Speaking to San Diego Humanists

Every February when I’m starting to get tired of freezing temperatures every day, someone invites me to a warmer clime, and I welcome the escape.  (Yes I know, most of you live in lots colder places than Texas!) This weekend, my wife and I will participate in the Southern California Secular Humanist conference at the Mission Valley Resort Hotel in San Diego.  There will be many other speakers including, Margaret Downey, Dan Arel, James Croft, illusionist Jamy Ian Swiss, and comedian Steve Hill.  If you’re in that area (or want to be) please check the link to sdhumanists.org for other speakers you might want to meet, and please attend.

‘My Week in Atheism’ premiers this week

John Christy is a Christian who came to the American Atheists national convention in Austin Texas last year, and he interviewed a bunch of us for this documentary film.  To be sure that we were represented fairly, the movie was co-produced by David Smalley of Dogma Debate.  I’ve seen portions of this film, and it really does represent our position the way we ourselves present it.

The film premiers at the Crest theater in Sacramento California this Saturday, February 15th. If you’re within range of that theater, please attend.

Happy New Year on a much older calendar

 

Because my wife is half-Vietnamese, I have to go to Houston this 4712weekend, to meet the in-laws for what they consider to be one of their most important holidays, Chinese New Year.  So while the rest of you guys are just barely getting into 2014, I’ll be ringing in the year of the horse, 4712.

The Chinese calendar isn’t as old as the Hebrew calendar.  They’re already up to 5775.  Do you realize that means that Jesus would have been born around 3758?  It’s amazing to me how many people actually think that the Gregorian calendar was the very first one, and that we didn’t start keeping dates until the time attributed to their patron deity.

In 2009, America was 17% atheist

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to conduct a poll wherein I ask a representative percentage of the population, “Are you convinced that an actual deity really exists”  I want to phrase the question that way, because I know that most atheists in this country don’t even know they are atheist, because they don’t know the definition.  Even a good number of those who know what an atheist is still bend over backwards like Neo in the Matrix trying to dodge that label. I even know of a people who still identify as non-practicing Catholics, Jewish, or Hindu, even though they say they don’t believe in any god.

There was a Pew survey in 2009 which answers that question well enough.  While we are normally told that atheists represent only about 5% of the general population, that poll shows 1% who refused to answer the question, which is the way many actual atheists respond to this.  A lot of them are ‘apatheists’, they don’t CARE if God exists.  Then there are another 12% who say they don’t believe in any god, but that they do believe in a ‘universal spirit’ or ‘higher power’ (something akin to the Force) which could not be correctly defined as a god.  That would mean that actual atheists collectively represent about 17% of the general populace, and 66% of scientists.

My frustration with Bill Naive

Sadly I will not be going to Kentucky in February.  I’m very disappointed that I won’t be going to the creation museum to support Bill Nye in his debate against one of this country’s leading snake oil salesman.  I would have gone, but tickets were mysteriously suspiciously unavailable to atheists.  A half-dozen of us were already on the ticket site the moment they went on sale.  Some of these guys posted to my facebook about what was happening at that moment.  They all tried to add tickets to the cart but got an error message as the site crashed.  It quickly came back online announcing that all 900 seats had sold out instantaneously simultaneously, and somehow none of the interested atheist groups got even one of those tickets -according to all the reports I’ve heard so far.  So we’re not going after all.

I had been invited to speak to the Louisville Atheists the night before the debate.  Obviously that has to be cancelled too.  I had also intended to meet an old friend while on my way through Nashville, so I have a few reasons to be disappointed.

Now here’s my frustration with Bill Nye.  I seriously doubt he has any idea of the sort of con-men and charlatans he’s dealing with.  Otherwise he would not have booked his debate to take place inside the creation museum where the opposition controls absolutely everything, and will throw people out just for wearing atheist tee shirts.

It’s not just that no atheists are getting in.  It’s that there won’t be any publicly accessible unedited video either.  You can buy the DVD, but only after it has been sanitized and edited the way answersingenesis wants it.  So what is the point of even doing it?  It should have been in a neutral venue where AiG wouldn’t be able to restrict who gets tickets, where they wouldn’t have brought in $22,500.00 just off ticket sales in addition to a $5.00 charge per person to watch the live stream, and then additional cash off the sale of DVDs.

Thanks Bill.  The creation museum was in financial trouble, and you’ve just given them tens of thousands of dollars.  That’s not really a victory for science education, now is it?  For those of us who have been recorded and colorfully edited by these people, the worst is yet to come, I’m sorry to say.

When I was asked to debate Ray Comfort on the radio, my only condition was that he not be able to make any money off of me. There is a reason to debate these people, but if you’re going to contribute to thier cash-flow, then that defeats the purpose. That’s all they care about.  They’re certainly not interested in truth.  Money is what creates these people in the first place.  So we don’t ever want them to make a dime off of us, and we don’t want them to have exclusive control of anything.

