Thursday, May 31, 2007

What kind of atheist are you?

I took this quiz at Atheist Jew's blog and these are the results:
You scored as Scientific Atheist
They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics,
and can explain evolution in fifty words or less.
More concerned with how things ARE than how they should be,
these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist


Militant Atheist


Apathetic Atheist


Spiritual Atheist


Angry Atheist






What kind of atheist are you?
created with

Noah's ark myth created as justification for slavery?

Image: Drunkenness of Noah. c. 1515. Oil on canvas, 103 x 157 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon.

This post was inspired by the opening of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. It's mind-boggling that in the year 2007, and with all of scientific evidences accumulated over the centuries by highly intelligent and dedicated scientists, explorers, educators, etc. that there are so many who choose to believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old, and that dinosaurs and people co-existed...and that dinosaurs drowned in "the flood" but people survived despite the fact that no vegetation would have survived, and nothing would be left for them to eat after the floodwaters subsided, and nothing for the animals to eat to survive (if they survived such a long time confined to a wooden ark.) The whole story is so obviously absurd mythology, yet there are those who choose to hold onto ignorant beliefs of ancient folks who knew nothing about science, biology, geology, geography, meteorology, etc. And if getting rid of sin and evilness was the goal, this God sure picked a real loser to head up his "mission" to "cleanse the world."

How can people actually take the story of Noah to be real? Have any Bible literalists ever asked themselves why, if an omnipotent God had the ability to create humans and all things in the first place, why the need to go through having an old drunken pervert build an ark, gather two of all the millions and millions of life forms all over the planet, when this God could have just wiped his imperfect creations out in one click of his fingers, and then with the blink of an eye re-create them all over again just as "in the beginning"? If one can look at the Bible with a critical eye, as with other ancient world mythologies, the absurdity of the stories contained therein are at the same level of absurdity.

The Flood myth absurdity doesn't just end with the floodwaters subsiding. As Steve from Oak Park, Illinois on the website Straight Dope Science Advisory Board writes,

"Genesis 9:20-25 seems to be one of the strangest stories in the Bible. Noah lands the ark, plants a vineyard, gets drunk off its wine, lays around naked in his tent and is seen by his son Ham who reports it to his two brothers. Noah sobers up knowing what Ham did and curses his grandson Canaan who apparently was not even there. What is even stranger is when I started researching this mystery I discovered the story was once used to support slavery. Further there are theories floating around concerning castration and incest. What is the real story? Is there a deeper meaning to this than Noah having a case of misdirected anger while hung over? Or are we only hearing the watered-down version in our modern day Bible?"

SDSTAFF Dex replies:
"we examined the story of drunken Noah putting a curse on his grandson Canaan. This story came to be used as the biblical justification for slavery in pre-Civil War America, and for racial segregation after the war. The justification wasn't purely an invention of plantation owners, either--its roots go back more than 1,500 years. That seems remarkable, since the story itself doesn't mention race at all. Tracking the development of the slavery interpretation is an object lesson in the use of scripture to justify man's inhumanity to man."
Link: The Straight Dope

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm back

Virginia despite the fact that it is home of the "fundie Vatican," turned out to be a very interesting place full of history and so much to do it would take three vacations or more to see and do everything there is to do. I have always wanted to visit George Washington’s Mt Vernon, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. We chose Virginia for our vacation this year because our daughter lives in Richmond now, since she is a member of the symphony orchestra there. In recent years, while we prefer the west, northwest or the Great Lakes areas for our vacations, we end up going out east since we work in a visit with her at the same time. Otherwise we wouldn’t get to see her much.

Virginia is a beautiful state, full of magnolia trees which fill the air with a perfumy scent that makes me wish I could have one or two of them right in my own backyard. The surroundings are green and lush with flowers everywhere and colorful songbirds flying all around. People love to garden there. And most properties are well kept and very tidy. People are quite friendly, though very openly"godly." It's a big part of the culture there.

Settlers who arrived from the Old World in the midst of springtime must have initially thought they had found paradise. I wonder what the founding fathers who worked and fought so hard to uphold our freedoms and separation of church and state would think about their grand state of Virginia had turned into the headquarters of some of the most intolerant religious fundamentalists on Earth. (Falwell and Robertson to name two of them.)

