Update on the Bat Cruise this Saturday, 24-Sept-2016

I was going to write an update with information for the cruise, but our speaker, Greta Christina, already has done the heavy lifting. So, let me shamelessly grab her content and share it here! [Thank you, Greta!]

Every year, the ACA takes a cruise on a double-decker boat, ending at the Congress bridge to watch the bats emerge. Before the cruise, they have a guest speaker give a talk — and this year, it’s me! Rebecca Vitsmun will be there as well, receiving the ACA’s first inaugural Impact Atheist award. The bat cruise costs money ($30 for adults 13+, $10 for kids 5-12, $.01 for tots 0-4), but the pre-cruise talk is free and open to the public. You can do one or the other, or you can do both. If you’re in the Austin area, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Austin, TX
DATE: Saturday, September 24
TIME: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (bat cruise departs at 6:00)
TOPIC: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
SUMMARY: So you don’t believe in God. Now what? The way we deal with life can change dramatically when we stop believing in gods, souls, and afterlives. When we leave religion — or if we never had it in the first place — where do we go? How do we deal with love and sex, pleasure and death, reality and making stuff up? How do we decide on our values, and how do we live them?
LOCATION: Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751
HOST: Atheist Community of Austin
COST: Free, and open to the public
EVENT URL:
https://www.facebook.com/events/309151122795013/ (talk)
https://www.facebook.com/events/646076492214347/ (bat cruise)

Open Thread for Episode 20.37: Russell and Tracie

Viewer calls as usual, but have also invited someone to call in to promote the upcoming “Vulgarity for Charity” event. So, hope to have a discussion about that at the start of the calls. From the link:

We’re proud to announce the return of Vulgarity for Charity, running between September 15th and 25th, 2016. This time, we’re teaming up with Tom and Cecil from the Cognitive Dissonance Podcast to help raise money and awareness for a phenomenal charity that helps combat poverty by helping people keep from falling into the poverty cycle in the first place.

Modest Needs has been combating poverty in the US and Canada for almost fifteen years, and their forward thinking take on crowdfunding makes it easier and more effective than ever to help people in need. Learn more about them here.

What is Vulgarity for Charity?

It’s a biannual fundraiser where we trade insults for donations. You donate to Modest Needs, then let us know that you did, and who you’d like insulted, and Eli, Heath, Tom, Cecil, and Noah will turn their powers of vulgarity to the forces of good.

I’ve been asked to participate this year, and have agreed. I swear very often for little to no benefit, so if I can use my limited skill set in that regard to help others, why not? 😉

Upcoming Austin event announcements

Hi everyone,

A few notes about upcoming things to be aware of if you’re local to Austin.

  • This weekend (August 7) we’re trying a new venue for dinner. Instead of going to Threadgill’s, we’ll be going to Star of India (click here for address and map). If you want to attend dinner, please come there instead. If it’s successful, we might go on August 14 as well before making any official change.
  • I’ll be giving the monthly lecture on August 14. It’s the first time I’ve done a non-show talk for the Austin group since starting my tenure as ACA president. The talk title is “Outreach and communication for atheists and other unpopular groups.” It is similar to the talk I was going to give in Riverside, CA, but unfortunately my business trip got rescheduled so I had to cancel that event. I hope to make it up to Riverside later this year.
  • ACA will be hosting a booth as usual at the Austin Pride Festival on August 27. Look for us.
  • Atheists at Hippie Hollow event August 20, see Facebook page for details.
  • Don’t forget that the annual bat cruise is coming up soon! For tickets, go here.

Russell

Open Thread for Episode 20.28: Russell and Jen

Go forth and comment excellently to each other.

 

Correction: On the show I said that I would be speaking in Irvine on July 28. Unfortunately, the business trip that was bringing me canceled is being rescheduled, so I won’t make that date. I will inform people if we are able to reschedule the event in the near future.

