Saturday, 28 January 2012

Sign the petition to let Paradise Valley High School accept secular student group

The Secular Student Alliance is a club that is currently fighting to be accepted as a legitimate club at Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix, AZ. 

PVHS administration has required SSA's advocates to acquire signatures of those students who are okay with it's presence on campus.

Please add your name to the petition on the link below.

Allow The Secular Student Alliance At Paradise Valley High School Petition | GoPetition

Friday, 27 January 2012

My name is Tris

I would love to see you make and spread your own photos with a similar statement. Make up your own statement or feel free to use my own text if you want.
Just paste a link in the comments.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Challenge accepted... tentatively. Examining evidence that the Quran is supernatural

Maryam Namazie of FTBlogs recently got this email asking to look at ‘evidence’ that ‘the Quran is supernatural’. "I’ll do that" she said, "after I review ‘evidence’ from my 6 year old that Santa Claus really exists."

Apparently not having the time or the inclination to accept the invitation she shared the email which says she knew of any other interested parties;
...but in case any of you are bored out of your minds, you might want to have a go. If not – gasp, horror – he will note on his website that the ‘ex-muslims declined’. Please, please don’t let it get to that point. Here’s his email:

Defining atheism

Richard Dawkins has famously noted that organising atheists is akin to herding cats; they think independently and will not conform to authority. Indeed, here in the act of defining the atheist, I leave myself open to a greater amount of criticism from self-identifying atheists much more than I do from theists. As such, I must state for the record, that the definitions laid out in the following text are a broad- brush treatment, designed to be as inclusive as possible to the multitude of atheistic leanings that exist, without watering down the meaning to the level of incoherence.

I have found that dictionary definitions are all but worthless at this task; limited, as they must be, to sound-bites and vagaries. Not that they are wholly without merit, but as will become apparent here, their definitions are accurate only to a point, and inaccurate to several degrees of magnitude when considering the wider context. This treatment hopes to approach each of the definitions of the more commonly used dictionaries, and to unite them under an umbrella term for atheism that is truly representative of all atheistic positions.

Before we go onto understanding the definition, it would be helpful to understand what is at issue here. The etymology of the term derives from the Greek prefix a- 'without', and -theos 'deity, god'. There is an important distinction in the etymology of this term, and the etymology of 'agnostic' - again Greek - meaning 'without knowledge of a deity or god', where gnosis means 'spiritual knowledge. Gnosticism and agnosticism are positions on the knowledge of the existence of a god or gods, as opposed to atheism and theism being positions on the belief in the existence of a god or gods.

This, in it's negative form, serves as an umbrella term for all atheistic positions. But there are complications which need addressing.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

An Independent Paul Candidacy Would Help Obama

Source: Pew Research

In considering a possible general election matchup between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney this fall, voters remain about evenly split in their preferences, with 50% saying they would vote for Obama and 45% for Romney.

But a third-party candidacy by current Republican candidate Ron Paul would attract support from nearly one-in-five voters and help Barack Obama’s reelection prospects significantly. In this hypothetical three-candidate race, 44% say they would back Obama, 32% Romney, and 18% Paul.

Stupid religious behaviour

Orthodox Epiphany baptism of ice. 
Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, during which they cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day. Water that is blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure until next year's celebration, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. Orthodox believers celebrate the holiday of the Epiphany on January 19.

Gingrich Lacks Moral Character to Be President, Ex-Wife Says

Source: ABCNews

Jan. 19, 2012

Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.

In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast tonight on Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about Gingrich.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

List of offensive Twitterers.

Source: Twitter

I make no bones about being an outspoken atheist, and I have in the past crossed the line from my usual inquiring and debating techniques to more frothy language when I think it is deserved. Nevertheless, it is rare that I cross this line.

Not so with my interlocutors on Twitter, though. As my reach spreads on the half-pint blogging network, I am increasingly witness to rude and threatening behaviour, one presumes, from those that oppose my atheism - namely theists.

This page is dedicated to those that like to display their disdain for me, and in the interests of fairness, I shall post my own excessive posts. I will neither block people or ask them for an apology for their transgressions, in the same way that I do not expect to be blocked or proffer apologies for my own heated displays. This page is just for fun, and maybe a little educational.

List of anti-constitutional legislation - Ongoing

This is a short list of anti-constitutional legislation at the moment, but I fear it will grow considerably as each day passes. Please feel free to make me aware of other legislation that flies in the face of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to The Constitution.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Johannesburg church told to remove anti-atheist billboard

Source: The Daily Mail

The South African Advertising Standards Authority has instructed a church to remove an offensive billboard from outside of the Rivers Church in the affluent Sandton suburb of Johannesburg.

