Monthly Archives: January 2009

Jesus is the answer…

WTF was the question?

The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) are currently asking people to be on the lookout for any religious adverts; particularly on buses, billboards, or other media managed by APN.

Here’s a sample taken on the Pacific Highway near Hexham/Sandgate, you can also see it on Google Maps (though its a bit out of focus). It is unknown at this stage who the advertising company is that manages these particular billboards. If anyone knows please let me know.

jesus_billboard

As you should be aware by now the AFA was planning on conducting an Atheist Bus Campaign similar to the ones in the UK, USA and Spain. However APN has refused to carry the adverts.  The AFA has decided to pursue redress of the APN Outdoor ‘rejection’ with the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. If the AFA find any evidence of APN carrying religious advertising then this can be used as evidence in the case. Therefore it would be appreciated if all Australians could be on the lookout for religious advertising carried by APN. If anyone sees any religious advertising please let the AFA know by contacting them on their forum, or by leaving a comment here.

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Filed under atheism, Atheist Bus Campaign, jesus, politics

Why Darwin Matters

I’m currently reading “Why Darwin Matters” by Michael Shermer, whilst at the same time trying to follow the comments on Jacks blog. A ‘debate’ involving, amongst other things,  evolution, while people still debate this is beyond me (though Shermer gives some very good reasons why we should debate the ID/Creationists), as my comments will hopefully help show to some extent.

[Yes, I know I should be finishing the several other blog posts I’ve promised various other people, and writing the book review for “The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions”, but … but … but I have no valid excuse.]

Anyway, I have posted the following comments on Jack’s blog, but thought I’d reproduce them here so you don’t have to wade through all the comments on his blog (and possibly have your brain explode):

5 reasons why people resist the truth of evolution:
1. A general resistance to science.
2. Belief that evolution is a threat to specific religious tenets.
3. The fear that evolution degrades our humanity.
4. The equation of evolution with ethical nihilism and moral de-generation.
5. The fear that evolutionary theory implies we have a fixed human nature.

(From “Why Darwin Matters”, Michael Shermer pg30/31)

Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.
– Herbert Spencer, Essays Scientific, Political and Speculative, 1891

(A quote from “Why Darwin Matters”, Michael Shermer pg 45)

Note: that quote was written in 1891, and science has found a whole lot more to corroborate the theory of evolution since then.

Creationists often demand “one transitional fossil”, when provided with that fossil they then demand the transitional fossils in-between [paraphrased]. This can be called:
The Fossil Fallacy

The belief that a single ‘fossil” – one bit of data – constitutes proof of a multifarious process or historical sequence.

But we know that’s not the case:

We know evolution happened not because of a single transitional fossil … but because of the convergence of evidence from such diverse fields as geology, palaeontology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, genetics …

When I read that I thought “how could anyone not understand evolution is a sound scientific theory, how could they try and debunk it with one or two arguments?”. Then I re-read some of Marcus’ and facilis’ comments and I despaired.

(quotes and paraphrasing from “Why Darwin Matters” by Michael Shermer)

I sometimes despair when I see people like Marcus trying every trick in the book to attempt to debunk evolution, as if one person, however educated, or not, they are, could disprove what thousands of scientists in many different field have come to accept as fact during the last 150 years.

I’m enjoying Shermer’s book so far (about half way through) and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in evolution, from either side of the fence. Though the ‘god botherers’ need to switch their godness off whilst reading it, they need to read it with an open mind.

In writing the above sentence I can just hear some religious type saying “but you haven’t turned off your non-godness while reading it”, or “you’re just accepting what these other atheists say” (or something similar).  Just let me say this, first read my about page, then know I studied the bible with an “open heart”, I was baptised because because I believed. BUT, then I started to study the bible more and kept coming up with questions that couldn’t be answered. I started to study (using the term very loosely) evolution and biology and tried to work what I was learning into what I “knew”.  I attended a couple of lectures and invented the term Creatio-Evolutionist (pity I never copy-righted it), an attempt to combine what the bible and religious leaders where telling me with what was known in the scientific community at the time (this was before DNA came into the picture).  Then I misplaced my faith, then I just didn’t care, then I woke up and really thought about it all.

