Atheist TV

Here is the promo video for Atheist TV which is premiering on July 29th. It doesn’t say much about what will actually be on the program, how often the program will appear or how long episodes may be. However, you can find more information about this event by visiting the American Atheists web site at this location. While you can purchase a box that will connect to your TV and provide access to the programming, you can also just stream it from the web. According to the press release at the link above,

“… the real highlight will be new, exclusive content: Content creators will provide programming for the new channel, which will stream 24 hours a day, 7 days per week in addition to the on-demand content.”

It seems that it will take some time to learn what is on and when. It could be that there is a lot of content that has historical interest, but it isn’t clear how much new and original content will be provided. I’m guessing it will will be worth a look when it starts.

The Ultimate Question – Our monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seth Andrews is the originator and host of the weekly podcast, The Thinking Atheist. In addition to interviewing some of the major voices in the freethought community on his podcast, Seth is becoming a popular speaker at various conferences, conventions and meetings in the freethought community. His skills as a broadcaster and video producer make him a top choice when you want an articulate and passionate voice for a humanistic and secular perspective. The video below won universal praise from those attending the meeting. Seth provides humor, thoughtful observations on his own de-conversion experience and what it means to embrace reason, science and humanism.

The Thinking Atheist podcast occurs weekly on Tuesday evenings and you can listen to it live from the website. There is also an archive of previous shows (there are now 172). Seth recently participated in a mini tour with Matt Dillahunty and Aron Ra (they are all located in the Texas area), called the “Unholy Trinity Tour”. You can see a trailer about this series of talks here. I believe Seth arranged to have them captured on video and as soon as they become available, I may post one or more of them on this blog. At this point I have no idea what the content is, but all three of the members of the unholy trio are worth a listen. Check back for updates to the blog.

More on Wacko Bob Frey

Recently I posted on Bob Frey, who is a candidate for state representative in a district near the Twin Cities.  Ed Brayton is apparently tracking this guy, and after recounting his comments about AIDS being caused by an enzyme (that by itself is enough to give Frey a spot in the pantheon of right wing idiots), Brayton has now posted audio of Frey claiming that “dinosaurs have always lived with people.”  Yes, I saw one just yesterday.  Geez — just what we need — a young earth creationist running for the legislature.  And I just can’t help it — I’ll give everyone one guess which political party this guy belongs to.

Corporate Christianity

As I was wondering around through various blogs, sites, etc. this morning, I encountered a link via an email from Richard Dawkins’ site which conveyed the experience of someone who had worked for Hobby Lobby for a few months. The writer was commenting on the decision of the current SCOTUS to give some status to corporations wishing to assert religious “rights”.

The writer’s description of the work environment at Hobby Lobby was about what one would expect where it was already known that the business draped its g*d over everything. Prayers in the morning, bibles here and there, etc. and lots of expectations that employees express their certainty regarding all things to do with faith. It wasn’t clear why the author even considered a job at the place.

But then the discussion moved on to mega churches and all the things they do to get money and ‘loyalty’ out of their flocks. Some things were familiar like rock bands at services, childcare services not just on Sundays, but all through the week and overnight as well. From these sort of expected activities and ventures, it moved into things like oil changes for your car, various commercial products like gift items, home furnishings and more. The church was literally becoming more of a diversified business than a routine place of worship. And this is taking place while Hobby Lobby is become more a place of worship than a simple commercial enterprise.

I’m wondering if the two will merge into a single thing – a churchy business that makes its money by selling you a whole pile of stuff with some of it being salvation related and other stuff just being car service with a blessing or sanctification. Perhaps this is the only path that will preserve anything of the church in the future. At some point they might just give up the preachy stuff if it doesn’t really move enough product. Eventually the whole g*d thing will be so incoherent that no one will care if they are praying for their soul or their transmission.

 

Another Homegrown Wacko

I was perusing Ed Brayton’s blog “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” this morning, and saw that he had a new and interesting piece with relevance to Minnesota.  Brayton points out that while Minnesota has a reputation for being quite progressive, its Republican citizens have a way of lending support to some real wackos, such as Michelle Bachman.  But Michelle may no longer be first among Minnesota’s signature idiots.  The GOP has found a new winner, a man named Bob Frey, who is running for state representative in Carver County.  Here is a quote from Brayton’s site (I don’t recall where the quote came from originally, but there are plenty of articles regarding Frey’s incredibly stupid views which turn up via a basic google search):

“But when questioned about his position on social issues, Frey added that it “does certainly need to be addressed for what it is. It’s not about the gay agenda but about the science and the financial impact of that agenda. It’s more about sodomy than about pigeonholing a lifestyle.”

Frey then explained his view: “When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg. If the sperm is deposited anally, it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail. That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.”

(This explanation of AIDS has no scientific validity, but it may strike a familiar chord: It is essentially the same one given by Bob’s son, Mike Frey, in testimony given before the House Civil Law Committee last year during the debate over gay marriage.)”

They just keep on coming.  It becomes increasingly difficult to see how any thinking person can vote for the Republican Party in its current configuration.

Thunder Shock!

I learned two things today that really brightened my mood.

First off, the small island nation of Niue (if you count learning that this place existed, that brings my discoveries up to 3) recently issued a one-dollar coin featuring the nation’s seal on one side, and a picture of Pikachu–flagship character of the Pokémon franchise–on the other.  This was apparently part of a promotion for the franchise, and it ranks number on the list of freaking adorable coins…it is also currently the only contender on the list at all, metal coins rarely being cute.