We stopped at Mt. Vernon first, which is a beautiful mansion and plantation nestled on the hills overlooking the Potomac River. George Washington was a man of many interests and abilities, and he valued knowledge and reason. Not many religious references were to be found amongst the many, many artifacts which remain from the Washington family, except for a family Bible (which belonged to his wife Martha from her first marriage), and a few references in writings by Washington about “Divine Providence”, but nothing about Jesus or Christianity.

As noted by Franklin Steiner in “The Religious Beliefs Of Our Presidents” (1936), Washington commented on sermons only twice. In his writings, he never referred to “Jesus Christ.” He attended church rarely, and did not take communion - though Martha did, requiring the family carriage to return back to the church to get her later.

Washington was, at most, a deist, however fundies are determined to rewrite Washington’s beliefs and his stance on religion to suit themselves. In the museum that is on the grounds of Mt Vernon, there is a mini-sanctuary with pews to throw in a bit of a religious fiction to the whole “educational” experience, trying to make Washington seem like he was a Christian man when he was not (his wife was, but he was not -- it seemed as if he was just going along with her to make her happy). As his writings show evidence of, and as I said before . . . at most, he was a deist. [George Washington and Religion] The experience at the end of the tour was also quite irritating. At the entrance to Washington’s tomb there is a live prayer reading every twenty minutes, a prayer that was delivered by a Rev. Thomas Davis, Rector of Christ Church at his entombment. When the guide called everyone to the area in front of the tomb for the prayer, the sheeple dressed in their “John 3:16” and “Jesus Loves Me” t-shirts all herded in a huddle with eyes closed and faces squinched as if in pain as the guide read the prayer (most Christians seem very sad and in pain when praying). Some of us kept walking around irreverently taking pictures and ignoring the whole oogie boogie recitation. After it was over, I scooted in the out gate and took my photos of the tomb and sarcophagus.

Monticello was similar in the way the preservationists try to highlight Jefferson’s brief references to God, however I was glad to see that they did place emphasis on Jefferson’s adamant stance that knowledge was the key to success and happiness. While Washington kept his beliefs concerning religion private, Jefferson was more outspoken about where he stood, and therefore a bit more difficult to make shit up about his beliefs. However, Jefferson’s true beliefs were downplayed, while anything remotely “godly” he might have said was taken out of context, highlighted and prominently displayed. This following video contains quotes by Jefferson that SHOULD have been displayed, but weren’t.

Gift shops at the Williamsburg tourist trap information center were playing a steady stream of religious music . . . “and he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own” . . .and in most shops and restaurants we stopped at, church music permeated these public places full of tourists from all cultures.

During this trip, I came to realize how fine the line is drawn between church and state in the south, and in the same way they do their Bible, fundamentalist Christians choose to interpret and rewrite history to their own liking in order to force their beliefs upon the rest of us.

Good video in response by Dr. Michael Newdow on separation of church and state:

Going back to our hotel room one evening, there was a woman who scared me. She was standing at the railing of the balcony where our second floor room was located, and she was telling another woman how the “power of the Lawd shot down through her arms” and how she could “feel the heat and tingling as the power of the Lawd” went through her and “traveled out of her fingertips” and into the back of her little dog and healed it! I told my husband to hurry up and get inside our room and barricade the door!

On our way back home we took back roads through western Virginia and through the state of West Virginia. West Virginia is a whole other world, and could write a lengthy post on it's "weirdness". It's like going to another country. Makes Virginia seem like quite a liberal place. At lunchtime we started looking for a place to eat and we came upon a good-sized town with many restaurants and fast food eateries. We decided on Wendy's since we wanted something quick and cheap. The parking lot was jammed. It was around 12:30, and we remembered then that it was Sunday in fundieland. And all there is to do in fundieland is eat, and fundies favorite pastime is eating. We walked into what seemed to be a chapter in a Stephen King horror novel. The place was so full that not one seat remained. (I had never seen that at a Wendy's before at any time of day.) Everyone had on their Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes . . . men in short-sleeved dress shirts and many with ties, and women in their flowery dresses and skirts. The order line was full and there were people in line to get into the order line similar to Olive Garden on a Saturday night. And all in their Sunday's best. And us in our jeans, t-shirts and Reeboks. We were obvious outsiders. We decided that we better find another place to eat.

We ended up at a Subway that was connected to a gas station several miles up the road in a town so small that you would miss it if you happened to blink while passing through. And who was the manager? An Indian of the Hindu variety! While we try not to stereotype people, the stereotypes are repeatedly reinforced for us and it was amusing to see Hindus in hickland.

