Consider the Atheist

On May 5th, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court contradicted the Constitution, discarding both clauses of the 1st Amendment. Previously Congress could make no law respecting the establishment of religion, nor limiting the free exercise thereof. This ruling not only establishes a state religion, but it also forces non-Christians to bow their head to the Christian god as a requirement of doing government business.

This week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court also overturned earlier rulings, such that the state may now force non-Christian students to recite the pledge of allegiance, including the phrase ‘under God’. This phrase was added to the pledge decades later, in 1957. As if it was not already bad to force someone to swear an allegiance, (which I will never do again) but the state can now also force non-believers to acknowledge an imaginary being as if they believe it is real.

Thus the state has established a religion, and at that moment they’re already violating human rights with it. There can be no freedom OF religion without freedom FROM religion, and the US has just proved that -again.This, for me was the end of America. My country has been increasingly sick all my life, but it has now finally died.

In recognition of this travesty, I want to share the words of Madelyn Murray O’Hair, founder of American Atheists, who warned us against this very eventuality. She saw it coming, and she tracked its stepped better than any single presentation I know of. Her speech needs to be heard by a larger audience.

How could it be that any Supreme Court justice could be so ignorant of history and so blinded by religion that these decisions were not unanimously of the opposite opinion?

What we must do now is follow the course of Ireland and England and the Scandinavian countries -where there is no separation of Church & State, but where the atrocities of religious rule have ruled themselves out, to the point that the populace has ruled religion out. These are, for the most part, effectively atheist countries now. This is what happens when religion is forced onto the populace; the people naturally eventually rebel against all forms of tyranny. And our foolish courts have just unbarred the gate and opened the doors to welcome in our new overlord.

dropping out of the Dogma Debate

I hardly blog at all. I think I’ve only posted about once per month sometimes, sometimes once per week at best.  I haven’t made many videos lately either, and there’s a lot of good ones I could be making, if I still had the time.  My book is more than a year behind schedule, and I’m still only on the 5th chapter, only about 1/3 done.  We have plans for two more books to follow this one, so I had better finish it.

The most important issue I have is time.  I have this double-life where I work at Initech Monday thru Friday, and once I’m off their clock, then I have to pick up the pace on everything else I do on my own. In large part, my life is chaos, trying to multitask amid constant interruptions distractions and errands that can’t be delegated. My schedule is such that there are only a few days every week when I can really be productive and Wednesdays are one of those days.  That being the case, I can’t justify spending essentially that whole day every week just talking on the radio. So some weeks ago, I decided to leave the show.

I want to thank all the 4th listeners who’s public comments and private messages have been so overwhelmingly positive.  I have gotten a lot of encouragement from you guys over the last year!  It’s my own fault that I let myself get involved in so many volunteer projects and petty time-wasting discussions online. It’s not going to get any easier either. In addition to serving as Texas State Director of American Atheists, I also expect to do some work for the Secular Coalition of Texas, and I’ll soon be involved in something even bigger. (to be announced)

So right now I need to focus. I’m going to take advantage of a lull in my current speaking schedule to get as much done on these other efforts as I can over the next couple months; sweep these tasks out of my way, get published, and be ready of the next wave that are already looming on my horizon.

How crazy is religion?

I’ve seen a number of posts and comments suggesting that religion should be treated as a mental illness. There certainly seems to be a strong correlation between religion and insanity. I’ve read a few papers comparing the logical and psychological aptitude of strong believers vs those with little or no faith at all, and the trends there all seem to be in our favor, but not to the point that religion causes the disorder.  I think certain mental disorders can prompt religious beliefs, but that’s a different claim.

I think religion provides a haven to conceal quite a lot of cognitive and psychiatric disorders as well as some social dysfunctions.  But that doesn’t mean religion is a mental illness, regardless how accurate analogies of the God virus might be. I think there are circumstances when religion can be treated as a psychological condition, especially when it is the result of detrimental conditioning, but I wouldn’t confuse that with a psychiatric malady, which (I think) would have to be physiological/chemical.

However someone attending one of the stops of the Unholy Trinity tour has apparently interpreted my presentation there differently than I had intended.

Just for clarification, I did not say that religion was a mental illness. I did say that creationism was a form of religious extremism, which it is; one which discourages rational cognitive functions whenever the subject comes anywhere near certain topic areas.  I also said that creationism is delusional, which it is, because the beliefs are persistent, false, and do not change when the facts contradict them.  I even said that thorough indoctrination of children into religion can permanently impair their ability to grasp and use logic, and that’s true too.

