Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Baby with 3 arms - The will of God?

For those xians who attribute everything to their god’s will, what kind of cruel joke or “test” is the supreme prankster up to with this? Though many xians will say these things happen because of the "evilness" in the world, of course we know that this is just a freak of nature and something gone wrong in development of the fetus that HUMAN DOCTORS will have to correct.

SHANGHAI, China - Doctors in Shanghai on Tuesday were considering surgery options for a two-month old boy born with an unusually well-formed third arm.

Neither of the boy’s two left arms is fully functional and tests have so far been unable to determine which was more developed, said Dr. Chen Bochang, head of the orthopedics department at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center.

“His case is quite peculiar. We have no record of any child with such a complete third arm,” Chen said in a telephone interview. “It’s quite difficult to decide how to do the operation on him.”

The boy, identified only as “Jie-jie,” also was born with just one kidney and may have problems that could lead to curvature of the spine, according to local media reports.

Jie-jie cried when either of his left arms was touched, but smiled and responded normally to other stimuli, the reports said.

Chen said doctors hoped to work out a plan for surgery, but the boy’s small size made it impossible to perform certain tests that would help them prepare.

“We are meeting with several experts now. We hope we could work the plan out soon,” Chen said.

Media reports said other children have been reported born with additional arms and legs, but in all those cases it was clear what limb was more developed.

Chen’s hospital is one of China’s most experienced in dealing with unusual birth defects, including separating conjoined twins. Like Jie-jie, many of the children are sent to relatively wealthy Shanghai from the poor inland province of Anhui.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

two religions

Culinary Iconography - Jesus head in found in roots of asparagus plant

I found this at Godless Wonder's blog. This is so bullshit. It's too perfect of a face and had to have been "sculpted".

Divine vegetation in tutor’s garden

A GARDENER had a revelation when he dug up his asparagus plant and saw the face of Jesus.

Martin Gregory was enjoying his Sunday morning gardening when he noticed something quite different about one of his asparagus ferns he removed from a pot.

As the 52-year-old laid the 30-inch plant on the grass the sun shone down on the roots and revealed the face of Jesus to him.

The part-time mosaic tutor said: "I thought Good gracious! It's the face of Jesus.

"It's the most weird thing I have ever seen.

"The roots are fantastic. You can actually make out a thorn crown around his head, his eyes and nose.

"I've heard about Mother Theresa's face being seen in a bagel but I thought this was much better."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Want to be invisible?

Ever since I was a little kid I wished I could make myself invisible. Then along came Star Trek and brought that fantasy to the television screen. How cool it would be to be able to walk around without anyone seeing you! Think of all the things you could do and conversations you could eavesdrop on! We have seen many things first on Star Trek that are now devices used in the world today, such as cell phones, microwave ovens, computers, scanners, and so forth. Now comes the "invisibility cloak'! I want one!

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Thu May 25, 3:38 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New materials that can change the way light and other forms of radiation bend around an object may provide a way to make objects invisible, researchers said on Thursday.

Two separate teams of researchers have come up with theories on ways to use experimental "metamaterials" to cloak an object and hide it from visible light, infrared light, microwaves and perhaps even sonar probes.

Their work suggests that science-fiction portrayals of invisibility, such as the cloaking devices used to hide space ships in Star Trek, might be truly possible.


aborted heaven

Omega Centauri

Credit & Copyright: Steve Crouch

Explanation: Centaurus, the Centaur, is one of the most striking constellations in the southern sky. The Milky Way flows through this celestial expanse whose wonders also include the closest star to the sun, Alpha Centauri, and the largest globular star cluster in our galaxy, Omega Centauri. This gorgeous wide-field telescopic view of Omega Centauri shows off the cluster of about 10 million stars and the surrounding star field, with very faint dust clouds and distant background galaxies. Omega Cen itself is about 15,000 light-years away and 150 light-years in diameter - one of 150 or so known globular star clusters that roam the halo of our galaxy. The stars in globular clusters are much older, redder and less massive than our Sun.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bible Student Charged in Phone Sex Case

Here is another example of Xian “morals”. Of course, xians will say that this young man was not a True Christian™ and the devil made him do it:

OWATONNA, Minn. - A student at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College was charged in the theft of his roommate’s debit card, which was used to pay for more than $2,300 worth of calls to phone sex lines, prosecutors allege in court papers.

