AHA California

This weekend I’ll be in San Diego for the 72nd annual conference of the American Humanist Association. I’m not speaking at this event. I’m really just there to report and get some interviews on video. I was most excited about meeting Dr Richard Leakey. He and I shared some emails a decade or so ago, but I’ve never met the man in person. That was my main reason for going. But I just found out that he can’t be there. #^@%!  Oh well. There will be plenty of other people there to make the trip worth while.

I’m going to grill Ham

It has been reported to me that the following message was emailed to AnswersInGenesis earlier today.

 

Ken Ham

This message is to inform you that Houston Atheists, the world’s largest atheist community with over 2,100 members, has a challenge for you. We understand that you are scheduled to address the Texas Home School Coalition Convention near Houston on August 1-3, and that you intend to continue your campaign to teach young earth creationism to these children as scientific fact.

Please let it be known that while we respect your freedom to express your religious views, we also vehemently oppose the indoctrination of children with radical fundamentalist theology under the false guise of “science”, and your claimed beliefs–that the universe is less than 7,000 years old and that non-avian dinosaurs co-existed with humanity–certainly qualify as such.

We are concerned that you are deliberately deceiving homeschoolers by misrepresenting the facts in what you admit is an act of confirmation bias. To “teach” students with your message is to lie to them. That may serve your religion, but it does not serve children who will grow up trying to live and work in contemporary, science-based societies. Neither does it serve anyone who simply wants their children to understand natural scientific processes and phenomena which are verifiable facts of nature.

It is for these reasons we hereby challenge you to a formal debate on the topic of Evolution vs. Creationism, and which should be taught to students as science. We will happily arrange an appropriate venue at a neutral location agreeable to both parties, such as a hotel conference center of adequate size near your convention during your visit to the Houston area. Your own recent comments in the blogosphere indicate our clear choice for your opponent: secular activist and science advocate AronRa, who has already accepted the challenge.

This is your opportunity to show the world whether your beliefs truly stand up to the light of scrutiny. All we ask of you now is to accept our challenge.

-Houston Atheists

houstonatheistsas[email protected]

‘Merica’s “downhill slide” is an uphill battle

I finally posted my talk from INR3 on the topic of how ‘Religion Reverses Everything’.

Thanks to Bill Ligertwood’s video production company. I used his footage and mine, and overlapped the audio on both of our mics for a richer sound.

 

I also want to call attention to the video response by Baud2Bits.

Baud2Bits shares my general view on the alleged ‘moral decline in America’, and how the reverse is actually true. He’s also opposing arguments specifically from Ken Ham. I’m all about that too.

When I look at history, I see when England was where we now are just a century or so ago. English Imperialism was one of the most ethnocentric cultures on earth for a while, completely full of themselves and intolerant of anyone else. Since then I feel that Britain has acquired a greater understanding of other demes and perspectives, (among other things) and that through collective experiences, British society has matured beyond where the US now is. That’s why they’re less religious than we are too. Similarly as America begins to comprehend blending the concepts of equality and diversity without contradiction, I hope that our society will mature too. We need to.

There are some hard realities in our immediate future which religion is only making worse, and where faith will fail like trying to pray diabetes away. It can’t provide any help whatsoever. We’re going to need understanding, and I don’t mean sympathy; I mean knowledge. We need to know how things really are because we have serious problems looming that will require collaborative genius to fix. We’re still WAY too insular and self-absorbed to even recognize that right now.

Apparently, I cheesed off Ken Ham

 

I’ve even gotten comments to the effect of why can I not leave poor Ken Ham alone. All for criticizing his visit to a Texas home school conference to sell people on his supposed advantages of teaching their children Young Earth Creationism over actual science. He responded on his facebook with this challenge…

 This should make for good publicity for the Texas Homeschool conference I am speaking at August 1-3 this year.

It’s a good example of how atheists interpret ‘Freedom of Religion!’. A good illustration of their utter intolerance of those who hold views different to their anti-God religion of atheism.

I encourage as many Homeschoolers and other Christians to attend this conference and bring as many children as you can so we can teach them the truth of God’s Word beginning in Genesis. Let’s pack this out!

So I got together with Shayrah Akers on The Nones, and we invited Neeley Fluke of Secular View, who is also a secular homeschooler, and also Vic Wang a Houstonian atheist organizer for Houston Atheists, the largest atheist offline community on the planet. We brainstormed in a podcast what could be done about Ham’s spreading scientific illiteracy.  Ham responded by calling us hateful and intolerant, on his blog at Answers in Genesis. I suppose trying to drop our docs is a somehow benign act.

