Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stardust!


"Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics.

You are all stardust.

You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. And the only way they could get into your body is if the stars were kind enough to explode.

To view the complete lecture click here. Well worth the hour to watch.

A friend has a "problem" with me

I like to think I can help my friends if I see them being misled by bad information if I have facts that can help them. On the reverse side of that, I love it when a friend corrects me before I make a horrible mistake or corrects me if I'm wrong. I consider it a gift and am grateful to receive it.

Several months ago I posted a link about Kevin Trudeau and included the comment:

I hope none of my friends have any of this huckster's books. I still see them at the pharmacy. I wonder how much harm he's done?

The article I linked to describes Trudeau as a conman who sells books about natural remedies which can be potentially harmful and/or prevent people from getting the proper care they need from a real doctor. I would never buy such books anyway as I would recognized it as a complete waste of my time and money.


Then a few days ago I had lunch with a very good friend who I haven't seen in weeks. She's recently lost over 15 pounds, feels better and looks great. I'm under the impression that she's done it the old-fashioned way by diet and exercise. I had seen her in November and she told me about this special diet she was on and how the weight was just falling off. The diet was one that I've used on occasion to get rid of a few holiday pounds: avoid sugar, bread and pasta, and eat smaller portions. Toward the end of our lunch she reveals to me that she took offense to one of my posts on FB, the one about Kevin Trudeau. I was confused, how can one be offended by being informed about a person who has been proven to be selling harmful information?


What she told me reminded me of what several people say to me about the death penalty. It doesn't matter if the information you give them has scientific facts that inform us that a previously held belief is wrong. It doesn't matter if the information you give them can help them to become a more thoughtful and insightful person. She told me that the Federal Trade Commission was out to stop this man from informing the general public about natural remedies. That there was something "personal" about this attack on this person from the government. When I reminded her that Mr Trudeau had spent time in prison and had been fined for false advertising she said that it didn't matter to her. She bought all his books and he was above reproach. She followed his diet, lost all this weight, and that was OK for her.


I was floored.


I was also reminded of something a person told me when I was telling her about the killing of innocent people on death row. "It doesn't matter what you say, I won't change my mind." She still believes the death penalty is the right and moral thing to do, even if you kill a few innocent people.


Both people mentioned in this post are true believers. One is too busy with real life to really care about such things as the death penalty. I get that. The other claimed to have done lots of research into Trudeau before using his dangerous diet regime. I don't think so. I think she dug only as deep as his own websites and was happy with that information because she wanted to believe.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Laura Ingraham is so fucking annoying.

I know that Fox News is extremely biased to the far, far right but I was not aware that this terrible, arrogant woman worked for them. What a bitch! She gets so many things wrong and seems to be so proud of her "Christianity." I thought that Annie Laurie Gaylor handled it well and deserves a big hug after being subjected to such Christian vileness. Ugh!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Year in Quotes: Science

Just a small sample of the uninformed trying to make policy in our state that affects the education of our children:
“I disagree with these experts. Somebody’s gotta stand up to experts that are… I don’t know why they’re doing it.”
– Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, in a rambling defense of the creationist arguments he used to attack evolutionary theory during the final debate over new public school science curriculum standards, TFN Insider, March 27, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On Religion...

It's 2009 already!

It's hard to believe that this hocus pocus, chanting to the gods shit still happens in 2009. These people look stupid, idiotic, and childish doing this and on our dollar. Disgusting!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tim Minchin - 9 minute beat poem - Storm

Eddie Current on Atheism

What I got from a Christian

The other day I was having a conversation with a Christian friend of mine about religion. Now James believes strongly in god because of an experience he had during battle in the Vietnam War. Against all odds he lived though this battle and thinks god spared his life. As I listened to him tell the story it saddened me to hear him attribute his unquestionable luck to an invisible deity. He wasn't happy with being in the right place at the right time. He needed to put meaning into a meaningless chance occurrence which just so happened to have saved his life. It was during this conversation that I revealed that I am an atheist. He was neither appalled nor disgusted by me. He was intrigued.

