Monthly Archives: August 2008

Carnival of the Godless # 99

Would you believe I had 800 submissions for the Carnival 99?

No Max.

How about 2 submissions and a box of crackers?


For this edition of the carnival I have just listed the submissions as they arrived (17 of which arrived in one hit from Brent after he found a problem with Blogcarnival.com … Yikes). For each one I have provided a brief description of the article and picked out a small quote I particularly liked. Enjoy the reading folks, and don’t forget to pick up your award if you were one of the lucky winners.


Welcome to the August 31, 2008 edition of carnival of the godless.

Michael presents RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY AT OLYMPICS posted at NYC-Atheists Blog, saying, “Should religious freedom be accorded globally? Why should the world expect this of China?”

This concept that religious freedom ought to be a global right seems to have gone a bit far.

This could be the understatement of the year.

Bill presents A Reversal of Pascal’s Wager posted at (((Billy))) The Atheist.

(((Billy))) expands nicely on the ageless question:

Christians:  how do you know that your version of Christianity is the one and only proper way to be saved?

Poodles presents Coming out posted at Poodles Place, saying, “For your consideration.”

Atheists ‘coming out’ and declaring their real identity on the net has been a hot topic lately. Poodles has a few good points that people should consider, including:

If you choose to come out to anyone you have to be prepared to deal with the reactions when they come.

ChemJerk presents Intelligent design and life expectancy posted at Odd Nectar.

ChemJerk ponders about life expectancy and poses the question:

… if we’re so intelligently designed why, in the absence of modern medicine, would anyone be lucky to see their 45th birthday.

get out of that one IDiots

yunshui presents Kicking away the crutches posted at Right To Think.

yunshui ponders the emotional need for religion, and provides a few reasons why, and some excellent responses to those needs. His conclusion includes this gem:

The psychological crutch which religion provides is a powerful support, but in the end unnecessary.

Cubik’s Rube presents Atheism is a belief system posted at Cubik’s Rube, saying, “In which an atheist argues that it is appropriate to classify the atheistic position as a “belief system”.”

In which Cubik raise the point that if atheists are going to “believe” there are no gods, we need to be able to justify that position.

… atheists need to have a reason for maintaining a lack of belief.

Ian presents Getting something from nothing posted at Terahertz. If the above link doesn’t work, please try this alternate link: Getting Something from Nothing at Edger.

Ian discusses electron theory and shows how the universe may not need a “cause” after all.

Essentially, it is entirely natural that stuff can happen, unpredictably, with absolutely no cause!

This article may have a new slant on “the first cause” principle, have a read.

Ordinary Girl presents All I Can Do Is Pray posted at tales of an ordinary girl.

In a somewhat personal article, OG discusses prayer and wonders why people pray and if prayer can ever achieve anything useful? Or do

… people hold out hope because, like the lottery, there’s that chance they may hit the jackpot.

Jason presents 1848: Camila O’Gorman and Father Ladislao Gutierrez, for traditional family values posted at Executed Today, saying, “Possibly a bit tangential.”

The opening sentence of this post entices you to read the rest of it.

On this date in 1848, a pregnant 20-year-old socialite and her forbidden lover were shot at the order of an Argentine dictator.

An interesting read: history, religion and true love. Something a bit different for the Carnival.

Jeffrey presents Why Scientific Revision Is Justifiable, But Religious Revision Is Not posted at Disillusioned Words.

Jeffrey thinks that

Any atheist will probably be bored just reading the title to this post, …

I beg to differ, whilst the topic may have been covered before, Jeffrey’s take on it was very informative.

Skeptico presents Prayer Fails Again posted at Skeptico.

More on the power, or lack thereof, of prayer.

You know … it’s almost as if prayer is completely useless at influencing …

You’ll have to read it to find out what.

vjack presents You Might be a Militant Atheist if… posted at Atheist Revolution.

OK, I’ll have to declare my bias on this one. vjack is one of my favourite blogs and I think the only one I’d commented on prior to receiving this submission. Even if it was just to repeat a joke by Michael Shermer.

The slur du jour aimed at atheists appears to be that of “militant atheism.”

So are you a Militant Atheist and should we even use that term? Does vjack have the answer?

Dereck presents An Essay on Human Growth posted at I Will Not Die.

I concur with one of Dereck’s readers, this is a great quote:

The passage of time does not equal human growth or achievement.

