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Archive for November, 2008

Ep. 14 The Enlightenment Show:Flu Shot/Vaccine Denial, Obama the Anti-Christ?, Prop 8

Posted by Andy D. on November 30, 2008

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1528852&dest=-1] 56 min

Intro: Andy’s Colbert impression!

Leo gets a flu shot from infectious disease specialist Dr. Pamela Kelly.  They discuss Flu and Vaccine myths.

FreeThinker’s Toolkit: David Hume on the problem of miracles.

Blogger Heads: Examine Obama is the anti-Christ videos.

FreeThought Today: A discussion on politics including Prop 8 and homosexual marriage, Elizabeth Dole and anti-atheist ads, Scientology and the way to happiness ads.

What’s the Harm in vaccine denial.

Thanks to everyone who helped on the show.  I am really impressed with our talent pool.  Andy W rocked the Colbert intro!  Leo was shot.  Chad teaches about David Hume.  Mark and Jake are blogger heads! I hope you all like the edits, sfx, music, and the shorter intro.  Again thanks to all.  I keep saying this but this is our best yet!

Posted in Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

More like “guidelines”, really.

Posted by Eye4Cards on November 30, 2008

I found myself rereading a part of Richard Dawkins’ rather succinct book The God Delusion today; specifically, the chapter entitled The ‘Good’ Book and the Moral Zeitgeist, pages 263 and 264.  Dawkins briefly mentions a common list of “New Ten Commandments” he searched for on the internet.  He then goes on to add some personal recommendations for what he would consider an acceptable, revised edition.

I know there have been many sites that have done this before.  Most of them have made some really good lists too.  That is entirely Dawkins’ point in this section.  Your average person is capable of what would be considered ethics and morality whether they are religious or not.  Moreover, they are capable of vastly improving one of the cornerstones of Christianity to bring it up to current ethical standards.

I’ll save you the pain, boredom and irrelevance of the original “Ten Commandments” by just linking to the most popular list here (with the shortened second version later in Exodus 34:14, 17 and 21), and the second set here with another partial version (also with a few that didn’t make the cut) sprinkled in Leviticus 19:1, 3-4, 11-13, and the ‘didn’t quite make the list’ commandments such as Mark12:28-29.  Yes folks, not only do most of your Christians not know all of the commandments, they are unaware there is more than one list and more than ten, depending on what you consider qualifies as a commandment.  It’s a messy affair that ought to be airtight considering the importance Christians give them, but alas, ’tis one example of one-thousand, and yet another reason why religion is more of a sick joke nowadays than a serious belief.

My point here is not to point out the already absurd.  I think I’ll save that specifically for my next post about the Ten Commandments.  I just want to bring to light the obvious:  We all are capable of good and bad.  We all are capable of learning and modifying our own personal codes of conduct. It is evident in the following lists that I found just casually surfing the web.  The only people not capable of learning and maintaining a generally acceptable personal code of conduct are sociopaths and psychopaths; and this is because of different psychological disorders, not lack of morality or god.

This first set is from Dawkins’ book example, the popular ebonmusings.  They did a great job of elaborating on the list on their site as well:

1.  Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

2.  In all things, strive to cause no harm.

3.  Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

4.  Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

5.  Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

6.  Always seek to be learning something new.

7.  Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

8.  Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

9.  Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

10.  Question everything.

Here’s Dawkins’ “own amended Ten Commandments…[he] would also try to find room for”:

  • Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none of your business.
  • Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species.
  • Do not indoctrinate your children.  Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.
  • Value the future on a timescale longer than your own.

Here’s a decent Ten Commandments from the Ethical Atheist.  I thought atheists weren’t supposed to be ethical, but for some reason many of them keep espousing morality anyways.  Go figure.

Here’s a list from a site calling itself positive atheism.  It is no longer ironic when a stereotype is not only wrong, but the opposite of the truth.  This is in reference to the idea that atheists cannot be moral without god (who had He existed, still knowingly created atheists this way anyway).  Ah, the stuff preachers will put in atheists’ mouths and congregations’ heads.

Indeed, I see no reason why we should be limited to just ten.  In fact, it is obvious that as complicated as we are psychologically and emotionally, we need as many general guidelines as necessary to help keep our societies healthy and happy.  And that’s what they are- guidelines.  There are no hard and fast rules to existence, let alone how to exist.

The Bible fails on many fronts, but this is a big one.  The Ten Commandments are one of the few pillars of Christianity left that haven’t crumbled under the weight of scrutiny of any kind, be it scientific or just plain common sense.  The Ten Commandments still stand because of sheer dedication to a hollow tradition of equating morals with God in an attempt to keep an archaic concept viable in a modern world free of the necessity and burdon of an almighty, vengeful and somehow simultaneously all-loving and merciful god.