Here is a sample of some of his misrepresentations to his followers…

The atheist video is one of the best I’ve seen to illustrate atheists exhibiting the following traits:

  • Intolerance and arrogance

  • Hatred of biblical Christians

  • Hatred of the Bible

  • Ignorance

  • Wanting to control education and capture your kids’ hearts and minds

  • Extremism

  • Fighting against freedom of religion

  • Wanting to close down or limit biblical, Christian homeschooling

  • Seeking to control what private organizations teach

  • Desiring to control what you teach at home

  • Claim Christians are scientifically ignorant but are themselves scientifically inept

  • Sanctimoniously determining morality for themselves

  • Attempting to shape the culture according to their anti-God beliefs

He also called us “little gods”.

You have to let Ham's god do the thinking.

You have to let Ham’s god do the thinking.

Aron is going to address and rebut Ham’s accusations with me, including that he is right because he and his followers think the Bible make them right despite any and all scientific evidence. We will make a video together that will also update people on Vic’s and Houston Atheist’s efforts to organize a demonstration of just how wrong it is to teach YEC as science to children.

iERA Statement in Light of the Woolwich Attack

Whenever there is some heinous terrorist attack perpetrated by Islamists, non-Muslims ask, “Where are the cries of condemnation from all those moderate Muslims that are supposedly out there?”. Well, today I received this notice in my email.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) would like to issue a statement in the wake of the gruesome attack that took place on the streets of Woolwich yesterday, Wednesday 22nd May 2013.
Islam does not condone nor encourage acts of criminality; this is abundantly clear in its teachings. iERA as an organisation will continue in its commitment to motivate and empower Muslims to articulate a positive and compassionate case for Islam through positive civic engagement and dialogue.
iERA strongly believes that it is through fostering better understanding of our fellow citizens that will help in uniting our society in good and prevent further acts of violence on our streets.
Islamic teachings provide a clear moral compass for individuals and communities to organise their lives in a harmonious and peaceful way.
Therefore, we as iERA espouse these teachings and urge the Muslim community in Britain to continue to present Islam and to be compassionate and engaged citizens who benefit all communities.
Well isn’t that nice.

However I must remind anyone reading this that the iERA is headed by one Hamza Tzortzis who PZ and I met when he crashed the World Atheist Convention in Dublin Ireland. Hamza tried to convince PZ to get into an iERA car where they intended to take him to an undisclosed location for a private discussion. Sensing the insanity of that invitation, I altered the challenge to invite Hamza onto the Magic Sandwich Show instead.
While on our show, DPR Jones asked Hamza what would be the appropriate and reasonable response to apostates, and Hamza Tsortzis, head of the iERA said non-believers should be decapitated. He said it was the only humane thing to do, as he belives sawing someone’s head off to be a merciful and painless way to correct opposing opinions.
So this note from the iERA is pretty much meaningless dishonest bullshit -like everything else they say.

the MARCH of REASON documentary film

I’ve been interviewed for several documentary films over the last few years, but I never saw any of them. This morning, I see that the Scott Burdick’s March of Reason has been made available on YouTube. I’ve only seen a few minutes of it, but it looks pretty good so far.

This one was filmed at the Reason Rally, American Atheists national convention in Bethesda Maryland, and Rock Beyond Belief at Fort Bragg.

There’s so much excellent content that must be shared with our atheist and humanist community, too good to cull down into just one film. So, Scott has organized your words and art into topics such as “Reason and Atheism,” “Morality,”  “Ridicule,” “Targeting Children,” “Faith,” and more. The result is not one but FIVE one-hour videos that are being placed on YouTube for everyone to watch and think about and talk about. The first two are now online and will soon be opened to the public:

March of Reason Part One:  

target=”_blank”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD-5NX_at3s


March of Reason Part Two:   

target=”_blank”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmR50JGCGcY

Everyone who was interviewed is profiled at least once in the series, and many appear multiple times depending on the topic.  Enjoy! Please watch and share with your fellow nonbelievers—and with your believer friends who might be open to rethinking their views.

Future plans:   We hope that these films will be shown by local freethought/humanist/atheist organizations, used in university courses, and shared across the internet. Scott is also in discussions with the Richard Dawkins Foundation and others to produce a 90-minute documentary film that can potentially be shown on major media channels, local theaters, and film festivals.

What is becoming of Kamloops

If you’re not in England, and someone hears you mention Wimbledon, they’re likely to think you’re talking about the pinnacle of tennis matches. What else is that city known for on the global scale? The same sort of thing might happen if you’re nowhere near Indiana when you bring up Indianapolis. A lot of Europeans might expect that word to be followed by the number 500, because that city is internationally known only for formula one racing. This is how I think it will soon be whenever an atheist hears Kamloops mentioned outside of Canada; they must be talking about the international conference called ‘Imagine No Religion‘.

