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Humanism, a first look July 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in atheism, belief, ethics, freethought, Humanism, life, morality, politics, skepticism.

I do not wish to define myself by what I am not. This is my largest problem with the term atheist. It is a statement of something I do not believe, but really doesn’t say anything more than that. So I am seriously looking into Humanism for the first time.

If you have any experience or knowledge of Humanism, please share.


Funerals July 26, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, ethics, freethought, god, life, morality, religion, theism.
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Funerals are often religious affairs. This is understandable considering how much religions tend to concern themselves with what happens after death. After all if there is no afterlife there isn’t much point in religion. The last two times I have been in churches it has been for funerals.

The last was a Catholic funeral for an uncle of mine. This was not so bad. The most interesting aspect was how medieval it all was. It felt like it could have been going on 600 years ago and little would be different expect the dress of the attendees. The church was aware that many present were not members and did not proselytize nor expect nonmembers to participate in religious rituals.


Hovind’s $250,000 June 18, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, creationism, ethics, evolution, fallacy, Kent Hovind, logic, psychology, science, skepticism.

The inimitable Kent Hovind has had his $250,000 dollar version of The Amazing Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge offered for anyone who can “give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.*” available since 1990. (The quoted star is significant, because you have to prove his straw man of evolution to capture the prize.)

Here is how Hovind defines evolution:

Evolution is presented in our public school textbooks as a process that:

1. Brought time, space, and matter into existence from nothing.
2. Organized that matter into the galaxies, stars, and at least nine planets around the sun. (This process is often referred to as cosmic evolution.)
3. Created the life that exists on at least one of those planets from nonliving matter (chemical evolution).
4. Caused the living creatures to be capable of and interested in reproducing themselves.
5. Caused that first life form to spontaneously diversify into different forms of living things, such as the plants and animals on the earth today (biological evolution).


The Demon-Haunted World June 18, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, books, creationism, ethics, evolution, fallacy, freethought, god, language, life, media, NASA, politics, psychology, reading, religion, science, skepticism, space exploration, theism.
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It’s been more than I decade since Carl Sagan wrote A Demon-haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark, But even as I reread it today its message is as timely as ever. The survival of our way of life depends entirely our scientific knowledge and how we apply it. Yet we have created a society where the vast majority have no knowledge of the methods or findings of science and no knowledge of how the technology they use everyday actually works.

Furthermore we have media and politicians that present everyday anti-science attitudes, watered down and pop-culture simplifications of science, and present pseudo-science uncritically.

Everyone should read this book; theist or atheist; “evolutionist” or creationist. Whatever your stripe you will get something out of it and enjoy the trip.

Carl Sagan explains what makes science the best way we have to know what is:

Some people consider science arrogant, nevertheless, I maintain that science is part and parcel humility. Scientists do not seek to impose their needs and wants on Nature, but instead humbly interrogate Nature and take seriously what they find. We understand human imperfection. We insist on independent and to the extent possible, quantitative verification of proposed tenets of belief. We are constantly prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs.

Secular Ethics June 11, 2007

Posted by Joe in belief, blogs, ethics, immorality, morality, psychology.
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Here is an interesting blog about a system of secular ethics, or more specifically how to decide what is right or wrong without consulting the supernatural.