Category Archives: freethought

Seven Ways a Black Hole Can Kill You

One of the few things that most (and let me stress, most, not all) freethinkers have in common is a love for science.

Science is the tool that allows us to understand the universe. It’s the process that has allowed us to communicate over vast distances by typing into these little magic boxes (computers, I think they may be called). And, quite simply, it’s just really cool.

Obviously not everyone agrees with me. My own 11 year-old self absolutely loathed going to science class in school. But it can help to capture your attention if the particular scientific subject being discussed is entertaining or interesting. And there are few things as interesting or entertaining as contemplating your own morality and the destruction of the planet. Am I right?

If you think I am, check out the video below. Phil Plait, of Bad Astronomy and president of the JREF, gives an hour long talk about 7 ways in which a black hole can kill you.

So enjoy. And try not to panic.

Everyone’s Entitled to Their Opinion

Recently, my more religious sister criticized me for speaking out against theistic belief. Instead of discussing my criticisms of theistic belief, she simply stated that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I have actually heard this claim made by a lot of people and not all of them were theists. A few silent atheists have also be critical of speaking out against ancient superstitions stating that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I problem here is that I don’t disagree that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and yet these people seem to be implying that I do. I never said people aren’t entitled to their own opinions. In fact, not only have I repeatedly talked about my support for the freedom of religion, I have actually gone to congress and personally lobbied in favor of free speech. The second some Congress-person, Senator, or even the President tries to push a law restricting people’s right to have their own opinion, I will be right there to fight for those rights. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

What they are not entitled to however, is for their opinions to be protected from criticism. The fact is that we all acknowledge this. We all not only criticize other people’s opinions on a daily basis, but no one in their right mind would claim that it was immoral to do so. No one has a problem criticizing what Hitler did to the Jews. Nor do people have an issue criticizing the KKK for their views. Tom Cruise is continually criticized for his religious beliefs and mainstream Christians and Jews are usually right there at my side criticizing the more fundamentalist believers in their own religions. But the moment anyone criticizes their beliefs, they attempt to over dramatize the criticism with claims of intolerance and/or hate. Insinuations are made that their free speech is being taken away. I don’t hate Christians. I have many Christian friends. I certainly don’t hate Jews. For starters, I am a Jew. Plus my family is Jewish and I love them very much… even my overly religious sister. But I do take issue with what these people believe and so while I will fight for their rights to have their own opinion on religious matter no matter how ridiculous and silly those opinions might be, I will also criticize those opinions if they are ridiculous, silly, and/or dangerous.

In my view, dangerous opinions lead to dangerous actions. And when they do, we need to stand up and strongly criticize those dangerous actions and be critical of the beliefs which lead to those actions. Now again, I am not talking about outlawing those dangerous opinions and beliefs, but I am talking about being critical of those opinions and beliefs. I supported the ACLU when they defended the KKK’s right to march peacefully. But if the KKK wanted to march peacefully in my town, I would be on the sidelines being very critical of their beliefs and arguing against those views.

I think it is pretty hypocritical of theists to claim some special protection from criticism for their beliefs when they seem so willing to criticize other people’s beliefs. Why is it that they think that criticizing political opinions is okay, but criticizing religious views should be forbidden? As I stated before it isn’t even all religious views that they seem to think should be protected; just their religious views and the religions which are closely related to their religious views. Judaism and Christianity should be protected and maybe Islam, but not necessarily. Other religions it seems like should definitely not be protected like Scientology, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Satanists, Wiccans, etc.

In my view however, no opinions should be above criticism. I believe in the market place of ideas and in that market place all ideas and beliefs are welcome and should be equally open to criticism. Let the best ideas and beliefs win. But it seems that the believers in the Abrahamic religions know that their beliefs are ridiculous, silly, and have no valid evidence supporting them. So they don’t want to compete in the market place of ideas because they know their ideas will lose. So instead they try to protect their failed ideas from any and all criticism. How sad.

Check out my Daily Blog @ DangerousTalk.net and my atheist news blog @ Examiner.com

Worthy of the Worship

Christians are always telling me that I need to worship their deity of choice. When I ask why, they warn me of eternal punishment and damnation in the fires of Hell. Sometimes, they will entice me into worshipping their deity with promises of eternal bliss in Heaven. But all threats and bribes aside, they still haven’t really answered my question. Why should I worship their god?

Then Christians will often inform me that God created me. That’s great and all, but how does that answer my question? Am I expected to worship my creator or something? My parents created me and while I respect them most of the time, I certainly don’t worship them. Many people have parents who are not even worthy of respect let alone worship. If I someone creates a robot, should he or she demand that the robot worship him or her? That seems awfully vain. In my mind, such a trait would make the person less praiseworthy, not more praiseworthy. Clearly a creation should not be the slave of the created. So even if I were to accept the premise that God existed and created me (which I don’t) that still wouldn’t compel me to worship such a being. We are still left with the question, why should I worship the Christian God?

Next, many Christians I talk to appeal to power. They tell me that their God is all powerful and that is why he should be worshipped. This to me goes back to the threat of Hell and the bribe of Heaven. “God can do anything and is all powerful, you better get in line.” I don’t accept the appeal to power as a reason to worship. Taking this argument to the extreme, if Hitler were all powerful, would that make him praise worthy and more worship worthy? I really don’t think it does and I doubt that anyone would if they really thought about it. This appeal to power is quite honestly insulting.

