Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"God is simply an irrelevance to physics"

“I’m not bashing religion,” [Lawrence Krauss] explained. “In fact, physicists spend so little time thinking about God they don’t bother worrying whether they are atheists. God is simply an irrelevance to physics.” Even so, as someone who recently debated the evidence for the existence of God with leading religious apologist William Lane Craig, he knows that his book could sound the death knell for one of the key arguments on which theists rely. (More below.) As for the likes of Craig, Krauss says they are “hucksters running cheap arguments and pedaling a philosophy that has been overtaken by science. They may not like the way the universe works, but who cares? The universe is the way it is.” Skeptic » eSkeptic » Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Mr. Deity and the Rights

"Just make freedom of religion part of the free will package." Mr. D: "I can't do that!" Mr. Deity and the Rights - YouTube

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You might be an atheist if...

"Dennett was one of the stars of the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne and gave a brilliant and whimsical talk on defining the atheist..."

Or as someone comments: "'You know you're an atheist if you think...' That's the whole quote."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hitch, orator of the mind

"At the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Richard Dawkins offered a tribute to Christopher Hitchens"

Richard Dawkins’ Eulogy for Christopher Hitchens

Saturday, May 26, 2012

An atheist defends liberal religion

Dale McGowan offers more context for Karl Marx's notorious "opium" quote. Marx:
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. 

For most of the people on the planet, for a hundred reasons, life is more painful than it is for me. Before I demand that they give up their pain reliever cold turkey, I need to do something about the pain itself. That’s why I think improving the human condition is THE great humanist project.
In the meantime, I think of liberal religion as the methadone of the people — oh so much better than the original addiction, and a therapeutic step toward the cure.

The Meming of Life » The methadone of the people Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

(Non)belief should never be inherited

"This colorful and engaging book was designed to help foster dialogue between parents/adults and children as they begin to make sense of the wide range of religious beliefs/nonbelief in the world around them. The book's main character narrates as children are guided through a short introduction to three world religions, the concept of afterlife, and on to the character's parents' nonbelief/atheism. Religion or belief/nonbelief should never be inherited - the takeaway message is that everyone should educate themselves and form their own opinions whilst respecting those of others." Nonbelief Book

Thanks for the link, Steven.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Scopes Day

"On May 25, 1925, a grand jury indicted John T. Scopes, a Dayton, Tenn., schoolteacher, for his classroom instruction on Darwin‘s theory of evolution, in violation of a state law that banned the teaching of “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”"

May 25, 1925 | A Tennessee Teacher, John T. Scopes, Is Indicted for Evolution Lessons - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mencken week: Day 2 « Why Evolution Is True

Jerry Coyne had a "Mencken week" on his  blog last week, leading with this on Day 2:
"It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities"...
Mencken week: Day 2 « Why Evolution Is True

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faith makes smart people say the dumbest things

Emory's invited commencement speaker said what?!
"Can you prove evolution? No. Can you prove creation? No. Can you use the intellect God has given you to decide whether something is logical or illogical? Yes, absolutely. It all comes down to “faith”–and I don’t have enough to believe in evolution. I’m too logical!"
Creationist surgeon to give commencement address at Emory University « Why Evolution Is True:

Atheists are people too

"Most atheists do not have PhD’s and high-paying positions at prestigious universities. Many of us are every day people with every day concerns."

Red Neck, Blue Collar Atheist… | Al Stefanelli

Saturday, May 12, 2012

‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ by Edward O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson's Social Conquest of Earth "offers a detailed reconstruction of what we know about the evolutionary histories of these two very different conquerors [insects & humans]. Wilson’s careful and clear analysis reminds us that scientific accounts of our origins aren’t just more accurate than religious stories; they are also a lot more interesting." ‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ by Edward O. Wilson - NYTimes.com:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reason leads to atheism or agnosticism

And that's a good thing, right? Depends on who you listen to.
"The person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic." William Lane Craig.
Yes, really, he did say that. The source is here. A very interesting article. Thanks to this forum.
Does Craig really mean what he appears to mean? You should make your own mind up about that. But these other quotes from Reasonable Faith may be relevant:
"Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa." 
ContinuesStephen Law: Craig: reason leads to atheism or agnosticism

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What do you get out of NOT going to church?

Dale McGowan's "long been interested in what people get out of going to church... you can sometimes get even better answers by asking former churchgoers what they miss about church." The Meming of Life Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

I'm more interested in hearing what people get out of not going, and about where else they go that gives them what they used to look for in church.