Bill Ligertwood of the Kamloops Centre For Rational Thought chose his own humble little home town to host an annual gathering of rational thinkers flown in from all over the world. There are no direct flights to this place; the airport is too small. But as remote as it is, the idea works and has worked for three years running. Consequently Kamloops is becoming something of an atheist Mecca. ;-)

The town itself is rather charming in the spring, and the Kamloops Coast Hotel and Convention Centre offers a perfect venue. It’s an intimate setting. The conference centre is an elegant dinner theater only big enough for a few hundred people. Fountains and flowing streams run all through the hotel interior. The lounge, dining rooms, the catering for all diets, all very nice. I’ve been to a lot of freethinking secular humanist skeptical atheist conventions over the last few years; this was organized as well as any of them.

I understand the line-up changes every year. The hosts of The Thinking Atheist and the Atheist Experience were there last year, along with Laurence Krauss and several others of that calibre. This year the line-up of a couple dozen speakers and performers included Victor Stenger, Dan Dennet, and Aruna Papp. Her personal and deeply-moving presentation brought a standing ovation with ‘not a dry eye in the house’.

Most of the attendees were Canadian, -albeit from all over the country- and there was a surprising number of conventioneers from the UK. Otherwise there wasn’t a lot of ethnic diversity this time around, I’m sorry to say, but gender and age groups were well-represented, and absolutely everyone seemed to be having a really good time. There was no apparent drama, no one with issues to be addressed or avoided. Just a couple hundred people who flew in happy to be there and sorry to leave.

One last thing, be sure to try the local specialty brew, an opaque black chocolate stout called ‘Back-Hand of God‘. Not only is the name amusingly ironic -given the customers in question, but the beer is actually quite good!

Is love proof of God above?

Five loving atheist couples, where both partners are atheist activists, will match wits to decide the question once and for all. The couples on the panel include in no particular order JT Eberhard and Michaelyn Everhart (got her name right that time), Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood, Shayrah Akers and Daniel Moran, Adam and Amanda Brown, and last but certainly not the least adorable atheist couple Aron Ra and Lilandra(me).

How deep is your love? Because we're living in a world of fools...

How deep is your love? Because we’re living in a world of fools…

The show will start Newlywed Game style with our host David Fitzgerald. Couples will battle it out for a coveted TBD prize to show just how well couples know each other without a god to make their love magical! Hopefully David will be merciful with the questions about “whoopee”. An example question: What is your partner’s nickname for you? The partner will write it down, and wait for their partner’s answer to see if they got it correct. (My nickname for Aron was large mammal) So I will be studying Aron’s every move until the end of the week, and quizzing him on his likes and dislikes all, so we can defeat Beth/Matt and Michaelyn/JT.  They are tough competition, I know this from past Camp Quest competitions. Not as much data on the other 2 couples.

After the game, we will the talk about answering apologetics concerning love. We will kill that C.S. Lewis tired and oft referenced apologetic with fire.  Other discussion topics include the differences between Biblical relationships vs. secular relationships. Tune in to The Nones podcast this Sunday May 26th at 12:00 PM CST. It will livestream from youtube at www.youtube.com/user/th3n0nes.

Show us some love on facebook for updates…www.facebook.com/then0nes

 

 

Answer to Ken Ham on Homeschooling and Creationists

The Nones will be discussing abuse of Homeschooling by Creationists like Ken Ham as the top speaker at The Texas Homeschool Coalition’s Convention Houston this August. He will be hawking AIG’s brand of Creationism to families that think that it is right to deny evolution. Yes Creationists do still exist in large numbers especially in Texas. Ham saw my blog about him, and went on his Facebook and encouraged people to bring their kids, so they can hear the “truth of God.” We will have Vic Wang of Humanists of Houston on to talk about what can be done about it. We also have Neeley, secular home schooler from Secular View, on joining us to talk about the stigma this creates for the majority of well meaning homeschoolers. Link to the live stream at 12:00 PM CSTon Youtube

Gaslighting -shaming women for emotional reactions and for speaking up.

Before I heard of the word “gaslighting”, I had difficulty articulating why I shouldn’t be shamed for getting angry or upset at someone else’s behavior.  And then I read this article about it…

I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals (I am not one), to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.

The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.

Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid” or “No one will ever want you” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.

The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated (sic) or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.

*edit Video about gaslighting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HQCdUa_3rLo

I grew up with the expectation to be a “good girl”; you can’t express unpleasant emotions like anger.  Frankly a lot of that cultural conditioning came with religious indoctrination that as a female I was a ‘help mate” to a man. I still have difficulty expressing when I am justifiably upset, because of gaslighting. Like being told I “needed to calm down” or asked the popular question “are you on your period?”  Realistically even if I am menstruating that doesn’t mean I have to shoulder the entirety of the blame for someone else’s rude or obnoxious behavior.

Of course I’m not the only woman this happens to. I’ve even seen this as a shaming technique against women speaking up about feminism in the free thought movement. Even some of the same shaming that went on in less enlightened times like accusations of “hysteria“.

I posted on this issue in another forum, and some women expressed gratitude that the term gaslighting helped them to name the manipulative behavior they had been subjected to many times. It has been an epiphany for me to, so I wanted to post it here too in hopes it will help others.