The Place with the New Covenant Group

theplace

I was recently on two episodes of ‘the Place’ with Dr & Mrs Jones of the New Covenant Group.

First they talked just with me.

That went pretty well, so I joined the panel for the evening show.

I very much enjoyed participating in the show, and I applaud the effort behind maintaining an interfaith dialogue. It’s especially necessary now because there are two trends which need to be considered separately, and then comparatively.  One is that religion is in general decline in all fifty states.  Those who reject religious classification, those who have no interest or need of religion, and those who are coming out atheists and antitheists make up overlapping demographics accounting for at least 20% of the American population so far, and all charts indicate that percentage is rising fast.  However the percentage of believers who are creationist, those who (perhaps unknowingly) reject not only the conclusions of science but also its methodology -is actually on the rise, They account for almost half the nation’s population, and they’re the majority among those who still cling to faith at all.

Now it used to be -several decades ago, that most people believed in some sort of faith-based mumbo-jumbo; but those same people usually knew better than to mix religion and politics, and every sensible person knew that you’d better understand science regardless whatever else you might believe. But now, those who accept and employ science are abandoning religion completely, and those who praise faith are rejecting epistemology entirely, becoming religious extremists. In short, the US population is becoming polarized, and that’s not a good way to be.

Breaking Love and Reproductive Rights Out of the Christian Frame

I have been pleasantly surprised that the youtube comments on my speech on The Heart of Humanism at The Southern California Secular Humanism Conference are mainly addressing the topic.

We joked that now James Croft could add it to his CV that he spoke at an event with me.

We joked that now James Croft could add it to his CV that he spoke at an event with me.

Especially because I addressed how secularists need to examine where their beliefs about love in particular may be influenced by Christian culture such as ideas about purity. I used a rather pointed example by looking at the Secular Pro-Life Movement. Their stance is not categorically different from Cathy Ruse of The Family Research Council’s advice on making secular anti-choice arguments. Ruse’s Christian influence is clearly seen in her advocacy for state’s rights on marriage equality as discussed in my speech and her advocacy against buying Girl Scout cookies on the basis of their support of Planned Parenthood. Cuz unplanned parenthood is so much better, right?

One commenter though accepted the challenge to produce a secular anti-choice argument.

My concern isn’t from a Christian purity standpoint, it’s an issue of the meaning of human rights. We used to believe that people of different skin colors didn’t deserve legal protection because the ‘rights’ of rich white people were more important. I worry that abortion is not dissimilar.
It is a bit incoherent.  I also asked the humanists there what they thought of the anti-feminist canard
“I am not a feminist; I am a humanist.” We were short on time, but a few people afterwards said that the word feminist is like identifying as an atheist; it has taken on very negative associations over time.  I wish I had thought to record some responses afterwards.
Anyways, I hoped in this speech to help people see that sometimes the culture we are raised in can still affect how we see the world and prevent us from being better humanists. Just like I would like to help re-appropriate the word atheist from atheist bashers; I would like to help re-appropriate the word feminism from feminist bashers.
More important than the words themselves are the ideas that left unquestioned get in the way of progressing to a better society than the overtly Christian one we now live in today.

 

 

 

 

Happy B-day, Chuckie D.

ChuckieDI’m sorry to say I’m not doing any Darwin-Day presentations this year.  That’s too bad too.  I really enjoy those. For three years in a row, I had the honor of being keynote speaker in James Randi’s group in Fort Lauderdale Florida.  Here I am posing with the 205 year-old birthday boy.

There’s a very good Darwin Day event going on tonight (Wednesday Feb 12th) in London.  I so wish I could attend!  Dr. Alice Roberts is on my A-list of people to meet (along with Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson). I would love to have her on our show, Dogma Debate on iHeart Radio for just twenty minutes over a Skype call, but she’s always on the go, filming excellent science documentaries all around the world.

On this occasion, she’s giving an anthropological lecture, and sharing the stage with Prof. Richard Dawkins.

If tickets are still available, here is the link:

Darwin Day Lecture: How to Make a Human.

If you do get tickets, let me know, and tell her I sent you.

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.