The colloquial definition of sanity is having sound reason, of being able to reason, and to be reasoned with, but creationism, (like many forms of religious extremism) employs apologetics which significantly impede that; it does so deliberately by design. In my speech, I explain a bit of how that is done. If you want to see more of how that is done, look up some of the religiously-motivated “faith-building” exercises promoted for use in homeschooling children of creationist parents. Show me what you find.

A Charitable Argument

Last weekend, I was in Salt Lake City (and Las Vegas). This week, I’ll be in Nacogdoches.  Next week, I’ll be in Albuquerque. I don’t have a lot of time at the moment, but I did want to pass on a blurb from David Smalley, host of Dogma Debate on iHeartRadio.
To all those screaming to get Aron Ra back on Dogma Debate to face off with a Christian: I’ll make this deal with you. With only 6 days left, we are $884 away from reaching our $5,000 goal for Camp Quest. If we reach that goal, we beat Seth Andrews in this fundraiser! My promise is, if we reach that goal by Wednesday morning, or beat Seth before then, I’ll bring you on Dogma Debate this week, and give you 2 full 20-minute segments to face off with our in-studio guest, Blake, who claims to have evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If your fans want you on Dogma Debate – let them prove it right here!
Well, doesn’t that sound like fun?  :-D

Secular Pro-Life Same Old Scare Tactics

If I were to tell you that a purportedly secular anti-abortion group was engaging in the very same fear mongering and harassment of abortion providers that the largely Christian dominated pro-life groups do; would you be surprised? The True Pooka’s final report on Secular Pro-Life’s tactics is posted.

In addition to the other tactics Pooka documented, the group is promoting a campaign against abortion providers in the guise of concern for the safety of women. According to Pooka, in addition to making stuff up about the safety of abortion to women…

The site also doubles as an intimidation tool to be used against doctors. It doesn’t matter what type of doctor you are, if you’re a family health doctor and abortion consists of 1% of your medical activities, they’ll label you an ABORTION DOCTOR and list your name next to numerous other doctors who secularprolife have judged to be unsafe doctors ( judgment passed using their hard earned degrees in Looking Shit Up On-Line from Internet University).

I know there are people reading this who are not at all surprised by the sliminess. I hope that they haven’t also grown, so calloused by this group and other anti-abortion groups’ relentless assault on the right to choose whether a person gives birth, that these tactics are working.

However, I don’t think this group’s presence at atheist conferences, a group that misrepresents both science and the truth, can be totally explained by its relentless tactics wearing people down.

How did it get past the smell detector?

The group’s members have the appearance of fresh faced kids. Ex-Christians like myself or people with well meaning anti-abortion friends may be mistaking what they are doing with the mistakes we made as Christians. In my Christian past, I have actually given diapers and my daughter’s bassinet to a Christian pregnancy counseling center in hopes of helping women, who wanted to give birth and keep the child.

Looking back on it now, I was misguided. These groups main function is to guilt women with ultrasounds of their fetuses. I remember the tour, and the center’s pride that they had received an ultrasound.

Would you be surprised to learn that the Secular Pro-Life website directs people with crisis pregnancies to Christian counseling centers? This is the picture posted on their resources page…

The group’s defines its secular mission thusly…

Secularism. SPL seeks to increase the inclusiveness of the overall pro-life movement by creating space for pro-life atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secularists.

I don’t think directing the atheists, agnostics, etc. to a Christian pregnancy center agrees with their purported mission to create a safe space for them. Particularly if they survived spiritual abuse.

This group is not simply misguided. A former member of theirs glibly showed all of us including children in the audience a video of abortions during a debate with Matt Dillahunty. She most definitely had the fresh faced, well meaning look down, even when she showed us the video without batting an eye. She also argued that abortion should be criminalized and prosecuted as murder. Matt’s recent debate with an SPL member showed the same callous lack of regard for women. The Christian debater argued that a woman shouldn’t be allowed to abort a pregnancy that would cripple her.

I don’t ever remember being that inhumane and judgmental at the height of my Christian years, and there is difference between some misguided person that you know or the pro-lifer you may have been and SPL.

As of this moment,  Pooka and I plan on seeing them at The American Atheists Convention in Salt Lake City this weekend. We hope the information we provided helps people to make informed decisions. I can’t help picturing a Reed Warbler unwittingly nurturing an imposter Cuckoo chick.

 

Better Commandments

On April 26th, I’ll be at Stephen F Austin State College in Nacogdoches Texas, where I will be talking about the Damn Commandments. Imagine you’re the supreme being, and you’re going to provide the top ten rules for all of mankind, and that’s the best you could come up with?!