(This is what sexual repression and all that preaching about abstinence leads to.)

Shane Erin Mack, 20, of Belt, Mont., was charged with the gross misdemeanors of identity theft and theft by false representation. He made his first court appearance on Monday. Bail was set at $2,500. He remained in jail Tuesday afternoon.

Steele County prosecutor Scott Schrener said investigators only had documentation in hand for about $500 worth of calls, but the victim reported that $2,350 worth of calls had been made. Schrener said the criminal charges could be upgraded in the future.

The calls were made from March 23 to May 13, according to court papers.

Mack allegedly told investigators he admitted taking the debit card out of his roommate’s wallet and using it to make up to 30 calls to adult phone lines from public phones on campus, the criminal complaint said.

College spokesman Tom Lawson said Mack would not be allowed to return to the school when classes resume in the fall. According to the college Web site, the college offers a Christian “education program which imparts a biblical worldview.”

And what may be this “biblical worldview” exactly??? OT worldview of “it’s ok to have sex with slaves, concubines and your own daughters”, or NT worldview of “it’s ok to rape virgins?”

A call to the public defender who represented Mack in court on Monday was not immediately returned.

Mack’s next court appearance was scheduled for June 1.

Information from: Owatonna People’s Press

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pastors Who Don’t Believe In God

I have been thinking a lot lately about the pastors of the churches I attended over the years before freeing myself of religious superstition. Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian — they all had little idiosyncrasies in their personalities that made me feel as if they were like many common Joes…just doing their job (and almost all of them grudgingly even though most get a free house, car allowance, free benefits, and lots of celebrity-type admiration from members of the congregation.)

While browsing the web I ran across this article published in 2005 that contains some interesting food for thought about the subject of pastors and belief. The source is an Xian one so can’t blame the atheists for making shit up! The research is from the UK, and it would be interesting to find a study done of pastors in the U.S.A.

–Out of the 9,000 pastors surveyed, one in 33 doubt the existence of God, meaning that within the 9,000 strong clergy, there could be as many as 300 Church of England clergy who are not entirely convinced of the existence of God.

As the author of this commentary pointed out, some say that the U.S. is about 20 years behind the UK in the secularization of our society. Maybe we will begin to see a trend here of skeptical pastors coming out of the closet, too…in time. We can only hope!

You can read the entire article about this subject here.

Philosopher, scientist, farmer crack chicken-egg question

Thu May 25, 2006

LONDON (AFP) - Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

(Does this all really matter. If so, is there a biologist out there who can explain why?)

According to a scientist, a philosopher and a chicken farmer, it was the egg, British newspapers reported.

The key to the age-old question apparently lies in the fact that since genetic material does not change throughout an animal's life, the first bird that evolved into a chicken must have initially existed as an embryo inside an egg.

Professor John Brookfield, from England's University of Nottingham, concluded that because of this, the living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it turned into.

The specialist in evolutionary genetics was quoted in a number of newspapers as saying: "Therefore the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg. The egg came first."

Brookfield's conclusion was backed up by Professor David Papineau, of King's College, London, and the chairman of the trade body Great British Chicken, Charles Bourns.

Papineau, an expert in the philosophy of science, argued that the first chicken must have emerged from an egg even though it was laid by a different species of bird, but it was still a chicken egg because it had a chicken in it.

"The conclusion therefore must be that the egg came first and the chicken afterwards," he stated.

Bourns' methodology was not explained in The Times, the Daily Mail and the Independent, who all carried the story.