The church leaders had responded to the complaint by saying they believed the public would recognise the quote as the work of 19th century British poet and opium addict Francis Thompson.

Mygodlesslife Statistics

I have just taken a few weekly screen shots of the overview figures of this blog from Google Analytics, and was thinking I could graph the data. Any suggestions on the best way to do such a thing for free?

New Missouri anti-science legislation tabled

Source: Religion Dispatches

State Representative, Rick Brattin (R-MO) has introduced yet another ridiculous piece of legislation, known as the "Missouri Standard Science Act" - or HB1227.

Brattin says the bill is “not about religion.”, but as has already been noted in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, '[T]he religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child - Judge John E. Jones III.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Twelfth Annual Weblog Awards - 2012 Bloggies

Source: 2012 Bloggies

In the vast universe of blogs, only a select few can be named the best. And that decision is now up to you. The original Weblog Awards are now in their twelfth year, and it's time to decide who is Bloggie-winning material. Who will your vote go to?

Voting closes today, if you want to nominate a blog.

I am not suggesting you nominate me; I don't have enough of a following to justify entering. Personally, I will be voting for Justin Vacula's blog.

Who would you nominate/vote for?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Should governments recognise any marriage?

Source: Catholic News Agency

Considering that religious types are so opposed to same sex marriage, and that it is a violation of religious principles, is it time we accepted them at their word and separate the church and state further by calling on our governments to not recognise marriage at all?

From the Catholic News Agency;

Thirty sex religious leaders joined together against redefining marriage in America, warning that such a move would have “far-reaching consequences” for religious freedom.
In their statement, they said that marriage is a universal and foundational institution that “precedes and transcends” any government, society or religious group. This, they explained, is because it is rooted in the nature of the human person as male and female and the children that are born from their union. 
The religious leaders argued that changing the civil definition of marriage changes hundreds or even thousands of laws that are dependent upon marital status, including taxation, housing, property, employment discrimination and benefits, adoption, education and health care.

It would certainly make taxation, housing, property, employment discrimination and benefits, adoption, education and health care more transparent and less bureaucratic. It would also fit well with the letter and application of the first amendment to the US constitution not letting government establish a religion.

If we are to treat religious freedom with the respect it so unswervingly demands, the only conceivable way in which to do this is to separate marriage - and all that that implies - from matter's governmental. 

Churches would then be free to continue refusing same sex marriages, or not, as the case may be. Quite why someone would want to marry in a church that opposes the very premise of their union is beyond me. I am sure they could find a more suitable venue where their choice in partners is catered to, and if not, I am equally sure such an enterprise would become available in the Land Of The Free.

I welcome this position on the separation of marriage from government in the interests of religious freedom.

Edit: Here is another post on Slate covering the same subject.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Jessica Ahlquist wins Cranston prayer banner court case

Source: The Sacramento Bee

Schoolgirl atheist, Jessica Ahlquist, has won her case against Cranston High School's prayer banner in the auditorium that she felt was offensive to non-Christians.

Ask for Evidence postcard

Evidence matters in many of the decisions we make - as patients, consumers, voters and citizens. If you want to know whether a claim made in a policy, newspaper article, advert or product is backed by scientific evidence, use Sense About Science's postcard to Ask for Evidence.

For copies of the postcard please email

Alternatively use our online form to generate an email to request evidence.

Or print a PDF copy of the postcard, fill in the details of the claim, put it in an envelope and send it off.

Read about other ways to request evidence, advice on how to do it and how to make sense of evidence on the Ask for Evidence homepage.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Reality check: Documenting 2012 predictions

It is not unusual for people to make predictions about the coming year; most are benign attempts at speculation, but some claim to know what is going to happen. Here follows a list of events that have been seriously touted as divine foreknowledge or foregone conclusions.

I shall be editing each prediction as they unfold, by pasting the respective link to each successful prophesy. If these soothsayers are what they claim to be, the page should be a sea of blue by the end of the year (if the end of the world is not forthcoming, of course).

Have you heard any howlers that should make the list?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

WingNut Daily poll attempts 'independent' journalism

Go on. Vote for Barack Obama. He is currently in third place - behind Paul and Santorum - but not far behind.