James is actually more of an acquaintance, an occasional friend. I see him once every month or so for a service that I subscribe to. Our time to chat is short and we've shared much but not a lot of personal information, like what denomination of church he goes to or how many kids he has. He did tell me this last time we talked that he heads a bible study group.

Anyway. This last time we talked he asked me if my relationship with my family had changed. I told him about my Facebook experiment and that it seemed to be going well. He was glad to hear it. Then he made a comment that surprised me. He said that although the bible says to share the word of god it doesn't say that you have to force it onto anyone. When I commented that one of my relatives still blocks me and chooses to erase me from her life he got a little angry. He said that the bible doesn't condone that kind of behavior and that if she was as much a follower of Christ as I'd lead him to believe (she's righteous for Jesus, I think that makes her a fundamentalist, maybe a reader of the bible) she should be kind and sweet and engaging with me.

I just laughed. Maybe, I said. But like with any other group of people Christians can be assholes too. His face softened up a bit and he smiled. He agreed.

His point was not lost on me. James wanted to let me know that he accepted me as his friend and it didn't matter that I didn't share his faith. Our connection went deeper than that. We both love cars and dogs. We both want our families to be healthy and happy. He believes that religion is for comfort and community and shouldn't be forced on anyone, a sentiment that I share with him. We have a lot in common and one of those things was respect for each other.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Greta's Meme of the Day

"Believing in God is a safer bet" is a terrible reason to believe in God. If you believe because you fear being punished for not believing, it's like dating someone because they threaten to beat you up if you don't. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across. ~ Greta Christina


Pascal's Wager is an argument I don't get very often. When I do it's very easy to refute although I've never used the one above. When I struggled with whether to believe in the Christian god or not this was a thought that crossed my mind frequently. Why would a loving god want to inflict eternal damnation on a person just because that person couldn't believe in him AND couldn't accept that his son was sacrificed for our unworthiness. I mean REALLY! Couldn't god come up with a better, more believable, and more worthy of a story that was timeless and gentle? According to the definition of god Christians use I'd say, "Yes. Yes he could have."


So the argument is the salvation story was written for the people of that time. Those people understood blood sacrifices and atonement. They was accustomed to sacrificing animals to their gods and the bloodier the better. So the writers of that part of the bible wrote to appease these primitive people. 


Over the years, hundreds of years mind you, we have changed to be kinder to each other, to know that slavery is wrong and that equal rights for women benefits all of us. Our morals have changed (imagine that!). This Christian god would have known that this was going to happen. In fact, why didn't he just make us that way in the first place. A lot of suffering and death would have been avoided. A lot.


OK, with this knowledge is it still a better bet to believe in god than not to believe? For me, once I got my head around this concept, there was no way I could convince myself to take the story seriously much less believe in it. Who's to say that the ancient Greek and Roman myths aren't true? They are just as unbelievable and were just as believed in their time as the Christian myth is in current times.


My answer is a resounding NO! This is not a good bet. For one thing there is no evidence and another thing is the story is just plain unbelievable on it's own merits. I'll stick with no belief in gods or goddesses until something better comes along.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Houston has a new mayor!

Houston just became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor by voting for Annise Parker.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle:
Parker, who began her political career as a gay activist, rose through the ranks of local politics to serve first on city council, then as city controller.
"I realize that I'm a role model, but I've been a role model for my community for 30 years," she said. "It's part of who I am, and I believe it makes me a better representative for the city of Houston."

Since I don't live in the city limits I didn't pay as much attention to this race as I should have. Apparently Parker's opponent Gene Locke had asked for Dr. Stephen Hotze for his support but was turned down because Hotze had endorsed someone else. So who is Dr. Stephen Hotze? An article from The Houston Press describes him as "a Christian fundamentalist who espouses antigay rhetoric." Clearly not someone one would want to support a campaign.

I also found this clearly anti-gay hate site from World Net Daily, The Pastor's Corner. The article is an emotion driven screed that appeals to those who aren't concerned with the truth. The truth that accepting other people's sexual orientation does not make a society immoral. The article ends with this gem:
This is an act of love, not of bigotry.

I cringed inside when I read that. After reading the article it was obvious it was bigotry and hatred in big bold letters.

So with the election of Annise Parker I'm glad we are ushering in a new age of tolerance and love for each human being and that we can focus on solving our problems instead of making up false ones.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Actual Picture of Billboard


Photo taken by Tina's brother.

Some Holiday Help For The Godless, On I-45

By Chris Vogel in Whatever


Houston can be a lonely place for an infidel, what with all the mega-churches and deep-rooted southern Sunday tradition. Even more so at Christmas, when it all gets ramped up a notch with as many commercial reminders of Jesus' (alleged) birthday at the mall as there probably are in Billy Graham's bedroom.

But to all you atheists and non-believers out there, silent and afraid, you are not alone.

At least that's the message posted on a billboard high in the sky by the Houston Freethought Alliance and the national United Coalition of Reason.

Towering above numerous placards offering $3.99 haircuts, tattoos and "All Pro" eyeglass repair on FM 1960 just west of Nanes Drive sits a giant sign with the words, "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." It is part of a national campaign that's been going on since March, a spokesman tells Hair Balls.


The point of the billboard, says Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason, "is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States. Nontheists sometimes don't realize there's a community out there for them because they're inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope this will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren't alone."
And during the holidays, no one wants to be alone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Man dies after sitting in recliner for eight months

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (NBC) -- Believing his faith would heal him, a Greenwood County, South Carolina man sat down in his recliner after an injury in March and never got up.

On Thursday, his wife explained why he stayed in the recliner until shortly before he died.

"The man totally believed in God and his healing," said Ada Webb.

In March, Webb's 550-pound husband, Tillmon, sat down in a recliner inside their trailer in Greenwood. Wearing nothing but a blanket, the 33-year-old didn't move from that recliner for the next eight months.

"He couldn't do nothing for his self and I couldn't do but so much," Webb explained.

Webb says Tillmon tore his ACL in March and drove to a doctor's office.

"They were gonna give him an appointment, but they wanted $300 up front, and we didn't have the money," said Webb.

Webb says he returned to the recliner, picked up his Bible and became determined that faith would heal his leg.

"He read his Bible daily, he spent his full focus on God," said Webb. "And he was literally waiting and praying for a Job miracle. If anybody knows the Bible and knows Job, he really and fully believed that God was going to heal him just like he did Job, because he said he couldn't think of a better testimony to go out and to tell people.



More...


I only have one thing to say, "Disgusting!"

Another Meme

To say "You atheists will give up your atheism in a hurry when you're facing death and disaster" is simply not true. Many atheists have suffered great loss and faced terrible crises without turning to belief in God. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across. Greta Christina's Blog

The New Atheists


Monday, December 7, 2009

Women Atheists

From an article in USA Today's Opinion column:
Today, most Americans associate unbelief with the old-boys network of New Atheists, but there is a new generation of unbelievers emerging, some of them women and most of them far friendlier than Hitchens and his ilk. Although the arguments of angry men gave this movement birth, it could be the stories of women that allow it to grow up

I totally agree. Although the Four Horsemen are important figures in our growing movement of reason women are just now getting more involved. Most of the atheist podcasts that I listen to have brought this subject up over and over: We need more 3
women in our movement to be involved!

I know it's hard. I was devastated by the reaction of some of my family members when I was outed by an overzealous relative. I was unprepared and handled the aftermath inappropriately. In hindsight, if there had been more of a woman's influence on our movement at that time I feel my transition might have been smoother. But my point is that it's harder for women to come out than men. It's harder because of the emotional attachment we have on family and friends and how much we care about those feelings. Now the atheist movement as a woman's touch and that is a powerful thing!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Real Church Sign


And really true!

God must've had a reason?


