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Straw Atheism January 14, 2008

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, faith, freethought, media.
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There are many misperceptions of atheism held by those unfamiliar with the subject. I see them propagated on the internet, television, print media and in conversation. They are readily accepted and believed by the religious for a very simple reason: believing otherwise would invalidate a key religious claim.



“For The People, By The People” ? September 17, 2007

Posted by Joe in health care, homosexuality, law, media, politics.

I am of two minds about the state of the US government, which is supposedly an institution for the people and by the people. On one side it seems obvious to me that the US was never run by the people and was never run for the people. It has always been run by the rich and the white, who grant those without power the benefit of governmental power only at their whim.

Of course, this has improved massively with time. Women, minorities and the poor have all gained much more access to the power structure than they previously had. On the other hand the power of the media and corporations has grown to the extent that the current democratic system is overwhelmed by the power of the constant corporate propaganda.

How can the voice of the underdog be heard in this country? Are the media setting the current political agenda?  Are global warming, health coverage and gay marriage just the play things that they let us rant about while the critical issue of who controls the power in this country remain hidden behind the curtain? Could a genuine grass roots movement have the power to change this country like it did in the 60s with the civil rights and anti-war movements?

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.

Separation of Church and State Benefits (almost) Everyone June 11, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, church state separation, freethought, law, media, politics, religion, skepticism.

The separation of church and state is not a theist versus non-theist issue, though it is often portrayed that way in the major American media outlets, and among those that oppose or demonize it.

This clause in the first amendment to the US Constitution was intended to create (in Thomas Jefferson’s words) a “wall of separation between church and state”: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” This has come to be known as the “Establishment Clause”.

The purpose of the Establishment Clause was never to promote atheism or any kind of non-theism. The purpose if to prevent any religion or religious organization from using the power or resources of the government to push their religion on others. So if you are protestant and live in a Catholic majority community they cannot use public resource to the benefit of Catholicism and detriment of your church. The Mormon church which may be a large majority of the people in parts of Utah cannot use government resources to enforce their stringent ideas of morality on non-Mormons.


Atheism, all the rage? June 8, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, blogs, books, freethought, god, internet, life, media, religion, skepticism, theism.

I’ve been an atheist since I was about 14. At the time I didn’t call myself that because I hadn’t even heard the word before. I didn’t believe there was a god though, so when I happened upon the word I snapped it up with no reservations.

In the last few months atheism seems to be everywhere! I see it mentioned on TV in news shows and entertainment shows, there are a number of books out related to atheism on the best seller lists and the authors are doing the interview circuit.