Poll: Who do you believe will be elected president in November?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Romney squeezes out Santorum

This is, of course a reference to th narrow win Romney acheived in the Iowa caucuses, but for the uninitiated, former Sen. Santorum's name has become synonymous with a phenomenon that perhaps he would rather not be associated with. Urban Dictionary spells it out for you.

Probably 'Not Safe For Work'.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

RealCatholicTV continues its defiance against the Catholic church

The self-styled RealCatholicTV station that produces slick ultra-conservative programmes for the Internet, continues to use the word 'Catholic' in its name despite having no authority to do so under Canon Law.

In an October 2008 statement by Ned McGrath, Director of Communications, the Archdiocese of Detroit issued a statement;

“In 2006, St. Michael’s Media of Ferndale, Michigan, through its chief executive, Michael Voris, and his associates, requested approval of its media enterprise  and programming from the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Detroit archdiocese responded to their initial submission and gave them direction as to the additional information and steps that would be need to be taken.  At issue was and is compliance with our basic archdiocesan media protocols and those of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  While there have been some discussions, the matter with St. Michael’s Media remains unresolved; it is not an approved apostolate.
“In 2008, a Web-based video provider named was launched, with Michael Voris as the primary host and senior executive producer  utilizing new and archive program material produced and provided, primarily, by St. Michael’s Media. has yet to present itself or receive approval
of its media enterprise from the Detroit archdiocese.
“Therefore, the catechetical  presentations and the interpretations  of  Catholic teachings or positions presented by St. Michael’s Media and/or RealCatholicTV— be they audio, video, or exclusively Web-based— cannot be approved or endorsed by the archdiocese at this time.”

Archive: Socialism and voluntary interaction/societies

This debate has been edited from a complicated thread on Google+ - for ease of reading - from user Peter William Lount. To read the thread in its entirety, please click here.

Archive: A response to charges of militant atheism by Peter DO Smith

I was having a debate (click here to see the full thread) with +Peter DO Smith the other day regarding 'The beginning, or birth, of the Universe'. After having refuted his argument in a civil - if not dismissive - way, he blocked me.

Some time later, +Shannon Roy brought the following post to my attention, and I thought it only fair that I should be able to respond. Of course, being blocked, I am not party to his comments anymore, so I have no choice but to set out my defence of it here.

Rest assured, I shall do my best to let Peter know of its existence, should he wish to respond to it in a free and open manner.

Archive: Study shows morality is a mechanical function and can be influenced by magnetism

Source: NPR

Far from being divinely inspired and objective, a recent study shows that morality can be skewed by applying magnetic pulses to a region of the brain behind the right ear.

The study has wide ranging implications that show that, not only is morality subjective, it is mechanical and malleable.

"We judge people not just for what they do, but what they're thinking at the time of their action, what they're intending," Young says. But, she says, a brief magnetic pulse was able to change that.
The fact that scientists can adjust morality with a magnet may be disconcerting to people who view morality as a lofty and immutable human trait, says Joshua Greene, psychologist at Harvard University. But that view isn't accurate, he says.
"Moral judgment is just a brain process," he says. "That's precisely why it's possible for these researchers to influence it using electromagnetic pulses on the surface of the brain."
The new study is really part of a much larger effort by scientists to explain how the brain creates moral judgments, Greene says. The scientists are trying to take concepts such as morality, which philosophers once attributed to the human soul, and "break it down in mechanical terms."
If something as complex as morality has a mechanical explanation, Green says, it will be hard to argue that people have, or need, a soul.

In the last year, we have had evidence now to show that morality is subject to influence by magnetism, and that free will is an illusion. Those gaps God has to hide in are slowly getting filled.

Archive: Bishop Conley sees ‘atheocracy’ as major threat to pro-life cause

Source: Catholic News Agency

This blog post was originally posted elsewhere. I am currently in the process of transferring all my favourite posts here. Apologies if you have already seen these.

Secularism in America is openly hostile to religion?

There is only one openly atheist member of Congress. State Houses have introduced hundreds of Bills that propose religious privilege in abeyance of the Constitution. Ninety two percent of the population believes in God. The good bishop stands in his pulpit preaching to the 24% Catholic population of the US [1] - about 1/3 of the Christian population - claiming religious hostility. A Christian president, in a long line of Christian presidents.

Archive: Bishop Conley article - Reponses to comments

This blog post was originally posted elsewhere. I am currently in the process of transferring all my favourite posts here. Apologies if you have already seen these.

