Why I am an atheist – Libby Anne

I was raised on the line between fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity. I was homeschooled, and nearly every subject was related to God and the Bible. History was His story and our science textbooks were all creationists. My parents were great fans of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis and I was taught to use “creation apologetics.” In other words, when you evangelize someone you start by showing them the truth of young earth creationism, and after that they will have to concede the truth of the Bible and convert to Christianity. I read everything Ken Ham wrote, attended conferences put on by Answers in Genesis, and even visited the Creation Museum. I was taught that we know the Bible is true because young earth creationism is true. As Answers in Genesis so often trumpets, I learned that the foundation of the Bible was a literal Genesis.

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Why I am an atheist – Tracy Hemenover

Because I finally stopped bullshitting myself that I believed in “something out there”, not anything portrayed in any of the religious texts, but “something”. Anything to not have to think that scary A word.

Because the universe and everything in it, and everything we know about how it works, makes much more sense if there is no god than if there is one.

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Madisonian Gathering?

I’m at UW Madison right now…after the meeting ends at 6, any recommendations for an impromptu Pharyngula gathering? Shall me just meet in the ratskeller in the nearby student union? I’ll be there anyway, maybe I can haul in a few other notorious people.

Decision made! Gather at State Street Brats, Ratskeller (again…organizers are gathering there) sometime after 6.

A Krauss concession

Lawrence Krauss annoyed quite a few people with his jokes about the uselessness of philosophy in recent talks. He has now published an apology — he actually has a qualified dislike of certain kinds of philosophy, that which ignores empirical evidence, but otherwise appreciates the views of many other philosophers.

So, to those philosophers I may have unjustly offended by seemingly blanket statements about the field, I apologize. I value your intelligent conversation and the insights of anyone who thinks carefully about our universe and who is willing to guide their thinking based on the evidence of reality. To those who wish to impose their definition of reality abstractly, independent of emerging empirical knowledge and the changing questions that go with it, and call that either philosophy or theology, I would say this: Please go on talking to each other, and let the rest of us get on with the goal of learning more about nature.

The Pirates! With Charles Darwin!

In the UK, they released an exciting new movie a while back, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. I have the book. It’s marvelous: it prominently features pirates, beards, scientists, and Charles Darwin, and is exactly the kind of story I like.

The good news! It’s just been released in the US. The peculiar news: it’s gotten a name change, to The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and they’re not mentioning Charles Darwin in the trailers. If you’ve read the book, though, you know that Darwin is rather central to the whole story.

Apparently, “science” and “Darwin” are box office penalties in the US. I’m going anyway, as soon as I can, because the content is presumably unchanged and I like science, beards, Darwin, pirates, and the funny, even if the marketing idiots are frightened.

Hey-o, Madison!

I’m about to depart for this event:

Mary and I have 7 hours of driving ahead of us. It’s going to be no fun at all, although it looks like the meeting will definitely be worth it. One peeve, though: the two speakers I most want to hear are Kevin Padian and Elliott Sober, and they’re both scheduled to speak tonight. I doubt that I’ll be able to get there in time. Could someone tell them both to wait until 9:00 or so to start their talks? Just for me?

All right, if they rudely refuse to hold up the entire conference for me, I expect someone who’s there to review it all for me on Saturday. Pantomime over beer at lunch would be acceptable, and entertaining.

(Also: hashtag for the conference is #ftf1. Follow the festivities on Twitter.)

The Narwhal Curse

I would love to have one of these Massive Squishable Narwhals, but then I realized that I’d never be able to look at it without the Narwhal song popping into my head.

It’d be like having a Massive Decorative Bag of Crack hanging on my wall.

You’re not playing that video, are you? Sorry.