"Eggs were around long before the first chicken arrived," he affirmed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

An Intermediate Polar Binary System

Illustration Credit & Copyright: Mark Garlick (Space-art)

Explanation: How can two stars create such a strange and intricate structure? Most stars are members of multiple-star systems. Some stars are members of close binary systems where material from one star swirls around the other in an accretion disk. Only a handful of stars, however, are members of an intermediate polar, a system featuring a white dwarf star with a magnetic field that significantly pushes out the inner accretion disk, only allowing material to fall down its magnetic poles. Shown above is an artist's depiction of an intermediate polar system, also known as a DQ Hercules system. The foreground white dwarf is so close to the normal star that it strips away its outer atmosphere. As the white dwarf spins, the columns of infalling gas rotate with it. The name intermediate polar derives from observations of emitted light polarized at a level intermediate to non-disk binary systems known as polars. Intermediate polars are a type of cataclysmic variable star system.
I'm back home and back to blogging already! The graduation was great and was so good to see our daughter again. The little vacation wasn't long enough, but we had a chance to relax some and enjoy the warm sunshine while we were there.

Now...back to business!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Be back soon!

I will away for a few days to be at my daughter's graduation from Yale University! She is receiving her Masters in Music Performance . . .
(we are very proud and have to brag.)

Yay Mary! She recently won a position with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra!

I'll be back soon!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bertrand Russell was born this day in 1872

“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young, and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”
-- Bertrand Russell, "What I Believe," 1925, reprinted in Why I Am Not a Christian (1957)

On this date in 1872, Bertrand Russell was born in England. "A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past, or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men," Russell wrote. "Bertie" to friends, Russell, during his 97 years, did all he could to add to human knowledge and to inspire kindness. His second wife, Dora Black, called him "enchantingly ugly." The New York attorney who won a suit to void Russell's appointment to the philosophy department at the College of the City of New York in 1940 because of his liberal views, described Russell as "lecherous, libidinous, lustful, venerous, erotomaniac, aphrodisiac, irreverent, narrow-minded, untruthful and bereft of moral fiber." "What I wish at bottom is to become a saint," Russell once admitted, but he couldn't help being pleased by the label "aphrodisiac." The mathematician (who called his first encounter with Euclid "as dazzling as first love," Autobiography), philosopher and social activist authored 75 books.

He launched headlong into a life of radicalism in his forties as a pacifist opposing World War I. He liked to recount his experience at prison, where he was sentenced for his pacifism: "I was much cheered on my arrival by the warden at the gate, who had to take particulars about me. He asked my religion, and I replied 'agnostic.' He asked how to spell it, and remarked with a sigh: 'Well, there are many religions, but I suppose they all worship the same God.' This remark kept me cheerful for about a week." (Autobiography) Russell spent his last years courageously working for nuclear disarmament. In "The Faith of a Rationalist," broadcast by the BBC in 1953, Russell observed: "Cruel men believe in a cruel God and use their belief to excuse their cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly God, and they would be kindly in any case." One of his maxims: "Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed." Russell won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. D. 1969.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mel did it for the money. . .

Those xians who believe that "Passion of the Christ" was made just for them and that Mel-baby wanted to send gawd's message to the world should read the following article. It's like I said in a PREVIOUS POST, Hollywood has found a new group to market to and Mel Gibson did it for the money. The money he gave to charity is miniscule compared to what this man is worth. He is an aging actor who found a way to bring himself back into the spotlight and to make a bunch of money for himself.

"Gibson, who produced and directed the blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," took the 47th spot with 850 million dollars, making him the top actor on the list."

Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson among 50 richest LA media moguls

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Playing the game" awards. . .