True to generic religious website policy, after having vetted my comment on the above article, and letting three people attack my position, the site disabled my ability to reply to my interlocutors responses. Here follows my response.

Part of the reason I started this blog, was so that I could counter censorship, and continue a debate where others would not allow me to do so. So, without further-a-do...

I have already made a post about this subject here. It is not identical to the comment I made on the CNA site, because here, on my site, I knew I was able to provide links to back up my claims. Far from having to reign in my claims, I found that my original comment was a tad too conservative, so I make no apologies for the slight discrepancies between the two.
For the purpose of clarity, though, I shall post the debate so far, as it appears on the CNA site.

Ignorant and proud of it - Trevor Zwingli opines on the rejection of science.

Source: Western Morning News

We are all used to reading the insane rantings of north American theist's proclamations on wilful ignorance, but it still shocks me when I see evidence of it here in my backyard of the 'Old Country'

Our anonymous writer (he has now revealed his identity as Trevor Zwingli of the Tremough Catholics) appears to be rather bored of learning and understanding the world we live in. Here, for you all to enjoy, is the article in full, complete with my responses. I urge you to comment yourself.

In a forlorn attempt to improve my education, a friend regularly pops round with a pile of back copies of a magazine called New Scientist. They invariably have clever and colourful covers asking things like "Is Time Travel Possible?", "Can we Build a Brontosaurus?" or "Will Man Live Forever?"
Sadly, the answer to all these questions is always an emphatic NO. Sadder still, to reach this conclusion you have to wade through pages of gobbledegook understandable only by the sort of chap who wears sandals and socks and still lives with his mother.
However, it's good to know that people who have difficulty forming relationships have somewhere cosy to discuss quarks, neutrinos and the Higgs Boson Particle. After all, you never see them down the pub.
But this indulgence is rapidly turning to horror as you notice how fascination with the arcane is seeping out from publications like New Scientist into the media as a whole. Coverage of such things as the arts and history – even light entertainment – has been replaced with matters scientific.
Comedy panel shows all must now have a technological bent and every time someone notices something odd happening with a sandwich in the canteen of the Cern large hadron collider it dominates headlines. The schedules are packed and it will be only a matter of time before peak viewing is dominated by Kirstie Allsopp splitting the atom in a folksy, accessible way.
All through, the message comes across clear as "Hey! isn't science interesting? Isn't it fun?" to which the answer again is an definite "No!"
Riding the crest of this assumed wave of interest is a simpering weed called Prof. Brian Cox who obviously took his chair as a result of research into zit cream and having a whining northern accent. He is science's answer to gardening's Alan Titchmarsh and once he has appeared in front of the cameras he is presumably sucked back into the same oily tube from which he was squeezed. On his very debut he joined the Ron Bendell "Don't you want to hit him in the face with a shovel?" hall of fame.
As BBC budgets are trimmed – entailing vast cuts to local radio, regional TV and the rest – Cox is always there, delivering a piece to camera outside an observatory in Chile spouting on about his interest in black holes and the wonders of delving into dark matter.
His preoccupation – and that of the legion of cohorts dragged out from the bowels of laboratories across the world to back him up – always seems to be the origins of us all, the Big Bang and how little gizmos flying around the cosmos affect you, me and the fundamentals of creation.
Once, of course, these things were all left to theologians although that's terribly non-PC these days. Now, exponents of the new beliefs are free to ponder the imponderable and come up with the explanation of life, the universe and everything.
But what, I wonder throughout, has any of this got to do with the price of fish? Yes, bearded men looking at screens may have tracked down the tiny neutrons that enabled the formation of the Crab Nebula but how should that alter my life? Does that knowledge help any of us, at any time, drag ourselves through the day?
All of it, as archbishops, popes and ayatollahs before have found, is irrelevant tosh and does nothing to make the world a better place.
Good science must surely lead to practical good rather that highfalutin conjecture. Do new thoughts about the origins of the Solar System help us provide sewage systems that could save thousands in the slums of India? Do theories about the first few seconds after the creation save millions from malaria?
We already have all the understanding of the basics we need to make a happier, comfier world but instead billions are spent on meaningless research while millions starve – and folk shiver in front of gas fires they can't afford to switch on while their licence fees are spent sending Prof Cox to sit in front of yet another radio telescope. But clearly the nerds have taken over. Our tiny bit of spare cash goes to the new elite and our tiny bit of leisure time is filled by the same people telling us how fascinating it all is. New Scientist should be placed on the top shelf along with other publications of interest to people who need to get a life.