This was when, after reading many texts, I came to the full and complete understanding that evolution explains how we got here and that that is a wonderful and amazing thing.

To the religious readers, if your faith is so weak that in discussing evolution you have to resort to all sorts of fallacies and weasel words, then perhaps your faith isn’t worth keeping. Try to honestly, and openly, read some of the vast quantities of material on evolution (read this for a start), try not to insert a “god of the gaps” or a “goddidit” into your thinking, and try to think of it logically and sensibly. Read “Why Darwin Matters” , or some similar book, and then, I defy you, debate your point with an expert, or highly knowledgeable person, like Shermer or Dawkins, and see how long you last.

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Filed under atheism, Charles Darwin, evolution

Has Obama’s pen run dry?

Obama has only been in office a few hours and he’s already signed two executive orders and three presidential memoranda. At this rate his pen will run dry very soon. 🙂

Obama siging orders

Those orders and memoranda cover:

  • Freezing salaries of White House employees making more than $100,000 per year.
  • Changes to lobbying and lobbyists.
    • Lobbyists working for Obama will not be allowed to work on matters they lobbied on for the previous two years.
    • Upon leaving the Obama administration, they will not be allowed to lobby the issues they worked for during the remainder of Obama’s presidency.
    • In addition, the president instituted a ban on gifts by lobbyists to any member of his administration.
  • Changes to the the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) making it easier to obtain information.
    • Senior officials have been requested to produce an open government directive within the next 120 days.
  • An order that prohibits anyone other than the president from asserting executive privilege to prevent the release of records after an administration ends.
  • Agency and department heads have been directed to freeze movement on 11th-hour regulations from the Bush administration.

Obama said.

As of today, lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any other administration in history.

Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known…

The mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret doesn’t mean you should always use it

Well he sure seems to be doing the right thing so far. I particularly like his directives for the lobbyists, hopefully this will see a reduction in ‘big business’ getting away with so much.

Information gleaned from several of the many sites covering this news today, specifically Government Executive which has links to copies of the actual memoranda and orders.

Hat Tip to SheriMonk for mentioning the FOIA on Twitter.

You can follow me on Twitter by signing up then finding me here.

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Obama’s Inauguration Speech

The good, the bad and the ugly.
My little take on Obama’s inauguration speech, just quoting some of the things he said that I liked or otherwise.

Good

Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some

We will restore science to its rightful place

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous

that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. emphasis mine

Someone who finally realises and acknowledges this. Yay!

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist

Well said.

Bad

but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things

was there a need to mention that quote comes from ‘Scripture’?

Ugly

the God-given promise that all are equal

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

‘our’ confidence? It might be yours but it’s not everyones.

Overall

I think it was good, a lot of emphasis on how the nation was built and how it’s currently facing hard times. But like in the past, Americans can overcome these problems if they all work together.

Also liked how he emphasised the need to talk to other nations and not just blow them up [paraphrased, lol].

Though I would rather he hadn’t finished with

“God Bless America”

Transcript from here


On a lighter note, a cartoonist has complained that Obama is too handsome to caricature.

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Filed under Barack Obama, god, President

Win or Lose

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

Then again, even if you lose you can still proclaim that you won. Just ask Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who announced on Sunday

the war with Israel amounted to a “great victory” for the Palestinians

I’d hate to be there when they lost. When more than 1,300 of your people were killed, untold injured, and large parts of your infrastructure destroyed, I guess the fact that there are still some Palestinians left is a victory, of sorts?