I work for a company that scores 8th grade graduation tests for schools in various states. It is my job to grade the essay portions of these exams and make certain that each essay contains the correct memorized answers in whatever baloney a student wants to pad the paragraphs with. The questions that are asked may be relevant to some students, but irrelevant to others depending on the environment in which the student lives and his or her background. Answers given do not necessarily reflect actual knowledge a student may or may not have about a subject. For instance, a student may know two memorized examples of telemedicine and two memorized explanations for those examples but most students could not give a clear and intelligent answer about what telemedicine even is. In many cases, the student could not formulate an intelligible response, and many had problems with spelling and grammar.

Because students are so busy cramming for exams, little time is left for really learning to use their basic reading, writing and math skills. Also, little time is left for creativity, criticial thinking, problem solving and pondering the world and universe.

The North America Nebula

Explanation: Here's a familiar shape in an unfamiliar location! This emission nebula is famous partly because it resembles Earth's North American Continent. To the right of the North America Nebula is a less luminous Pelican Nebula. Let's be grateful that pelicans aren't really that large! The two emission nebula are located about 1500 light years away and are separated by a dark absorption cloud. The nebulae can be seen without a telescope from a dark location. Look for a small nebular patch north-east of Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus. It is still unknown which star or stars ionize the red-glowing hydrogen gas.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bush or Chimp?


Since my last chimp post was such a hit, thought you all would enjoy these

Just so I am not accused of being a hippie communist, click here,

Culinary Iconography - Tuna-ALLAH-King

So many visions and messages from so many gods! Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich, Jesus on tortillas, Allah on an eggplant and now inscriptions on a tuna!

Addition:Interesting that these gods send messages to only their xian never finds an allah taco, and a muslim never finds a Jeebus tomato. And why don't atheists ever find any of these "messages"???

MOMBASA, Kenya (AFP) - A tuna fish caught in the Indian Ocean this week has excited Kenyan Muslims who are flocking here by the hundreds to see a Koranic verse apparently embedded in its scales.

Dubbed the "wonder fish" by locals in this port city, the 2.5-kilo (5.5-pound) tuna has attracted so much attention it has been placed in the custody of the National Fisheries Department for safekeeping, officials said.

The otherwise ordinary fish caught the attention of fishmonger Omar Mohammed Awadh who pulled it out of a catch when he noticed what seemed to be Arabic writing among the scales near its tail, they said.

Arabic scholars examined the fish and determined the writing was a Koranic verse meaning "God is the greatest of all providers," said Hassan Mohamed Hassan, an education officer with the National Museums of Kenya in Mombasa.

"This has been confirmed as a verse from the Holy Koran," said Sheikh Mombasa Dor, the secretary-general of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya.

"We believe that God brings these kinds of messages in many forms from time to time and that we should not only read the Holy Book, but practice what it says," he said.

Mombasa district commissioner Mohamed Maalim agreed.

"It is so clearly spelt," he said. "That is why we believe that Allah is sending a message to mankind."

Did anyone stop to consider that since the inscription is so clear that someone may have caught the fish, put the inscription on it and tossed it back in the water? (Someone is probably having a big laugh right now.) Or maybe they are seeing things they WANT to see in familiar patterns in the scales that are similar to writing?'s ALLLLAH ...because apparently Allah is like the xian god and gets kicks out of playing games with people by leaving riddles in food, etc. instead of just showing himself.

Hundreds of Muslims and curiosity seekers flocked to Awadh's Takaungu Fresh Fish Shop to see the tuna on Friday, prompting concerns for its safety and its removal to a refrigerated locker at the fisheries department.

In March Muslims flocked to see a pair of fish found in a pet shop in the British city of Liverpool which appeared to bear the words "Allah" and "Mohammed" (pigs be upon him) on their scales.

Isn't this going against their holy laws of worshipping idols?

