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Jailed for a Song

December 29, 2005

Two criminal presidents

07:48 PM  |  Politics  | 

December 27, 2005

Arrogance = Being correct and saying so

From the Raving Atheist's comments on this entry:

Plainly, Nall wants atheists to concede that their beliefs are no better than those of the fundamentalists. In Nall's book, there is no such thing as actually "knowing" anything -- to claim so would be presumptive arrogance of some sort. It's as if he said that "doctors should realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, 'all-knowing' mentality of faith healers." But doctors are perfectly entitled to do so, and to declare war on faith healing. Medicine and quackery just aren't equal, and it's more arrogant to claim that they are than to correctly claim that medicine is superior.

When I was on a radio show recently, a caller told me I was "arrogant" for disparaging religious faith as unreasonable. I asked her what she felt I should do instead. She replied that I should only offer my opinion if asked. The host then pointed out that he had asked me to come on the show.

The caller had rigged the game so much in favor of faith-based unreason that obviously I wasn't supposed to state my opinion even if invited on a radio show and asked point-blank for that opinion.

I know that many people have a natural desire to avoid confrontation. But the emperor is naked. Your choices are, roughly:

1) Believe that the naked emperor is actually wearing clothes.
2) Acknowledge to yourself that the naked emperor is naked, but stay quiet and respect the beliefs of Group #1.
3) State out loud that the naked emperor is naked.

Of course, if you don't care that the naked emperor is naked, I suppose you'd fall into Group #2. But I happen to care. I don't see how that's arrogance.

But, as TRA points out, when you're in Group #2 and you criticize Group #3 for simply stating out loud what you believe yourself, that is something approaching arrogance.

December 26, 2005

Jesus Christ: The Musical

He will survive (QuickTime link).

(Thanks, Laurie.)

11:43 PM  |  Fun  | 

December 25, 2005

Richard Carrier appearance

So you're in Southern California, it's the day after Christmas, and you're wondering what to do. Go see Richard Carrier:

Richard Carrier--historian, philosopher, and author of Sense and Goodness Without God--will be speaking in Ventura, California, on Monday night, December 26. The event is sponsored by the Ventura chapter of Atheists United and begins at 7 pm (and with Q & A it may run to 9:30pm), and will take place at The Underground Cafe (3367 Telephone Rd., Ventura, CA, between Main & Mills). The subject will be Miracles & The Historical Method, a fun and educational presentation, with an interesting slide show. This has always been well-received--it's Carrier's most popular talk. He will describe a "tool kit" for examining miracle claims in history, offering a basic but fairly complete discussion of the methods for analyzing and weighing historical claims, with many entertaining examples. You'll get to see dazzling archaeological "proof" that Egyptian sorcerers controlled the weather and God was incarnated on earth as a mutant snake, and you'll hear why we can be more certain that Caesar crossed the Rubicon than that Jesus rose from the grave, and much more.

As you know if you have seen The God Who Wasn't There, Richard's an engaging speaker, and this will no doubt be a compelling presentation.

December 24, 2005

Jesus Christ

I stand corrected. There is now a Jesus Christ.

09:19 AM  |  Religion  | 

December 23, 2005

Christmas spirit

In my continuing fairness campaign, I present a letter that is representative of probably more than half of the email I get from Christian strangers. This genre of non-hate mail is marked by presumptuousness ("I know something happened to turn you away from God...") and a patronizing, superior tone ("I know the truth and can guide you back to the True Path..."). But it's generally sincere and, even better, lacks references to knives and my guts:


I know you are hurting, whatever happened, happened for a reason. Our Fathers and Lord, His word says, in the life we will have trials... we will be persecuted, even be put to death, for His Sake, as those everywhere do die for His Sake, daily.

He knows your pain, he has seen your tears, He has been there all this time, and as with the Prodigal, our Fathers waits and watches for your return... He loves you so very, very much.... so much, if you were the only one on this earth, he would have came down out of heaven and died just for you. And if He could send his Only son to die, he knows our pain and suffering. As a father knows and loves his son, so does our Father know and love us.

He formed you, he knows the numbers of hairs on your head, when raise and sit... you are alive and well, and may you Come Home this Christmas morn, He will be waiting for you at the door, to welcome you in and cover you with His Unfailing Love...

He is waiting, wont you please Come Home this Christmas... He misses you so..

Your Sister

(Note: The letter writer is not actually my sister. She means that metaphorically. It's a Christ thing.)