Later, around our dinner time in southern Ohio we noticed that all towns seemed deserted. We were still on the back roads and passing in and out of towns along the way. The only way to really get a feel for the different parts of the country is to take the backroads.

We stopped at a Wendy's which was almost deserted. There were two or three workers. We ordered chili and a baked potato. The boy at the counter slowly gave us our change, and then our tray of food. We went to the condiments bar to find spoons. . . no spoons. We asked for spoons and the boy answered "we ain't got any spoons left". How can they sell people chili and Frosties when they have no spoons to eat it with? Lucky we had spoons in our van and my husband went out to get them.

While we sat there eating, we watched a couple people come in and out, and they seemed to know the workers well. That was kind of nice to see, a town where everyone knows each other. That could have a downside though, as with the village I now live in once was. When everyone knows your name, they also seem to be too interested in your personal business. Lots of gossip because there sure isn't anything else to talk about!

Like all vacations, as we got closer and closer to Chicagoland, I felt good. I felt good because of having a great vacation, but also a satisfaction that I was going home to where it is comfortable and familiar to me. And where I can go to Wendy's on a Sunday afternoon, find a seat amongst other heathens who are wearing jeans and Reeboks and don't bother with church.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hitchens on Free Speech

I will be away on vacation for this week, and here is an excellent video by Christopher Hitchen's concerning freedom of speech.

Despite death threats and strong condemnation from various religious groups who wish to silence him, Hitchens and others risk their lives to speak out in defense of Freedom of Speech and expression. Free speech should be upheld for ALL people whether we agree with what is being said, or not. People also have the right to hear what we have to say, or to choose not to read or listen. In a free society, these freedoms MUST be upheld. It is the main purpose of why I continue to blog. It is my right, my own personal freedom of expression.

KONONATOO: Creator God with a different approach.

When studying World Mythologies in college, this was one of my very favorite South American myth stories because of its humor. Thanks to and all of their research on these many, many gods from various cultures and societies all over the world, past and present.


He kept the humans he created as slaves without any creature comforts. One day through a hole in the clouds someone noticed a place of beauty below — with birds and butterflies and lush vegetation.

So an escape committee was formed and a rope made. The fattest woman available was used to anchor the rope from the top as the humans crept through the hole and slid down the rope.

Being last and not too bright, the fat lady got stuck in the hole and plugged it up tight. She was stuck fast with her head in the clouds and her feet dangling down towards Earth. This left her in a very awkward position in many ways.

KONONATOO, having discovered where they were, was quite miffed at losing his little helpers. As a punishment, he pledged never to let any human back into Heaven, no matter how hard they prayed. At first life on Earth was not as easy as it seemed — until the humans discovered sex. Then there was no stopping them.

We do hope KONONATOO has installed a dishwasher as we don't know what happened to the fat woman.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"This is the strongest evidence yet for the existence of dark matter,"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A hazy ring of dark matter spawned by a colossal cosmic crash eons ago offers the best evidence to date that vast amounts of this mysterious stuff reside in the universe, scientists said on Tuesday.

Images taken by NASA's orbiting Hubble Space Telescope allowed astronomers to detect this ring of dark matter created by the collision of two galaxy clusters 5 billion light-years from Earth.

"This is the strongest evidence yet for the existence of dark matter," astronomer Myungkook James Jee of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore told reporters.

Astronomers believe dark matter -- as opposed to ordinary matter making up the stars, planets and the like -- comprises about 85 percent of the universe's material, but evidence of it has been difficult to come by.

Dark matter cannot be directly seen. It does not shine or reflect light, but astronomers infer its existence in galaxy clusters by observing how its gravity bends the light given off by even more faraway galaxies. They do not know what it is made of, but think it could be a kind of particle.

Astronomer Richard Massey of the California Institute of Technology, not involved in the research, said the findings are facing skepticism within the astronomical community.


Dark Matter Ring Modeled around Galaxy Cluster CL0024+17
Credit: NASA, ESA, M. J. Jee & H. Ford et al. (Johns Hopkins U.)

