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Fooling Ourselves and Critical Thinking

I've been devouring science lectures and audiobooks for weeks, and it doesn't seem to be letting up.  I've been re-watching/listening to Cosmos, I've started watching 'Wonders of the Solar System' with Prof. Brian Cox, and I'm currently listening to 'The Demon Haunted World' by Carl Sagan.
Why should this matter to anyone else?  It probably doesn't, though I certainly recommend all of the above to virtually anyone.  The idea that I want to get across, though, is one that Carl Sagan spent years arguing for - that we all are capable of thinking scientifically and skeptically; we can all be scientists.
If you watch a great deal of television, you tend to find more and more characters which are portrayed as complete morons.  Of course, we have all felt this way from time to time, but I think that all of us are perfectly capable of critical thinking skills.  In fact, I argue that everyone thinks skeptically at least some of the time, but most people se…

"Christians abolished slavery, therefore God is not a douche."

I can't even count how many times I have heard Christians use the argument 'Christians were responsible for the Abolition of slavery in the U.S.'  I have been contemplating this claim, and have several points that I want to touch on.

First, who do you think started slavery in the first place?  In order for a human being to bend another to his will in this way (and for the slave to accept it), one or both must accept the belief that some humans are superior to others, and also have the right to own another human.  Where do we see this belief echoed time and time again?  Religion, of course - the oldest holy books on this planet advocate slavery time and time again.

The Old Testament is ripe for the picking when it comes to this idea, but Christians are always very quick to reject anything from the Old Testament which they don't like, while keeping the bits they DO like - homosexuality is wrong, follow the 10 Commandments, alleged 'prophecies' for Jesus, etc.  In…

The Future of Seattle's 'Ask an Atheist'

Hey everyone, just wanted to help get the word out for my friends in Seattle at the 'Ask an Atheist' call-in show. They have been on public access television, but the broadcasting organization has lost it's funding, and they are moving to radio - KLAY 1180 AM to be specific.  The thing is, the move costs money - they are trying to raise the money through donations and through a benefit show.  More information and how you can help is found at http://askanatheist.tv/category/announcements/transition-2011/ .

Please do what you can to support this show - there are a precious few atheist voices out there as it is.

The Bible Problem - Short Version

I wrote this in response to a theist making the assertion that we don't need God to prove himself to us because we have the Bible.  I was so happy with it that I figured I would share it here as well, slightly edited to make contextual sense.


The fundamental flaw with the Bible is when it is considered the official record of who and what God is.  First, the reports within the Bible are conflicting and contradictory; Second, the authorship of virtually every word of text is questionable (at best, and it is even mentioned in the Bible itself that forgeries of some letters and books do exist), and was most certainly written by humans; Third, the Bible in it's current form was decided on by a committee called the Council of Nicaea, made up also of only humans, who literally picked and chose which documents would be considered 'canon' and which ones would not - this is particularly interesting because there are several 'scriptures' which are referenced in the Bible …

Atheist Experience Blog: Media fawning over Papal claptrap

This is an excellent blog post and discussion regarding the Pope's most recent pronouncements.  I agree with Don an most of his points here, except that on point 1 it is mentioned in the comments that this is pretty unlikely - these priests don't care about the original ban on condoms, and they already know that condoms can do this.  They just rationalize it.
Posted by: Don Baker Is is just me, or does pretty much every news story about the Pope's latest emanations annoy you, too? No matter what he has to say, the media is there like hungry puppies eager to lap it up and puke it out in your local newspaper or TV news program. There's usually a whole series of puff pieces trying to add drama to his latest moral pronouncement. Rarely is there any real balance to the stories and the Pope is held up as some great expert on whatever he chooses to blather about.Read the rest here.

The Clothes Make The Man

Suppose for a moment that you are a high-level Microsoft technician.  You understand servers, networking, clients, backups, etc. and you have excellent customer relation skills.  You are well-spoken, well-educated, confident, and competent.

What difference does it make what type of clothes you are wearing?  Does your outfit somehow change your skill set, or your ability to do your job?

If someone does not like the way you are dressed, are they justified in assuming that you are somehow incompetent?

Is comfort or personal preference a factor at all?  If not, why the hell not?

Someone might argue that your clothes tell people certain things about you.  If this is true, then choosing to wear particular clothes in order to send a particular 'message' would be considered dishonest, wouldn't it?  On the other hand, someone who wears the clothes that they prefer or that they consider to be 'comfortable' is the one person being honest (and is the person who is most likely …

Deconstructing the Bible: Jewish Dietary Laws

The dietary laws in the Old Testament are often said to have been God sharing important knowledge with mankind, and that science has proven these laws to be useful and healthy.  I contend that anyone who says this does not actually know what the dietary laws are.  I will not outline each and every law, but I want to touch on the ones that don't seem to make sense.

Deuteronomy 14

14:6 "You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud."
Except camels, rabbits, or 'hyrax', or pigs (14:7-8)14:9-10 "Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. 10 But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean."
14:11-18 "You may eat any clean bird. 12 But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 13 the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, 14 any kind of raven, 15 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 16 the little ow…

Why didn't Jesus write the Bible?

Got an interesting question - the Bible is generally considered 'divinely inspired' or whatever, and obviously we can all agree that God did not directly write it.  My question is this:  Why didn't Jesus write anything himself?  We have stories which were allegedly written about him and/or his followers, but no letters or love notes or postcards from the man himself.  He was obviously literate, as he read the 'scriptures' all the time.  I realize that this doesn't mean that he could write, but if he was God that would be a silly argument.  


This is sort of an extension to the idea that a perfect 'God' would be able to write a Bible that would never need translation/interpretation/faith (because he's perfect), but it goes a little deeper - if I am right about the Bible being a collection of stories, myths, and constant re-writes, then why wouldn't anyone have bothered to just make up a story coming from Jesus himself?  It is possible that such wri…

We Need More Debate

I don't know if there just isn't enough debate, or if we just don't pay enough attention to it, but either way there needs to be a change.

Have you ever seen a debate over, for example, gay marriage?  I've heard people speak against it, and I've heard it mentioned briefly in debates, but I have yet to see a true debate on the matter.  Perhaps the reason is because of how little actual data the anti-gay marriage side has (aside from bible verses, which should not be used when discussing a legal matter such as marriage).

In general, though, what's the deal?  Internet forums, though you have to dig to find them, tend to contain excellent, well-written assertions and responses.  However, these are obscure, long, and wordy, and are not feasible to present to a mass audience, such as through television.  Televised or recorded debates provide bite-sized chunks of useful information with the potential to reach a far larger audience.  These days, however, televised '…

The Atheist Experience™: My God is an awesome God a whiny little bitch

The Atheist Experience™: My God is an awesome God a whiny little bitch

Excellent email and response, the argument from the theist is a little 'different'. Good read, and the comments are pretty great too.

The Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth: A Critical Perspective (Part 1)

This series of blog posts is in response to a common Christian argument that the teachings of Jesus are good and noble and beneficial to mankind.  I will be exploring the character of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the authors of the 'Gospels':  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  I am of the opinion that anything beyond John can be safely ignored for the purposes of this perspective, as those books refer to the followers of Jesus and not Jesus himself.  Also, any mention or 'appearance' of the character of Jesus outside of these 4 books tends to be objectively different from the Jesus of the 'Gospels'.  Besides, the teachings of Jesus in 'his own words' should be more than sufficient for the purposes of this series.

I will not be going to any outside sources for clarification of any point - this is purely about the teachings of Jesus and whether or not they are useful and beneficial now.  The quoted material is taken from the 'New International Versi…