Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Gets It and Jesus Doesn't ...

Santa has a cool live-and-let-live philosophy: my head can be full of all sorts of naughty thoughts as long as I only act on the nice thoughts. I've had plenty of nasty fantasies in my lifetime about what I'd like to do to certain people ... but I didn't carry them out and never would. I've also had lots of nice thoughts and actually done many nice things for lots of people.

In other words, he knows when you've been bad or good. Not when you've thought bad thoughts or thought good thoughts. It's what you do that counts.

So Santa Claus has always been good to me. It's our actions that make us truly moral or immoral citizens of this crazy world, and Santa rewards the people who are good.

What about Jesus Christ? According to Amy Henry's blog, The Flawed Theology of Naughty and Nice Lists, it doesn't much matter what you do. It's what you believe that matters. You can be angry, vengeful, hurtful, even murderous as long as you're truly sorry and ask Jesus for forgiveness.

Amy believes we should beware of Santa's naughty-or-nice philosophy. She thinks it sends kids the wrong message. What really matters, according to Amy, is what's in our hearts. What you actually do is far less important than what you believe.
"... thank God that He doesn’t separate us out into naughty and nice, but places us in one big category called ‘forgiven.’
And Amy isn't alone in this strange theory. It's what Christianity is all about, from the Pope himself down to the meekest shepherd tending goats. Christian morality isn't about what you do, it's about what you believe. If you fail to live up to Christian standards and hurt someone else, Jesus will forgive you. (Never mind that your victim might not feel that you deserve forgiveness.) No matter how awful your sin, and how many you hurt, you can be forgiven if you're truly sorry and believe that Jesus Christ is your savior.

In my book, Christian morality is fundamentally flawed. I'll take Santa Claus morality any day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Newt Declares War on Judges who Favor Atheists and Liberals

Newt Gingrich is known for outrageous outbursts and wild ideas, but he's putting out some really scary stuff this week.

His latest attack is on the independence of the judiciary. Any time a judge issues a ruling that Gingrich doesn't like, he wants to send U.S. Marshals out with congressional subpoenas to haul the judge in front of Congress, where the judge would be grilled by every angry member of Congress who didn't agree with the judge's ruling.

Does that sound like a good way to ensure an independent judiciary?

Next, Newt will simply ignore the law if he becomes president. Under his leadership, the Executive Branch of government will simply ignore the Judicial Branch whenever Newt doesn't like the law.

Yeah, I think I'll do that too – just ignore any laws I don't like. If Newt can do it, why can't I?

And if that isn't enough to destroy the careful balance of powers enshrined in our Constitution, Gingrich wants to

SNL - Tim Tebow meets Jesus

Hey readers, life has been keeping me far too busy and I wasn't able to blog last week. To fill the gap, here's a great little drama from Saturday Night Live: what would happen if Jesus really did come down to meet Jesus?

The funny part is that although it's actually full of truth, lots of Christians are complaining, include Faux News and Pat Robertson! Their reactions are almost as funny as the skit.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Georgia License Plates Require 'In God We Trust' - Why this is Great!

Secular News Daily is reporting a new Georgia law that will require "In God We Trust" on all car license plates. Georgians who don't like it will have to pay extra to get a state-approved sticker to cover it up!

Atheists are naturally up in arms about this glaring violation of the First Amendment. But I sort of like it. I believe this could be one of the best things that happened to secularism in America in the last ten years – if they're foolish enough to go through with it.

Why? Because it could force the Supreme Court to take "In God We Trust" off of our money.

Atheists have objected to "In God We Trust" on currency and as the national motto for decades, but the courts have been unsympathetic. The Supreme Court stated that

Merchants of Doubt: Global Warming Deniers in bed with Tobacco Industry?

The latest "scandal" in the "climategate" saga is a carefully orchestrated release of another batch of stolen emails. And once again, the conservative media are eating it up ... just like the fossil-fuel industry knew they would.

But here's something you may not know: the key scientists who are spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about global warming were also behind the Tobacco industry's campaign to deny that cigarettes cause cancer! Seriously.

Not only that, but this same small group of scientists defended the use of DDT, denied the dangers of acid rain, and claimed there was no ozone depletion.

In other words, a small group of scientists have been the main force behind every major anti-science campaign in the last few decades. Does that sound like whacko conspiracy theory? It's not.

I just finished reading a truly great book, Merchants of Doubt. The subtitle says it all: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway present a

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amendment Killed that Would Have Allowed Abortion for Military Rape Victims

Did you know that government won't provide abortions for military rape victims?

Rape is all too common in the military. Military rape victims are reluctant to come forward due to a long history of a "boys will be boys" attitude combined with an unsympathetic male-dominated hierarchy and the fact that reporting rape can be a career-ending move for a woman in the service.

According to the Pentagon, rapes are on the rise in the military, but only 10-20% of rapes are reported to authorities. And only a small number of those actually go to court. So numbers are vague, but we can guess that roughly 0.1% to 1% of rapes in the military are actually prosecuted.

Now add to that terrible statistic the fact that a servicewoman who becomes pregnant by her rapist can't get an abortion through the military medical system. She has to go to an outside doctor and pay for it herself. And that's assuming she's in a country where that's even possible. A woman who is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is just out of luck, because you can bet there are no abortion clinics.

Recently, it looked like there was a chance to change this terrible policy. Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Friday, December 2, 2011

Remind me again ... why is gay marriage is so bad?

Share it, spread it. It speaks for itself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kentucky Church Bans Interracial Marriage?

Seriously, can this be real?
Pike church takes stand against interracial marriage

"A small Pike County church has voted not to accept interracial couples as members or let them take part in some worship activities.

The decision has caused sharp reaction and disapproval in the Eastern Kentucky county."
The article points out that this is the same county where the Hatfields and McCoys had their famous feud.

The good news? Most Kentuckians disapprove and are embarrassed by this overt racism.
"It sure ain't Christian. It ain't nothing but the old devil working."

"Most of us thought that we'd moved well beyond that."

"It's not the spirit of the community in any way, shape or form."
Amen to that!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rick Perry: You have to be drunk to vote for me!

Everyone is laughing at Rick Perry for his latest gaffe: He told students in New Hampshire that if they were over 21, they should vote for him! They're saying Perry doesn't know that the voting age in the United States is eighteen.

I have news for you ... that's all backwards. It's the drinking age that matters. Perry must know that only drunks and fools will vote for him. It just slipped out in a weak moment.

Cut him some slack, folks! He just mixed up the drinking age with the voting age.

Truth has a Liberal Bias!

Those damned college professors! They're always teaching the facts! And everyone knows that Truth has a liberal bias. Well, these students aren't taking it lying down:
Conservative College Students Launch Website to Battle Liberal Academia
What courage! Real conservatives, standing up to those liberal professors ... but wait ...

Alas, it turns out these students aren't really concerned about conservative politics. They're Christians, and they're angry that the professors don't respect their beliefs, which probably include creationism, suppression of homosexuality, and the subjugation of women. According to Editor-in-Chief Zachary Freeman:
"I think perhaps we (as a nation) have lost our faith and our understanding. The College Conservative works to indirectly promote the biblical truths."
In other words, they want

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is Christianity Dying -- 99 cents again!

Well, folks, I've decided to go back to my original price – 99 cents for 99 blogs. How can you beat that? Check out Is Christianity Dying? on Amazon!

Don't ask why I raised the price in the first place ... just call it a bad idea and leave it at that.

