Why I Used To Believe In Ghosts And The Supernatural

ghost dude
Good thing he was wearing a shroud.
I’d hate to see his ghost wang.

I may be a secular atheist these days, but I grew up in a family that had a lot of experiences with ghosts and the supernatural. I believed in just about anything you might classify as “weird” or paranormal throughout my childhood. Especially ghosts, as my family had loads of ghost stories to tell from their personal experiences. It took decades for me to drop these beliefs.

My Family History With Ghosts

The way my mom tells it, she pretty much grew up in the Amityville Horror. Her whole family was kept awake many a night by loud thumping noises. Sometimes they would see ghoulish women looking out at them through the upstairs windows. My grandfather would run inside and charge up the stairs to catch the intruder, only to find no one was there. These events usually happened at night. Turns out that ghosts like it when things are dark. Continue reading

News and Links for Atheists: Lotta Videos Today.

Sapolsky on Religion

Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky, one of the most interesting anthropologists I’ve heard lecture, gives us 90 minutes on the evolutionary basis for literal religious belief, “metamagical thinking,” schizotypal personality and so on, explaining how evolutionarily, the mild schizophrenic expression we called “schizotypal personality” have enjoyed increased reproductive opportunities.

‘Daniel Dennett – The Genius of Charles Darwin: The Uncut Interviews’ by Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins

Betty Bowers Explains Traditional Marriage

This one you just have to see for yourself.

‘Richard Dawkins and John Lennox at the Oxford University Museum’ by Richard Dawkins, John Lennox – RichardDawkins.net

Video Contest by The Reason Project

The primary goal of The Reason Project is to promote critical thinking. We invite you to help us by participating in our yearly video contest.

The prize for the Winning Video of 2009 will be $10,000.

The prize for Second Place will be $4,000.

The prize for Third Place will be $1,000.

Stay tuned to this page: videos will be posted here, and visitors to the site will be able to vote for their favorites.

Bush’s Shocking Biblical Prophecy Emerges: God Wants to “Erase” Mid-East Enemies “Before a New Age Begins”

The revelation this month in GQ Magazine that Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary embellished top-secret wartime memos with quotations from the Bible prompts a question. Why did he believe he could influence President Bush by that means?

The answer may lie in an alarming story about George Bush’s Christian millenarian beliefs that has yet to come to light.

Teenager faces prosecution for calling Scientology ‘cult’

A teenager is facing prosecution for using the word “cult” to describe the Church of Scientology.

The unnamed 15-year-old was served the summons by City of London police when he took part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.

Officers confiscated a placard with the word “cult” on it from the youth, who is under 18, and a case file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Are they sure that The Church of Scientology isn’t owned by the RIAA?

Support Simon Singh – support truth in science

Scientist and author Simon Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for saying that the claims made for the “therapy” are unproven.

Are they sure that the British Chiropractic Association isn’t owned by … never mind.


The Museum’s two themed alternatives—God’s Word versus Human Reason—might make it sound like it is presenting a choice between those famous opposites: blind faith and science. In fact, the Museum won’t concede that science points away from Genesis (although “secular scientists” and the “mass media” can make this mistake); it argues that when both are understood properly, Genesis and scientific findings support one another. It’s not so much that God is better than science; it’s that God is a better scientist. This is a pattern you will notice throughout: the Museum co-opts the hallmarks of the scientific method for its own ends. In his Dictionary of Received Ideas, Flaubert notes the common view: “A little science takes your religion away from you; a great deal brings you back to it.” This could be the Museum’s motto.

George Tiller and Bill Donohue: How Religion Twists the Moral Compass

I want to talk about the power that religion has to twist the human moral compass.

I’m going to start by being fair. Religion is far from the only belief system or ideology that can inspire people who think they’re doing good to commit terrible, heinous acts. Political ideology, for instance, can do the same thing: as we’ve seen in the Stalinist Soviet Union, or the United States in the W. Bush administration. The process of rationalization is far from limited to the world of religion. And because rationalization is often self- perpetuating — when we do something bad, we find a rationalization for why it wasn’t bad, which makes us more likely to do that bad thing again — it can lead otherwise sane and moral people, step by step, into committing atrocities we would otherwise recoil from in horror. This is not limited to religion: it is a fluke of how the human mind works.

