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That Han Solo…he’s kind of a gruff man of few words who’s not very good at expressing his feelings. Plus, he’s frozen on carbonite. So how will you know that he really likes you?
EXCLUSIVE: British atheist group looking to expand will host sermon at city ... - New York Daily News
EXCLUSIVE: British atheist group looking to expand will host sermon at city ...
New York Daily News
The British atheists are coming to Hell's Kitchen! After six months of packed houses at monthly services in London, an atheist congregation called The Sunday Assembly is bringing its movement to the U.S.. The co-founders will soon embark on a cross ...
British Atheist Group To Preach At Hell's Kitchen BarGothamist
Atheist church brings message to Hell's Kitchen dive barMetro.us
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British Atheist Group To Preach At Hell's Kitchen Bar
At the beginning of 2013, British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans started The Sunday Assembly—essentially, the group is a way for atheists to enjoy the community and activity associated with religion, but without any talk of God. They host ...
Atheist church brings message to Hell's Kitchen dive barMetro.us
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Oh, gob. I’m beginning to crack. This whole series was a ghastly mistake. As I was sitting there in the pews (unpadded this time!), it began to sink in that I was bored, excruciatingly deeply terribly bored, that these people were saying nothing of any interest to me and never would, and that the whole affair was a dreadful waste of time. It was all coming back to me, the dreary tedium of church, and I wondered how all these people can bear it, going to this same ritual week after week after week.
I’m trying to make a sincere effort to learn what the religious folk in town are getting out of this tedious affair of going to church, but it’s evading me.
But there must be something to it — guilt, a sense of obligation, inertia? — because this was the biggest one so far. Over 150 people were in attendance on a beautiful summer day…another reason it was such a waste. It didn’t help that the Catholic service was so much more coldly formal than the protestant churches we attended in the last two weeks, either. There was lots of bouncing up and down, stand, sit, kneel, but I suspect it was all part of a plan to keep people from falling asleep during the service.
Let’s see…anything good I can say about it?
Well, the music was much nicer. The hymns were a little bit more sophisticated with more complex melodies then we got elsewhere. Part of that might have been that they were all led by a woman who had a most excellent singing voice. Usually, church congregations singing a hymn is an example of regression to the mean — the song averages out to a mumbly drone. With this woman in charge, though, I could actually listen to the music, and it was good.
The sermon wasn’t the informal punditry we usually get. Instead, they led up to it with three bible readings, all on the theme of sin and forgiveness, and then the priest gave a short discussion interpreting and explaining the meaning of those verses. It was much more universal (hey! Catholic!) than a rant about the latest news or candidate or Americanism. So I actually kind of appreciated that it was a more philosophical discussion, even though I fundamentally disagree with the whole premise of original sin and redemption through belief.
We got to see a baptism! It was preceded by a litany of belief (Do you renounce Satan? “Yes, we do,” replies the congregation. Do you believe in Jesus, the Resurrection, etc.? “Yeah, yeah, you betcha” (or words to that effect) intone all the people (except me)), and then the priest dumped a whole pitcher of water over the kid’s head.
And finally, “Behold the Lamb of God,” said the priest, and he waved a cracker and a cup at us. It didn’t look like mutton to me. Everybody filed up to get their mouthful of Jesus, again except for me. I refrained since I knew that if I was recognized, there might be an unruly spectacle, and also because I’ve had enough of Jesus’ meat in my mouth for my entire lifetime.
Another concern is that they all share the same wine cup. How unsanitary. I mentioned to my wife on the way home that if ever the zombie apocalypse starts, the vector is probably going to point right back to a Catholic church somewhere. I get the cruds at the beginning of every school year just from being in the same room with mobs of students, I can’t imagine sharing spit with ‘em all.
So we escaped right after that. One noteworthy thing that did save me from terminal boredom: all of the church services we’ve attended so far have been impeccably timed. Every one begin precisely at the stated hour, and exactly one hour later, we’re being sent on our way. I’ve been impressed so far.