It occurred to me that I should present a list of better commandments than were given in Exodus. At the same time, I would not be so arrogant as to compose such a list myself. I have a few ideas, but they all sound like hippy slogans; others might think of something better.  So if you could include one guideline to be handed over to Bronze age Israelites, and passed down for all generations thereafter, how would your commandment read?

Westboro in my neighborhood

I normally sleep in as late as I want on a Sunday, especially when it’s cold and raining.  But today I went to a church conference.  South Garland Baptist Church was going to confront Westboro Baptist Church, and I wanted to be there.The Westboro troup showed up, but they weren’t very interesting, and I couldn’t get any good video.

WBC was supposed to picket First Baptist Church too, and that one was a lot busier. There were quite a few atheists there carrying their own placards, and there were some reporters there too. But WBC didn’t show to that one.

That was another missed opportunity for me.  I’ve heard it said that Westboro Baptist Church are the only Christian denomination who interprets scripture as literally as we atheists do. So I wanted to know how the WBC interprets Exodus 22:29 & 34:19.  I mean, God clarifies what he means in Numbers 3:13, and I think I’m reading it right, but I don’t think any Christian group, not even WBC would admit that one of God’s ten commandments requires that we perform human sacrifice, slaughtering our first-born children in God’s name.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t ask about that when I had the chance.

Secular Pro-Life (Anti-choice) Claim: Planned Parenthood Cheats Donors

Apparently, Secular Pro-Life is so irked by Planned Parenthood that they are willing to make unfounded charges about what they do with donations. True Pooka investigates

Now that you’re done reading I’m going to show you a magic trick I call; “Proper research done without confirmation bias followed by conclusions drawn based on experience and not ignorance.”

Planned Parenthood issued a number of statements following the Komen incident. The following press release here gives a more thorough explanation of what they intended to do with the money as opposed to the rather vague “wildest dreams” quote linked by our secularprolife blogger (curiously, the blogger in question didn’t link to this more detailed summary of what Planned Parenthood had in mind).

Up until now, I haven’t seen anyone except Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood give SPL the healthy amount of skepticism it really needs. Especially if they are tabling at atheist conventions. More people need to know what they actually do, and you are not going to get that in passing at their table. Why does this group get a pass where another group that attempts to pawn off pseudoscience on the community does not?

 

Madness Mayhem HIV charity

I’m doing another charity telethon this weekend, Saturday / Sunday

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I’m really no good at these. If I knew how to talk people out of their money, I wouldn’t always be in the red like I am.  So what I need is for people who have money to wait until 5:00pm Sunday, when it’s my hour to host the show, and then jump onto the donation links.  That way it’ll look like I did a good job.

The Unbelievers

Next week, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss will tour the US to personally host special screenings of ‘The Unbelievers’.

A few months ago, Krauss and I were having breakfast in Oklahoma City, and he was telling me about his new movie.  I remember remarking that when Dawkins and Krauss are in a movie, it’s produced in Hollywood, but almost every professional documentary film I’ve been in was released straight to YouTube. Of course that’s because he’s Professor Brilliant PhD, and I’m just some guy with a web cam.

But this is a unique idea, not just to show the film, but in a sense to premier it at different locations like a concert.  To have the world-famous physicist and the evolutionary zoologist presenting their own film -live in person in different venues; it’s a great idea.

There will be guest speakers at different points too. Depending on the site, it might be Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. Filmmakers Gus Holwerda, and Luke Holwerda of Black Chalk Productions. These people will be available to take questions from the audience.

Scheduled appearance-screenings are:

– April 2, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.
The UC San Diego RIMAC
9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA

– April 3, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.
The Cox Pavilion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154
Hosted by magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller

– April 7, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.
The Mershon Auditorium at The Ohio State University
1871 N. High Street, Columbus, OH

If you’re in range of any of these three venues, you can buy tickets here.  You can also get free the first chapter of Richard Dawkins’s autobiography, An Appetite for Wonder, by signing up for news from the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s fight for reason and science! See http://richarddawkins.net/.

This sort-of traveling show, as it were, promotes a movie which is itself about a road trip of sorts, with footage shot at various locations from Australia to New York.

Several celebrities appear in the film to support Dawkins and Krauss on their journey to promote reason and science, including Woody Allen, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Colbert, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Werner Herzog, and Bill Maher.

Personally, what I found most exciting about the footage in the trailer were the scenes I remember, like from the Reason Rally in Washington DC and the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, because I’m happy to say I was there.