From The Richard Dawkins Foundation

Got this in my e-mail today:

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

Hi ,

The beginning of a year is a good time to look at the challenges ahead. And there will be plenty in 2015. This week we have three reports examining different lines of attack by the Religious Right in the United States and globally.

We offer a chilling examination of how the new GOP majority in Congress may try to punch holes in the wall between church and state. Also, read a short but thoughtful legal analysis of how last year’s disastrous Hobby Lobby decision may be followed by other efforts to expand religious exemptions in law, such as public officials trying to opt out of conducting gay marriages.

Internationally, conservative and religious groups are building cross-border alliances to counter gains made by the gay community. Just one chilling example: Russia’s Putin and the Orthodox church are funnelling money to sympathetic right-wing groups in Europe.

It is becoming more commonplace for non-believers to open meetings of city councils and other local government meetings with a nonreligious invocations. That doesn’t mean they are welcomed. Don’t miss the video of what happened in Lake Worth, Fla.

In news, the head of a public university in Alabama managed to turn a routine New Year’s video greeting to students into an insulting slam against atheists for somehow eroding democracy.

In science, we’ve marveled at the remarkable journey of the monarch butterflies during their annual migration. But if you’ve seen fewer of them in recent years, there’s a reason. The government may list them as officially endangered.

Robyn Blumner
Executive Director
Richard Dawkins Foundation

Support the fight of reason and rationality against ignorance, bigotry and stupidity.

 

Happy Good Friday!

Happy nail-God-incarnate-in-the-form-of-a-Jew-to-a-cross day. Good fun for the entire family!

As it turns out, getting nailed to a cross killed God dead, but don’t worry, he’ll be up and running again in three days’ time.

Holy fucking ghost,  Jesus was a chick magnet!

Jesus was a cjick magnet!

A Manual for Creating Atheists By Peter Boghossian: A Book Review By A Member Of The Choir

I haven’t read the book and probably won’t (mainly because whenever I read something in this genre it mostly just rehashes and affirms my own feelings and arguments on the subject that I’ve intuitively held from early childhood), but from watching  the video posted below and chatter that has reached my ears (eyes), I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s about (as if the title of the book wasn’t enough of a clue). Maybe I should read it, in the hopes of gaining some new perspectives and convincing arguments I haven’t thought of myself.

The Manual for Creating Atheists is available in both paperback and for Kindle and I take the unusual step of recommending it unread to anyone who, like me, believes the world would be a better place if most, if not all, human decisions were based on reason, logic and evidence rather than superstition and divine edict from your deity of choice, but might not have an arsenal of good arguments to present in a discussion.

DISCLAIMER: In endorsing this book and posting the video discussion between Peter Boghossian and Stefan Molyneux I do not necessarily agree with every view these fellas hold on other topics, moral values, political philosophies, economic models etc. I specifically disagree strongly with many of Mr Molyneux’s beliefs and views, but every now and then it’s a good idea to sit down and listen to those with whom you disagree.

I Am A Cunt And So Can You

I have an Internet acquaintance that I’ve been chatting with on and off for the past few years via various forums, email, Facebook and the like. I’ve never met him in the physical realm, but he seems like a standup guy and I hold him in high regard. He recently mentioned to me that Sam Harris had written in his blog a book review, recommending it too atheists in need of arguments when debating the existence of a god with religious people. (For those of you who don’t know, Sam Harris is an author/philosopher/neuroscientist/the fourth horseman of the “neo-atheist” movement.)

I knew from previous exchanges with my friend, himself a student of philosophy (we’ve discussed various topics such as politics, philosophy, religion, atheism, guns, bodybuilding, illegal performance enhancing drugs and the widespread practice of male circumcision in America) how much he likes Sam Harris and enjoys his books. I was therefore a bit surprised when he told me that reading Harris’ blog and the book review in question specifically, had turned him against Harris, and stated quite emphatically that he didn’t know who would be the bigger cunt; the guy who wrote it, the guy who reviewed and recommended it, or those who read it.