In fact, the only reason to worship anyone that I could even remotely understand would be based on morality. At this point my Christian friends tend to smile and tell me that their god has that too. He is the very definition of moral goodness they claim. But as someone who has read the Bible, I just don’t see it. One cannot just claim to be moral, one must demonstrate that morality. If God wrote or spiritually inspired the writing of the Bible and if that book is an accurate picture of who God is, than I can’t see myself worshipping that being at all. This is where the excuses and justifications come in. “God doesn’t need to explain his morality to a mere human like me,” “God’s ways are mysterious,” “God is good because he says he is good,” “Without God there is no moral grounding,” etc.

The truth is that I really don’t believe in worshipping anyone, God or otherwise. I worship ideas not personalities. While I might say that I would follow an Aristotelian “person of practical wisdom.” I would stop following such a person the moment they proposed something which I considered to be immoral. I might start following them again when they proposed something more reasonable. Take our current President Barack Obama for example. I respect him and admire him. I think he is a smart person who is trying to do what he can to help people. I’ll follow him on most things, but I will also be critical of him when he refuses to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians. I am critical of him for reaching out to religious fanatics and hoping that they will support hi even when he doesn’t need their support and will not get their support. So while I admire the President and will follow his lead on many things, I most certainly don’t worship him or follow him blindly.

I can’t think o a single reason why I would possibly worship any god let alone the Christian God. I certainly am not a coward who is afraid of eternal torture in Hell, nor am I a greedy person who would accept the bribe of Heaven. I don’t think the Christian God created me and even if I did, I still don’t see that as any reason to worship such a deity. The awesome all-powerfulness of God doesn’t really concern me since I don’t consider power to be a reason for worship. And the Christian God of the Bible doesn’t seem very moral to me either. So my question still stands, why should I worship the Christian God?

Check out my Daily Blog @ DangerousTalk.net and my atheist news blog @ Examiner.com

The Right to Kill Your Child

Although she doesn’t know it, that is exactly what Colleen Hauser wants.

Forced Chemo

Police look for mom, son who fled to avoid chemo

SLEEPY EYE, Minn. (AP) — A courtroom clash between medicine and faith took a criminal turn, with police around the country on the lookout Wednesday for a Minnesota mother who fled with her cancer-stricken 13-year-old son rather than consent to chemotherapy.

(…)

Daniel has Hodgkins lymphoma, a highly curable form of cancer when treated with chemo and radiation. But the teen and his parents rejected chemo after a single treatment, with the boy’s mother saying that putting toxic substances in the body violates the family’s religious convictions.

Colleen Hauser said she had been treating the boy’s cancer instead with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives — a regimen based mostly on information she found on the Internet.

Thanks to those dreadful interwebz, this poor boy’s mother has become convinced in the efficacy of a pseudo-Native American superstition called “Nemenhah”. Rather than letting the doctor’s treat Daniel she’s taken the boy on the run, where he will almost certainly die while taking vitamins and squatting in sweat-lodges.

What’s probably the worst fact of this case is that the Hauser’s have convinced Daniel of their nonsense. Though it’s hard to blame him. Undergoing chemotherapy is not a pleasant experience. It can often cause more pain than the patient has suffered from the cancer itself when the chemo treatments begin. And at the age of 13, how could a sick boy do anything but listen to his parents?

As strange as it may seem, I am not against adults refusing chemotherapy or other modern treatments. I’m not terribly happy when anyone makes a decision that ends up killing them, but an adult should have the right to do so if they can’t be convinced otherwise.

But a child doesn’t have that right. We recognize as a society that children don’t know enough and don’t have enough experience to come to decisions about their own safety. And as much power as parents do hold over their children, parents do not own them.

In Ancient Rome, the paterfamilias had ultimate authority over his family. He could put his children to death if they disobeyed him. But that is not the world we live in. You do not have the right to kill your child.

I just hope that the police find Daniel Hauser before it’s too late.

Mel Seesholtz talks about the christianist war on equality and knowledge

On April 7th of this year, Penn State Abington English professor Mel Seesholtz spoke to the Freethought Society about theopolitics and how the religious right are supressing equality in this country. The video of his talk is now online. During his talk, he showed a few clips from the Bill Maher movie Religulous
, which have been removed for lack of copyright license. I also apologize for misspelling Dr. Seesholtz’s name in the opening slide, but in my defense, I was just copying a typo from the newsletter. 😉

Mel Seesholtz — Theopolitics: The Christianist War on Equality and Knowledge from Freethought Society on Vimeo.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Army chaplains “hunt people for Jesus”

Below is a video from alJazeeraEnglish (say what you will, but they do better reporting than any American news agency) showing how evangelicals in the army stationed in Afganistan are proselytizing. They deny that they’re doing so even as they pass out New Testament bibles translated into local languages and preach to their congregation to “hunt people for Jesus” and “get the hounds hound of heaven after them”. HOUNDS HOUND OF HEAVEN?????

There’s a storm coming…a gay one…

As usual, it’s time for me to drop in with some light and simple humor to break up the deeper thoughts of my fellow FSGP bloggers.

Be scared, everyone. There is a storm coming. And it’s going to rain gay on everybody.