Ford: We now love gay people

Even more than Christian bigots:

Thank you for writing.

At Ford we value diversity among all of our constituents and pride ourselves on strong and clear values – respect for our customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers; acceptance of our differences; inclusion of different people with different perspectives; and integrity to always do the right thing. We value all people – regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences. This is a strong commitment we intend to carry forward with no exception. We are pleased to clear up any misperceptions and get back to doing what we do best - building the best cars and trucks in America.

Thank you again for contacting Ford.

Customer Relationship Center
Ford Motor Company

12:39 PM  |  Politics  | 

Christian Wrestling Federation

The Christian Wrestling Federation:

christian wrestlingThe Christian Wrestling Federation is a group of talented athletes using amazing feats, athletic ability, and entertaining stories to share the gift of Jesus Christ. The CWF uses a unique evangelistic approach to embrace the youth of today. CWF Events are conducted in communities, churches, conferences, and festivals to spread the message of Jesus' love. God has drawn many different groups to CWF shows, telling us that God transcends any age, color, social status, popularity and spiritual stature.

Thanks to Jim for the tip.

10:13 AM  |  Religion  | 

December 22, 2005

Flying Spaghetti Monster game


09:32 PM  |  Fun  | 

Creative Commons


So we have 10 days left in the Creative Commons campaign. This is not a drill. We are down to the last $100,000, and really need your support — both for the very cool projects we’re launching (see, e.g., the license interoperability project, discussed recently in Technology Review, and the two new projects announced this week), and for the very uncool pressure we’re under from IRS regulations to demonstrate “public support” as a condition for keeping our (absolutely essential as in we can’t live with out it) non-profit status. So please, anything helps. Lots of anything helps lots.

Give within the next few days to deduct the donation from your 2005 taxes:

creative commons

11:53 AM  |  Free Culture  | 

Those lying creationists

More on lying creationists in a New York Times editorial:

The religious thrust behind Dover's policy was unmistakable. The board members who pushed the policy through had repeatedly expressed religious reasons for opposing evolution, though they tried to dissemble during the trial. Judge Jones charged that the two ringleaders lied in depositions to hide the fact that they had raised money at a church to buy copies of an intelligent design textbook for the school library. He also found that board members were strikingly ignorant about intelligent design and that several individuals had lied time and again to hide their religious motivations for backing the concept. Their contention that they had a secular purpose - to improve science education and encourage critical thinking - was declared a sham.

Judge John Jones III is a lifelong Republican, appointed to the bench by President Bush.

10:12 AM  |  Religion  | 

December 21, 2005

Also there are nice Christians

As an antidote to the violent fantasy I quoted below, see this nice Christian criticism of the movie.

(Thanks, Old Broad, for sending the link.)

Viewer mail

This is not anything out of the ordinary, but every now and then I like to share Beyond Belief Media's fan mail:

From: [redacted]
Subject: BURN - while we laugh
Date: December 21, 2005

You've definitely got some nerve. I'd love to take a knife, gut you fools, and scream with joy as your insides spill out in front of you. You are attempting to ignite a holy war in which some day I, and others like me, may have the pleasure of taking action like the above mentioned. However, GOD teaches us not to seek vengeance, but to pray for those like you all. I'll get comfort in knowing that the punishment GOD will bring to you will be 1000 times worse than anything I can inflict. The best part is that you WILL suffer for eternity for these sins that you're completely ignorant about. The Wrath of GOD will show no mercy. For your sake, I hope the truth is revealed to you before the knife connects with your flesh. Merry CHRISTMAS!!!

PS You people really don't have a clue as to what is in store for you... I thank GOD I'm not you.

Intelligent design liars

Atrios points out something that shouldn't be overlooked in the intelligent design defeat in Dover. The proponents of ID were not, by any reasonable definition, well-meaning. This is not a case of two sides with an honest difference of opinion honestly hashing out their disagreement in court.

Unlike the scientists who support natural selection, the creationists have built their entire "intelligent design" strategy on a lie, and to support it they told bald-faced lies in court.

Not only was "truth" (if defined as a legitimate search for the truth about the natural world) on the side of the scientists, so was plain old-fashioned honesty.

01:05 PM  |  Religion  | 

December 20, 2005

Religion vs. science

Winner: Science. (Thanks, Nora.)

11:50 AM  |  Religion  |