Explanation: How do we know that dark matter isn't just normal matter exhibiting strange gravity? A new observation of gravitationally magnified faint galaxies far in the distance behind a massive cluster of galaxies is shedding new dark on the subject. The above detailed image from the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that a huge ring of dark matter likely exists surrounding the center of CL0024+17 that has no normal matter counterpart. What is visible in the above image, first and foremost, are many spectacular galaxies that are part of CL0024+17 itself, typically appearing tan in color. Next, a close inspection of the cluster center shows several unusual and repeated galaxy shapes, typically more blue. These are multiple images of a few distant galaxies, showing that the cluster is a strong gravitational lens. It is the relatively weak distortions of the many distant faint blue galaxies all over the image, however, that indicates the existence of the dark matter ring. The computationally modeled dark matter ring spans about five million light years and been digitally superimposed to the image in diffuse blue. A hypothesis for the formation of the huge dark matter ring holds that it is a transient feature formed when galaxy cluster CL0024+17 collided with another cluster of galaxies about one billion years ago, leaving a ring similar to when a rock is thrown in a pond.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Homosexuality in dolphins

This is quite interesting:

Male Bottlenose Dolphins often form lifelong pair-bonds with each other. Adolescent and younger males typically live in all-male groups in which homosexual activity is common; within these groups, a male begins to develop a strong bond with a particular partner (usually of the same age) with whom he will spend the rest of his life. The two Dolphins become constant companions, often traveling widely; although sexual activity probably declines as they get older, it may continue to be a regular feature of such partnerships. Paired males sometimes take turns guarding or remaining vigilant while their partner rests. They also defend their mates against predators such as sharks and protect them while they are healing from wounds inflicted during preclators' attacks. Sometimes three males form a tightly bonded trio. On the death of his partner, a male may spend a long time searching for a new male companion—usually unsuccessfully, since most other males in the community are already paired and will not break their bonds. If, however, he can find another "widower" whose male partner has died, the two may become a couple...

The lives of male Bottlenose Dolphins are characterized by extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality. As adolescents and young males, they have regular homosexual interactions in all-male groups, sometimes alternating with heterosexual activity. From age 10 onward, most male Dolphins form pair-bonds with another male, and because they do not usually father calves until they are 20-25 years old, this can be an extended period—10-15 years—of principally same-sex interaction. Later, when they begin mating heterosexually, they still retain their primary male pair-bonds, and in some populations male pairs and trios cooperate in herding females or in interacting homosexually with Spotted Dolphins.

(Excerpt from the book "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity" by Bruce Bagemihl.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Absolutely stunning - The Snowflake Cluster versus the Cone Nebula

Click on image to enlargeCredit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, P. S. Teixeira (CfA)

Explanation: Strange shapes and textures can be found in the neighborhood of the Cone Nebula. These patterns result from the tumultuous unrest that accompanies the formation of the open cluster of stars known as NGC 2264, the Snowflake cluster. To better understand this process, a detailed image of this region was taken in two colors of infrared light by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope. Bright stars from the Snowflake cluster dot the field. These stars soon heat up and destroy the gas and dust mountains in which they formed. One such dust mountain is the famous Cone Nebula, visible in the above image on the left, pointing toward a bright star near the center of the field. The entire NGC 2264 region is located about 2,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).

Monday, May 07, 2007

I love Freethunk!

The Rapture is one of the most absurd and ridiculous concepts ever invented and believed by humans. And the ones who believe it will tell Hindus that they are entirely absurd in their beliefs about reincarnation. What a world!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mr. Deity Episode 2: Mr. Deity and the Really Big Favor

This is a funny follow-up to my previous trinity post. Thanks to Zipi at GifS for pointing to this one.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

“Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity.”

Robert Ingersoll wrote:

“Christ, according to the faith, is the second person in the Trinity, the Father being the first and the Holy Ghost the third. Each of these persons is God. Christ is his own father and his own son. The Holy Ghost is neither father nor son, but both. The son was begotten by the father, but existed before he was begotten--just the same before as after.

“So, it is declared that the Father is God, and the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and that these three Gods make one God.

“According to the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and three times one is one, and according to heavenly subtraction, if we take two from three, three are left. The addition is equally peculiar, if we add two to one, we have but one. . . .

"How is it possible to prove the existence of the Trinity? Is it possible for a human being, who has been born but once, to comprehend, or to imagine the existence of three beings, each of whom is equal to the three? Think of one of these beings as the father of one, and think of that one as half human and all God, and think of the third as having proceeded from the other two, and then think of the three as one. Think that after the father begot the son, the father was still alone, and after the Holy Ghost proceeded from the father and the son, the father was still alone-because there never was and never will be but one God. At this point, absurdity having reached its limit, nothing more can be said except:’ Let us pray.’ "

-- Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), "The Trinity" (from "The Foundations of Faith," The Works of Ingersoll). The Trinity" has been set to music by Dan Barker ("Friendly Neighborhood Atheist" CD).