But still, an hour is an hour too long. I feel obligated to go to another one next week. I may need to pray for strength.
Daniel Friedmann has found it! It’s the scaling factor that lets you convert the ‘days’ of God in the book of Genesis into human years. This is reported with total credulity in the Toronto Star.
Let’s take the word “day.” In terms of the first six days, they’re “creation days,” which are different from just days. There are a number of sources in all the religions that interpret those days as periods of time.
I’m certainly not the first. What is unique about my work is that I went into the sources and I said, “Look, if the Bible is self-contained and if I say a day is not 24 hours, then what is it? Whatever it is it, it must be in the Bible. I can’t make it up from science, or from what I know today, and push it back on the Bible.”
What I discovered was a scaling factor — just like when you look at the blueprint of your home. It doesn’t make a lot of sense until you look at the right-hand corner and it says “one inch equals eight feet” and so on. So I went looking for that in the Bible and I found it. It told me that one day is 2.56 billion years. That is the epoch of time that each of those six “creation days” is.
Now when you read Genesis, which tells you what happened on each day, and use other sources to put those events in a timeline and then convert through this 2.56 billion per day you get an astonishing thing! You get the age of the universe to the decimal place of where science has measured it. You get the first life to the decimal place of where science has measured it. You get the age of the sun and so on.
In my first book I showed 19 different dates that came out of the Bible and came out of the scientific record and they match. That’s mathematically impossible unless the scale of 2.56 billion years works.
This is standard day-age creationism; it’s a tactic that’s been used to try and reconcile the Bible with geology for over a century. One problem: it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter what your scaling factor is, the biblical order doesn’t fit the scientific order, and a a simple linear scaling factor produces dates that are totally out of whack with reality. Here, look: these are the events by day from the first book of Genesis, multiplied by the magic scaling factor. Multiplying 6 god days by 2.56 billion years per god day, doesn’t give you a number that’s even close to the scientifically measured age of the universe, and the dates don’t line up in even an approximation for the origin of life.Day 1 15.36 billion years ago God creates the earth The currently known age of the universe is 13.8 billion years; the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Day 2 12.8 billion years ago God separates firmament and waters This one doesn’t make a lick of goddamn sense, until you understand that in middle eastern mythology 3,000 years ago, the universe is filled with water, and we’re inside a bubble floating in it. Day 3 10.24 billion years ago God creates dry land and plants fruit trees, grass, and herbs 10 billion years ago, the earth didn’t exist. The oceans formed as a hot rock cooled, at the end of the Hadean, and plate tectonics were in action about 4 billion years ago. Day 4 7.68 billion years ago God creates the sun and the moon The sun’s formation preceded that of the earth. Need I point out that this model has plants growing for 2.56 billion years without a sun? Day 5 5.12 billion years ago God creates birds, whales, and fish 5 billion years ago, the solar nebula was condensing from clouds of interstellar gas. “Fish”, loosely speaking, evolved in the Cambrian, half a billion years ago; his dates are off by an order of magnitude. Birds evolved in the Mesozoic, and whales in the Cenozoic, so he’s off even further there. Day 6 2.56 billion years ago God creates cattle, creeping things, and people So cows and people would be older than Eukaryotes? I don’t think so.
Daniel Friedmann’s model only works for people so primitive that they don’t know how to use a calculator and are baffled by simple algebraic manipulations. He claims he has made the scientific and biblical timelines correlate — I don’t see how.
Furthermore, he claims that the biblical account is perfectly concordant with the scientific explanation, with just three exceptions, phenomena that science fails to explain but that the Bible can account for perfectly.
The most famous one is the beginning. If you look at the Big Bang theory, it explains absolutely everything from the beginning until today very nicely but it has no idea how the beginning came about.
