Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jane Goodall @ Hanover College, 03/27/2008

I got to go and hear a presentation by Jane Goodall last Thursday evening. Quite an experience :) The opportunity just fell in my lap when a friend of mine got ahold of a couple of tickets and invited me along (tickets were free, but there was a very limited number of seats and it was PACKED.)

Dr. Goodall spoke on a variety of topics. She started out with giving up the chimp versing of "hello" which got quite a chuckle from the audience. Then she spoke about her own career, starting as a young girl in war-time England. The most amazing part to me was that when these old respectable men could not have a girl running around by herself in the jungles of Africa, she was required to have a companion in order to stay there. So her mother actually came from England to live out in the wild in a leaky tent for about 6 months, if I remember right. LOL There is what I call supporting your kid's dreams.

Of course, she did talk a bit about chimps. But I'm not going to reproduce it all here and I would not do it justice if I did.

What seemed to me to be the most important point made was the need to live and promote environmentally sustainable lifestyles. A major point being that even if we do get the warring factions in places like Africa to put down their guns and make peace, but their environmental issues are not addressed, they will end up just picking those guns right back up again. What good is peace if your land can no longer support crops, and your water supplies are dry or polluted? So the whole idea of envronmental sustainability is a major piece in promoting peace in troubled areas.

After the presentation, my friend and I headed for the book table, where we couldn't resist getting a few books (different ones, so we could borrow off each other). Then, since I decided that I just could not buy a book at a book signing and not get it signed, we ended up waiting about an 1 1/2 to 2 hours in line. It was well worth it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

If only...

If only some religion somewhere out there has shown its god to actually know thousands of years ago what we only have found out very recently. Just something, SOMETHING!, that the human authors could not have known on their own that would have turned out to be amazingly and accurately in line with modern scientific discovery. This video displays the absurdity of all the existing religious creation stories, by way of contrast. Here is what those ancient creation myths should have said.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why I am an atheist

This is not a comprehensive list. I just had a bit of time on my hands last night and was thinking about a time when someone, pretty much out of the blue, asked me why I was an atheist. I replied that it was because I didn't believe in God. (How much simpler could it get?) But I was thinking that next time someone asked me that I'd rather be a bit more prepared.

Feel free to add more reasons in the comments section. If you disagree with any of my reasons, mention it in the comments and I'll try to address that one in a later post.


1. I do not believe in an all-powerful invisible human-like figure that controls the clouds to make it rain (or not), and I don’t believe in any such power behind any other natural phenomena either. Including the very origin of the universe (assuming the universe can be coherently said to have an origin...)

2. Because “God” means different things to different people. Vastly different things. So much that the concept of “God” is pretty much useless.

3. Because prayer to any kind of god or force makes no difference whatsoever outside of the physiological realm. If you would like to challenge this assertion, bring evidence.

4. I think it is more plausible to believe that people have lied or been fooled than to believe that any miracle story is actually true. This is why I asked for evidence in #3.

5. Whenever a new scientific breakthrough is made, the realm of the gods gets smaller. Especially stuff like the Theory of Evolution. This is why fundamentalist Christians rage against science—they may be crazy, but they are not stupid.

6. Anytime I’ve questioned a person if they say God has “spoken” to them, it turned out that they just got inspired. I’ve never been able to see what God had to do with it. Why don’t these people credit their own good thinking?

7. Anytime I’ve heard that God has worked in someone’s life, when I found out what actually happened it was usually something really mundane or total explicable by natural causes. Even with the really amazing stories, the conclusion that God had anything to do with it would have to be a non-sequitur.

8. Because “theology” is nothing but speculation—I determined this when taking Bible/theology classes during my two years at Trevecca Nazarene University. Everyone has a pet theory—but naturally no one can actually check to see if their idea is anywhere near the truth.

9. Because the traditional view of the history of Christianity (and probably any religion) does not match the actual history of Christianity. I also learned this at the Christian university mentioned above.

10. Because it used to matter dearly what version of Christianity a person followed—so much so that members of different versions of Christianity would sometimes torture and kill each other over theological differences—now people are relieved if you only just believe in some sort of higher power at all. Just so long as you are not an atheist. The church used to rip its critics like an enraged pit bull, but the influence of secular Enlightenment values and scientific discovery has knocked out most of its teeth.

11. Because any real morality and ethnics has a perfectly good secular foundation. No one bases their morality on the Bible, except maybe Fred Phelps. And most Christians I know don’t think much of people like him.

12. Because no God or any form of higher power has ever shown himself to me, even when I believed that one would.

The Four Horsemen--Hour 1

Good stuff. I found this on Google videos and thought I'd do my part to pass it on.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Expelled from Expelled

This is too funny. PZ Myers tried to go see the new creationist propoganda film, and they wouldn't let him. Oh, the irony...


Thursday, March 20, 2008


I have more cute cat video :) She really gets into the acrobatics when going after the door hanger toy, so I had to get some of that on video.

Besides attacking her toys, and my washcloth (I'll have to get a vid of that later) her next favorite pastime is fish watching.

I could title the pictures below "temptation". :-)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama and his Pastor

Obama denounces pastor's 9/11 comments

Apparently, Obama's long time pastor, the one who converted him to Christianity and the one that inspired the title of one of his books, has made a statement that Obama very clearly does not want to be associated with.

In a sermon on the Sunday after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Wright suggested the United States brought on the attacks.

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Wright said. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

In a 2003 sermon, he said blacks should condemn the United States.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

I find this story very interesting, from a number of angles. There is the religious angle, the political angle, and the social justice angle.

On the religous level, anyone who knows me well knows that I am an atheist and would really rather have someone in the most powerful office in the world be lead by reason and not by faith. Please, no more faith-based foreign policy!

I'm also wondering if this church is still tax exempt, as they have clearly been endorsing a candidate.

As for the political level, I think the influence of religious zealots on the American political system is ludicrous in a country for which there is supposed to be no religious test for office. There have even been rumors circulating that Obama is a Muslim and is trying to destroy America. Knowing full well the prejudice against Muslims in this country, this can only be a rather nasty smear tactic. But it seems to have been swallowed hook line and sinker by a number of people in this country including a lady who works in the same office as myself.

As for his needing to openly reject these remarks of his pastor, I am a bit torn. Yes, I think if you are a public figure and you have have publicly tagged someone as your spiritual leader, in cases like this it would be appropriate to go on the record as seriously disagreeing with what they have to say. On the other hand, I think it is stupid for the media to latch on to this. First Obama's a Muslim, now they seems to conceded that he is a Christian, but his pastor's a hate-spewing anti-American! Where does it end?

Finally, on the issue of social justice, I am deeply disturbed by what this pastor has to say. America has most definitely committed some terrible foreign policy snafus in the past...hold on, did I just call Hiroshima and Iraq snafus? When all is said and done, I think there needs to be some people in America who are speaking about against these sorts of atocities. It's not popular and not politically correct. Not good publicity for a presidential candidate, whatever his views really are, that is for sure. Anyway, it's part of the job of a politician to try and make sure only their popular views make it to the public light I suppose. So even with the candidates I like, and I do like Obama, I still don't believe half of what they say. Sad state of affairs, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So am I a Buddhist or an atheist who meditates?

These thoughts have been rolling around in my head lately, though I haven't really given voice to them. I found the article below which describes very well how I've been thinking lately. While still being absolutly conviced that practicing Buddhist meditation and mindfulness, etc, is very beneficial in everyday life, I'm not sure if it is really honest for me to call myself a Buddhist. But maybe it doesn't really matter :)