Read Dereck’s fine article as see if you can answer his question:

“are you really growing?”

Christopher presents Social Necessity without Metaphysical Necessity: Why Mythology and Religion Interest us, but Shouldn’t posted at Philpropsophy.

Christopher discusses something pertinent to all us atheist bloggers:

… what good does studying religion serve?

He questions why would we delve into the minutiae of religions if none of it is true? Quite a philosophical article.

*** Greta, who is a prolific and thought provoking writer, has submitted two articles ( greedy girl 🙂 ) However, I feel I must provide a warning to anyone who has not yet visited her site. There is some Not Safe For Work (NSFW) content on her site. ***

Greta Christina presents “People of Faith”: Religion as Ethical Misdirection posted at Greta Christina’s Blog, saying, “How religion can serve as a form of ethical misdirection, creating a flashy show of goodness with one hand while behaving in a despicable manner with the other. Using the case of a Christian high school principal who bullied and harassed his gay and gay-supportive students as Exhibit A.”

Greta Christina presents CSI: Deuteronomy posted at Greta Christina’s Blog, saying, “On one of the stranger injunctions in the Old Testament. If there’s an unsolved murder in your city, then who should slaughter the sacrificial cow — the mayor, or the District Attorney? And the Bible is an eternal moral guide, as useful today as the day it was written — how, exactly?”

Greta has left me nothing to add, you’ll just have to read them for yourself. The second article will, like Greta herself, give you a WTF moment. In fact both articles probably will.

Enshoku presents A Question to all non-white christians posted at Enshoku’s Weblog.

Enshoku’s post is short and to the point, though white christians, especially the bronzed Aussie types, may also want to ponder his question.

DB presents Evolution Education: Where Science Is Failing posted at An Inevitable Conflict. As DB says, “A critical look at the reasons so many fundamentalists do not understand evolution. Part of the rise of fundamentalism is the fact that our public relations campaign for PR is ineffective. How many times have we heard the belligerently ignorant phrase “If we evolved from monkeys, why have they not evolved?” Perhaps we should fix this problem, but only after we realize it is one. Education works wonders.”

I have to ask: “how do we educate people who don’t want to be educated?”

Procrustes presents How Much Is Too Much? posted at State of Protest. A critical analysis of the scale of rational activism, from closet to militant atheism, and asking the question How much is too much activism?

There has been quite a few articles discussing the various forms of atheism, especially ‘militant atheism’, lately. Procrustes ask how far should we go to promote atheism, is this too far:

… if the religious zealots of my nation stood up in arms and attempted to create a theocracy by force, I would retaliate in kind.

Adrian presents If You Don’t Like Gay Marriage, Don’t Have One posted at The Atheist Blogger.

How bleedingly obvious. Adrian presents us with a potted history of “marriage” and contemplates how to make marriage available to everyone whilst placating both the church and the state. He says:

Let’s take marriage back to its original status: …

Which is? You’ll have to read Adrian’s contribution to find out.

Chris presents The argument from overboard praise, and other things HT Stephen Law posted at The Uncredible Hallq.

In which Chris discusses a response Stephen Law got to his criticism of the liar, lunatic, or lord argument.

Christians are so used to saying “God is Truth” and “Jesus is Truth” that they immediately jump from “there is no God” to “there is no truth.”

Chris debates this fallacy as well as several others.

** a tip, if like me you go to this site and see a plain ASCII page and don’t like it, check the sidebar for the Theme Changer and select one of the other themes (such as WordPress Default). You may then need to scroll down to find this post **

Jason presents Shermer vs. Lennox: Does God Exist? posted at A Drunken Madman.

Jason’s remark: Since you reported on the IQ2 debate, I thought you might like this transcript of the shermer/lennox debate on the Saturday.

Thanks Jason, I couldn’t attend that debate, but I’m quite sure your hilarious take on it is quite accurate. I saw Shermer at the Big Science Night and wouldn’t be surprised if he did says this:

Shermer: Does God Exist? No. Thank you very much I’ll see you after the show.

and what I saw of Shermer, after the show would be at the pub, cheers all.

Bruce presents Carnival of The Godless: Leave Mike Guglielmucci Alone! posted at The Thinkers’ Podium.

Bruce has written some fine pieces about Guglielmucci, the lying pastor, and this final piece is superb.

It’s the fact that people could walk into this kind of environment and switch off their critical faculties that is damning. It’s as stupid as walking up to a death adder, wearing crappy tourist shorts and dancing around like a loon.