And there's a new glowing review at ... it's one of the best reviews ever.

I have to confess that I'm quite proud of Is Christianity Dying? I wrote a lot of ho-hum blogs, but every now and then I hit the nail on the head on some important topic. This collection lets you skip all the Friday-fishwrap blogs and just read the good ones. For a measley 99 cents you don't even have to dig around in my blog archive. Just buy it, OK?

(And for those of you who don't have a Kindle, the paperback should be available any day now. The paperback publisher screwed something up and didn't get it placed on Amazon yet. I'll let you know when it's available. The price will be around $7.50)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is Home Schooling a Form of Child Abuse?

When does freedom of religion turn into child abuse? When do parents' rights to raise a child according to their religious beliefs become a violation of the child's civil rights? When does the state's need to have an educated electorate override religious parents' belief in ignorance?

Atheists love to blog about child abuse when it's in the form of medical neglect that becomes manslaughter and Jesus-inspired whippings that kill children. These are horrible and deserve our condemnation.

But there's a much more insidious, widespread and far-reaching form of abuse going on across America: religion-fueled, anti-science, anti-homosexual, anti-truth home schooling. It's far more important than any one whipping or medical-abuse case, however horrifying, because the ignorance fostered by these home-school programs is the very foundation that allows whippings and faith-based medical neglect to continue.

Home schooling is an old tradition in America. In some cases

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Catholics Persecuted over Gay Adoption in Illinois? Not Even Close.

Once again, the Roman Catholic Church is giving out misinformation instead of facing the truth.

Catholic Charities, an Illinois adoption agency, had to close its doors because it lost funding from the state. According to attorney Peter Breen, the state is breaking the plain language of the law and violating the will of the citizens:
"The Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act only passed after specific assurances that the law would not impact the work of religious social service agencies. Specific protections for these agencies were written into the law, but unfortunately, Illinois officials refused to abide by those protections. This stands as a stark lesson to the rest of the nation that legislators promising 'religious protection' in same sex marriage and civil union laws may not be able to deliver on those promises."
Gosh, that sounds awful, doesn't it?

But this is nothing more than a smokescreen to hide the real truth. They lost on Constitutional principles that had nothing to do with the Illinois Civil Union Act.

The simple fact is that the Catholic Charities can continue to provide

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chaplains Want to Bar Atheist/Humanist Chaplains

I should be used to Christian arrogance by now, but every now and then another insensitive, arrogant Christian breaks through my indifference and makes me mad. This time it's Father Jonathan Morris, an Army Chaplain who appeared on Fox News to ridicule the idea of Humanists and Atheists serving as chaplains in the military.
"What is a 'chaplaincy' in the first place, where does it even come from? The word, it comes from the Latin word which means a sanctuary or place of worship. And atheist ... (pauses) ... place of worship? Or a military chaplain, someone who is advising someone in their spirituality? ... [If an atheist] is being paid as a chaplain, then our country is saying, 'We are not willing to stand up for what we believe to be a very good thing for our soldiers, and that is the development of spirituality.' ... It's degrading the military chaplaincy saying 'You know, it doesn't matter whether you believe or not believe'..."
On the face of it, an atheist chaplain does seem a bit odd. But the truth is

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christian Apologist: Skepticism Caused by Hurt from Church

Christian apologists just can't stand the idea that we skeptics actually have good reasons to not believe their mythology. To them, Christian theology is so obviously true that anyone who doesn't believe must have some other reason. If someone is a non-believer, then they must have been beaten by a nun, molested by a priest, shunned for homosexuality, or hurt in some other dastardly fashion by a Christian or by the church.

It just can't be, they say, that someone actually rejects Christianity itself.

The latest salvo of this nature comes from Christian apologist and author Dr. Alex McFarland, whose new book, 10 Answers for Skeptics, purports to have statistics showing that most skeptics were driven away from their faith by bad experiences. In an interview with the Christian Post, McFarland said,
"Through nearly a year of research and numerous personal interviews, my goal was to really get 'inside the mind of the skeptic.' The most common type of skeptics I meet are wounded skeptics. They have been hurt by church, religion, or by another Christian."
The problem with Dr. McFarland's statement is that like so much of Christian apologetics, it uses flawed logic. McFarland makes the reader think that bad experiences caused the skepticism. More importantly, McFarland seems to think that if you can cure the hurt and heal the damage, the ex-Christian skeptics will all come flooding back to their former faith.

McFarland is implying that skeptics are really Christians in their hearts, and it's only the hurt and their pride that have separated them from God.

This is completely wrong.

These ex-Christian skeptics have had their eyes opened. The hurt they suffered

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Obama: Leave God in Pledge and on Money

"Under God" is going to stay in the Pledge of Allegiance for a while.

Last month a petition to President Obama to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was signed by over 20,000 American citizens. It's clear that this is a minority opinion in America, but protecting minorities is what the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights is all about.

Now the White House has made the administration's position clear: God should stay in our Pledge and on our currency. I know for a fact that regardless of the President's feelings about separation of church and state, he'd be committing political suicide to endorse anything that took God out of our government. That's just politics.

The heart of the White House response is this:
"A sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters.

That’s why President Obama supports the use of the words “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance and “In God we Trust” on our currency.
So, we have to look at this petition as just one more step on a long road.

Below is the whole text the email I received from the White House.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Christianity is in Trouble: Halloween!

Christianity is in trouble, with church attendance falling and faith weakening across the nation. What are they going to do to save the faith? Well, some of the more clever conservative Christians figured out a solution: Piss off kids on Halloween! Drop Bibles and religious tracts into their candy bags! Tell them they're sinners! Halloween is devil worship!

Yeah, that's sure to pull those kids into church next Sunday.

Seriously, they're doing this. USA Today is reporting that the American Tract Society (ATS) published Peek-A-Boo, Jesus Loves You! (Yes, ATS really exists ... I always wondered where all those tracts came from.)

But up in Calgary, they're going one better. Those

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Should Gay-Bashing Teacher Lose Job?

Do teachers have to give up their First-Amendment right to free speech when they take their first job? In a strange twist on free speech, the ACLU is defending an ultra-conservative evangelical right-wing Christian's right to gay-bashing hate speech. The case of high-school teacher Viki Knox, the self-described "Jesus freak," reminds us that free speech is a complex issue.

Ms. Knox's school posted a display on a bulletin board recognizing LGBT history month. Ms. Knox was offended and not afraid to say so ... on Facebook. She wrote (emphasis in original):
"Homosexuality is a perverted spirit ... Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us? AND YOU ARE WRONG! I/WE DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT ANYTHING, ANYONE. ANY BEHAVIOR OR ANY CHOICES! I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO."
I'm sure all of my readers will agree that Ms. Knox's comments are despicable, hateful, and should be an embarrassment to all civilized Americans. But ... what about free speech? Is Ms. Knox's hateful gay-bashing grounds for firing her? Don't teachers have a right to free speech?

Ed Barocas, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, says Ms. Knox shouldn't be fired: "The ACLU believes that the response to offensive speech is not the restriction of speech, but more speech." In other words, the ACLU says Ms. Knox's hate speech should not disqualify her from teaching.

I rarely disagree with the ACLU, but in this case I do. I can't see how

Monday, October 24, 2011

Global Warming Science Vindicated ... Again

It's time for everyone who jumped all over my previous blogs about global warming to eat some crow. And it's time to celebrate another victory for good science winning over opinions, faith and dishonesty.