The next most famous one is what the Bible calls the human soul. The Bible says the bodies of humans were made just like the bodies of animals. In some cases science recognizes the soul, in some cases it says there is no soul, we’re just super-intelligent. The key thing is, what does a soul bring to a human that it doesn’t bring to anyone else? The ability to speak and the ability to envision the future.
We’re the only species according to science that can do that. That leads to painting and art and things that in an evolutionary context are completely useless. The Bible tells us that these behaviours come from the soul, the divine soul, from the outside. Science agrees that these behaviours are completely unique to humans but they don’t have an explanation for where they come from.
The third thing is the appearance of sea creatures during what science calls the Cambrian explosion. What happened then came out outside of the scientific natural process. God interfered and did something miraculous.
Those are the only three times that something was happening that was not just cause and effect within the normal laws of nature.
No, we’ve got a good idea of how multicellular animal life evolved prior to and during the Cambrian—which was 500 million years ago, not 5 billion, as his timeline would claim. The capabilities of humans are a product of their material brain, no soul (which kooks like Friedmann can neither define nor measure) required. And if we have no idea what initiated the Big Bang, neither does Friedmann — “God did it” is not an explanation.
Would you believe that Friedmann is an “engineering physicist” and “CEO of Canada’s leading aerospace company, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates”? Incredible as it sounds, I checked, and it’s true. There’s no denying he must have a certain kind of intelligence, but jeez, religion can really throw a good brain off the rails, can’t it?
Silverman appeared on Vacula’s “Brave Hero” (jeez, but it hurts just to type that ridiculous name for a show dedicated to hating) radio tonight and gave him a good chewing out. Silverman was far more diplomatic than I could ever be: he encouraged Vacula, telling him he could be a great activist, while also unambiguously telling him to step away from the aptly named slymepit, to stop “poking and prodding” — that is, harassing people — and to stop supporting the nonsense, the lies, the photoshops, the sniping coming out of that den of lunatics. It was a solid rebuke, and an unambiguous denunciation of the slymepit. It was great.
I was in the chatroom for the show, and it was like being in a mob of baboons. They were barking mad and raving — rather than arguing for Vacula, their approach was solely one of throwing around false equivalencies, in particular, demanding that Silverman denounce me as severely as he was the slymers (this was before I’d even logged in. Silverman was not there to talk about me, it was a debate between Silverman and Vacula, but Vacula and his cronies did an awful lot of yelling about me.) It ended up with a bunch of them just typing in all caps that I SUPPORT TENTACLE RAPE, and that I HATE ATHEISTS IN THE MILITARY, so I left.
It was ridiculous. Here, I’ll make it easy for everyone: let’s stipulate that I’m an evil, lecherous old man, creepy and horrible, far worse than anyone on the slymepit; Pharyngula is a hotbed of wickedness, all the commenters here are demonic (sorry); and that everything I’ve ever done has been irredeemably destructive to atheism, skepticism, science, and the American way. OK? Call me the Atheist Satan.
Now, what the heck does that have to do with the Silverman/Vacula discussion? How does it excuse fake twitter accounts, rape threats, bad photoshops, a multi-year campaign of denigration against Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Amanda Marcotte, Jennifer McCreight, and basically anyone who argues that the atheist movement ought to support greater equality? How does it justify Vacula acting as a representative for A Voice For Men at conferences advocating for greater support for women in secularism, a cause he opposes?
David Silverman can disagree with me on various issues and can tell me I’m wrong in no quibbling terms, and I might argue with him, but the one thing I won’t do, that would make me look pathetic, childish, and weak, is argue that what I do is OK because Vacula or some other boogeyman is worse than I am. And yet that’s the only argument these pathetic, childish, weak bozos had.
Court of Appeals Tosses Atheist Lawsuit Challenging Arizona Governor's Day of ... - Christian News Network
Christian News Network
Court of Appeals Tosses Atheist Lawsuit Challenging Arizona Governor's Day of ...