Nicely put Bruce.

Aaron presents How the Bias for Intent Makes Fools of Us All posted at Aaron Ross Powell.

A thought provoking post, Aaron explains why humans have bias for seeking intent in things.

Our brains are wired to always see specific intent, even when none exists.  But that wiring makes the actual presence of intent no more likely.

What can be done about it?

Ron presents College Requirement: Four Years of Darwinism posted at Bay of Fundie.

From the opening picture to the end I had a little smirk on my face, As Ron says:

… which proves that you can misuse a real education as easily as a fake one

There also looks like some more good points in his many comments, happy reading.

vjack presents Faith as a Virtue, Part II posted at Atheist Revolution.

Science has proven valuable again and again, while religion occupies an intellectual wasteland of willful denial of reality…

In which vjack debates is there anything in having ‘faith’ that is virtuous. I’ll let yo decide.

Hey! I just realised that vjack has also submitted two articles, greedy.  🙂

Greg presents Greg Laden’s Blog : Back To School Special: What to do with Bible thumping students posted at Greg Laden’s Blog.

My first thought before reading Greg’s article was “thwack ’em over the back of their heads with their bibles. Might knock some sense into them.” I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m not a teacher? 🙂

However, unlike my suggestion, Greg has some very good advice on how to handle students that try to bring up the subject of creationism or ID in the classroom. As Greg says:

Anyone who tells you there is an easy way to handle this is misinformed.

Finally two slightly odd ones, which I wasn’t sure if I should include.

Justin presents A Case for Intelligent Design? posted at Panexperientialism.

I’m not sure what to say about this post, for a start I have no idea what panexperientialism or panpsychism is/are, and the thought of having to read another few pages of text to get my head around the idea was too much.  Anyway if you understand panexperientialism (or want to learn) and sentences like this

I noted that putative explanations should be both plausible and parsimonious.

don’t do your head in, then feel free to read Justin’s post, you might just learn something new.

Michael presents 15 Things That Are Wrong With America posted at The Moral Collapse Of America.

Hmmm, not sure if I should have included this one, it doesn’t seem very Godless and could quite possibly just be spam? But I’m not into censorship, and he may have one or two valid points. See for yourself, if you dare.

This is the only submission where I read the comments (apologies to other submissions but there are only so many hours in a day) mainly in the hope of finding some refutations to his points. I think ian’s comment nails most of them.

Edith This was one submission I didn’t include because it was just an advert for some technology conference. the cheek of some people.

Me presents Teenager arrested for ‘blasphemous’ T-shirt something I wrote a while back, but for some reason it seems popular. Perhaps you might want to read it if you haven’t already.


Awards

As I said before, for a bit of fun, I’m handing out two awards. One to the submission I think is the most thought provoking, and another to the most thought provoking and funny. The nominees are:

yunshui, Dereck, Procrustes, Bruce, Aaron – the Thinker Award

ChemJerk, Enshoku, Jason, Ron – Shaun the Thinker Award

Jeffrey gets bonus points for use of the word hypocrite. Well done.

One last special mention to Christopher, for having the longest title. Though Greg was running a close second.

and the winners are:

thinker_award To Procrustes well done

shaun-thinker-award To Ron congratulations

To the winners, please collect your award at the end of the dais.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of the godless using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. If you would like to host a Carnival contact Brent via email: brent at brentrasmussen dot com

Brent is always looking for hosts, this is the first one I’ve done, and whilst it was a fair bit of work, I considered it worthwhile. I got to read a lot of blogs I may not otherwise have and hopefully my readers will also.

The next Carnival of the Godless #100, a milestone, is at Prior Perceptions Sunday 14th September.

Posted at 0810 hours Sunday 31st August 2008 AEST, just as I head off on my 10.5km fun walk.

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Filed under atheism, atheist, Carnival of the Godless

IQ2 Debate – Would We Be Better Off Without Religion?

This was held on Tuesday 19th August in Sydney, I had tickets but unfortunately was unable to go. Lucky for me, and everyone else, the debate is now available online, via the SMH site.

I have been reliably informed that

The second speaker on the affirmative was censored (the audio had been removed from the video) when talking about “The Jewel of Medina” a book which criticizes Islam and subsequently pulled by the publisher. This is quite disgraceful, clearly the whole point behind what the speaker was talking about was missed by the editors too scared to upset the sensibilities of Islam.

