If anyone's wondering where I've been, I've been trying to update the site to use a CMS like Joomla. So what little sit-down I have (before I give myself migraines in any case) has been spent working on setting up a template and all that kinda goodness. This has also been a bad week for migraines.
Anyway, that's what's happening. With Joomla (or another content management system ... if I can't get my own template going) I will able to offer more goodies that people expect, like RSS and email updates. Currently, the web site has been programmed by hand. ::Gasp!:: The old fashioned way.
But here a few links I couldn't resist posting for my fellow atheists:
-the Atheist Geek-Religion is a product of evolution, software suggests
Is Evolution a Religion? Is Evolution a Religious Belief System Based on Faith?By distilling religious belief into a genetic predisposition to pass along unverifiable information, the program predicts that religion will flourish. However, religion only takes hold if non-believers help believers out – perhaps because they are impressed by their devotion.
News And Links For Atheists:5/11/08
AUDIO: Richard Dawkins interviewed by John Humphrys on Cardinal Murphy O'Connor
AUDIO: Evolution - What is 'Natural'?
And now, if you're in the mood for a grudge match...Open Letter to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
What an extraordinary thing for you to say. If I had wanted to “assail” you, why would I do it by denying ever having debated you. What is so ‘assailing’ about a lapse of memory? And if I wanted to ‘assail’ you, why would I compliment you on the impartiality of your chairmanship?
Note that the link for this post came from Dawkins' own web site, so it seems to be genuine. Also, in case you didn't know, Rabbi Shmuley has a TV show of his own called "Shalom in the Home." It's actually pretty good as far as reality TV kinda stuff goes.(Rabbi Shmuley's) Response to Richard Dawkins Comparing (Him) to Hitler
(Richard Dawkins') Response to Rabbi Shmuley BoteachDear Richard,
I am in receipt of your open letter of May 2.
An ancient Rabbinical teaching says that one should respond to points in the order in which they are made. And that was my plan until I came across the part of your letter where you compare my speech at the IdeaCity convention to Hitler and say he would be proud of me.
The Problem with Atheism & Why Atheists are So PompousI did not say you think like Hitler, or hold the same opinions as Hitler, or do terrible things to people like Hitler. Obviously and most emphatically you don't. I said you shriek like Hitler.
Austin Cline responds to this post at another web site.What Would Convince You That You Were Wrong? The Difference Between Secular and Religious Faith
Is Religious Faith Irrational?
Another interesting link from Greta Christina's Blog (which I'm linking to in the previous two posts) can be found here. It's called The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists
Also note that Ellen Johnson has been removed as the President of American Atheists.
Just a quick note, really. Here is the best title for a serious news article on the web. (At least for today...) Ready? Here it is.
News And Links For Atheists:5/6/08
VIDEO: Shaw TV Interview with Richard Dawkins
AUDIO: Bill Good Interviews Richard Dawkins
How to reconcile Richard Dawkins?
'An Evangelical Manifesto' criticizes politics of faithChief among the criticisms is that The God Delusion presents an all-too-rosy picture of atheism -- Dawkins cites John Lennon's Imagine to paint the picture of what an atheist world would look like -- while accusing religion of inspiring all manner of unspeakable acts, including crusades, wars, witch hunts, suicide bombings, and on and on and on.
Now on that latter point, Dawkins will get no argument from me: Religion has driven otherwise good people to do many evil things.
But what of atheism? Surely Stalin's purges, including his execution of orthodox priests and nuns, and Mao's attempts to eliminate Buddhism count for something, no?
Well, yes and no. According to Dawkins, Stalin was an atheist who did evil things, but there is no direct "logical pathway" from atheism to bad deeds, as there is with religious faith. I have to say I don't entirely understand Dawkins's thinking here -- how, after all, could the executions of religious figures not follow logically from the promotion of atheism?
Fort Riley atheist soldier speaks out on lawsuitConservative Christian leaders who believe the word "evangelical" has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.
But the short and soft-spoken specialist is at the center of a legal controversy. He has filed a lawsuit alleging he's been harassed and his constitutional rights have been violated because he doesn't believe in God. The suit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
"I'm not in it for cash," Hall said. "I want no one else to go what I went through."
Known as "the atheist guy," Hall has been called immoral, a devil worshipper and — just as severe to some soldiers — gay, none of which, he says, is true. Hall even drove fellow soldiers to church in Iraq and paused while they prayed before meals.
Sam Harris is looking for people interested in taking part in a study about faith. If you have time to take a survey ... or five of them ... check it out at his home page.Beliefs & Choices: Do We Choose Our Beliefs? Can We Choose to Believe Different?
Losing Our Spines to Save Our NecksThe question of how and why we believe things is a crucial point of disagreement between atheists and theists. Atheists say believers are overly credulous, believing things much too easily and readily than reason or logic can justify. Theists say nonbelievers deliberately disregard important evidence and are thus unjustifiably skeptical. Some theists even say that nonbelievers know that there is a god or that there is evidence proving a god but willfully ignore this knowledge and believe the opposite due to rebellion, pain, or some other cause.
Myth-Defining Atheism: Common Myths About the Definition of AtheismGeert Wilders, conservative Dutch politician and provocateur, has become the latest projectile in the world's most important culture war: the zero-sum conflict between civil society and traditional Islam. Wilders, who lives under perpetual armed guard due to death threats, recently released a 15 minute film entitled Fitna ("strife" in Arabic) over the internet. The film has been deemed offensive because it juxtaposes images of Muslim violence with passages from the Qur'an. Given that the perpetrators of such violence regularly cite these same passages as justification for their actions, merely depicting this connection in a film would seem uncontroversial. Controversial or not, one surely would expect politicians and journalists in every free society to strenuously defend Wilders' right to make such a film. But then one would be living on another planet, a planet where people do not happily repudiate their most basic freedoms in the name of "religious sensitivity."