Because, really, what else is there to adhere to in Christianity once the jealous, loving Yahweh’s rules are found to be entirely lacking for His creations, let alone His perfection?

Posted in FreeThought, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Wieners, in buns, no condiments.

Posted by neuralgourmet on November 28, 2008

A sort of a religious parable although I don’t think many people would see it as such. Here’s a video of a classic skit by the Rev. J. Huber from the fine folks at Nimpsy. It’s been a favorite of mine for a long time now.

Posted in FreeThought, Humor, Video | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by mikebftw on November 26, 2008

I’d like to share a note of inspiration from one of the most important authors of the humanist canon.

A HUMANIST THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION

by Robert Green Ingersoll

When I became convinced that the universe is natural–that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.

The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the world–not even infinite space.

I was free–free to think, to express my thoughts–free to live my own ideal–free to live for myself and those I loved–free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination’s wings–free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope–free to judge and determine for myself–free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the “inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past–free from popes and priests, free from all the “called” and “set apart”–free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies–free from the winged monsters of the night–free from devils, ghosts and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought–no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings–no claims for my limbs–no lashes for my back–no fires for my flesh–no following another’s steps–no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers, who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain–for the freedom of labor and thought–to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains–to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs–to those by fire consumed–to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons [and daughters] of men [and women]. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they have held, and hold it high, that light may conquer darkness still.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, especially Ingersoll’s torch bearers.

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Are you as moral as god?

Posted by neuralgourmet on November 26, 2008

Oh my gosh! This video is awesome. What a great way to use the power of new media to get your message across in a non-threatening and humorous manner. Thank Dawkins we aren’t all this moral. Hat tip to Pharyngula.

Posted in FreeThought, Humor, Video | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

November Sunday Coffee Klatch

Posted by neuralgourmet on November 19, 2008

Apologies for the late notice, this took a bit of schedule wrangling to firm up the date. Our second FreeThought Fort Wayne Sunday Coffee Klatch is coming up this Sunday, November 23rd at the Friendly Fox on South Wayne. This is just a relaxed, informal meet-up for the group to enjoy some fine coffee, good conversation and a little bit of camaraderie.

What: November Sunday Coffee Klatch
Where: Friendly Fox, 4001 S Wayne Ave (map)
When: Sunday, November 23rd, 2008; 10 am – 12 pm

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 13 Comments »

Ten Most Wanted Promoters of Pseudoscience

Posted by dystressed on November 16, 2008

I am a skeptoid fanboy. I will admit it. The podcast is a great resource for the beginner skeptics out there.

The recent October 28th podcast covered his list of the 10 most wanted celebrities who endorse harmful pseudoscience. Now I must specify that he does not want these people to be hurt or harmed, he simply wants people to be aware of how dangerous following these people can be.

There are figures on both the right and the left politically, but all are taken to task for the harmful ideas they promote. Guess who is number 1: Oprah Winfrey. A magazine I read about a year ago called Oprah the closest thing America has to a living Deity. All the more reason to take whatever she says with a truckload of salt.

The rest of the list:

  1. Oprah Winfrey – Jumping on every Alternative Bandwagon that comes along
  2. Jenny McCarthy – Anti-Vaccination
  3. Prince Charles – Alternative Medicine
  4. Bill Maher – Alternative Medicine
  5. Larry King – Bad Journalism
  6. Pamela Anderson – PETA
  7. Ben Stein – Comparing Science to Nazism, Creationism
  8. Joe Rogan – 9/11 Truther, et al.
  9. Chuck Norris – Christianity
  10. Montel Williams – psychics

I urge you to check this podcast out. It’s only about 10 minutes long to listen to and even faster to read.

Posted in Politics, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

What’s the harm?

Posted by Eye4Cards on November 13, 2008

There have been many questions posed to me over the years by believers; some good, some bad.  There are also many of the same old chestnuts that make their regular appearance in my conversations.  Today I’d like to kill four of those birds with one answer.  And they are:

  • Why not believe in God?
  • What’s the harm in believing in God?
  • Aren’t outspoken atheists just as dogmatic and absolute as the outspoken religious?
  • How can you be so arrogant as to believe we are all there is in this universe and that we don’t need God?

Because of the close relationship of these questions, they often come up together in the same conversation in one form or another, often in a similar progression.  It usually goes something like this:

IE [Internet Evangelist]:  “You must be the only idiot alive to not know of God’s existence!  Why wouldn’t you believe?  What do you have against God?”