If this is true it is very disgraceful of the Sydney Morning Herald. Screw the sensibilities of any religion, they don’t hold any special rights to be upset just because someone legitimately critiques them.

Hopefully, eventually all these debates will be either shown on TV (ABC are one of the sponsors, so we might be lucky) and or released on DVD.

Hat Tip to Aaron from the Secular Party discussion board for the link and above information.

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Oh, Surprise

More allegations of sexual abuse by a catholic priest, this time at a prestigious Catholic boys boarding college in Bathurst (NSW Australia). These allegations go back some years, and the priest was arrested some months back, but, for whatever reason, the story is all over the media today. Police are appealing for anyone with information or concerns to come forward. Another article at news.com.au even talks of a paedophile ring operating at the school.

Whilst looking up the above story, I spotted another very disturbing story about the Kenja cult. It appears that cult members disguised themselves and put on fake auditions for a play in order to harass one of their members who had recently left.

The papers are full of interesting articles today, I bet this will get a few people upset. It appears that a legal loophole means the $5000 baby bonus can be claimed for late-term abortions.

And an update on the lying pastor, imaginatively titled Porn pastor’s wife vows to stand by him. I can understand the “stand by your man” mentality, though I’m sure it will be very difficult for her. It will be hard to get past the lies and deceit that had been going on so long. But it’s good to see that:

… her faith in God had remained unmoved throughout the ordeal.
“At times like this, it’s just a stronger resolve,” she said.

</sarcasm>

I’ve been a bit distracted the last few days, plus I’ve been preparing for the Carnival of the Godless (only 2 more days to get those submissions in), so apologies for lack of posts and quality thereof.

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Filed under Catholic, religion

Close but no banana?

A religious leader who may be on the right track.

Archbishop Philip Freier (Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne) argues that we must lead the way on climate change if we wish to hold our head high as a regional leader.

In the newmatilda.com article Freier discusses that the Anglican church is “… at the forefront of caring for people displaced and distressed by the impacts of climate change.” Sounds very noble. Though in the comments it’s pointed out that he has got some of his ‘facts’ slightly wrong.

At least he, unlike some other religious leaders, acknowledges there could be major problems with Global Warming.

Why not read the article and let me know what you think.

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The Darwin Fish Cat

if that makes any sense.

Darwin Small On Friday whilst driving home I again spotted the car with the Darwin Fish emblem on the boot, or at least I thought I did.

This time I managed to get a bit closer and found out it was actually the Darwin Fish Cat, or is it the Darwin Cat Fish?   whatever.

Cat Large Anyway, A quick search on the Interweb (Google is God) and I found it, plus many more.

So, if Ms Darwin Fish Cat / Cat Fish sees some dude following her home; don’t be afraid, be very afraid.  😈  Just joking.

I’m going to get me one of these bumper stickers, and, along with my scarlet A sticker, if Ms Darwin Cat sees me, please wave. (Honestly, I really am quite harmless)

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On a completely different note:

If there really was a heaven, then I’d like to spend some quality time with Kate Bush as she was in the “Running up that Hill” video. Or maybe the Babooshka video; heck, anything by Kate back then.

That’s what happens when you stay up late drinking and watching Rage.

What would your version of ‘heaven’ be, because the one usually described in the bible seems dreadfully boring?

At least I think I can answer for Poodles; it would have something to do with a fair bit of “quality time” with a certain TV host. Hmmm, methinks if I just grow my hair a bit longer, don’t shave for a few days (suddenly become 20 years younger) ……  (or maybe not)  🙂

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Filed under Cat, Darwin, Fish, Kate Bush

the Big Science Night

The Big Science Night on Friday 22 August was quite a success, I think, I’m definitely glad I went.

The 4 hour event featured Simon Pampena – the Stand-up Mathematician, Dr Jim Patrick – Chief Scientist at Cochlear, Dr Michael Shermer from the US Skeptics Society, and Dr Fred Watson – Astronomer-in-Charge, Anglo-Australian Telescope.

Hosted by Bernie Hobbs from ABC’s New Inventors, with Dr Paul Willis from ABC’s Catalyst program interviewing Shermer.

What  a stellar line up, four very interesting seminars and to top it off they had wine tasting and a live Jazz trio playing during the breaks. What more could a man ask for – wine and intellectual stimulation (except for perhaps some stimulation of another kind 😉 ).

