead, religious liberty was the intent of our early leaders. He appeared this past Tuesday on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terri Gross. Visitors to NPR’s website can listen to the interview and read an excerpt of Waldman’s book.

I haven’t listened to the interview yet, but thought some of our members might be interested. If you’d like to learn more about these issues I can highly recommend Susan Jacoby’s book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy Pi Day!

Posted by neuralgourmet on March 14, 2008

Pi Day Rap

Couldn't miss the opportunity to promote everybody's favorite transcendental number on this day devoted to the most amazing ratio of all. Happy Pi Day everyone.

Posted in Events, Science | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

New Atheists are not great, Christianity Today’s response

Posted by Skeptigator on March 13, 2008

I just stumbled across this article on Christianity Today, New Atheists Are Not Great, a rather poorly written “review” of Dinesh D’Souza’s book, What’s So Great About Christianity. I say “review” only because the whole thing comes off as a thinly veiled rebuttal to the popularity enjoyed by the Four Horseman (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett).

The first two paragraphs of the article uses words to describe Hitchens and Dawkins statements as “complaints”, “bitter”, and my favorite, “seeths”. After recounting that Hitchens/Dawkins’s works detail religious atrocities and actually have the nerve to call the God of the Bible immoral the author then says,

Such invective clings like chewing gum to atheist polemics and raises the question of why these people are so worked up about a creator they don’t believe exists.

Umm… I don’t want to put words in the Four Horseman’s mouths (and I’m not because they say this in their books) but their problem is not inherently with your God it’s with the actions of his followers. You know, the followers of that God who found it moral to commit genocide, misogyny, witch burnings, slavery and more recently fly airplanes into civilian buildings. If the reviewer of this book or Dinesh D’Souza whose book is ostensibly being reviewed had actually understood what is being said in the New Atheists’ books then truly ignorant statements like that could only be seen as intellectually dishonest but I’m giving the reviewer the benefit of the doubt by assuming they simply have a reading comprehension problem.

A mere two paragraphs later the reviewer continues…

D’Souza also refutes the common charge that Christianity has unleashed humankind’s most murderous impulses. The most-cited atrocities are either overblown or misrepresented: the Inquisition claimed 2,000 lives over three and a half centuries. The Salem witch trials produced fewer than 25 executions. Recent wars—the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iraq, and Northern Ireland—stem mostly from ethnic and political discord. While atrocities violate Christian doctrine, they’re of a piece with atheism—which largely bears responsibility for the bloodiest century in history.

First let me interpret what the author is implying and note how he doesn’t come right out and say it. He is, of course, going back to that very dry well that the Holocaust (or the millions Stalin killed) was an “atheist” genocide. Ok fine, I’ll concede the point for the sake of argument, but in the very sentence leading up to this statement he relegates the Troubles in Northern Ireland between the Protestants and Catholics or the Palestinian Conflict as “ethnic and political discord”. Come on, talk about an inconsistency.

Who is this Tony Snow guy who wrote this review, I sure hope it’s not “that” Tony Snow (by the way it is). He should be lambasting Dinesh D’Souza for the absolute ridiculous and tired claims, this is pure intellectual laziness on the D’Souza’s part and ideology on the part of the reviewer.

Oh and I stopped after only the first page of this article, there are a total of 3 pages of this junk.

Edit: Ok, I couldn’t resist. Only because I think this just underscores that the basis for criticism of the New Atheists is a straw man. Here’s the quote that best captures where these people go off track,

Atheism fails as a creed because it lacks humanity. It destroys the wall of sanctity that defends the weak from the strong. It spawned history’s most savage movements—from the French Terror to the Stalinist purges. None of the atheistic alternatives has survived because reason just doesn’t make a satisfying god.

It’s a straw man because no one is holding up Atheism as the new basis of moral values. Atheism by definition cannot do this. If their criticism is that three of the four horseman offer only vague “we need a New Enlightenment” statements then fine. I share those criticisms. What the New Atheists do attempt to say is that compassion, human experience and a scientific worldview are tools that mankind can use to inform rational thought to form basis of morality and that irrational, bronze-age deities are not the way forward.

Ok I swear I’m done now

Posted in FreeThought, Religion, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »