Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are atheists accountable?

Held accountable? - Beliefnet Forums:
Is it fair to say that atheists don't think we will be held accountable for what we have done in our life?

I will not be held accountable by some supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid at some imagined judgment day after I am dead and gone. But I am held accountable in real time by those who are affected by my actions. Humans are intensely social animals, and a raised eyebrow on someone we respect is instant and powerful accountability.

Similarly, something as simple as a toast with a plastic glass of orange juice on an airplane can be a powerful reminder that we need to pay continuous attention to our relationship with those closest to us.

Sometimes I wonder, if people who obsess about that Dies Irae don't miss out on these here and now accountability lessons."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Does God Exist?

A Muslim respectfully asks - What is Atheism? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I find the existence of God to be an uninteresting question. Some people find belief in the existence of God comforting for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good, and I have no issue with their beliefs. I have found none of these reasons relevant to my life, and therefore have no reason to care whether God exists or not. My life goes on exactly the same in either case."

what an atheist think when he hear a man of science says : my results force me to admit there is a God.

"That is nice"

If a belief in God makes a person a better scientist, or a better person I am all for it. If however, the belief makes herm bigoted, or self righteous, I am likely to oppose herm attempts to proselytize or otherwise force bigotry on the rest of the world. The belief that bigotry comes from God gives them no pass. It just condemns their God. As Jesus said Matt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Rotten fruits are evidence of a rotten God.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tax Churches' entertainment venues.

Help- "Proof" issues - Beliefnet Forums:

Tax breaks for providing services to the community that the government cannot afford to provide. I think that is reasonable.

If churches registered their charities as 501(c) organizations separate from their entertainment venues, I would have no problems with deductions to those charities. I do have a problem with special tax treatment for the entertainment venues aka churches and the entertainers who perform in them aka preachers, pastors, ministers etc. I especially object to religious organizations selling tax exempt property without paying back taxes on it out of the proceeds."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Write your congressperson, sign petition, do something

Stop the Sneak Attack on Greater Yellowstone Wolves - The Petition Site: "

Stop the Sneak Attack on Greater Yellowstone Wolves
Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sponsored by: Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

With the clock running out on the Bush/Cheney Administration, federal officials have launched a final attempt to ram through a plan that could lead to the slaughter of as many as two-thirds of the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Rockies wolf population."

Or as Tom Toles warns

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums:

The desire to survive is a sentiment.

The genes to compel survival are dominant and active in all animals including humans that are alive today. From the single celled amoeba to those miraculous culminations of all those evolutionary selection activities, my grandsons, the compulsion to eat and breathe, and
Run and find out (thanks Ricki-Ticki-Tavi)
in other words survive in the modern world, is alive and well and involves no sentiment at all."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why a Jesuist?

Who do people say the Son of Man is? - Beliefnet Forums:

"Paul is the reason I am not a Christian. God is the reason I am an atheist. Jesus is the reason I and many nominal Christians are Jesuists."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Can I join the Circus now?

Ben Sargent documents the Republicans latest attempt to stay in the public eye. Hey, if you can't govern them, at least you can entertain them.

Forrest Church discusses the odds.

STANFORD Magazine: Forrest Church Book Excerpt:
Believe me, there's nothing like a kick toward the flag to get the old blood pumping and the crowd off their bums cheering. Besides, without even trying, you've already won the only race that really matters. Unconsciously, yet omnipresent, you ran the gauntlet of stars and genomes to assume your full, nothing less than miraculous, place in the creation. Being alive to love and hurt, to fail and recover, to prove your grit and show compassion, that is life's true secret.

Leave it to Stanford to pick out the unusual in Forrest's new book. And leave it to Forrest to turn Silky Sullivan's loss in the Kentucky Derby into an inspiring sermon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Catholics are irrelevant.

Priest Calls Vote for Obama a Mortal Sin - On Faith at

"'Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law,' Rev. Jay Scott Newman wrote in a letter to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville.

'Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.'"

As if anyone needed any more evidence. All of the Catholics I know are by now bypassing their priests and dealing directly with God. All the priests are for is to make the soothing noises in the Mass, and bless the Eucharist. A few parishes have reasonable priests that they can talk to, but the rest....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Nambu, Kobayasi, and Maskawa

Greetings and congratulations from my sister and Poet Laureate

To Nambu, Kobayasi, and Maskawa,
Physics Nobel Prize Winners, 2008

with apologies to William Blake

A break in the symmetry--how cosmic a thought;
A break in the symmetry, and all that it wrought.
We’d none of us be here, not you and not me,
Were it not for a break in the first symmetry.

Curious Adam and gullible Eve,
Banished from Eden, as some folks believe,
Their tale of the apple would simply not be,
Had there not been a break in their symmetry.

Mendel and Darwin, asymmetrical sages,
Genetic codes journeying down through the ages;
Ten million mutations, strange creatures to see,
All due to that break in the great symmetry.

One infinitesimal break, so inconspicuously small,
That even old Einstein didn’t see it at all;
Now wonder of wonders, the Bang and the bee,
All thanks to that break in the first symmetry.

Consider the outcomes--or just nevermind;
‘Tis likely my DNA’s about to unwind,
Some slight imperfection on a upsidedown spree,
Seeking new breaks in my symmetry.

© 2008 Bonnie Black

Will the Requiem for religion be played on Twitter?

Humanist Question : "

From where I stand [religion] is mind control and if people can learn to break free from that bondage and question limits they are not 'suppose to' question it would be like another renaissance period!

If you think back to the renaissance and religion what do you think of? Gutenberg gave the bible to the people and broke the power of the priesthood in interpreting the will of God. The increase in literacy and all the Bills thinking 4 themselves
after using the Bible to learn to read lead inevitably to the Enlightenment and the rise of ordinary people to political power as a counterforce to the power of the church.

The internet social networking may be the next and final blow to the power of religion. Web 2.0 divorced Obama from the Democratic party, and will almost certainly divorce most young adults from the need for the church as a social networking organization. When the Mullahs and the Bishops can say behave this way or you will never find a lover and make it stick, their power is increased by those there only for the social networking.

When you have to twitter on your iPhone to get the attention of your roommate at the other computer, you aren't going to waste time going to church to find a suitable partner for fun and games. "What are you doing?" "OO 4 swty sprt - Gd /rqd" The Mullahs and Bishops scream but calls to prayers on Twitter are not likely to even be read.

GM's future

According to Tony Auth

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama on his faith.

Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani - Steven Waldman:

"I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.

I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.

I think that, particularly as somebody who's now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty."

This whole interview, just after he was nominated for the Senate race in Illinois, is well worth reading

Christmas time again

Pharyngula: Oy, it's War on Christmas time again:

It is OK to say 'Merry Christmas'. Even I have been known to say it. Go ahead, have a good time with the greeting, although it does rather rip the spirit out of it if you say it through clenched teeth with furrowed brow, looking like you're daring everyone to object so you can punch them in the throat. It's also OK to say 'Happy Solstice,' 'Season's Greetings,' 'Happy Holidays,' and 'Merry Cephalopodmas,' whatever feels right to you."

I have always liked "Wolcum Yole!" which Benjamin Britten popularized in his Ceremony of Carols. It seems to be a 14th Century folk song. that he used as his text for the opening piece after the processional.

I think the Ceremony of Carols is a wonderful celebration of all that is good about an English Christmas. Lots of pagan rhythms and fun winter party music.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A million small donors

If the world could vote - Beliefnet Forums:

"I think the most important fact of the election was the million or so people who donated less than $200 to the campaign. We got nothing but spam for it, but the fact that so many contributed to his success is I think significant and personally I hope the spam continues with opportunities for feedback. Yeah, it will be poll data, but poll data from those that spent the bucks to help."

Monday, November 3, 2008

What is wrong with civil unions?

Why are Christians so obsessed with homosexuality and gay marriage? - Beliefnet Forums:

"The problem I have with civil unions is the separate but equal issue. It is the old, gays are all right as long as they lock the bedroom door and exit the house by separate doors. If my life partner, in my case female, needs some help with the bureaucracy, I want to have the status of spouse so that I can climb all over the idiots behind the desk. That is why we got the marriage certificate and had the ceremony to celebrate it. We could have had the sex and the living together without all the hassle and fuss, but it would not have been marriage. That is what you are asking the gay's to do. No marriage, no respect for the partner. It is that simple."

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums: "You may sit out this election, which I admit is better than voting for McCain ... But there is a huge difference in which Christian God is going to be driving the Government. Your choice is the hate filled Christian™ God of those who think Atheists are not Americans or the UCC God which is inclusive and comparatively tolerant."


Pharyngula: "Has anybody thought to look at what Bill Ayers actually promotes? He has a website, and it's trivial to look up what he's advocating. For instance, here is a description of his book, Teaching Toward Feedom:"

I was there in New York when the Weathermen were active. I chose other ways to protest the dysfunctional presidency of the time, but I was certainly a fellow traveler in protesting the war and the hate filled presidency. This was in the 60s not the 00s

Alaska Road would Destroy Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge - The Petition Site

Alaska Road would Destroy Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge - The Petition Site: "7:17 am PST, Nov 3, Carlin Black, California

If Alaska destroys its wildlife refuges it might as well sink the cruise boats. Those of us from the South 48 don't visit for the roads, and we resent the destruction of migratory bird habitat."