U.C. Berkeley scientist Richard Muller, a climate specialist and self-described global-warming skeptic, headed a massive review of all global warming data at U.C. Berkeley. And better yet, his study was funded in part by the famous conservative billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.

And guess what? Muller's team confirmed that global warming is real. But even better, their results show that global warming is actually worse than the conclusions from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change!

Got that? A conservative-funded review by a top climate skeptic and his team said that the mainstream reports were too conservative and that global warming is real.

What do you think will happen to the debate now? Probably nothing. Global warming deniers are

Herman Cain Happy to Usurp States on Abortion, Marriage

What ever happened to honest conservatives? You know, the ones that believed in minimal government, states rights and individual freedom?

It seems they're turning those tasks over to the liberals. When it comes to abortion, marriage, gay rights and religion, the Republicans are showing their true colors: the conservatives are one hundred percent in favor of taking away individual liberties and states' rights.

CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network) got an exclusive interview with Herman Cain that perfectly illustrates how Republicans are advocating a federal takeover.
"Yes I feel that strongly about [a pro-life Constitutional amendment banning abortion]. If we can get the necessary support and it comes to my desk I’ll sign it. That’s all I can do. I will sign it. ... I think marriage should be protected at the federal level also. I used to believe that it could be just handled by the states but there’s a movement going on to basically take the teeth out of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act ... we do need some protection at the federal level ... I would support legislation that would say that it’s between a man and a woman.
I just don't get how Republicans can talk out of both sides of their mouths with such ease. One minute

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cain: No Abortions Allowed ... At All

At least Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain can't be called indecisive on abortion. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. In fact, he wants to outlaw abortion altogether.
"I believe in life from conception and I do not agree with abortion under any circumstances. Not for rape and incest ... Because if you look at rape and incest, the percentage of those instances is so miniscule [sic] that there are other options. If it’s the life of the mother that family is going to have to make that decision."
So, if a thirteen-year-old girl is raped by her stepfather, then neither she nor her mother can choose whether to carry that man's child? Even the very next day, when the egg hasn't even implanted itself in her uterus and has no spinal cord or brain cells?

Exactly. That fertilized cell, according to Cain, is a full human being with more rights than the girl and her family.

And why does Cain block abortions for rape and incest? Just because it's a rare crime. From what Cain says, it sounds like he might reconsider if rape and incest were more common. Does that make sense to you? Do you think it makes sense to rape and incest victims?

Monday, October 17, 2011

California Law Makes it a Crime to Plan to Gamble in Nevada!

Taking inspiration from H.R. 313 (the "drug trafficking" bill that makes it illegal to plan or discuss smoking marijuana in Amsterdam, even though it's legal there), the State of California today made it a crime to plan a trip to Nevada to gamble, even though it's legal to gamble in Nevada.

"We're tired of Nevada's gambling casinos ruining the lives of California citizens," said Governor Jerry Brown. "From now on, if a Californian wants to go see Wayne Newton singing at the Tropicana, and happens to drop a quarter in the slots on the way to the show, that's fine. But by golly, if they even think about gambling before they head for The Strip, we want them to know they're going to jail for violating California law."

Governor Brown outlined plans to question all motorists and airline passengers entering Nevada. "A system of airport security stations and highway border-crossing stations will be built to ensure that California citizens aren't planning to gamble," said the governor. "They're only allowed to think about gambling once they've arrived."

Several other states are lining up to criminalize the travel-planning business:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Republican "Value Voters": Belief in Evolution Disqualifies Presidential Candidates!

I got busy and was going to skip blogging today, but this is too much. It seems that anyone who believes in evolution is unqualified to run for President of the United States!

At the "Value Voters Summit" this weekend in Washington, D.C., Bryan Fischer of

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Tea Party Recession: Why Faith is Slowing Recovery

How can people lead the country when they are taught from youth to believe things that can't possibly be true? Does religion's insistence on faith over reason make a politician irrational and irresponsible?

According to a Baylor University Religion Survey released last fall, that's exactly what it does. The "Tea Party's Recession" that we're now facing may be an example of this phenomenon. Conservative Christian politicians' reliance on faith over evidence seems to be a direct impediment to their ability to accept plain facts. Their beliefs are based on their ideology, even when the facts are clear.

According to sociologist

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why a Christian Nation would be a Disaster

There's a great article over at
Conservatives Want America to be a "Christian Nation" -- Here's What That Would Actually Look Like
I urge everyone to read it. In a nutshell, true Christian values, as defined in the Bible, would mean:
  • A King
  • Only theocratic law
  • No democracy, no voting
  • Slavery
  • No women's rights
  • Homosexuals would be killed
  • Enemies would be utterly vanquished without mercy
... and much, much more. Check it out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Egyptian Christian/Muslim Conflict was Inevitable

What happens when parents of fighting children just tell them to shut up and behave rather than helping them work out their differences? The first time the parents leave the kids alone, the kids get into a fist fight. Instead of teaching them how to solve problems before they boil over, the parents put a lid on the pot so that the anger boils over and explodes.

What happens when a brutal dictatorship suppresses all dissent and prevents ethnic and religious groups from working out their differences, and then is overthrown by those same groups in a revolution? They attack each other (AP photo story) ... with deadly results.

My first (and still strong) reaction to the stories coming out of Egypt was, "This is why we need to get rid of religion!" How can anyone look at bloody rioters carrying crosses and throwing stones and not be

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Courageous Conservative: Listen to Scientists on Global Warming

Bob Inglis, a respected conservative columnist over at Business Week magazine, is calling out the Republican party for ignoring the massive scientific consensus on global warming:
"Normally, the country can count on conservatives to deal in facts. We base policies on science, not sentiment, we insist on people being accountable for their actions, and we maintain that markets, not mandates, are the path to prosperity.

When it comes to energy and climate, these are not normal times. ... Courage fails us when it comes to energy and climate. Fearing our economic circumstances, we've decided to channel the fear rather than to confront it."
These are strong and courageous words coming from a true conservative.

Inglis goes on to advocate one of the best free-market principles ever invented: charge the total cradle-to-grave cost of energy products. Don't just charge

"Ministerial Exception" - A Solution to Legalized Discrimination

The Christian Science Monitor has cast its vote on whether churches are allowed to discriminate on the basis of faith. Their answer, not surprisingly, is "yes":
"On Wednesday, the Supreme Court hears the case of a Christian schoolteacher fired in a dispute over a disability and church doctrine. The justices should be careful about allowing government to judge a faith's teachings when it is charged with discrimination."
(The fourth-grade teacher was fired because she took a disability leave, was asked to resign, and then filed a discrimination lawsuit rather that using the employer's Christ-based dispute-resolution process.)

The Monitor goes on to explain that some religions are so bizarre

Monday, October 3, 2011

Right-Wingers Threaten to Beat Health Teacher over "Bless You!" Ban

A health teacher wants his kids to stop saying "Bless you!" after someone sneezes. He reminds the kids that we actually learned about germs and stuff a century or two ago. A sneeze, it turns out, isn't your body's attempt to expel demons! To drive the point home, teacher Steve Cuckovich is deducting points from a student's score when the student says "Bless you!" in response to a sneeze.