I haven’t read the book in question nor Harris’ review of it, but any book that provides the atheist with valid ammunition in debates with theocrats and “people of faith” of any creed; creationists, intelligent designers, hardline Bible thumpers, Muslim jihadists, and even “moderate” non-literalist, cherry picking Christians and Reform Jews, is, in my opinion, a good book. The guy who wrote it, a good guy. The person who reviews and recommends it, also good. As is the person who reads it for the specific purpose of arming him/herself with arguments to debunk religious poppycock. If that makes me a cunt, then so be it. I’ll take it as a compliment.

Let me finish off by saying that the Bible is bullshit, the Koran is a lie, and the Baghavad Gita did not fall from the sky (credit Corporate Avenger), and the sooner we can rid society of the scourge of belief in ancient fairy tales, mythology and omnipotent, judgmental sky zombies, the better.

Jesus

I’ve been getting into a really bad habit lately of dropping books as soon as I think they’re boring, badly written, disingenuous, have too much of an axe to grind, or they write and cover a topic in a way I already agree with.

I’m about to take on Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus, made perhaps more famous (infamous?) than it deserves (remains to be seen) by this outrageous interview of the author Reza Aslan on Fox News by Lauren Green.

I’ll get back to you with a review of sorts in a few weeks’ time (I’m a slow reader) to see if all the hullabaloo is justified.

EDIT 10-14-15: Yeah, so I read the book and I thought it was OK. Just wanted to add that Reza Aslan may have overstated his scholarly credentials. I thought perhaps he doth protested too much.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason And Science Website Has Been Banned In Pakistan!

If you try to access RichardDawkins.net from within Pakistan, this is what you get:

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website has been banned in Pakistan!

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website has been banned in Pakistan!

From the email I received today:

With its religious fundamentalism and extremely restrictive blasphemy laws, Pakistan has long been an enemy of free speech. We here at RDFRS are not surprised by the banishment of our website, but we are deeply saddened for the Pakistani secularists that depend on our website for information, organizing and most importantly, solidarity.

You can help us continue to reach secularists in Pakistan and other religiously oppressive countries. Your support will allow us to build a safe community for those ostracized and isolated for their beliefs. They can ban our website, but they can not diminish our resolve to make the world safer for nonbelievers. Please, help the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science reach out to our fellow secularists in Pakistan by contributing $20 [or any amount you are comfortable with and your budget allows for] today!

Free speech, free exchange of ideas, reason and science are much more effective weapons in the fight against terrorism and oppressive, religion-based regimes than soldiers and drones. Support the cause and help save our secularism, thereby making the world a better place for everybody, as I have, by donating to RichardDawkins.net today.

God Is Not Great – He Is Boring

I’m giving up on “God Is Not Great – How religion poisons everything.” by Christopher Hitchens for the second time. On my first attempt I made it to 23% on my Kindle; this time around I stuck it out to 32%.

I’m a great admirer of Hitchens, and if I were the type to cultivate heroes, he would be one of them. I’ve probably watched 20+ hours of him in various debates/lectures/interviews on YouTube and nothing is more entertaining than watching him destroy a Jesus freak with logic and merciless acerbic wit.

I don’t think there’s anything he has said that I disagree with (apart from his support for America’s unprovoked attack on Iraq, and the subsequent decade-long train wreck of a war), and there’s nothing I have said that he couldn’t have said better. I hold the man to be a true intellectual giant.

BUT, watching him demolish some poor creationist dimwit on stage doesn’t necessarily translate well to the written format. Un-reciprocated snark and belittlement has little entertainment value. While the man clearly is a good debater and wordsmith, it quickly gets annoying when he tries to make a point of, and prove, his superiority in this regard in every other sentence. It makes you look like an arrogant prick. Furthermore, this style is most probably a turnoff for the very audience he (presumably) aims to convert, which makes me doubt his motivation in the first place.

