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Jan 10 2010

RCimT: Putting-off-shovelling Sunday

It’s Sunday, boys and girls, and it’s snowing — you know what that means! Time for another weekly atheist news roundup to keep me from having to go out and shovel this crap out of my driveway! Hooray!

Your Cool Atheist of the Week is John Carmack, the lead programmer on Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake — games that ate up much of my childhood.

“Just got back from the Q2 wrap party in vegas that Activision threw for us.

“Having a reasonable grounding in statistics and probability and no belief in luck, fate, karma, or god(s), the only casino game that interests me is blackjack.

“Playing blackjack properly is a test of personal discipline. It takes a small amount of skill to know the right plays and count the cards, but the hard part is making yourself consistantly behave like a robot, rather than succumbing to your “gut instincts”.”

A Somali Muslim was shot while trying to take an axe to Kurt Westergaard’s head, his outrage stemming from Westergaard’s infamous cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb for a turban. I’m sure the irony that Muslims are attempting to violently suppress a comic that depicts the head of their religion as violent, is not lost on them. I’m certain they’re fully aware of how they are fundamentally failing to disprove the hypothesis posed by the original comic.

Over at Black Sun Journal, the author blames the media’s cowardice and assent to Islam for Westergaard’s being attacked. I can’t disagree, honestly.

Here’s a great argument for the Problem of Evil, a theological concept that suggests that the fact evil exists, must be reconciled with the concept of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent deity.

PZ Myers covers the recent drive toward an atheist “unity convention”. I’m interested by any attempt to congeal the disparate and fractured atheist communities, but I see it as something like herding cats. Since most of us differ on major or minor points of philosophy, and since we do not have a shared ideology, I can imagine it will be a difficult task to get each of the thousands of little splinter groups (each with their own cultures and habits and “norms”) to reconcile them with one another’s. Just look at the “great rift” between the so-called New Atheists and the so-called Accomodationists.

Greta Christina apparently agrees about how we have no central dogma, and gives an excellent example of her meme-of-the-day project on Facebook and the pushback she gets whenever she talks about how atheists’ view of death can offer better and more realistic solace than the theistic view. I’m surprised that people would push back against that so hard — unless the people pushing back are theists that don’t like having the one aspect of their religion they believe to be unassailable, being assailed.

Meanwhile, Fundies are, as usual, unified in their fuckwititude, especially on signs. Not as funny as that example, but last night I saw on the Episcopalian church near where Jen works, the sign “what if you don’t believe in God… and you’re wrong?” Can you believe I saw Pascal’s Wager used in real life, despite how easily it’s rebutted? I know, I was pretty shocked myself.

I read an excellent post this week about religion, exploring how religions have an “asskiss factor” wherein they spend a goodly amount of their time merely supplicating and praising and otherwise ass-kissing their ostensibly all-powerful and perfect deity. Isn’t vanity an imperfection? Under what circumstances outside of vanity would any all-powerful and omnibenevolent deity need to be reminded of the depths of his power or benevolence? And if the deity is vain, then he is not perfect, now, is he? And if he is not perfect, then what other qualities has he been ascribed that are false? Omniscience? Omnibenevolence? Omnipotence? The house of cards crumbles when you point out how sycophantic one has to be to please this supposedly all-good being.

Camels with Hammers discusses the common concern troll argument that the only reason some people reject atheism itself, is that some atheists can be accurately described as “assholes”. Of course, I resemble that remark. But the point is, just because some people are assholes, doesn’t mean they are also wrong.

Reality TV is anything but real. However, you have to give them props for daring to put an “out atheist” front and center on The Real World on MTV. I only hope they don’t create a false narrative that portrays this atheist as abrasive or hate-filled. Unless he actually is — but how would we ever know, given how often “reality TV” builds these narratives?

And finally, Greg Laden reposts his brilliant series on how to deal with a Bible-thumping student in a science classroom. While I’m not on the teaching career track any more, it’s still a great read.

I guess I’m out of links for the moment. No more putting off shoveling for me, I guess… out I go.

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