Cuckovich sounds like a great teacher to me, one with a sense of humor and a way to drive a point home to the students. Maybe a bit idealistic, but his heart is in the right place. But the reader comments at the end article ... well ... I'm speechless. This has to go into the "quoted without comment" category. It speaks for itself.
redwhiteandblueuniverse: "Steve Cuckovich, Mind your own business and stop acting as though you have any authority ... Try pushing your personal beliefs on my child and I will beat your ass. Period, end of story."

rogers1756: "Amen. This teacher needs to be slapped off his mock pedestal of intellectual superiority. This is what the progressives would have if they had their way ... Typical Hillary fascist mind control ..."

Friday, September 30, 2011

Unmarried Christians Get Pregnant More!

It's no surprise that according to a new Gallup poll, 76% of evangelical Christians believe sex outside of marriage is immoral.

But what surprises Christian commentators is that over 80% of young (18-29) evangelical Christians have sex. That's just a bit below the national average (88%). So in spite of all the preaching and moralizing, Christians are demonstrating once again that they are just ordinary humans, subject to the same healthy desires as the rest of us ... and that their religion has very little real effect on their behavior.

But the big surprise is that more of them get pregnant than the general population!

There are two pretty obvious reasons why this might be: ignorance and guilt.

The ignorance part is because evangelical Christian parents teach abstinence rather than real sex education. These poor young adults just don't know how, when or why to use condoms, birth-control pills and other contraception. No surprises there.

But guilt? That's a bit more subtle.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Atheism will Replace Religion, and Why Capitalism Cares

Here's a question that's bugged me for years: why aren't all Christians strong socialists? As Carl Gibson at HuffPost wrote the other day:
Christians would do well to vote for those who actually practice what they preach. While Perry and Paul demand cuts to public programs and health care for the uninsured, President Obama is finding his inner Luke and asking the richest Americans to share their possessions to help lessen the burden of deficit reduction already on the shoulders of working families.
If Jesus demanded a socialistic approach to helping the poor, then why are evangelical Christians almost universally against socialized medicine, unemployment insurance and a decent Social Security system?

Because it's bad for religion, that's why.

Nigel Barber did some fascinating research about atheism. He wanted to know why atheism is so strongly correlated with wealth. Along the way, he discovered the fascinating answer: It's security, not wealth, that drives people to religion.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

No Dinosaurs in Heaven

For my faithful New York readers (and those nearby New York) ... there's an exciting new movie coming out:
No Dinosaurs in Heaven will be screening at NY Academy of Sciences on October 25, 2011 at 7PM, along with a discussion with Dr. Eugenie Scott from the National Center for Science Education and the film's director, Greta Schiller.
You can learn more at the No Dinosaurs in Heaven web site.

If some of you are able to make it, I'd love to read your reviews.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Do It! Sign the Petition to take "Under God" Out of the Pledge!

OK all you dilettantes and dabblers, you casual readers and sideline critics ... it's time to get off your butts and do something important! This will take you less than five minutes – three if you're quick – and it will make a difference.
Sign the White House Petition to remove "Under God" from the Pledge.
If you're a fellow blogger, put this link on your site too! (

The number of signers already blasted past the original goal of 5,000. Can we get 100,000? 500,000? A million atheists standing up for their rights? It could happen! But it depends on you.

You'll have to spend about thirty seconds typing your name and email to create an account on, then wait a few seconds for the

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bad Christian Logic: Even the Smart Ones Do It

Albert Mohler may be one of the most intelligent humans on the planet. If Mohler weren't a Christian literalist, he might also be one of the best scientists or historians alive today. Sadly, his mind has been hijacked by the religion virus, which seems to have rendered him incapable of true logical thinking.

Mohler's most recent article is about Genesis, and asks whether Adam and Eve were literally the ancestors of all humans. He builds up a very powerful chain of logical arguments, based on history, philosophy and Biblical evidence: if Adam and Eve weren't real, then Christianity falls apart. Jesus' sacrifice would have been meaningless. Without Adam and Eve, there would be no original sin, and no need for anyone to accept Jesus as their savior.

To a scientist or historian, this is a beautiful chain of deductions, the sort of stuff that all scholars aspire to:
Adam and Eve --> The Fall --> God's curse --> original sin
  --> Jesus' sacrifice --> redemption --> Christianity
It's a very nice bit of scholarship so far. But ... then Mohler makes a terrible mistake.

A real scientist or historian would look for independent evidence for Adam and Eve to prove they existed, and then follow the chain of logic forward to prove the conclusion (that Christianity is true). But Mohler does the reverse! He claims that Christianity is true, and then follows the logic backwards to "prove" that the story of Adam and Eve is true.

It's an embarrassing intellectual error.

He also asserts that all true Christians must reach this same conclusion. Mohler claims that

Monday, September 19, 2011

Atheist Group Rips out Bible Pages to Demonstrate Morality

I usually start my day by scanning the news headlines looking for something good to blog about. Imagine my surprise this morning when I discovered that the Christian Post was ranting about the very same group that invited me as their monthly speaker this coming Thursday!

Bruce Gleason and the Backyard Skeptics of Orange County had a great idea. The Bible is full of immoral laws that no decent modern Christian or Jew would follow. Why not remove them from the Bible? For example:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Danger! Halloween Candy is Cursed by Witches!

Seriously people. Can this be real? The author, Kimberly Daniels, lives in a fairyland world filled with demons, spirits, witches, vampires, and of course Lucifer and God. It's hilarious ... except that it's not a joke.

The really scary part of this is that it's not some random nobody. It was published as a guest blog in Charisma, a serious Christian news site with a large following. Here's what Daniels says about Halloween:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good News: Court Sides with Two Atheist Lawsuits

Life is keeping me busy today, so there's just time for a couple quick links. The first is a story about a Christian teacher who was ordered to remove a huge Christian poster from his math classroom:
Court says teacher has no right to banners referring to God
The court originally ruled in favor of the teacher, but the school district appealed and the District Court in San Francisco reversed the decision. The teacher now has to pay the school's legal fees.

The second story is a follow-up: remember James Corbett, teacher extraordinaire? He made the mistake of treating Christianity like any other topic, open to analysis and criticism in his history classes. He was sued by a Christian student who claimed Corbett had violated his right to religious freedom.

Last month we got the good news that the Appeals Court finally sided with Corbett. The Court ruled that Corbett's lessons in the classroom were not against the law. The ruling was somewhat technical, but still a big victory for education and good teachers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diamond Planets? Why Global Warming Deniers are Dishonest

Why can we say with confidence that global-warming deniers are for the most part dishonest? Because they try to hold honest climate-change researchers to an impossible scientific standard.

Here's a wonderful article that illustrates it perfectly. A couple weeks ago, astrophysicists announced they had discovered a diamond planet! No joke. It was orbiting a pulsar, and the nature of its orbit and its history made it almost certain it was crystal – that is, diamond.

But the astrophysicist went a big step further in the name of science.
Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame. The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been.

How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best 9/11 Quote Ever: Leon Wieseltier at the Kennedy Center

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, is being widely quoted from his amazing speech at 9/11: An Evening of Remembrance and Reflection at the Kennedy Center. The part that everyone likes the best is this:
The obscenities of September 11, 2001 exposed the difference between builders and destroyers. We are builders. Let us agree, on this anniversary, that it is an honor to be an American and it is an honor to be free.
Truly great words. That distinction, between those who create and those who destroy, between those who want to move forward and those who want to drag us down, is the very heart of why 9/11 happened. The Taliban and all terrorists are nothing but vandals who would tear down the great works of others. Their own actions condemn their religion.