Me:  “All of the evidence we currently have overwhelmingly points to a lack of creator god in our universe.  All organized religions contradict each other and contain numerous inaccuracies.  We can also see how all of the different religions have evolved over the centuries.  We also know much about the psychological benefits and hindrances religions can cause.”

IE:  “Yeah, you might think you are smart, but what if you’re wrong?  Is it worth the risk?  How can you be so certain there is no God?”

Me:  “I’m certain no god of any organized religion exists.  Which god are you referring to anyways?  Yahweh?  Allah?  Zeus?  Anubis?  You are talking about Pascal’s wager.  The problem is you don’t know which god to bet the farm on, and if you’re wrong you’ve spent all of your time, effort and money on the wrong pursuit.  It’s a moot point anyway, because all organized religions are fallible and imperfect; hence, man-made.  Just because we don’t know everything about the universe, it doesn’t mean god is hiding behind everything we are ignorant of.  Although our ignorance is always the first thing labeled God.”

IE:  “Well, you can’t PROVE there is no God.  So you are just as bad as evangelicals preaching the gospel.  You preach there is no God when you can’t even prove He doesn’t exist!”

Me:  “The burden of proof is on the person who makes a positive claim of the existence of anything natural or supernatural.  There has yet to be a single piece of solid evidence to even come close to proving the existence of any God.  I can claim to have seen Santa Clause, but without the flying reindeer and elf factories I have no proof.  I talk about atheism and everything relating to it because I know there are many, many negative and horrible things that religions not only encourage, but thrive on.”

IE:  “Why would you take away what little comfort in life many people have left?  The only thing that gives many people hope is religion.  Why would you want to destroy that?”

Me:  “If we all sought education through reason, truth and enlightenment as the foundation of our societies, much of our suffering would be eliminated, and there would be more comforts and happiness to give people not just hope, but dignity, pride and reason to live.  No one wants to add to the misery and suffering of the human condition.  We all want to improve our lot in life.  False religions give false hope and security.  They make us live for a fictitious god and the fantasy of living forever in happiness after we are dead.  We can do much better than this on our own.  Religion feeds off of our fears, desires and suffering.  It is a parasite whose only real purpose is the illusion of peace and bliss for profit.”

IE: “What makes you think we can just cast God away and live for ourselves?  That’s just plain selfish and hedonistic.  It’s humbling to know that there is someone who created me and I have a special purpose in this vast universe of my very own.”

Me:  “It is the height of arrogance to believe we are the center of the universe created especially for us as a test before we live for all eternity bathing in god’s glory.  It is the irony of ironies that the most egocentric concept conceivable is considered humble and pious while the thoughtful realist is painted as a self-absorbed, sociopathic egomaniac.  I guess thinking this way makes swallowing the bitter pill of guilt and sin that is religion much easier to bear.”

I hope to cover more specific reasons for why religion is generally harmful in later posts.  There are many, and I couldn’t hope to list them all in one spot, let alone remember much of them off the top of my head.  Leave a comment if you think of some good examples of why religion is harmful, and I’ll try to include them in the next post on this topic.

miracleofchristianity

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Origins of Life

Posted by Andy D. on November 11, 2008

picture-1The Museum of Science at Boston has built a helpful interactive website exploring Abiogenesis.  Explore the current hypothesis of RNA beginnings to build information and reproductive systems from nucleic acids. There are viruses that use only RNA to reproduce today.  For us, RNA is an intermediate step from DNA-to messenger RNA to transfer RNA to then build proteins.

Abiogenesis is not included in the theory of evolution by natural selection because it already assumes life.  Evolution is undeniable from many forms of scientific evidence and reasoning.

In the larger “cosmic evolution” and overall scientific worldview,  Abiogenesis is certainly an important question and we may never know how it actually happened.  SETI and origin scientists may find answers on another planet someday or in models. Enjoy.

I found this website through Panda’s Thumb website.

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

Liberating the Founders

Posted by Skeptigator on November 10, 2008

A couple weeks ago I heard an excellent program on NPR about the separation of church and state. On Sundays at 4PM local, Krista Tippett hosts the show Speaking of Faith.

On the October 30th show, Krista Tippett interviewed Steven Waldman (here) who runs the BeliefNet.com website. Steven Waldman speaks ostensibly about his book Founding Faith however he delves quite a bit into the early role of Evangelical Christians in establishing the separation of church and state.

I would highly recommend his book as well as listening to this podcast.

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