So, I guess you are wondering how the night panned out. Well proceedings started at 5:30pm with the wine tasting and jazz music. For me the pick of the wines was the Battle of Bosworth Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Kalleske Clarry’s Grenache Shiraz a close second. All wines on show (eight of) were organic and/or bio-dynamic, I must say the organic/bio-dynamic wines have come along way since I first tasted some about 10 years ago.

At about 6:30pm we all proceeded to the first conference hall to watch Simon Pampena; who gave us “The Maths Olympics Show”. I haven’t laughed so much at maths in my whole life. This guy was hilarious and at the same time enlightening about maths and how little our country cares about it. He demonstrated how we were actually coming first in the medal tally at the Beijing Olympics, by comparing the number of medals to the population. Sounds dry in my writing of it, but trust me it was hilarious and quite intriguing. Next he showed us the statistics from the recent International Maths Olympics. Australia came about ninth, but wait, he applied the same math to the results as he did for the athletic Olympics; guess where Australia came then: First – No, tenth perhaps – No; we actually came 44th. As he pointed out, it is a disgrace that this country pumps $500,000,000 into sports but hardly anything into maths and science.

So on to the next lecture (in the larger hall as a lot of people had turned up, perhaps more than they were expecting?) by Dr Patrick, a lot drier than the first one but still quite interesting. He gave us a brief potted history of the cochlear hearing implant and how it works. I guess as an electronics tech I found this a bit more interesting than some of the other people in the crowd. It really is quite amazing how they can give hearing back to deaf people, and they are currently working on a device to give sight back to blind people! It just goes to show what science can do for humanity.

So onto our first break, listen to some more jazz, a bit of mingling and another glass of the Cab Sav; only one, I had to drive home after all (all 160km).

During the break I went up and introduced myself to Rachel, Rachel had been dragged up on stage during Simon’s show and I had noticed a red A lapel badge on her blouse. She was with a group of friends all who were all wearing Skeptic badges and about half who were also wearing the A badge (now available at Richard Dawkins site, I like the idea of the lapel pin much better than the T-shirt, a bit less “in your face”). It turns out the Skeptic badge was from Shermer’s Skeptic site and this group had been to lunch with Shermer, then spent the afternoon in the pub with him. I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Now to the talk with Dr Michael Shermer, this was quite interesting, Dr Paul Willis  kept the questions coming and got some interesting insights from Shermer.  It was quite informal (obvious that both of them had been imbibing of the free wine) but Shermer still made some good points about skepticism, rationality, religion and conspiracy theories. Pity I didn’t record it, and can’t remember what he said.

Just some orange juice during this break, the long drive and all.

Then on to the final talk with Fred Watson, who discussed Space Tourism. He was an excellent, enthusiastic and funny speaker and covered the whole history (albeit only a short history so far) of space tourism and also what might be available in the future. His talk also explained all the physics (well, some of the basics) behind space exploration and the problems with going into space. He even talked about the space QUID. After all, a space tourist always needs some money to buy cocktails at their space hotel.

Then the long drive home, the 320Km round trip was worth it, I had a top night, as I’m sure just about everyone else did. Heck, I even saw Bernie Hobbs have a minor wardrobe malfunction. 🙂

One thing I almost didn’t mention, when I went up and introduced myself to Rachel, she was talking to some guy in a suit, who wandered off shortly after to get a drink. She said to me “do you know who that guy was?”, me “no”, she “only Michael Shermer himself” me “uh, oh, erh, he looks different in his photo“; me, thinking, “where’s a hole to bury yourself when you need one”.

 

Brought to you whilst sitting on the lounge, watching music videos, and drinking a glass, or few, of a nice sparkling Shiraz. Cheers !!

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PS. Special Hug to Poodles who’s having a bit of a bad time at the moment.

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Filed under Michael Shermer, science, science week

Teach the Controversy

The IDiots are always telling us to ‘teach the controversy’, well what would happen if schools had to teach all the controversies?

per_table

As Humanist Mama says

… we might need to extend the school day to fit in all of these “controversies” so our kids will be good and ederkated.

I don’t know about getting a T-shirt with the above picture on it (probably a bit complicated) but the link in HM’s comments has some fine Teach the Controversy T-shirts. I think I might get me some, I particularly like the Geocentric Universe one. What’s your favourite?

Hat Tip to Humanist Mama for the Periodic Table and hat tip to Caitlin for the T-shirts link.

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