But the mainstream media seem to be deliberately ignoring the very best quote from Leon Wieseltier's speech:
We affirm ... that none of our worldviews, with God or without God, should ever become the worldview of the state, and that no sanctity ever attaches to violence.
That is the real heart of 9/11. When sanctity attaches to violence, anything can be justified. And when a state, which has

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Relativity of Wrong: Governor Perry should read Asimov

Some of my Facebook friends and family got into a discussion about Governor Perry's claim that evolution is "just a theory" (alongside global warming) and shouldn't taught in school. Leo James (a bit of nespotic promo: singer/songwriter and world-class juggler) had this to say:
"Rick Perry thinks we shouldn't talk or teach about evolution and climate change since the scientists aren't certain yet. We are not certain of anything, should we just not talk anymore either? Perhaps we shouldn't teach gravity until we find the higgs-boson particle and become sure that we understand the simple forces that make up the universe. ... Remember children, gravity is just a theory."
It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite essays: The Relativity of Wrong by scientist and master of science fiction Isaac Asimov.

Asimov's thesis is that there are degrees of knowledge, from a raw theory with

Thursday, September 8, 2011

US Air Force Nuke Launchers' Training Included Christian Ethics Class

Conservative Christians are howling because the United States Air Force dropped an ethics class ("Just War Theory") that included material from the Bible. And as usual, these complainers are trying to gloss over the real facts. Texas Senator John Cornyn wrote in a letter to the Air Force:
“Suspending a course like this because of references to religious texts misrepresents the First Amendment. Although our Founding Fathers rightly included language in the Constitution that precludes the federal government from establishing an official religion, this language does not, as some have argued, protect them from exposure to religious references."
Religious references? Wait a second, Senator. This class was taught by Christian clergy for the last twenty years! And it used text from the Old and New Testaments. You call that "exposure to religious references"? I call it forcing Christianity on our Air Force personnel at government expense.

When it comes to having your finger on "the button" to launch nuclear weapons,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bachmann, Romney and Cain: Religious Rights Trump Gay Rights

What do you do when two groups' civil rights come into direct conflict?

Three of the front-running Republican presidential candidates (Bachmann, Romney and Cain) say that religious rights trump gay rights when the government is giving out our tax dollars. And a fourth, Texas Governor Perry, almost certainly would have said the same thing if he'd been able to stay for the debate (he had to return to Texas because of the wildfires).

This shows a stunning misunderstanding of the United States Constitution and the very meaning of civil rights.

The question they were responding to was about gay couples adopting children. Many of the adoption agencies in this country are run by Christian churches, particularly the Catholic Church. And these same agencies get a lot of funding from the federal government. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Catholic adoption agencies don't want to let same-sex couples adopt children. The Catholic Church claims it violates their right to religious freedom.

Many Americans don't realize that outside of employment and housing, it's perfectly legal for an ordinary citizen to discriminate against anyone for any reason. If I were a racist, it would be perfectly legal for me to

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gay Student Ousted from Christian Choir

In an article subtitled "Standing Firm," a Christian "Good News" site tells the rather sad story of a young gay man who was ousted from Psalms 100, a Christian Choir at the University of North Carolina whose mission is "to spread the joy of the Lord through song." You can probably tell that the article was a bit slanted by the subtitle "Standing Firm."

Most of the students and faculty are properly outraged at this Christian group that professes God's love but rejects one of their own because God chose (or so they believe) to make the man gay. It's discriminatory and appears to violate the University's anti-discrimination policy.

But they're missing the point.

The real problem is religion itself. As long as we have religions that teach mythology as fact, morality is absolute and only from God, and feelings and faith are more important than rational thinking, then we're going to have this sort of bigotry. It's not that they're misinterpreting the Bible: their whole way of thinking is wrong.

Christians, Jews and Muslims are taught from an early age to accept authority without question, to ignore obvious contradictions and hypocrisy, and to value faith over rational thought. They're taught that their holy books, which contain thousands of contradictions, errors of fact, and clearly immoral lessons, are actually

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Florida Strippers: Get Ready for the Republicans!

Florida's strippers, exotic dancers and the rest of the crowd in the adult-entertainment industry are getting excited – the Republican National Convention is coming to town!

It seems that America's conservatives (who like to claim the moral high ground) like a good sex show as much as their Democratic opponents. But Republicans have more money! Unlike their Democratic counterparts, the Republicans can actually afford a good lap dance ... or more.

The strip clubs are expecting a huge surge in attendance and have created special private rooms and private entrances for their conservative guests, who have to fly under the radar when

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Learn Quantum Jumping, get money and fame from alternate universes!

What to do, what to do ... some days I get sick of reading about Michelle Bachmann, Dominionism, child-molesting priests, the New Apostolic Reform, and atheist signs by the freeways.

I know, let's do some Quantum Jumping! We can all jump into an alternate universe and find out what other versions of ourselves are doing! I don't have to write a blog, I'll just find another version of Craig A. James who has more initiative and creativity than this version of me!
Welcome to the Infinite You

Quantum Jumping is a visualization process where you use your mind to ‘jump’ into parallel dimensions, and gain creativity, knowledge, wisdom, skills and inspiration from alternate versions of yourself.

... Max Planck, said that “all matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration which holds the atom together. ... If Quantum Theory is correct, it implies that to change your current reality, all you need to do is change the frequency of your thoughts.
Oh, wait, there's one more thing you need to do to change your reality. You need to buy the guy's DVD series for only $97 (price slashed from $397!).

I'm constantly amazed at how people can

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bachmann's Faith Would Destroy America

Remember the "no religious test" clause of the United States Constitution that guarantees everyone the right to hold government office regardless of faith? I'm beginning to wonder if it's time to repeal it. Maybe it's time to ban people who are religious extremists from holding federal office! Michelle Bachmann comes to mind...

A couple days ago while driving down the road enjoying a bright, sunny Southern California morning, I spotted a beautiful old classic 1958 Pontiac. "What a beautiful machine!" I thought. "Back in those days, you could actually tune the car yourself. No computers, hand-crank windows that always worked, and if it had seat belts, it was your choice to use them or not. Those were the days!"

It almost made me have some compassion for Michelle Bachmann's desire to turn back the clock to a simpler time.

Then I pulled in behind it to get a better look at it ... and was assaulted by a terrible stink, something I hadn't smelled in quite a while. It was unburned gasoline, partially burned motor oil, nitrous oxide, thousands of different carcinogenic hydrocarbons, and no doubt a good dose of odorless carbon monoxide. If this had been 1958 when

Friday, August 26, 2011

Google Hates Churches? Not Exactly...

Christian headlines are howling because Google Won't Give Churches Same Break it Gives Other Non-Profits. And of course Fox Noise is providing a nice, loud megaphone for this story.

The only problem is, it's a lie.

Everybody knows that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are atheists. They're an easy target for evangelical Christian preachers and bloggers. These right-wing opinion leaders love to invoke the Underdog Meme: the idea that somehow Christians, who make up roughly 80% of America's population, are being persecuted. It's laughable on the face of it. But it's also effective. People fall for it.

So when a headline proclaims that Google Apps are free to everyone except churches, people are primed to swallow the lie ... hook, line and sinker. The preachers shout, and the bloggers

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Evangelical Scientists: Creationism is Wrong!