Quotes for Mother's Day for all the Moms out there

My mother is now almost 69 years-old. Though we have had our disagreements we have remained close over the years and every Mother's Day she calls ME before I get to the phone to call her. She never misses a birthday of any one of her kids, and buys us something even though we are getting into our 50s. She makes a big deal about it when we say we are coming over for a little visit...she has to feed us, and buy food we (and she) should not be eating. She gets excited over little things and saves anything we buy her even if she may not really like it. We joke that we could give her a bucket of poo and she would be thrilled and preserve it forever! If you say you like something she has, she wants to give it to you and a little friendly argument ensues and you end up taking the thing home to make her happy. One thing I am very grateful for, that no matter what our differences of the past, I know my mother loves me dearly and I love her and will love her always.

Here are some quotes in celebration of Mother's Day:

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~
Tenneva Jordan

Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries. ~
T. DeWitt Talmage

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back. ~
William D. Tammeus

Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too. ~
Lionel Kauffman

Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion-picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word "collectible" as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success. ~
Fran Lebowitz, "Parental Guidance," Social Studies, 1981

"When your mother asks, "Do you want a piece of advice?" it is a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway." ~
Erma Bombeck

"Him whose mother is no more, distress carries off." ~

Friday, May 12, 2006

Happy Birthday George!

“. . . this experiment, this magnificent experiment in democracy is just being shredded to pieces by these right-wing Christians, the Ashcroft branch of Republicanism. (They're) just shredding the rest of the Bill of Rights which hadn't been shredded already.”
-- George Carlin, interview in Idaho Statesman, Jan. 24, 2004

On this date in 1937, George Carlin was born in Manhattan to an Irish Catholic family. The salty stand-up comedian has received two Grammys, for "Fm & Am" (1972) and "Jammin' " (1993). He was arrested for disorderly conduct in Milwaukee in 1972 for performing "Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Radio or Television." A case about his right to perform this show on the radio went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Carlin was the first host of Saturday Night Live (1975), and has appeared in 11 HBO specials since 1977. Typical quips: "When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve." "If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else." "I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." Carlin inspired the Freedom From Religion Foundation's "Emperor Has No Clothes Award," honoring public figures who "tell it like it is" about religion.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Especially for our Bush Fans

The Ethical Atheist

I walk among you. I live next door.
My office is right down the hall from yours.
My child sits next to yours in school.

I live my life by the Golden Rule...
that most basic principle of ethical behavior
that people have followed through the ages.
I treat others as I would like to be treated.
So simple, yet rarely followed...

I practice tolerance.
I do not discriminate by race or gender.
I strive to make the world a better place.
I seek answers to the unknown and
attempt to educate all with answers to the known.

I view the universe in a different way than you
for I am a scientist, an educator,
a free thinker, an atheist.

While you attribute the great unknown mysteries to your God,
I use reason, logic and scientific methods in search
of answers to the as yet unexplained.

This should not be reason that we cannot
live together... practicing tolerance.
Yet, if your opinion differs, so be it!

For I will continue on my path...
I will find answers.
I will educate, and
I will not go away.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Evil Money

MIAMI (AFP) - A Florida woman was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to return two million dollars she bilked from elderly people by claiming she needed to exorcise the cash.

Linda Marks, 57, a self-proclaimed psychic and fortune teller admitted that she had bilked two million dollars from vulnerable people, most of them elderly, between 1994 and 2002.

She told her victims their cash was tainted by evil spirits, and convinced them to hand it over to her so she could cleanse it, but never returned the money.

US District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks on Wednesday ordered her to restitute the two million dollars, while former police detective Jack Makler, 64, was ordered to restitute 235,700 dollars.

Makler had admitted to receiving money and property from Marks and to lying to state criminal courts in New Mexico and Florida to help Marks avoid severe criminal penalties.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Cerro Tololo Sky

Credit: Roger Smith, AURA, NOAO, NSF

Explanation: High atop a Chilean mountain lies one of the premier observatories of the southern sky: the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). Pictured above is the dome surrounding one of the site's best known instruments, the 4-meter Blanco Telescope. Far behind the dome are thousands of individual stars and diffuse light from three galaxies: the Small Magellanic Cloud (upper left), the Large Magellanic Cloud (lower left), and our Milky Way Galaxy (right). Also visible just to Blanco's right is the famous superposition of four bright stars known as the Southern Cross. A single 20 second exposure, this digital image was recorded with a sensitive detector intended for astronomical imaging. The observatory structures are lit solely by starlight.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Why Not Believe? Reasons Why Atheists Don’t Believe in Gods