Even when I was a Christian and professed to believe in the Holy Trinity, I secretly found the whole concept quite absurd and really tried to make sense of it and never could. The clergy of the various churches I attended over the years, quickly grew weary and impatient of those who asked too many questions and resorted to making up answers and explanations, or we are told to just take it on faith and not try to analyze things too much.

Once I returned to the university and began to study ancient mythology and world religions, and comparing them side-by side, I began to see that the Christian mythology is just as absurd as any of the other mythologies that humans have concocted in their imaginations. There are many gods of ancient mythology from various cultures around the globe who have an earthly mother or father and a father god, mother god. These gods often come down from heaven and mingle amongst their subjects, then return to their supernatural realm up "above" to overlord little ol' planet Earth and its inhabitants from some celestial throne.

In the Christian mythology, the concept of a god, making himself into a man, is somewhat different and more confusing. This man, Jesus, who is supposed to be God come to Earth, yet he still talks and prays to God. Is he talking and praying to himself, then? This man-god dies, but the god still lives, and brings the man back to life. Then the man becomes a holy spirit and god, man and holy spirit are three-in-one...yet makes my brain hurt!

John Patrick Michael Murphy wrote a great essay simply titled "Trinity" that briefly summarizes the history of the concept of the Trinity and offers some amusing commentary.

God found out about the Trinity in the year 325 of the Common Era. That was the year Emperor Constantine murdered his son, Crispus, and knocked off his wife, Fausta, for complaining about it. He then turned his attention to the new religion of Christianity. This pagan ordered the Christian bishops to convene at Nicaea, a town south of today’s Istanbul. In those days one Christian bishop was the equal of any other. The prelates were elected by their followers. The idea that the Bishop of Rome would have more power than all the rest combined hadn’t been invented yet. The bishops and their respective followers constantly argued and connived against one another. Murder and mayhem were common.

Constantine paid the expenses of the churchmen to come to Nicaea with the hope that the warring among them would cease if they could only agree on the pecking order of their gods. Once assembled the cabal got down to figuring out god. One group thought Jesus a holy man, but not god. Some allowed that Jesus was a god, but thought Jehovah was one first. Others claimed they were coeternal and were quite certain both ran the universe with another god called the Holy Ghost. Constantine didn’t give a tinker’s dam how many gods there were, he just wanted the bickering to end. He liked the idea that anyone could become a Christian. His empire was far flung and had scores of exclusive religions which tended to strain unity and his power. Once Paul had the moxie to chop circumcision from the initiation ceremony, the novel idea of sinning on credit became popular. It still is. Constantine wanted to capitalized on it.

After many bishops grabbed their crosiers and stormed out of the proceedings he made the rest stay and vote until there was a majority telling us how many gods the Christians would worship. After the infighting, posturing, and compromising of politics, the majority voted that all three were gods in one god- similar to Siamese triplets. Although the word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible, the bishops explained that while Jesus was begotten by Jehovah, he existed before he was begotten, and the Holy Ghost "proceeded" from the father and the son, but was still coeternal with them!!! Then they made the sign of the cross and left town.

That’s how god found out about the Trinity-at a convention convened by a husband who murdered his wife-a father who killed his son. Ingersoll studied the matter in the last century and explained how it works- this Trinity business:

(refer to quote at beginning of post)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good question

Click on cartoon to enlarge

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Most Earth-like planet yet discovered

Sunrise from the Surface of Gliese 581c
Illustration Credit & Copyright: Karen Wehrstein

Explanation: How might a sunrise appear on Gliese 581c? One artistic guess is shown above. Gliese 581c is the most Earth-like planet yet discovered and lies a mere 20 light-years distant. The central red dwarf is small and redder than our Sun but one of the orbiting planets has recently been discovered to be in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist on its surface. Although this planet is much different from Earth, orbiting much closer than Mercury and containing five times the mass of Earth, it is now a candidate to hold not only oceans but life enabled by the oceans. Were future observations to confirm liquid water, Gliese 581c might become a worthy destination or way station for future interstellar travelers from Earth. Drawn above in the hypothetical, the red dwarf star Gliese 581 rises through clouds above a calm ocean of its planet Gliese 581c.