Christian News Network
Jan_Brewer_by_Gage_Skidmore_3 PHOENIX – An appeals court has rejected a lawsuit filed by a prominent atheist activist organization which sought to challenge the statewide Day of Prayer proclamations issued each year by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
The final interview with Iain Banks is online. It’s sad and appealing at the same time, because he was such an intelligent and passionate man but now he’s gone. He had a few words to say about mortality that I rather liked.
I can understand that people want to feel special and important and so on, but that self-obsession seems a bit pathetic somehow. Not being able to accept that you’re just this collection of cells, intelligent to whatever degree, capable of feeling emotion to whatever degree, for a limited amount of time and so on, on this tiny little rock orbiting this not particularly important sun in one of just 400m galaxies, and whatever other levels of reality there might be via something like brane-theory [of multiple dimensions] … really, it’s not about you. It’s what religion does with this drive for acknowledgement of self-importance that really gets up my nose. ‘Yeah, yeah, your individual consciousness is so important to the universe that it must be preserved at all costs’ – oh, please. Do try to get a grip of something other than your self-obsession. How Californian. The idea that at all costs, no matter what, it always has to be all about you. Well, I think not.
It’s not just appallingly arrogant to think the universe is contriving to allow you to live forever, but it’s so pathetic and thoughtless to want to live forever. It’s like being a city dweller who has never seen a horse in the flesh, let alone ridden one, wanting to have a pony.
For those of you who’ve been asking for book recommendations, Banks was asked which of his books didn’t get the public and critical reception he thought it deserved — so here he makes some for you.
I suppose I thought that about The Bridge itself at the time! At that point I hadn’t even committed the cardinal sin of writing science fiction, so my nose was still relatively clean. But I suppose … A Song of Stone. I think it’s up there with The Bridge and Use of Weapons. As always when I mention Use of Weapons I have to mention Mr MacLeod here: Ken saved that novel and came up with the absolutely brilliant idea of the two time streams going in opposite directions. With A Song of Stone, there’s an elegance to it, I’d claim. I think it’s my most poetic use of language. I come back to Mr MacLeod; I can’t remember where the hell it was, but there was him, me and someone else in a pub in London. We were talking about A Song of Stone and this other person said he hadn’t read it. He asked Ken, ‘What do you think of it?’ and Ken sat and thought – you know the way he does; disconcertingly, he’s almost the only person I know who sits and thinks before he says anything – well, he said ‘you know that bit you get at the end of one of Banks’s novels where the relatively clear prose falls away and you get a really intense part where he brings out all his adjectives and big guns? With A Song of Stone the whole novel’s like that.’
Ah, Iain Banks agrees with me on something. Or I agree with him. Whatever. I remember when A Song of Stone came out, and everyone’s opinion seemed to be a universal “meh”, but I loved that book — and it had an ending that was simultaneously grisly grim and optimistic. It was another of his anti-fascist authoritarian books, which was a theme running throughout them all.
Now if you want to write stories like Banks, first of all, forget it: you probably aren’t that good. But if you want to emulate some of the principles in his stories, here’s one guide to Banks’ general ideas. Ignore the last one, though, that gets everything so wrong. If anything, Banks was acutely aware of the contradiction inherent in using force to stop authoritarians.
Atheist Group Accuses Fla. School District of Censorship, Files Lawsuit
The atheist group originally issued a complaint to the school district earlier in 2013, when it learned that the school district was allowing the World Changers of Florida conservative group to distribute Bibles on public school campuses in observance ...
Atheists: Just as obnoxious as ChristiansSalon
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Wayne Nutnot, a professional “comedian”, begins this fascinating essay with the statement, “I am a feminist.” But his main point — his only point is that “vaginas are icky”.
Vaginas on the other hand are finicky and, objectively, well– gross. There’s just no other way to put it. They are covered in hair. They ooze and slime– and that’s when you’re doing a good job! Which, frankly, isn’t often. Unlike the always responsive penis, your vagina simply doesn’t reward hard work. Eating pussy often feels like a difficult chore. Like vacuuming or doing the dishes using your tongue if the dishes were covered in smoked salmon that’s been sitting in the sun for a day. No thank you!