One question that is continually asked of atheists by xians is “Why not believe? What are your reasons for not believing in god?” Christians falsely assume we atheists “hate god” or just are “rebellious towards god”, when in fact we HAVE NO REASON TO BELIEVE A GOD EXISTS. Period. Christians seem to read past our detailed responses as to why we do not believe in the existence of gods, goddesses, heaven, hell, demons, gnomes, pink unicorns, etc.

Well-known atheist Austin Cline wrote the following article that sums up all of our past responses into several neat paragraphs. If they don’t get it after reading this, they never will.

Multiple Gods and Religious Traditions:
It is difficult to credit any one religion as being True or any one god as being True when there have been so many throughout human history. None appears to have any greater claim to being more credible or reliable than any other. Why Christianity and not Judaism? Why Islam and not Hinduism? Why monotheism and not polytheism? Every position has had its defenders, all as ardent as those in other traditions. They can’t all be right, but they can all be wrong.

Contradictory Characteristics in Gods:
Theists often claim that their gods are perfect beings; they describe gods, however, in contradictory and incoherent ways. Numerous characteristics are attributed to their gods, some of which are impossible and some combinations of which are impossible. As described, it’s unlikely or impossible for these gods to exist. This doesn’t mean that no god could possibly exist, just that the ones theists claim to believe in don’t.

Religion is Self-Contradictory:
No religion is perfectly consistent when it comes to doctrines, ideas, and history. Every ideology, philosophy, and cultural tradition has inconsistencies and contradictions, so this shouldn’t be surprising — but other ideologies and traditions aren’t alleged to be divinely created or divinely sanctioned systems for following the wishes of a god. The state of religion in the world today is more consistent with the premise that they are man-made institutions.

Gods Are Too Similar to Believers:
A few cultures, like ancient Greece, have postulated gods which appear to be as natural as human beings, but in general gods are supernatural. This means that they are fundamentally different from human beings or anything on earth. Despite this, however, theists consistently describe their gods in ways that make the supernatural appear almost mundane. Gods share so many characteristics with humans that it has been argued that gods were made in the image of man.

Gods Just Don’t Matter:
Theism means believing in the existence of at least one god, not that one necessarily cares much about any gods. In practice, though, theists typically place a great deal of importance on their god and insist that it and what it wants are the most important things a person can be concerned with. Depending upon the nature of a god, however, this isn’t necessarily true. It’s not obvious that the existence or desires of gods should matter to us.

Gods and Believers Behave Immorally:
In most religions, gods are supposed to be the source of all morality. For most believers, their religion represents an institution for promoting perfect morality. In reality, though, religions are responsible for widespread immorality and gods have characteristics or histories which make them worse than the most vile human serial killer. No one would tolerate such behavior on the part of a person, but when with a god it all becomes laudable — even an example to follow.

Evil in the World:
Closely associated with taking action that should be considered immoral is the fact that there is so much evil in the world today. If there are any gods, why don’t they act to eliminate it? The absence of substantive action against evil would be consistent with the existence of evil or at least indifferent gods, which is not impossible, but few people believe in such gods. Most claim that their gods are loving and powerful; the suffering on Earth, makes their existence implausible.

Faith is Unreliable:
A common characteristic of both theism and religion is their reliance on faith: belief in the existence of god and in the truth of religious doctrines is neither founded upon nor defended by logic, reason, evidence, or science. Instead, people are supposed to have faith — a position they wouldn’t consciously adopt with just about any other issue. Faith, though, is an unreliable guide to reality or means for acquiring knowledge.