We get email: Man asks atheists how to prove God exists

To: The Atheist Experience
Subject: Need some advice

I am in a strange situation and I need some advice as to how I should go about navigating it. For years and many months, I have been trying to craft a way to prove God using the scientific method since no one seems interested or convinced that it can be done. For some time now, I have been sending my article to peer-reviewed scientific journals, and I purchased professional help along the way as well. At this point, I am confident that I was able to show that God can actually be proven scientifically. However, I cannot find any scientific journals that allow you to publish hypothesis articles and I can’t perform the experiments myself because I am not qualified to do so. More importantly, even if I was qualified, the predictions from the hypothesis require an enormous amount of testing from the scientific community at large to make the conclusion that GOD exists. Thus, I need advice as to how I should alert the public or media so they can alert theistic and non-theistic scienstists around the world as well as the general public.

I also would like to ask you whether you think this is even a worthwhile venture in the first place. I originally did this because I thought I could make a lot of money and create opportunities for myself that I did not have before. Do you think this is worth it or should I give up?

Remember, I am not suggesting that I proved the existence of God but I provide a blueprint as to how researchers can do so.


 

From: Russell Glasser

That is a very odd question to ask atheists. We already don’t believe that God exists, and logically you can’t “prove” something that isn’t true. So if I believed that you had likely found a way to prove that God exists, I would probably think God does exist — which I don’t.

I think a big problem here is that you don’t sound like you have very much training in the sciences, so you are trying to invent your own path to scientific validation for something you want to be true. Science doesn’t work that way. You should develop a background in the fundamentals of scientific inquiry first, gain a thorough understanding of the review and publication progress, and then start working on research that follows from the evidence. Not make up a point to prove, and try to mold the publication process to reach the conclusion you’re after.

Let me make an analogy. Say you are trying to get an Academy Award for a movie, but you haven’t studied film, and you have never worked on a movie in any capacity. So you write to an atheist group to ask how you can submit your YouTube video to the  Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and how you can make them give you the award.

That won’t work. You should learn all you can about film first, or find a way to get some professional experience, and by the time you’ve finished your studies, you should already have a good sense of what kind of work will be required to make a good movie.

That’s basically my advice to you. You should not be putting your energy into the idea that you are planning to prove God. You should be putting more energy into studying science and learning to do it well. Hate to say it, but for most people that means a formal education — probably all the way up to the Ph.D level. You can email atheist shows all day if you want to, but we aren’t scientists and none of us have PhD’s, so you’re not even beginning by asking the right people. What’s the highest degree you have obtained? If you’ve had some college, start studying up for GREs, see how you do when you take the test, and apply for grad schools. Talk to admissions officers and find what kind of effort it will take. It’s probably the best thing you can do for yourself at this point.

Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter hits iceberg of reality on maiden voyage

For those of you who still haven’t seen the jaw-dropping disaster on blogs like Friendly Atheist, Twitter hashtags like #OhNoahHeDidnt, and elsewhere, Ken Ham’s megamillion dollar Ark Encounter theme park — which purports to reconstruct “accurately” the mythical Noah’s ark — tanked hard on its opening day.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.48.26 AM

Photos of a nearly deserted parking lot and nonexistent entry lines (the sheer number of unmanned ticket windows is a pitiful testament to how badly AiG overestimated the popularity of the whole farce) combine with reports that there were more atheist and pro-science attendees than anyone else, except perhaps staff. It could not have been anything but demoralizing, as much as AiG will doubtlessly try to spin it as a resounding success.

What immediately strikes you upon viewing the images that have been posted so far is that, absurd as it all is, this is a construction that spent the hell out of the nearly $100 million that was poured into it. Elaborate displays, rows and rows of animal cages with speakers placed within providing atmospheric honks and squawks, intricately carved wooden signs inventing elaborate explanations for how waste-product disposal and feeding were supposedly handled.

And dinosaurs. Yep, it’s got ’em.

All this money and all this effort spent on a momument to propogating ignorance and myth. All to defend the delusions of a sad man (lots of them, really), terrified that science is telling him he has no heaven to go to when he dies. Imagine living in so much fear of knowledge that you dedicate your life to moronity on this massive a scale. After all these years I still shake my head at it all.