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.


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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Filed under atheism

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.


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.


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’?


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.


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

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.


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.


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”

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?


Filed under abuse, blog, blogging, comment moderation

Atheist Bus Campaign – Italian Style

Now the Italians have got involved in an atheist bus campaign.

For those of you that can read Italian:

For smucks like me that can only read English, here’s googles attempt at translating the above page:

By the way if anyone else thinks APN (the company that runs most outdoor and transit advertising in Australia, which has in the past run religious adverts) are being obstinate in refusing to host atheist adverts here in Australia, please do what I did and leave a little note for them on their web site. Just fill in the contact form with any old details then give them a serve in the comment text box.

The above thoughts and opinions are Oz Atheist’s only are in no way associated with any organisation.


Filed under Atheist Bus Campaign

Atheist Bus Campaign

The UK Atheist Bus Campaign was mentioned on the ABC TV news tonight. The article even discussed how there had been an attempt to have an Atheist Bus Campaign in Australia which had failed. For those like me that missed it, Protium kindly supplied the link so we can all watch it online.

So there I was doing a bit of Internet surfing waiting for Protium to get back to me, then watching the video, when I realised RocKwiz must be on. So went and had a look, they were doing a segment where the contestants had to guess the next line of a song and who sang it. The song was “The Lord’s Prayer” by Sister Janet Mead [I knew the next two lines], the host turned to one of the other contestants and said “how come you didn’t get that?” His reply shrug of shoulders “atheist”. Then at the end of the show, just as the credits finished, they replayed “atheist”. To watch this online go here and watch episode 74.

It’s so heartening to see more and more people publicly admit they are atheists, and probably more importantly that they can say it without fear of religious nutbags crucifying them.


Filed under atheism, atheist, Atheist Bus Campaign

Oh, I’m Annoyed Alright

I’m annoyed when I read flagrantly inflammatory antagonistic headlines like this:

Atheists annoyed by inaugural oath

The article discusses how, quite rightly, some people want the words “So help me God’’ removed from Barak Obama’s inauguration oath. As anyone with an ounce of intelligence (and a bit of time to do some research) will know, America was not founded on ‘God’ and the initial declaration of independence had nothing in it about ‘God’. The ‘founding fathers’ aim was to make America a country that had a separation of church and state, that had freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

Somewhere along the way this all went to shit (in the 1950s – do you own research) since then the Presidential Inauguration has had the pledge “so help me god”. And money has also got it, don’t believe me it wasn’t always like this? Then check this picture of a 1950s dollar note.

Well knock me down with a feather but some people have woken up and respectfully requested that the American government be impartial when it comes to religion. Thus, after initial polite requests, a step has been taken to challenge the ‘god bits’ as being unconstitutional (which based on the original constitution they are) in the courts.

As the article states “the lawsuit has been described by some commentators as a publicity stunt.” this may be partly true, but everyone really needs to start considering all religions and non-religions when it comes to who runs their country. If you want to live in a theocratic state fine, else get rid of ALL religious panderings from all forms of government (and this should go for ALL countries!).

Some of the supporters have tried to justify the “So help me god” by saying “it’s only the person saying it, not the office”. Don’t know about you, but I think that is a seriously deluded ideology. When the top person in any job says something; no matter what they, or others, might try to say to distance that persons ideas/opinions from the job, it still reflects what that persons ideologies are and how they may run that position. Anyway why say anything that infers you will only apply yourself properly to the job on the whim of some quite possibly non-existent being?

What some/most/all of the “Christian” religious people don’t understand is that getting rid of the Judeo/Christian specific articles in any government system may turn out to be in their own best interests in the long term. Islam is the fastest growing religion in Australia and several other countries (go do your own research before you even consider criticising this assumption!) how long do you think it’s going to be before they go to court demanding Allah and Mohammed are put in the inauguration speech?

Anyway, back to the blog and what started me on this post.

Well it was all the comments from some of the most pig-ignorant morons I’ve had the misfortune to read. I suddenly remembered why I’d stopped reading this blog.

So here we go:

You have to wonder what these atheist groups are so afraid of. Cazza

Well there may be all sorts of things atheists are afraid of, but having a president say “so help me god” is not one of them. We just want fairness, not everyone on this planet believes in the Judeo/Christian God, so why should any government official say this?