Not only does Haniya think the recent war with Israel was a victory for the Palestinians, but he also thought

“God has granted us a great victory, not for one faction, or party, or area, but for our entire people,” from smh.com.au

Methinks that if I was God and on the side of the Palestinians I would have made their “victory” a bit more substantial. Maybe I would have caused the hundreds of Israeli missiles to misfire or perhaps turn around and blow up great swathes of Israel rather than destroying large parts of what’s left of Palestine? Maybe as God I would have found a way to prevent hundreds of innocent people and their homes being blown to bits, and maybe the death toll for the Palestinians wouldn’t have been a hundred times more than the death toll for the Israelis? But meh, what would I know? I’m not God and I don’t move in mysterious ways (except sometimes when I’m on the dance floor). If I was God I think I’d be a lot more omnipotent and obvious than the one some people reckon exists.

I don’t know about you, but if there is a God and he’s helping one side, doesn’t he appear to be helping the Israelis?

The cognitive dissonance of religious people staggers me sometimes.

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Filed under god, Israel, Palestine

Oh the Shame, Oh the Shame

Australia is really starting to look stupid, or more to the point APN are looking like anti ‘free speech’ advocates. Now the Canadians are planning an Atheist Bus Campaign! At this rate Australia will be the only country on the planet without an atheist bus campaign.

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Filed under APN, atheism, atheist, Atheist Bus Campaign

Comment Moderation – this is why

Like a lot of blogs I get my fair share of people that don’t like what I write and sometimes leave comments that are inappropriate or are personal attacks. I don’t worry too much about these and don’t generally censor commenters. However sometimes I get some very odd first time comments, several of these have ended up being deleted (Like the one from some guy in India who thought my blog would be appreciated by the Chistians in his country and wanted me to translate my blog into Urdu.  massive WTF?). Some spend a little in the queue before I moderate them, mainly so I can find time to respond, or to see if the person is serious (I assume they would write back if they didn’t see their comment posted?).

By way of explanation; comment moderation is switched on on this blog such that the first time someone leaves a comment I have to moderate it, after that they can write pretty much what they want. I only do this to help stop spammers or people who are completely off topic. If you as  a reader leave your first comment and you have a blog or website, or put a link in the comment, I will check it. If the links are dead or irrelevant and your comment makes no sense or is overly abusive quite likely you will never be moderated. If any readers suspect this has happened to them they are welcome to leave another comment, which will also require moderation, questioning what happened to their previous comment and perhaps apologising if they think I didn’t moderate because of what had been written.  Why am I writing this? Well recently I received the following comment from a person called Jeffrey, which was left on the Bible Study of the Day post:

Wow, and I was just on another atheist blog commenting that I didn’t believe that all atheists were ignorant and uneducated. Now I have to go back and do an addendum that “While not all atheists are ignorant and uneducated, clearly some are profoundly so! For proof just go to ozatheist.wordpress.com.”

Your ignorance is only exceeded by your arrogance.

I have left this un-moderated for a few of reasons:

  1. It is quite rude and a personal attack, especially for a first time comment.
  2. It was sort of off topic, and no explanation was left as to why they thought what I had written showed I was ignorant or uneducated. (I’m not overly sensitive, if you think I’m ignorant fel free to tell me, but at least have the courtesy to explain why you think that)
  3. The first sentence seems like it was written on the person’s own blog, or perhaps as a comment on some other christians blog. However, there is no link to the original comment and the person writing it didn’t leave a URL in the comment form.
  4. I wanted to find the time and inclination to respond to the comment.

I decided rather than just moderating this comment and responding in the Bible Study thread, I’d post it as  a new blog. I will not be moderating this comment, however, Jeffrey if you read this you are welcome to leave another comment (which will end up in the moderation queue) , this time hopefully you will be a bit more polite for a first time comment and perhaps stay on topic and explain why you think what you say, especially if it is abusive or a personal attack.

Interestingly enough, whilst writing this I have received another new comment, which I will be allowing through moderation, from someone trying to convince me the Bible is all true. Strangely he has left this on my latest post about the atheist bus campaign rather than the one about bible study. Feel free to explain to Chris why he might be wrong.

I’d also be interested to hear from other bloggers how they handle comment moderation, and perhaps you can tell us about some of your weirdest comments. I’d also like to know if you think I have been wrong in the way I’ve handled this, or how you would have done it?

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Filed under abuse, blog, blogging, comment moderation