I get a charge out of walking my dogs around Brook Hollow Baptist, for instance, especially on Sundays.

And slightly more seriously, I often find a trip to the ballpark (usually Greer Stadium here) spiritually filling. And Radnor Lake in Nashville. Warner Parks. Bobby's Dairy Dip. Bosco's & Blackstone's...

Why Atheists Gather

...in person or in cyberspace:
"Because we believe in ideas that transcend religion such as love, respect, science, reason, the separation of church and state and good will towards others." It’s Good to Have a Response When Someone Asks Why Atheists Gather
Nontheists can be lonely in places like middle Tennessee, but we're not alone. "Shall we gather at the river?" Or the pub, or a Sounds game, or...?

Mencken in Dayton, 1925

"Fundamentalists, in the view of Mencken, belonged to the great masses of Americans who neither appreciated, nor contributed to, the best of American culture. They, like most people, were ignorant, ignoble, and cowardly. Moreover, fundamentalists lacked the intelligence to understand their own follies and superstitions.  Homo boobiens is a fundamentalist for the precise reason he is uneducable,” Mencken wrote.    Fundamentalists, he believed, found comfort in the imbecilities of their creed and “no amount of proof of the falsity of their beliefs will have the slightest influence on them.”  They accepted Genesis because it offers a cosmogony “so simple that even a yokel can grasp it”—it holds “the irresistible reasonableness of the nonsensical...

The people of this Christian valley, he wrote, “are simply unable to imagine a man who rejects the literal authority of the Bible.  The most they can conjure up, straining until they are red in the face, is a man who is in error about the meaning of this or that text.  Thus one accused of heresy among them is like one accused of boiling his grandmother to make soap in Maryland.”" H.L. Mencken - UMKC School of Law

My old landlord Winterton Curtis, in town to testify on behalf of science (but barred by the judge) had a different view of the folk:
Many times I sat next to Mencken.  He resisted my attempts at conversation, but I got the flavor of the man from listening to his talk with other reporters. 
The courtroom audience impressed me as honest country folk in jeans and calico.  “Boobs" perhaps, as judged by Mencken, and holding all the prejudices of backwoods Christian orthodoxy, but nevertheless a significant section of the backbone of democracy in the U.S.A.  They came to see their idol “the Great Commoner” and champion of the people meet the challenge to their faith.  They left bewildered but with their beliefs unchanged despite the manhandling of their idol by the “Infidel” from Chicago.... A Defense Expert's Impressions
I do think Dr. Curtis, whom I knew as a kindly old man who fetched dollars from my boyish ears, was too kind to his malefactors. But "boobs" is too rude. Civility, civility. As Kurt Vonnegut said, love may fail but courtesy will prevail.

Alain de Botton has written a book about sex...

for celibates? In the vein of religion for atheists?

How To Think More About Sex: The School of Life: Amazon.co.uk: Alain de Botton, The School of Life: Books

Those Crazy Pagans

Jesus and Mo

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wonderful gods

"I am not a religious person, nor do I have any regrets. The war took care of that for me. You know, I was brought up strictly kosher, but I — it made no sense to me. It made no sense to me what was happening. So nothing of it means anything to me. Nothing. Except these few little trivial things that are related to being Jewish. ... You know who my gods are, who I believe in fervently? Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson — she's probably the top — Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life."
Fresh Air Remembers Author Maurice Sendak : NPR
'via Blog this'

Humanism vs. Atheism

Taslima Nasreen responds to Sam Harris's defense of airport security profiling, and addresses the author of A Young Atheist's Handbook:

"The conflict is between secularism and fundamentalism, between rational logical minds and irrational blind faith, between innovation and tradition, between humanism and barbarism, between the future and the past, between the people who value freedom and the people who do not.

Atheists need more enlightenment to become humanists. I dream of a day when all atheists would be free from racism, misogyny,homophobia,megalomania and other silly things."
Are you an atheist? Better be a humanist. | No Country for Women
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Welcome to the other Tennessee

I live and teach in middle Tennessee, up the pike from creationist ground zero in Dayton. Many of my closest friends, students, and other acquaintances are happily good without god.

But at least since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, Tennessee has suffered a rooted and growing reputation as a backwater of H.L. Mencken's "booboisie." This site offers a forum for Tennesseans who affirm reason, reject superstition, and believe in human intelligence.

The dialogue here will be civil and positive, intended not mainly to impugn or destroy theism but to extol nontheism in all its free variety: humanism, naturalism, secularism...