The other was reading about a recently discovered gene that helps to transmit electrical signals between the eye and brain.  Discovered–I think–by a man named Shigeru Sato, this “nimble” protein has been named pikachurin after the same character mentioned above.  Evidently the decision came about because both the gene and the Pokémon feature “lightning-fast moves and shocking electrical effects.”  Lame reason to name a gene (like my article title is any better), but now we can say that science has discovered the world’s cutest genetic material–a field even less likely to acquire an “adorable” qualifier than currency.

A Dirty Joke

Well, not really. But my wife showed me a site with a lot of awkward questions/ comments for Christians.  Here is my favorite, which should be effective next time a silly creationist asks you “if humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys:

“If Adam came from dirt, why is there still dirt?”

Read more here:

https://www.facebook.com/AwkwardBible/photos/a.782275688453196.1073741830.313075568706546/782289858451779/?type=1&theater

 

Stupidity Dies Hard

Despite the title of this post, I want to think that humanity is making progress, that as a civilization, we are becoming more enlightened.  But it is always sobering and more than a bit deflating when I come across something like this, as reported in the New York Times:

The Vatican has formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who say they liberate the faithful from demons. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported on Tuesday that the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy had approved the organization’s statutes and recognized the group under canon law. More than his predecessors, Pope Francis speaks frequently about the devil, and last year was seen placing his hands on the head of a man purportedly possessed by four demons in what exorcists said was a prayer of liberation from Satan.”

When will humanity finally leave behind its superstitious infancy?

The Supreme Court F**** It Up Again

Sorry for the strong language in the title, but the Supreme Court has once more handed down an infuriating ruling, this time in favor of Hobby Lobby.  The founders of that corporation had claimed that providing health care plans for their employees which included contraception was a violation of their religious freedom.  This is absolute BS.  Health care coverage is an earned benefit, as are wages, and employers have no more right to tell employees what they do with that benefit (so long as it is approved by certified medical professionals) than they do to tell employees how they can spend their wages.

This is also another step in the direction of the ridiculous notion of “corporate personhood.”  So a corporation can now have religious views?  What utter nonsense!

Until we can break the conservative-reactionary majority on the court (and this can ONLY be done by continuing to elect Democratic presidents!) we are in for a lot more of this kind of crap.

 

Will the Herald Review be fair?

UPDATE: The text of my letter to the HR is printed below.

In the Sunday HR, the editor (Britta Arendt), announces that the paper doesn’t want to have age old questions debated in the paper and will stop publishing letters in which atheists and Christians fight with each other. This explains why recent letters from Lucretius and I have not been published. I wonder if she will also stop publishing the Christian crap we have felt the need to respond to? I suspect not since she has shown no reluctance in the past to offer up one announcement after the other of “good news” or the coming judgment and other religious drivel.

The most recent letter we responded to was announcing that science had found evidence for g*d and confirmed the transcendental argument for g*d as proposed by William Lane Craig. This was complete nonsense and letting it stand unchallenged would have been irresponsible on our part. The ignorance of the community and the smug assurance of the writer didn’t seem to bother Britta until we pushed back. The time to call a halt to the argument was before, not after, publishing that crap. My guess is she didn’t notice the problem until we wrote back in response. Neither Lucretius nor I were insulting to the writer. We pointed out that his “argument” was without merit.and included the evidence. If she finds this bothersome, she should turn off the bible thumpers.

The content of my LTE:

Raymie Porter’s letter in the 6/18/14/ issue of the Herald Review demonstrated the danger of trying to get support for religious faith from science. Science is a dynamic process which never really settles on “final” answers about anything. There are only best answers at a particular time with the evidence then available. New facts, new hypotheses and even new theories are always coming along.

To support his idea of a creator, Mr. Porter made use of the idea that science found that the Big Bang demonstrated the universe was finite and must have had an absolute beginning point. That kind of claim might have been viable some 30 years ago. Unfortunately, a large truck full of new facts and hypotheses has rolled over that notion. The Big Bang remains part of current cosmology, but its significance is now tempered by the development of the inflationary cosmological model and the proposition of the multiverse. The combination of these two models with the Big Bang yields an eternal universe with ours as only one among many as a viable concept. We don’t have to worry about going back an infinite amount of time to a beginning because there is probably no beginning point to get to and no ending point either. Without those points, there is no place for a creator to step in and start or stop anything.

There is no room in this letter to explain all of this. You have to read current books on cosmology, Things keep changing as science moves forward. Theology keeps stepping on a path that is in perpetual motion and trips over the attempt to make it stop at a “convenient” spot. This was the problem for William Lane Craig when he tried to use the Big Bang to support the Kalam Cosmological Argument in a recent debate with Sean Carroll (a physicist with some expertise in cosmology). Carroll easily demonstrated how Craig had fallen behind. Finally, Craig is not a philosopher of science, he is a theologian, an apologist (defender) for Christian beliefs and a skilled debater. His understanding of the science and that of Mr. Porter are both out of date. Time to catch up, science has moved on.

Rereading my letter certainly makes it clear how offensive and impolite it was…NOT! Noting that there is substantial conflicting evidence for the theological “explanation” of something is a fundamental aspect of critical thinking and a basic point of contention between the religious and secular world views. There wasn’t any claim to solve this problem for all time, but it doesn’t speak well for the paper if they are accommodating the religious perspective, but dismissive of those who seek to keep it from being the only voice.