Life is Material, not Supernatural:
Most religions say that life is much more than the flesh and matter we see around us. In addition, there is supposed to be some sort of spiritual or supernatural realm behind it all and that our “true selves” is spiritual, not material. All evidence, though, points to life being a purely natural phenomenon. All evidence indicates that who we really our — our selves — is material and dependent upon the workings of the brain. If this is so, religious and theistic doctrines are wrong.

There is No Good Reason to Bother Believing:
Perhaps the most important and common reason for not believing in any gods and for not following any religions is the absence of any good reason for doing so. All of the above are decent reasons for not believing and are common reasons for questioning — and eventually leaving — whatever theistic and religious beliefs a person might have had in the past.

Once a person gets beyond the bias in favor of belief, though, they can realize something critical: the burden of support lies with those claiming that belief is rational and/or necessary. Believers fail to meet this burden, however, and as a consequence fail to provide any really good reasons to accept their claims. As a consequence, those who don’t already believe and/or who are not biased in favor of belief aren’t given a reason to start.

Given the fact that the burden of support lies first and foremost with those making the positive the claim — the theistic, religious believers — then non-believers don’t necessarily need reasons not to believe. They are helpful, to be sure, but they aren’t particularly necessary. Instead, what is required are reasons to believe.

The question “Why don’t you believe?” is a request for justification from the nonbeliever; the response “I haven’t seen any good reason to bother believing” returns the need for justification back to the believer where it belongs. Too often, believers fail to realize that their position is the one which needs defending and perhaps this can help them begin to understand that.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 6 is Astronomy Day

May 6 is Astronomy Day, which was started in 1973 to get people interested and involved in the hobby.

Traditionally, it has been held in late April or early May on the Saturday closest to the First Quarter Moon. Since First Quarter is on Friday, May 5, tradition dictates that Astronomy Day is to be held the following day. Many planetariums and astronomy clubs nationwide will be marking the event with lectures, demonstrations and of course, outdoor observing sessions.

There is much to be seen now, not only on Astronomy Day, but during the upcoming week as well.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Scientists find new species in Atlantic

This looks like what we would imagine to be some kind of space alien.

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists have found about 10-20 new species of tiny creatures in the depths of the Atlantic in a survey that will gauge whether global warming may harm life in the oceans, an international report said on Thursday.

The survey, of tropical waters between the eastern United States and the mid-Atlantic ridge, used special nets to catch fragile zooplankton -- animals such as shrimp, jellyfish and swimming worms -- at lightless depths of 1-5 km (0.6-3 miles).

"This was a voyage of exploration ... the deepest parts of the oceans are hardly ever sampled," said Peter Wiebe, the cruise's scientific leader and senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States.

"We found perhaps 10-20 new species of zooplankton," he said of the 20-day voyage by 28 scientists from 14 nations in April.

Most life, including commercial fish stocks, is in the top 1 km of water, but the scientists said the survey showed a surprising abundance even in the depths. The survey will provide a benchmark to judge future changes to the oceans.

Full story

Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

"[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom... was finally passed,... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindu and infidel of every denomination." --Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. ME 1:67

"No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor... otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief... All men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and... the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." --Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. ME 2:302, Papers 2:546

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Culinary Iconography - Make Your Own Jesus Toast

Praise be to the Jesus toast. I didn't find an explanation for this one except to say that some grandma was trying to sell it on e-bay. I found another site where some dude has pictures of how to make your own Jesus toast and maybe some extra cashola!
Pass the marmalade!


Monday, May 01, 2006

Jesus in a dental x-ray - Holy Dental Hygiene!

I was looking for my next Culinary Iconography item and ran across this! LOL! Apparently Jesus is making personal mouth visits!
A Phoenix dentist and his staff say that an X-ray taken this week seems to contain an image resembling Jesus.
The image was revealed when the X-ray was developed. The patient described himself as a devout Christian, but said he has never before seen Jesus in an X-ray.The patient's dental exam was perfect.


Looks like Pete Townshend to me!