At last, some serious conservative scholars who are also respected evangelical Christians are coming "out of the closet" regarding Creationism. They don't believe it. According to a fascinating NPR story, they're admitting that the Genesis account of creation can't possibly be right. To believe that we all descended from Adam and Eve "would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last twenty years."

And over at BioLogos, there's a long blog about a Christianity Today story that lays out the position

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shhh! Keep Gov. Perry's Idiocy a Secret from the Republicans!

OK everybody, I know you're incredulous at Texas Governor Rick Perry's idiotic pronouncements. But STFU! It's a secret! If we can just keep quiet and let Perry win the Republican nomination, the 2012 election will be ours!

Seriously, people ... can we really have a leader of the free world who uses a controversial and unapproved stem-cell medical procedure, but at the same time doesn't believe in evolution or global warming? Can the President of the United States lead the world if he believes prayer is the only solution to our problems?

Maybe when pigs fly. This kind of stuff scares even moderate Republicans. But don't tell the Tea Party! The evangelical right has hijacked the Republican party, and they're totally drunk on their success. They've become blind to Perry's hypocrisy and anti-science views. They're elated! They honestly think they can drag the entire country from the twenty first century back into the dark ages.

But they're going to have a really hard time getting Perry elected. The Governor of Texas doesn't even know what's going on in his own state! He recently claimed:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Teenie Fad: Become an Exorcist!

Teen girls are known for fashions and fads. The hottest new line of cosmetics, the latest boy band, unzipped bluejeans that drive the boys crazy ... you never know what's going to be next. But exorcism?
"... if the forces of darkness start getting the upper hand, who should you call? Evangelist Reverend Bob Larson of Spiritual Freedom Churches International - and his remarkable school for exorcists. 'We have found that our female, teenage exorcists are particularly effective at curing the possessed,’ says Rev Larson, whose daughter Brynne is a supernaturally talented exorcist."
Brynne and her teen girlfriends, whose ages range from fifteen to nineteen, are having the time of their young lives. They get to tie their victims clients to chairs, then shout words like "Lucifer!" and "Beelzebub!" They're taught about curse breaking and chanting. Their clients yell, vomit, and even go into convulsions! What great fun.

And they're out to save us!
"I think Harry Potter and Twilight are instigators of evil,’ Savannah says. ‘They nullify morality and just serve to hook people in with evil.
I'm sure it's all great fun! And golly, they're probably the envy of all the other girls – what could be cooler than being an exorcist?

The trouble is, what they're really doing is medical quackery. These are nothing more than

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catholics Ban Girl Scout Membership

Pity the poor Girl Scouts of America (GSA). They've been criticized heavily for discriminating against atheists, agnostics, humanists, Muslims, Buddhists and other non-monotheistic girls. But unlike the Boy Scouts, who have stuck to their old discriminatory habits, the GSA modified its pledge to allow girls of all faiths ... as long as they have some faith (atheists are still not allowed).

But now they're getting hammered by Christian groups! Who would have expected that? Christians are banning their young girls from joining GSA, and the ringleader of this is the Roman Catholic Church itself.

The reason should be obvious: GSA has ties to Planned Parenthood, which provides resources on sex education to teens around the world. Yes, it's true. Girl Scouts of America is educating teen girls about their bodies! Can you imagine?

I should at least give the Roman Catholic Church credit for consistency. Their stance on abortion is unbending, and Planned Parenthood does provide abortions. I may vehemently disagree with the Church's moral position on abortion, but I can't blame them for enforcing it.

But other Christian groups are really going nuts. They have all sorts of crazy>

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mortality Sucks

I'm in Northern California helping out an older family member who needed some "maintenance" in the surgery room to fix bones that were wearing out.

It also happens that my wife and I love hiking and usually walk twenty to thirty miles every week. But between arthritis and tendinitis, it's getting hard to keep up the pace. I'm hobbling around today on damaged feet, and I'm going to have to take a rest for a week or so. This reminds me that I used to bicycle a lot but no longer can because of the surgery I had twelve years ago to fix my knees (which I damaged by overenthusiastic pedaling). Add to that the fact that my wife's younger brother died earlier this summer.

In other words, I'm feeling very mortal today. I'm face to face with pain, infirmity and death. My once-youthful body that could take all sorts of abuse and keep going is now betraying me and paying me back for all of the excesses of the past.

We only get a short seven to ten decades on this planet, and if we're lucky we can live five or six of them in excellent health. Am I done with the pain-free part? Now that I'm fifty-seven, is life going to be a constant struggle? Is my body, now past its prime breeding time, just running on genetic momentum with no real evolutionary purpose? I've done my evolutionary job after all – three great kids each share half of my genes. Am I now evolutionarily irrelevant? Is it time to quietly curl up and die to make room for the next generation?

Nah. Wrong answer. Giving up isn't in my genes.

The problem with being an atheist is that

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry Fail

Remember how when you were young, there was always that one nerdy kid in the class that nobody really liked? Nobody wanted to go to his birthday party. But you and maybe one other kid felt bad for him so you went. Or maybe your mom made you go. He was so glad and thankful that somebody showed up that it was embarrassing. All you wanted was to get out of there.

Governor Rick Perry held his big prayer party (the "Response") on Saturday, and sadly, only one of his invited guests showed up. Oh sure, they had a whole bunch of evangelical Christians there, praying and singing. But Perry invited all forty-nine state governors to come pray with him, and only one showed up (Kansas Governor Sam Brownback). Just one. Just like that kid in elementary school.

Governor Perry and his supporters are trying to paint "The Response" as a big success. They had 20,000 to 30,000 evangelicals in attendance. They had people all over

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is Christianity Dying? Miley Cyrus Gets a New Tattoo

Miley Cyrus got a new tattoo ... and not just some dumb decoration. This is a pro-gay tattoo! It's actually pretty amusing, an equal-sign "=" on her middle finger. (Think, "give 'em the bird"). It might seem ambiguous except that she tweeted "All LOVE is equal!"

This might seem like just another amusing story about a young starlet, but it shows yet again why Christianity is dying a slow death in America.

Homosexuality and LGBT rights have become the Achilles tendon of conservative Christianity. The out-of-the-closet movement that started in the 1970s has worked: virtually all teens and young adults have

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thanks to San Diego Humanist Book Club!

Thanks to the San Diego Humanist Book club for a very pleasant evening last night discussing The Religion Virus. It was a real pleasure to hear everyone's thoughts on such a wide-ranging set of topics.

It's always surprising to me which chapters and stories in the book appeal to different people. A number of people really liked the story of "William and Ruth." Several people mentioned how much the story of my father's motorcycle accident affected them. And I had the pleasure of retelling the story of Aunt Carolyn's "unbaptism" to the whole group in greater detail.

But the best part of the evening was the wide-ranging discussion about religion, its peculiar history and how it's still affecting us today. I spend far too much time reading the dogma and irrational faith-based arguments from "the other side," and sometimes I feel submerged. Last night was a refreshing change. It renewed my hope that humanism and rational thinking will prevail some day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dollywood Asks Lesbian to Change Shirt

Would you be offended by this T-shirt?
marriage is so gay
Well, probably not, because you're reading my blog.

I'm not a huge country-music fan, but I've always liked Dolly Parton. Her commonsense no-nonsense philosophy and self-deprecating humor are wonderful. She mostly keeps her politics and religion to herself because she believes an entertainer should entertain. (Imagine that ... an entertainer who doesn't think her fame makes her an instant expert on religion, politics or relationships! It's refreshing.)