Mom expected God to provide food, daughter testifies

Friday, December 04, 2009
Joe Moszczynski
STAR-LEDGER STAFF
The money ran out first. Then the food.

Over three months in 2006, as her five children grew more emaciated and listless by the day, Estelle Walker made no move to find a job, no effort to scrounge up a meal, her kids told a jury yesterday.

"We were supposed to wait for God to provide," said Walker's oldest daughter, now 21. "And that's what we did."

At one point, the daughter said, she and her siblings went 11 days without food. When police were at last summoned to the Sussex County cabin by neighbors, investigators found the children so malnourished they had difficulty talking.
More than three years later, three of the siblings took the stand in a Newton courtroom, describing how their mother watched them nearly starve
.
Walker, 50, of Brooklyn, is charged with four counts of second-degree child endangerment. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. Walker was not charged in connection with her oldest child because she was a legal adult at the time.

The young woman and her two siblings -- a 16-year-old sister and a 15-year-old brother, betrayed no resentment toward their mother, speaking in soft, even tones.

Under questioning by Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Frances Koch, they said Walker never tried to get any assistance for her family, either from her estranged husband or from other relatives. She likewise avoided seeking help from two churches near the Hopatcong cabin where they had been staying, the children said.

Though she had previously worked as a teacher, Walker made no effort to earn money, her children said.

"She never tried to get money or food or get a job," the 16-year-old daughter said.

All five children, now in good health, live with their father in Somerset.

In 2005, Walker and the children -- then ages 8, 9, 11, 13 and 18 -- had been placed in the cabin by their church, Times Square Church of Manhattan, to help them escape what Walker claimed was her husband's alcoholism. The cabin is owned by church members who open it for retreats.

Walker was due to leave the cabin in May 2006 but refused, saying God had told her to stay, church members have said. The church then cut off her support and began eviction proceedings.

The invocation of God has been a theme throughout the trial's first three days. Before the jury entered the courtroom yesterday, public defender Ronald Nicola told Judge N. Peter Conforti that Walker had been refusing to take an active role in her defense.

"She says, "God is my defense,' Nicola told the judge.

Nicola asked that Walker be permitted to undergo psychiatric testing.

Asked by Conforti why she is not participating in her trial, Walker told him she saw no point in it.

"I don't feel the need to continue to go over the documents that we've been going over for three years," she said. "God will defend me."

Conforti, noting that Walker was deemed competent to stand trial in 2007 after mental health evaluations, denied Nicola's request for further testing.

Last year, Walker rejected a plea-bargain offer that would have required no additional incarceration other than the one year she already served in the county jail, if she agreed to undergo additional psychiatric testing.

The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I wish it wasn't true, but...


Fox News really isn't news...

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
For Fox Sake!
www.thedailyshow.com

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor
Health Care Crisis

I love it that The Daily Show is supposed to be a comedy show but that they end up being a better source of facts than some news stations.

Long ago I used to watch Fox News. I'd say about 6 years ago or so, it was the station I went to for all of my news. But it wasn't long before I noticed a conservative bias prevailing in their newscasts. It began to bother me so I started watching news from other sources. Before too long I noticed that there was a different between Fox News and the others, a big difference.

Now I only watch these little video snippets. And only for entertainment. It's too bad they aren't better liars!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Atheists Aren't Close-Minded

Having an open mind doesn't mean thinking all possibilities are equally likely. It means being willing to consider new ideas if the evidence supports them.... and to give up old ideas if the evidence is against them. And that's just as true for atheists as it is for anyone else. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across. ~ Greta Christia's Blog


When I discover a problem that I feel is important enough to make a decision about I enter into with an open mind. I try hard to find all the information about this problem and weigh the pros with the cons. Sometimes I change my mind and sometimes I don't. The point where I get to where I've made a decision with some degree of certainty my mind is made up, closed if you will. That doesn't mean I won't change my mind if new evidence is revealed, it simply means that I'm prepared to argue my side and stand my ground. I feel this way about gay rights, women's rights, human rights, death penalty, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.