Follow-up essays will explore the mysteries of girls’ germs and cooties, and to class up the joint a bit, a connoisseur’s dining column on boogers, worms, and paste.
If you want to read something where someone addresses the clown more seriously, here you go.
I want to be just like Leonard Nimoy when I grow up.
A couple of things are driving me to distraction in the recent crop of superhero movies. Maybe Man of Steel was a fine piece of entertainment — they certainly threw money at the screen — but it also contained a fine collection of irritants.
Lens flare. WHY? What does it mean? How does it add to a scene except to remind you that this is being seen through a camera? And not even that — I think a lot of it is added in post-production. What next? Dirt on the lenses? Fake scratches on the digital film stock? I hope that a decade from now, people will look back on the film output from this era and wonder what the hell they were thinking.
The falling woman trope. It’s everywhere. The poor woman is plummeting to her doom at the terminal velocity of 200 km/hr, and superhero swoops upwards at even greater speed and catches her. This doesn’t work. At that speed, invulnerable super-strong arms are like blunt blades and are going to messily trisect the victim.
There’s a variant! Women fall and need to be rescued; men fall and land on their convenient flying vehicle/mount. Just stop it.
Slugfests. In every case, bad guy meets good guy and you know that shortly they’ll start throwing roundhouse blows at each other. This is not how people interact with each other, except when they’re very drunk and stupid. These are supposed to be super-intelligent, powerful beings, and their standard response to any challenge is to punch someone in the nose.
Ever-escalating explosions. And frantic pacing. Superhero movies have become giant demolition derbies, vying with one another to provide the biggest booms and demolish the most real estate. Superman, his military allies, and his enemies basically flatten the town of Smallville before moving on to turn New York into rubble.
There are no human costs. We see skyscrapers fall, entire New York city blocks destroyed, invulnerable super-bodies flung through office buildings like missiles, and never see a single person injured or killed. We see one death and Superman howls in anguish, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, Supe, when you smashed that IHOP? You probably turned half a dozen people who were just trying to have a pancake into bloody mush. I don’t even want to try to get a body count from that imploded building over there. So why are you upset over the quick and painless demise of that one jerkwad?”
There has to be a witness. This is a corollary to the absence of deaths. A couple of the secondary human characters face the most traumatic event ever — one of them is stuck under a pile of rebar and concrete (don’t worry, they pry her out and she’s completely uninjured!) so they can stand around and gawp as the superclowns rampage all over their city. Titanic forces are shattering whole buildings, but they stand there getting a little dust in their faces, and that’s it.
Specific to this movie: Pa Kent is a goddamned evil idiot who makes his adopted alien son feel like a shameful criminal every time he does something good. I would have cheered when he died, except Kevin Costner looked so smug and sanctimonious about shaming the superboy into not saving him when he could have easily. They also make a point of the Kents being Christian, which fits that pious humble-bragging attitude so well.
So yeah, there might have been an interesting movie buried under all the metaphorical rebar and concrete rubble of the detonation of special effects, but in the real world, it’s not going to crawl out alive afterwards.
When atheists pray
Springtime, and the armies of atheism have gathered forces and are starting their annual spring offensive to ensure that the name “God” or reference to any religion — other than their own, of course — is not even vaguely referenced in any school ...
Where are the honest atheists?
The Week Magazine
oes the world really need another "new atheist" manifesto? Another attack on the ludicrousness of religion and the childishness of belief in God? Another paean to the spiritual and intellectual satisfactions of secularism, materialism, and humanism? Do ...
A Gnani is neither believer nor an atheist. He does not say
A Gnani is neither believer nor an atheist. He does not say there is no God. He says the ultimate truth is God. He means the the formless soul, the innermost self is the ultimate truth or Brahman. The soul, the innermost self which knows the negation ...
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