Consider this a "blow-by-blow" list of common myths about atheism (and atheist) and a list of responses.Do vitamin supplements do more harm than good?
Psychics not all they're cracked up to beNow a report into the effects of taking these vitamins and supplements has thrown the whole issue of pill-popping into confusion. The study, published by the Cochrane Collaboration, is the biggest analysis of its type, looking at the impact of these pills on 233,000 sick and healthy people. It showed there is no evidence that supplements reduce the risk of dying prematurely, and some of the most fashionable antioxidants may shorten rather than prolong life.
The studies specifically looked at the most popular supplements, the much-fabled antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium, and compared people taking them with people taking placebo pills or no supplements at all.
Senators ask God to deflect hurricanesAfter begrudgingly handing over my $6 entry fee, I stepped into the hall filled with stalls that were operated by old hippies wearing gaudy looking outfits and kitschy jewelry. It was like a reception at a Grateful Dead concert.
Isn't this a church/state separation kinda thing? Well, if the friggin' Senate doesn't care about it...
Just wanted to remind everyone who likes my reviews and the funny stuff that you're missing part of the humor unless you hover your mouse cursor over the pictures. Sometimes the comments are imbedded for the savviest geeks and the regulars. (It's a geek thing...) Just park your mouse cursor over a picture to find out if I've got some sneaky comment waiting for you or not.
That is all. Carry on.
-the Atheist Geek-
News And Links For Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses:5/4/08
FROM THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY'S HOME PAGE:
Do they believe that they are the only ones who will be saved?No. Millions that have lived in centuries past and who were not Jehovah's Witnesses will come back in a resurrection and have an opportunity for life. Many now living may yet take a stand for truth and righteousness before the "great tribulation," and they will gain salvation. Moreover, Jesus said that we should not be judging one another. We look at the outward appearance; God looks at the heart. He sees accurately and judges mercifully. He has committed judgment into Jesus' hands, not ours.—Matthew 7:1-5; 24:21; 25:31.
No? NO? I mean, nice evasion, but come on. When I see "Do we believe that we're the only ones awesome enough to be saved and the rest of you are screwed?" I don't expect any equivocation. I expect to hear, "Hell yes. Anyway, moving on..." because that's their mantra. The threat of Armageddon is the fear that drives them. They all want that bus pass to the New System and out of deaths-ville. It's why my in-laws feel entitled to nag me every once in a while even as I'm walking away and getting in my car and hitting the gas. They need that service time. How dare you or I try to deny them the satisfaction and that extra hour on their service report!
Every time their book study conductor sees the number on that slip of paper and smiles, a Witness gets its wings. (Hey! I should write that down...)
Oh, Watchtower. You so silly.VIDEO: Occult Roots of the Jehovah's Witnesses
VIDEO: Essay on Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah transfusion deemed lawful
In Ireland, anyway.What's the Deal with Disconnection?
I've noticed a number of similarities between the Watchtower Society and Scientology. According to this, they have their own version of disfellowshipping.
VIDEO: Watchtower Comments for Week of 4/14/08-The GenerationDisconnection is a Scientology practice of cutting all ties and all communication with someone who is declared a Suppressive Person (evil) by the Church of Scientology. This may include family, friends, loved ones, work associates, acquaintances, or anyone else found Suppressive by the Church.
Disconnection is a very touchy topic among Scientologists and critics both. Scientologists believe that Disconnection is generally a necessary action that, when undertaken, benefits the group as a whole. Critics believe this is an extremely harmful practice akin to emotional blackmail that destroys families and interpersonal relationships.
MP3: Hear The Announcement in English Regarding No More Bookstudy
Or go directly to the MP3 here.The new Congregation Study
A Bethelite's Viewpoint on the Recent Organization Changes
To me the most obvious reason has nothing to do with control, or money. It has everything to do with the serious shortage of qualified brothers who can (or who are willing to) be used. I have been involved in the organzation for 40 yrs and I have never seen the level of apathy and disillusionment among those serving in some capacity in this organization. There are three main reasons for this: 1) burnout, 2) lack of urgency/belief that the GT or armaggedon is near, and 3) steady erosion of faith in the organization.
While I won't deny a bit of satisfaction in hearing stuff like this, I can't help but wonder if it's the real deal or not. I don't mean to criticize the author here and I'm certainly not saying that anyone's being dishonest. I'm only saying that I try to keep a level head about rumors, especially ones that sound just like the sort of thing ex-Witnesses want to hear. Exxers like me can be just as vulnerable to "spinning" the facts to suit our preferences as Jehovah's Witnesses can be. We're just as human, after all.
Please don't get too excited about stuff like this. This is just one point of view. With the Society, I tend to think that there's always too much going on for any one person to see the big picture. This is just one take of many. I did find some of the comments interesting, so it's definitely worth reading. As to the Society getting apathetic and losing steam, I'm reserving judgment.
Review: Iron Man5/3/08
I just saw Iron Man, the movie. First things first: it didn't suck, which means my review won't be as mean spirited and evil as you'd wish. The movie was certainly enough to keep me in my seat. For someone who has trouble sitting for more than a couple hours at a time (I get debilitating migraines and junk) that's a big deal. Iron Man also delivered for Robert Downey Jr. (a.k.a. Tony Stark) whose star is finally rising again. Made me proud to be a child of the 80s. Best of all, Gwyneth Paltrow didn't get on my nerves. This was easily her least annoying role ever. I even thought she was totally bangable in this flick, which proves how un-annoying she truly was. Way to go, Iron Man!