Tilberian's blog

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why we shouldn't care if we can be "certain" or not

I'm a little bit proud of this post I made in a discussion thread, so I'm going to throw it on here. I was answering Textom's point that we can't support the following statements deductively:

-There is no evidence that God exists, therefore he does not.

-The only possible rational conclusion is that God does not exist.

-God cannot be described, therefore he does not exist.

Here's my response:

This frustrates me, and it's arguments along this line that have kept atheists dancing to the theist tune for a long time. Whenever we water down our rhetoric and kowtow to these niggling philosophical word games we accomplish nothing politically except to give theists hope that they have some loophole and to confuse fence-sitters into thinking we're losing the argument.

I think there is a difference between philosophical speech and political speech and this, being an activist website, tends to have a lot of political speech. Philosophical speech may be about what is strictly true, and therefore needs to be very precise and careful and technical  — similar to scientific speech. But political speech is supposed to address that which motivates us to action. And the fact of the matter, from the perspective of behaviour and real, living beliefs, is that all of those statements are true. No one can deny the truth of those statements by advocating their opposite and claim intellectual honesty.

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Alberta rakes journalist over the coals for publishing Danish cartoons

What a strange place Canada is


Special to Globe and Mail Update

January 21, 2008 at 12:32 AM EST

A few days ago, I was interrogated for 90 minutes by Shirlene McGovern, an officer of the government of Alberta. I have been accused of hurting people's feelings because, two years ago, I published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in the Western Standard magazine.

Ms. McGovern's business card said she was a "Human Rights Officer." What a perfectly Orwellian title.

Early in her interrogation, she said "I always ask people … what was your intent and purpose of your article?"

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CBC's discussion about faith

Looks like the CBC wants to talk faith. Let's make sure the atheist voice is heard loud an clear.

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Invoking God while fighting religious extremists

So I'm at my daughter's Remembrance Day assembly and the principal is making several nice points about how we are observing this day to honour the people who died fighting for our freedom and wouldn't it be nice if we all could fight less. Good stuff. Then Mrs. X [I'll withhold the name on the off chance that someone from the school sees this] gets up and gives us an emotional talk about her brother-in-law who was the killed in Afghanistan. She talks about her five-year-old son who told her that she shouldn't be sad about Uncle X because he's in heaven getting his wings and when he looks up in the sky and sees the brightest star he knows it's Uncle X looking down on him. Then she says "Who would have thought a five-year-old could be so wise."

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Chapman makes a great point about the future of atheism

I finally got a chance to see the second video of the Saturday plenary of the Atheist Alliance convention and I was intrigued by something that Matthew Chapman said. He said that atheism will never get traction and become as common or more common than religious belief as long as most people in America need the social supports that are presently only available through churches. He wasn't suggesting that there was some kind of quid pro quo, ie believe and we'll give you food stamps. He was saying that in the atmosphere of uncertainty and fear created by the present deficiencies in the US social safety net, people are more likely to feel the need to turn to churches for solace and to develop community networks that will help them should they need it. Is it perhaps not a coincidence that small-government conservatives and Christian hardliners have found common cause in the Republican party?

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Faith-based Schooling Leads to Decimation of Ontario Conservative Party

First a primer for Americans: Ontario is a province in Canada. A province is exactly like a state, except with less autonomy from the federal government. Ontario is close to western New York and Michigan. We had an election on October 10 featuring governing Liberal party led by Dalton McGuinty against the Progressive Conservatives (oxymoron anyone?) led by John Tory. Our third party, the NDP, was a non-factor as usual since they are owned by the labour unions and labour is dead as a political force. Sorry if I've insulted your intelligence with any of this.

Ontario atheists got to celebrate Wednesday night as we watched John Tory and the provincial Progressive Conservative party go down in flames after lamely trying to exploit religious zealotry by promising to give government funds to religious schools if elected. They made the promise in the summer, then could only shriek in horror as the Liberals and the voting public tattooed it to their asses and made it into the defining issue of the campaign. The conservative-owned media (such as my local paper, the London Free Press) bleated in protest throughout the campaign that Tory was not a right winger, the promise was only a third of a page in the PC platform, everyone was ignoring the real issues (Mcguinty's lies in the last election), here's another example of cynical Liberal smearing and fear-mongering, blah blah blah blah blah.

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thoughts on a canadian space program

This has nothing to do with religion but I thought I'd throw it up because I know there's so many like-minded people here. This is my response to a message board on the CBC website that was discussing whether or not Canada should be pushing more than our current pathetic $300 million a year into a space program. The board was stuffed with the usual bleeding heart hand wringing about how we shouldn't spend ANYTHING on space until we are living in Utopia down here.

The idea that spending money on space exploration is taking money away from social programs or other priorities is ridiculous. Even in the US, the entire space budget is a tiny fraction of what is spent on social programs. All of the space budget could be allocated to social programs with no perceptible difference. It is absurd to demand that all government spending be directed at any one area, no matter how important that area is. So let's abandon this red herring argument that we shouldn't spend money on space while there are still social problems left to be solved.

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Harris gives awesome food for thought

Sam Harris was at his provocative best at the Atheist Alliance convention last night, warning us all against the dangers of labels and suggesting point blank that we should all stop calling ourselves atheists. Here are some of his points:

1. By using the term atheist, we are automatically defining ourselves in terms of the thing we oppose. We put ourselves in a conceptual box created and defined by our enemies. As he put it, it's as if the theists drew a chalk outline of a dead body on the floor to represent atheists and we are willingly lying down in it. Philosophically, we're accepting their paradigm and their terms of discourse before we even begin the discussion.

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first blog

I don't blog but should seeing as how I'm a writer by trade. Actually, I should be maintaining about 3 blogs: one here where I can post my atheist rants, one on my business website where I can post brilliant writing that will make people want to hire me (lol) and one for personal shit. Whatever.

I just bought 2 of the live streams for that atheist alliance convention. Wow, what a list of speakers. I'm really looking forward to it, though my wife is going to kill me for dropping the $70.

This Kent/Eric Hovind shit is hilarious. What losers. If they know as much about copyright law as they know about science, it might all boil down to an honest mistake. As if anything about those guys is honest.

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