I don’t know about you…

…but for me, today has been all about the schadenfreude.

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In Texas, news is that Rick Perry has thrown a petulant snit over last night’s trouncing of SB5, and has called for a new special session on July 2, to try to ram the law through again. Everyone should consider that anti-choicers absolutely took note of what took place at the state capitol last night, and will doubtless be mustering their troops to put in a heavy presence on the 2nd. I anticipate an epic, Game of Thrones-scale battle.

Reading list for atheists

I hear that Matt claimed on the last episode that I had made a blog post with a “top ten” book list for atheists. Actually, I only sent somebody an email with my list, but there was no blog post, so I thought I should make one.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and I’m sure the comments will fill up with others I’ve missed. I put this together recently by polling my Facebook page with this question: If you met a new atheist who was trying to get a basic handle on the intellectual foundation of atheism, what books would you recommend? These are the books I chose:

  1. Dan Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists (2008)
  2. Dale McGowan, Atheism for Dummies (2013)
  3. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (2006)
  4. George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God (1974)
  5. Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2009)
  6. Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (2005)
  7. A.C. Grayling, The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism (2013)
  8. Guy P. Harrison, 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (2008)
  9. Victor J. Stenger, The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (2009)
  10. Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects (1967)

Additionally, for many new atheists I don’t recommend they jump into these books until they have read some foundational works about critical thinking. I consider both of these essential reading:

  1. Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1997)
  2. John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences (2001)


FTBCon is coming

Russell here, telling you to get your tickets now for FTBCon next month! Wait, what? You don’t need any tickets. It’s free!

So if you don’t have the time or money to travel to all the other fun events that have been happening, like the American Atheist convention and Skepticon, now you can attend an online conference with many of the same excellent people speaking, from your living room! In your underwear, even! Just tune in to the live streams of various Google Hangouts that will be going on throughout the day. Many will even invite audience participation.

Important tip: We do not recommend that you broadcast yourself on a Google Hangout in your underwear.

So far, I’m signed up to do an “Evangelical Atheism” presentation, Beth will be on a panel, Lynnea will be on another panel, others from the ACA may or may not get involved. Aron Ra will be there. Mark your calendars for July 19-21!

Fighting evil by promoting the good

Addendum 2/Postscript: Kickstarter has (take note, CFI) issued an apology, owned their failings, and put new policies in place to ensure such a project as described herein never darkens their doors again. Still I encourage everyone to get behind Advantageous (and heck, even my little thing, if you like).

Original post begins: In case you’re one of the three or four people out there who still haven’t heard of Kickstarter, it’s the popular crowdfunding platform where the public can go and support creative projects with their dollars, most of which are the sort of dream projects no artist could ever get traditional funding for. It’s a tougher platform than most creators realize, getting into it, but when it works it’s wonderful. [Read more…]

Inviting pedophiles into homes with children, a good idea?

I promised to keep this person anonymous and also asked permission to share this. It’s a good message about common sense, child welfare, and how religion can be used to cloud people’s better judgement:

…My very religious Evangelical Christian mother-in-law called last night. Her husband, my father-in-law, is a pastor and their church hosts some refugees from [insert Third-World Nation here]. They are really involved in “ministering” to these refugees and dealing with them is the joy of my mother-in-law’s life at the moment…It really makes her feel that God is using her.

One of these refugees, a middle-aged man, allegedly molested a child. The child called child protection services, and the man was arrested. He is currently in jail until his court date.

As my mother-in-law was explaining, she kept defending the man. She explained how nice a man he is, how faithful he is and how, if true, it was simply a mistake due to cultural differences. She tried to tell me his life story, about how he had a hard life and was, himself, abused as a child, etc. She was making excuses for him, empathizing with him, and then giving him the benefit if the doubt. She proceeded to explain how she suspected the child was setting him up or lied, etc.

I was so angry inside as she was explaining that I had to ask her to hold as pass the phone to my wife to help regain control, so I didn’t bite her ear off.

I recently found out that when I was a kid, my parents used to have Bible studies at our house…they’d invite all the church misfits. People with psychological problems, etc. My Dad felt he was being like Jesus by bringing all the undesirables into our house. Many of them really creeped my brother and I out, but there was one we feared. He would come to chat with us in the basement and ask us personal questions about our bodies, etc. He never touched us. Well, my dad recently admitted this man was a pedophile, and he knew it at the time. But through the power of the blood of Jesus, felt he was taking a healthy risk in faith by bringing him into our home.

This madness infuriates me to no end. I no longer feel comfortable letting my children be in their care, because of this!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Guess that was venting. There aren’t many people I can talk to around here about this stuff.

Iron Chariots spam

A while back I decided to upgrade the server software for the Iron Chariots wiki and install a bunch of add-ons, including one that allows me to force all new editors to write a short biography and wait for approval. It’s kind of a headache, but before doing this, we would get dozens of new users a day who would start filling up the wiki articles with advertisements for wristwatches and porn. Unfortunately, sometimes I can go for a couple of months without remembering to check the spam trap, and then people complain. But it beats the alternative.

Today I remembered that I haven’t approved users since April, so I cleared out a fairly manageable 17 requests. Nearly half of them were spammers who were stupid enough to put spam in their biography, so that was easy. I approved a bunch of requests… and then I saw this guy.

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Open thread on episode #817 with Russell and Martin: Grace, love and mercy edition

Edit: On Sunday’s show we spoke with philosopher and blogger Dan Fincke, who discusses the concept of secular objective morality in these posts:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/tag/leah-libresco/. Additionally, Martin referenced some YouTube videos debunking claims of advanced scientific information in the Koran. Here is the promised link to the YouTube channel.

Martin  It’s Martin (dat’s me!) and Russell fielding the hordes today, so I know you will all tune in. Comment below on the shenanigans when the dust has settled later today. In the meantime, I’ve been warming up with a couple of amusing exchanges with some Facebook creationists today. Helps to stay in fighting trim. Enjoy.

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You gotta love the irony in the fellow’s comment about treating atheists with “grace, love and mercy” under that graphic. But I guess that’s how those terms are defined in their dark little world.