So I was surprised to read this headline:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Amy Winehouse: Rabbi Raises Ugly AA Claims

The tragic death of Amy Winehouse has once made the Alcoholics Anonymous you-need-God myth raise its ugly head once again. It's like a monster that won't die.

You know the myth I'm talking about: the only way to recover from addiction is to turn yourself over to a "higher power." Unfortunately for addicts everywhere, study after study has shown that AA doesn't work, and actually hinders recovery for most people. (I've written about AA before; see Christian Shocker: God-Based AA Program Harms Alcoholics.)

Here's what Rabbi Shais Taub had to say over at Huffington Post:
"In a grim sort of way, the only "news" to me about Amy's death is the date. After all, what really could have stopped this from happening? The only time I have ever seen recovery in a case like Amy's is by an act of God. ... One of the axioms of recovery is that the addict is beyond human aide and that's why addicts need a "higher power" to live. You can call that hocus-pocus. I call it an everyday reality. There is no fact more real to me than the idea that no human power can stand up against the power of addiction."
Except for one thing: Rabbi Taub, you are wrong. Dead wrong. It is not an "axiom." It's a myth that's been

Norway Terrorist was NOT a Christian, and don't say he was

The bullets in the tragic massacre in Norway had barely stopped flying before the words "Christian terrorist" started spreading in news reports and the blogosphere.And the Christians were equally quick to disown the murderer:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Atheists and Christians Agree: The Internet is Killing Religion

For once I completely agree with a leading Christian apologist.

Christian minister and apologist Josh McDowell recently spoke at the International Christian Retail Show, where he told attendees that the Internet is the greatest threat to Christianity.
"The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have... whether you like it or not."
He goes on to cite many statistics showing just how influential the Internet has become. According to McDowell:
  • The number of evangelical Christians who don't believe in absolute truth has jumped from 51 percent to 62 percent in 1994, then to 78 percent in 1999 and it now hovers at around 91 percent.
  • Back in the good old (pre-Internet) days, if an agnostic or atheist wrote a book nobody would read it. But now the Internet has given atheist authors (that would be me...) access to these kids' minds.
  • Ninety percent of sixteen-year-olds have viewed pornography. Among fifteen- to seventeen-year-olds, 59 percent of girls and 69 percent of boys say pornography is acceptable.
One of my favorite blog topics is why children have to be indoctrinated (infected) with religion at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crazy Christian Preacher: Oprah is a Preacher for the AntiChrist! A Harlot Babylon!

I am speechless ... but this guy isn't!

Candidate Cain: Constitution Allows Anti-Islam Discrimination!

I've seen politicians twist the Constitution before, but this one takes the cake:
"Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state. Islam combines church and state. They're using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community ... [The communities] objected to the fact that Islam is both a religion and a set of laws. ... They have a right to [ban a Mosque]"
Wow. Mr. Cain says we all have a constitutional right to free speech, freedom of assembly and the freedom to worship as we please ... but all these rights evaporate if our religion tries to inject its beliefs into government!

Mr. Cain has conveniently forgotten that this is exactly the same thing that America's evangelical Christians believe.

Let's start with Cain's opponent, Mitt Romney, who said:
"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom... Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."
Hmmm, that sounds like combining church and state to me, Mr. Cain. So Romney's out. What about Mike Huckabee, another front runner?
"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."
Gosh, we're not getting anywhere, are we Mr. Cain? It seems those darned Christians are no better than the Muslims you despise!

What about Michele Bachmann, another Republican candidate? Oh yeah, she's the one whose family runs a "clinic" that "cures" gays of their homosexuality using prayer and Christian practices. And she also

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bill Maher on Bachmann and Palin: Crazy

Bill Maher's latest video pretty much nails Bachmann and Palin. Why don't liberals like Bachmann and Palin? "Because they're crazy people!" And that's just the beginning. As with most of Maher's videos, it's NSFW (not safe for work).

I think I would have skipped the "boobs" remark, but basically he says what everyone is thinking. These two presidential candidates are grossly and obviously unqualified for the job.

I particularly like his analysis of Bachmann's husband's role: we'd have a president (the one we elected) who believes God told her to follow her husband's orders. So who is the real president? This is a man who is homophobic and runs a faux clinic that purports to "cure" homosexuals. And according to news reports, he's been caught lying about it to government officials about his business. So we'd have an unelected man who is a liar and a homophobe running the country.

Why aren't conservatives embarrassed by this? Why is Bachmann getting any attention at all? She has more baggage than a moving truck.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Refuting the Atheist Professor vs the Christian Student

There's an embarrassing essay circulating around the Christian/theist world that claims to show a simple Christian student gets the better of an atheist professor of philosophy by turning the professor's own logic against him. I'm subscribed to a fairly popular Christian Facebook group (no, I didn't subscribe myself, but it is interesting), and someone posted this. I thought it was laughable, but sadly most of the members of this Christian discussion group seemed to think it was brilliant. I briefly refuted the essay and got lots of arguments, so I told them I'd do a whole blog showing how ridiculous the essay is.

It's a bit long, but it's important to read it because it illustrates what the secular/humanist/rational-thought community is up against when it comes to faith versus reason. (I fixed some typographical errors that were in the original so that it didn't distract from the main point). Here it is with my refutation. My first comment is

Friday, July 15, 2011

Austrian Pastafarian Wears Spaghetti Strainer in License Photo

I'm in Florida for my daughter's wedding, so I'll just leave you with this great story from the BBC:
Austrian driver allowed 'pastafarian' headgear photo
I have to say though, I'm a bit miffed that the BBC didn't capitalize "Pastafarian." Have a little respect!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Global Warming Skeptic's Money from Big Oil - Why no Scandal?

Who is surprised to find out that global-warming skeptic Willie Soon was taking money, lots of it, from Big Oil? Not me.

And why isn't this another "climategate" scandal making headlines in every newspaper? Why is it that when a scientist is caught showing a little bias in his personal, private email to a colleague, the sky falls, but when a climate skeptic is caught violating one of the most fundamental rules of scientific enquiry, it's just a third-page article in a few newspapers and web sites?

I'll tell you why: nobody ever thought Willie Soon was a real scientist to begin with.

We're all surprised and dismayed when a real, honest scientist is caught in a minor infraction. Good science is supposed to be beyond reproach, and good scientists are supposed to be unbiased and honest, even when they don't like their own results. "Climategate" showed us that the scientists who are warning about the dangers of human-caused global warming are actually respected.

But when Willie Soon got caught taking over $1,000,000 from oil companies, it was mostly a yawn from the press. He had no reputation to begin with.

I guess that's good news. Unfortunately, the damage done by his work will continue for years and decades.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is Christianity Dying? ... and Ninety-Nine Other Best Blogs

I have a new book available on Kindle!
Only 99 cents!
How can you go wrong? From the preface:
"Who would have guessed back in June of 2008 that I'd be writing my five hundredth blog with no end in sight? And I never expected The Religion Virus to be in the top ten religion books on's Kindle bestsellers list, as well as bouncing around between first and fifth in agnosticism and religious history. (Religious history? That's unexpected!)

"So why should you buy a collection of ninety-nine blogs that you can get for free on my web site? Because it's just a penny per blog, and we sorted the wheat from the chaff for you. You get to read the good stuff without having to wade through the blogs that should have been used to wrap fish. How can you beat that? (And there is actually one original never-before-published blog in here!)