While I do not consider myself anywhere near his academic league and intellectual stature, I haven’t read anything of his that I haven’t thought, or reasoned, myself at some level, however murky and dim. He has, nevertheless, helped illuminate and clarify my own nebulous speculations, I’ll give him that.

While I enjoy him “live” and respect him greatly, there is a strong element of snobbery about him and he clearly takes some sadistic joy in figuratively disemboweling his opponents that may be entertaining in a debate, but tiresome in writing. I’m not at all sure I would have liked him in person (and he probably wouldn’t enjoy hanging out with me). I might still give one of his non-atheist themed books a try, e.g “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” or his indictment of Mother Teresa, “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice“.

In conclusion, lest there should be any doubt; I believe the world is a better place for Christopher Hitchens having graced us with his presence, cut untimely short as it was.

Sweden Burns – Multi Culturalism A Failure?

Salman Rushdie‘s Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard, shot in Oslo after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the author and all his publishers; arsonist attacks against Mosques in Germany; Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh assassinated by radical Islamist in Amsterdam; repeated riots by Muslim minorities in France; a Norwegian right-wing Christian extremist bombs and guns down 77 people, mostly teenagers, in a self-proclaimed defensive war against Islam overrunning Europe; a British soldier is hacked to death with a meat cleaver and knives in broad daylight by British-born Muslims; disenfranchised rampaging Muslim immigrants and 1st generation Swedish Muslims riot and torch in Sweden, attacking police and firefighters. Call me crazy, but I see a pattern here.

Muslims and immigrants throughout Europe choose ghettofication and isolation rather than assimilation. Native, ethnic Europeans feel animosity towards immigrants for receiving disproportionate benefits and preferential treatment from their own governments. From personal experience I can say that racism and xenophobia in Europe is much more bitterly felt and expressed than in America.

sweden muslim riots

Model society Sweden plagued by disenfranchised Muslim rioters torching cars, buildings and attacking police and firefighters going on fourth day.

I am not going to speculate as to the reasons that may have led to the current clusterfuck in Europe. I won’t discuss whether or not Islam is a hateful, violent religion (as an observant atheist, however, who normally is an equal opportunity religion mocker, I will say that I have concluded that Mohammad currently sucks more than Jesus). But it seems to me that we can say with certainty that the model used for integrating cultures completely alien to each other, has failed, and that responsible politicians and social scientists need to take a second look and re-evaluate. While it may be politically incorrect, the question of whether “multi-culturalism” will ever work in Europe, is quite legitimate. Maybe some cultures simply don’t play that well together when forced to co-exist in close proximity.

Examining The Meaning Of Life, Death And Existence

How lucky we are that this guy, Sam Harris, emerges at the same time my “hero” Christopher Hitchens fades away. God’s ways are mysterious, indeed. Radically different personalities, humble and soft spoken versus giant ego, arrogant and even mean at times, they both are/were shining stars in their chosen fields. America needs to listen to this guy and more like him.

Partially from this speech, but also other speeches/debates I’ve seen on YT, I can’t help but feel that he may be flirting a tiny little bit with New Age ideas, Buddhism, and even a bit of Tony Robbins and pop psychology. I haven’t quite figured him out yet, but he is undoubtedly an intellectual giant of promising stature

If you’re interested in the whos, whats, wheres, whens, hows and whys of your existence, you should absolutely check him out. As soon as I finish the rather boring, formulaic, fictional story of an English archer’s trials and tribulations in France during the Hundred Years’ War I’m currently reading, I will get some of his books and dig deeper in.

Remember, the unexplored life is not worth living.

On Religion And Theology

Philosophy is like being in a dark room looking for a black cat.

Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.

Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there and shouting “I found it!”.

~ Some guy on the Internet

I came across this on the Internet. I don’t know who the author is, so he shall remain uncredited, suffice to say I didn’t come up with it, but I thought it was pretty clever and approve of the message