This resurfaced in several guises, Non-Believer questioned whether Jews and Muslims would be represented at the swearing in ceremony. It was pointed out to him they will be. NB then questioned whether atheists will be represented. Then I read this and nearly wet myself laughing in utter disbelief:

Obama is a Democrat. I don’t think you have to worry too much about Atheists not being represented. If anything they’ll be over represented. TonyP

Oh really? Tony, where the fuck do you get that idea from, go check some recent surveys and find out how many Senators have ever declared themselves as being atheists. If you find more than the 3 I found I’d be happy to see your research.

Of course the religious throw in the usual ‘atheistic states mass murder’ routine (I think you missed this one vjack). I honestly couldn’t be bothered denouncing this one, but it may be another one for vjack’s list.  lol

Then Saved Sinner throws their 2 cents in (haven’t seen you here for quite a while SS) with two completely off topic sentiments:

… they insist on making statements regarding the myth of evolution.

… the atheists do not have a particular day of the year to celebrate their beliefs.

Evolution is NOT, repeat NOT, a myth. It is as good a scientific theory as most other scientific theories (check Sean’s post and the comments on this one for some further guidance. I’ve even put a few links there for you to start your research). I guess these twits think gravity is only a theory? For Christ’s sake even the Catholic church and most of the Anglican church have declared evolution as being a valid scientific theory.

One other thing on the evolution discussion, stop being so lazy anti-evolutionists/creationists/IDers. There is an absolute bucket load of information available on the internet, libraries, book shops and elsewhere. When someone like myself makes a claim about evolution, or for instance when tenebrous states

… the claims are based on the fossil records and genetic evidence showing common ancestry.

is it absolutely necessary that you demand an example? Here are some reasons why we don’t:

  • Providing just one example never seems to satisfy the incredulous.
  • Research time – why should we waste out time doing your research?
  • Most of you should have seen at least one example by now. If that one didn’t convince you how the heck are we supposed to know which one will?

So here’s a link to a nice litle booklet that explains a lot about evolution. Download it, read it, think about it, do you own research on anything you don’t understand or believe; then come back and question us. Remember we are not all experts on evolution, but we do understand it is a valid theory (as is gravitational theory, the theory of relativity and various other “theories”).

[as an aside here, one of the funniest, most bizarre, moments in my life happened late 2007. At an Anglican dinner (don’t ask what I was doing there) some woman piped up that evolution was not valid (or something similar) and before I could get a word out, an Anglican Minister (!!) shot her down faster and better than I could ever have done. He basically told her evolution was true, you should have seen the look on this woman’s face, priceless.]

So on to SS’s second ‘claim’

Atheists don’t have beliefs, so why would we need a day to celebrate them? We appreciate brilliant scientific discoveries so perhaps we could replace the Easter holidays with a Darwin long weekend? Christmas with Madame Curie day, an Einstein holiday in winter perhaps? I’m sure there must be thousands of brilliant men and women from all forms of scientific and humanist backgrounds that we could replace all the ‘religious’ holidays with. Epic Fail SS.

One topic of discussion was interesting, but I’m not going to cover it here as it will need some research done before I am prepared to make a decision one way or the other.

The discussion was about whether society improves as religion diminshes.

Patrick brought up the studies done by Zuckerman and Paul which supposedly showed society does improve. But TonyP then came up with some very good evidence to show those studies weren’t very good. So obviously more research needs to be done on this topic.

alexie said this on the topic:

It is obvious as countries such as the USA and Australia leave their Christian heritage behind the further we go into higher suicide rates, crime rates, drug use, depression, teenage pregnancy etc.

To me this seems rather an assumption on alexie’s part, and recent studies, as mentioned here, have shown higher teenage pregnancy rates in the more religious states in America. I tend to think that if the figures are higher it is a lot more complicated than just because the number of religious people is dropping. However, the drop in the number of religious people is up for debate anyway, as I have discussed several times before (search for census), part of the so called drop is just better and more accurate census reporting of non-believers. But this is another complete topic on it’s own.

I could go on for another thousand words on the comments in this blog, and every time I check it there are even more comments to discuss and/or debunk. So I think I’ll end it here, but with one final WTF?, the comment  which ends as follows (at or near the bottom of the comments):

From The Washington Times.
Michael (Reply)
Fri 09 Jan 09 (11:22am)

is taken from an online newspaper. Read it if you dare. Then let me know what you think.

Finally, if any fellow bloggers wish to take up the topics I did not cover “atheistic states mass murder” and “whether society improves as religion diminishes”, feel free.


Filed under atheism