Christians battle each other over evolution

Maybe this will keep’em occupied so they’ll leave the rest of us alone.

God’s place is in heaven, not deciding NBA Finals

Dwight Howard was asked a simple question. Howard’s answer shockingly veered off into some potentially highly controversial — if not offensive — territory.

Why, Howard was asked, should the Orlando Magic be picked by the media or others to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers?

“God,” was Howard’s response.

He apparently wasn’t joking. Howard was claiming that God favored the Magic.

Howard was given a chance to reconsider his words. He didn’t hesitate. “That’s the reason” the Magic would win, Howard continued, according to ESPN. “I’m telling you.”

This is one of those things that bugs me with religious believers: the tendency to give all credit to God. Apparently we mortals can do nothing without God making it so. Just had life saving surgery? God pulled you through. (Instead of just preventing the problem in the first place.) Survive a terrible accident? Lucky God was there. (It would have been even luckier if he’d stopped the accident, but anyway…) What about the humans who actually did the work of performing the operation or of engineering a car that could withstand the impact?

I think it’s nice for a religious believer to tell themselves that God was watching, that he cared, and that he stepped in. That means you’re favored a little more than the other guy who didn’t make it, ya know? Unless you’re a friend or relative of his. Then God just decided to “call them home” or something like that.

All I’m sayin’ is that there’s a lotta flip-flopping and rationalizing going on around here.

News and Links for Atheists: Richard Dawkins at the University of Oklahoma

VIDEO: Richard Dawkins at the University of Oklahoma – Introduction

Oklahoma legislator proposes resolution to condemn Richard Dawkins

PODCAST: Where Is God?

Hey, yeah! I’ve been asking that one for years…

PODCAST: Phrasing a Coyne: Jerry Coyne on Why Evolution Is True

Scholar Claims Dead Sea Scrolls ‘Authors’ Never Existed

Biblical scholars have long argued that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of an ascetic and celibate Jewish community known as the Essenes, which flourished in the 1st century A.D. in the scorching desert canyons near the Dead Sea. Now a prominent Israeli scholar, Rachel Elior, disputes that the Essenes ever existed at all — a claim that has shaken the bedrock of biblical scholarship.

VIDEO: A Skeptic in Creation Land

I visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, run by Answers in Genesis, the young-earth creationist organization run by Ken Ham, an Old Testament looking figure if ever there was one. I will be writing more about my experience in my monthly column in Scientific American (May 2009), but the highlight (also discussed in the column) was my interview with Dr. Georgia Purdom, the museum’s “research scientist” who explained what type of research one can do at a young-earth creationist organization, and why she thinks Francis Collins is wrong in his evolutionary understanding of the human genome.

Dembski Weasels Out

Here, Ian Musgrave tears Richard Dembski a new one. Again.

On a side note, I actually got to correspond with Ian Musgrave some years ago over some questions regarding the Watchtower Society’s “Creation Book”. (Better known as “Life-How did it get here? By evolution or creation?” to non-Jehovah’s Witnesses.) Nice guy, very helpful.

Deluding Australia

One aspect that shocked me, though, was how popular homeopathy is there. We went into a pharmacy so I could get decongestants (this entire planet irritates my sinuses), and the homeopathic garbage was everywhere.

News and Links for Atheists: HD Video Of The Four Horsemen On YouTube

VIDEO: The Four Horsemen HD – Now on YouTube

The Catholic Crusade Against a Mythical Abortion Bill

At a time when the United States is gripped by economic uncertainty and faces serious challenges in hot spots around the globe, some American Catholics are finding it both curious and troubling that their church has launched a major campaign against a piece of legislation that doesn’t exist and wouldn’t have much chance of becoming law even if it did. To many critics, it feels like the legislative equivalent of the dog that didn’t bark.

It’s Official: Men Win!

Been long enough since we won anything, hasn’t it fellas? So where’s my check?

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