Hey Bill, show ‘em that Science Rules!

Of all the places I ever planned to visit, Kentucky never made my list.  It’s also surprising to me that I would ever visit a creationist museum -and give them money on top of that!  But I have to do that if I am to document the historic confrontation between Ken Ham, kingpin of creationism and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

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This will doubtless be another decent into madness, and I’m sure the debate will be infuriating.  I’m not sure what to expect from Nye in this debate, but every time I’ve seen Ham speak, it has been an outrageous parade of deliberate deceptions and holy hogwash.  But I have to respect Bill for what he is doing.  I was there when Hitchens walked into a Dallas megachurch and won the day against Demski.  I will be there to witness this too.

Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Science Rules!

Both parts of my time on the Blind Faith Virus Vaccine Show

I can now show both parts of the discussion between myself (representing atheism) Dr. Ann Gleig from Liverpool (representing Buddhism) and Pastor Joey Jernigan of Liberty University (representing fundamentalist Christian creationism).  The host, Mark Gura is moderating.  It was recorded in October and aired on Atlanta Georgia’s local access television channels in two parts, last month (November) and this weekend.

Part II (below) will be shown at 7:00pm Sunday December 15th 2013 on Comcast Channel 24 in Atlanta Georgia and on Comcast channel 25 in North Fulton County.

Well that was fun.  Let’s see if I ever get invited to do anything like that again.

A Good Question

Let me start by saying you have the right to not believe in any God.  As I have the right to believe there is a God. Then we divide. I want you to peacefully be able to not believe and I want all others to have the same opportunity as well . My question to you is, Why does there seem to be a need to stop others from sharing their beliefs? Do the Atheists believe they are saving people from something?  Please take a moment and help me to understand your view.

Understand that I also allow that you have the right to believe in Santa Claus if you want to.  You literally do.  I can disagree with you, and I don’t have to share your belief, but you have it.  The fact that you still make-believe impossible fairy-tales even as an adult who (in my opinion) should know better, that is not the problem.  When my children see reindeer listed with bats, birds, and bugs on a chart of flying animals presented in science class, then there’s a problem.

You have the right to believe that Columbus discovered Ohio in 1942, but you do not have the right to teach that in history class.  Sorry, you just don’t.

Other people believe differently than you.  Some of them have the right to believe that Benjamin Franklin was the first king of America.  You and I might both know that is rubbish, based on the same reasons that I know your perspective is rubbish.  You’ll tell your kids what crap that is, and in that case, you’ll refer to the same documented evidence I do -which shows that America never had a king.  And you’ll make fun of the fact that all those kids wear powdered wigs, despite the fact that people will kill each over things like that.  But it is still their right to believe that -no matter how wrong it obviously is.

Fortunately we live in a secular society, so that alternate ideas that are equally evidently wrong will not be taught as fact in history class. However offensive you may find this to be, there is another historical perspective which people don’t kill each other over, and which is always supported by every new discovery, while your position has never been supported by anything, and is held in rigid defiance of everything we can show to be true. You can train your children to object to the lessons taught to them, and you can lobby against all those other people pushing for that other history, but your position is still one that is evidently wrong, and therefore cannot be taught as fact in a classroom.

You have the right to wish upon a star, and your children can do that too -even in school.  But please understand why it is not legal for the teacher to force the whole class to do this. You may wish on the North Star like most people do, but that doesn’t make the people who wish on other stars any more wrong than you are.  That’s one reason why the teacher is not permitted to tell the students which star to wish on, nor what to wish for.  We can’t make all the kids stand up and do that together.  Nor do we need to ostracize those kids who see that wishing on a star is foolish, and that it can even be dangerous if you use star-wishing in place of medicine.

You have the right to believe that the western desert was created by an act of deforestation brought about by a giant named Paul Bunyon.  The problem is that when everyone else in this area believes that too, then they’ll conceal all evidence indicating environmental dynamics, because they’re considered ‘forbidden’ beliefs.  Sometimes the data being concealed is an important matter of consequence, where the Paul Bunyon belief never will be.

My complaint is when I can’t catch a plane on December 24th because all the airlines are shut down in order to avoid colliding with a hypersonic flying sleigh.  That dozens of kids turn up dead in the news every year because the star didn’t answer their wish.  That teachers are prohibited, criticized, or fired just for explaining the simple and evident facts that Columbus was here centuries earlier, and that Franklin was never a president, much less a king.  Sometimes it can be problematic when everyone has a right to be wrong, and they’ll defend that right violently if they have to.

Me?  I’d just rather accept evident realities and not waste time on all that other weirdness.  You have a right to be wrong, but I also have a right to be right, and I’m going to exercise it.