"Like most bloggers, I don't hit one out of the park every day. But every now and then I write something pretty good. Some of these became very popular and pegged my traffic meter. Those were fun. But the ones I like best are the ones that evoked thoughtful responses, rebuttals and questions from my readers. When someone takes the time to argue with me, I know I'm making a difference."
New readers will find this a handy way to read the best of these blogs. Or if you're one of my faithful loyalists,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Woman Kuwaiti Politician: Legalize Sex Slaves

This almost needs no comment. It's Salwa Al-Mutairi, a former candidate for the Kuwaiti Parliament.

I asked (a Saudi mufti): What is the law with regard to slave girls?

The mufti told me that this law requires there to a Muslim country raiding a Christian country - sorry, a non-Muslim country - and taking PoWs. I asked him whether it was forbidden (to turn them into slaves), and he said that Islam does not prohibit having slave girls. On the contrary.

The law pertaining to slave girls is not the same as for free women. Free women must cover their bodies, except for their hands and faces. The slave girl must cover up from the bellybutton down. There is a big difference between slave girls and free women. With a free woman, the man must make a marriage contract, but with a slave girl - all he has to do is buy her. It's as if he married her. So there's a difference between slave girls and free women.

Here in Kuwait too, I asked religious scholars and experts about this, and they said that for the average, good religious man, the only way to avoid forbidden relations with women is to purchase slave girls.

I very much hope that such a law is legislated. Just like they allow servants, they should allow slave girls, and legislate a proper law in this regard. We don't want our children to fall into the abyss of fornication and similar filth, God forbid. Allah willing, things will work out.

There are countries like Chechnya, which are at war with another country. In such a case, there must be PoWs, so why not go and buy those prisoners? Is it better for them to be slaughtered over there? Go and buy them, and sell them to traders here in Kuwait.
One has to wonder: what goes on in this woman's house and in her mosque? What have the men in her life done to her? Does she really think that men are such animals that they need a stable of

Friday, July 8, 2011

Piss off the Christians: Live Forever

What's the best way to cure the world of religion? Cure it of death first!

Have you ever considered what would happen to religion if death was no longer a certainty? Or if death became unusual? There are many reasons people believe in gods and an afterlife, but death is by far the most powerful. The thought that you cease to exist is unsettling to most people, and religions have provided an alternative.

So what will happen to all of those fire-and-brimstone preachers when death is defeated?

According to Aubrey de Grey, the first person to live to 150 is probably already alive today ... and it could be you or me. And according to Dr. de Grey, the children being born today may live to be 1000 years old or more ... possibly forever.

The Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Foundation (SENS), where de Grey is the chief science officer, is dedicated to "curing" aging. Scientists originally hoped to find an "aging gene" that could be turned off. That would have been simple given our modern understanding of genetics. But it turns out that aging has many components, each of which has to be independently solved. The initial optimism for a quick solution has turned into a long-term research effort.

But now there is real progress. With the incredible recent advances in genetics, drug design, biology, chemistry, computers and diagnostic instruments, hope is growing rapidly. Immortality is within reach.

The only question remaining is, "When?" Will I live to 150 or even longer? Or will it be my

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holy Desperation! Christian Book on Homosexuality!

Holy Desperation Batman! The Gays are taking over America, and Christians are fighting back!

Or maybe it's just hate speech wrapped up in the mantle of religion. Take a look and see what you think.

As for me, I suspect these right-wing Christians are getting desperate. They just figured out that they're losing the battle. So in spite of the obnoxiousness of this advertisement, I think we can take it as a good sign.

(Thanks to M.I. for the link on San Diego New Atheists and Agnostics.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Richard Dawkins (and the Creepy Elevator Guy) should watch MadTV

I'd somehow missed the whole "Creepy Elevator Guy" story, but my son called yesterday to bring me up to date. For those of you who don't know, women are badly underrepresented in atheist groups, and the few who do attend meetings sometimes get unwanted sexual attention, which occasionally turns into harassment. In this instance, Rebecca Watson got on the elevator headed for her hotel room at 4 AM and was propositioned by one of the male attendees. Hemant Mehta has an excellent summary of the details so I won't repeat it here.

I don't have a lot to add to what's already been said. Blag Hag had a good blog about it. PZ Myers blogged about it and got a rather disturbing letter from Richard Dawkins, and Hemant Mehta wrote a second blog that was very thoughtful (he has links).

A while ago I wrote a blog that's very relevant: Mormons and Animals: Denying our Deepest Instincts. Men can be total jerks and worse. But atheists have a huge advantage over religious people

Friday, July 1, 2011

Drug Legalization versus American Idol

Professor Peter Stromberg over at Psychology Today wrote a great piece yesterday: Is it Time to End the War on Drugs? He makes an interesting claim: our modern society is based on artificial entertainment. Whether it is movies, video games or legal and illegal drugs, we find ways to stimulate our brains, and as a society we place high value on those things that do it the best. Honor, piety and moderation have been replaced by the latest blockbuster movie.

I've always thought that drugs should be decriminalized. During my three-year residence in New Orleans, I witnessed the terrible price of the war on drugs first hand. Virtually everyone I knew was affected by a drug-related crime, usually a theft. My neighbor, a sixty-seven-year-old retired civil engineer and recent widow, was murdered by an addict when he came home during a burglary in progress. My route to work went through "The Projects" where schoolchildren had to dodge bullets on their way to their elementary schools.

If drugs were decriminalized, a huge fraction of the crimes in America would simply cease. Drug addicts need their drugs every single day, and for many or most of them, theft and prostitution are the only way to feed their addiction. Each person addicted to an illegal substance affects hundreds or thousands of innocent victims every year.

Stromberg suggests that if we do decriminalize or legalize drugs, there will be an inevitable rise in drug use. This is hardly news. But Stromberg points out that where this might have been a modest problem in the past, our new culture that worships artificial stimuli will probably embrace drugs if they're legalized.

I decided to write to Professor Stromberg with a question:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good News for Atheists: We're Worse than Muslims

Is this a milestone for secularism? A new Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey asked evangelical leaders what worried them the most. If you guessed Islam, you guessed wrong. It's secularism!

When asked about major threats to Evangelical Christianity, secularism topped the list at 71%, followed by consumerism (67%), and sex and violence in pop culture (59%). Islam came in a distant fourth at 47%.

(I was amused that the "influence of Catholicism" is also on the list at 10%. I guess these evangelical Christians don't count Catholics among their brethren.)

This is really good news. It means secularism and atheism are making genuine progress around the world. You know you're making a difference when the opposition can't ignore you any more. And when you're their top concern worldwide, it means whatever you're doing is working.

The Pew survey had a few other fascinating

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Christian Quote of the Year: Preacher Fail

This has to be the best Christian quote of the year:
"... [If] God doesn't destroy America pretty soon, He’s gonna have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."
– John MacArthur, Christian evangelical author and preacher
One of the biggest problems facing America today is that preachers like John MacArthur are diverting us from the real problems.

MacArthur is one of those doom-and-gloom preachers who love to preach darkness and damnation. He must be pretty famous because he's authored or edited something like 150 books. (One has to suspect there's a certain amount of redundancy in his writing after the fortieth or fiftieth book.)

His big show involves the classic Christian recipe:
  • Convince his audience that everything pleasurable is actually a vile sin that's damned by God.
  • Point out that everyone likes fun stuff, so we're all vile sinners.
  • Connect this to confusing prophecies and irrelevant myths that were written by stone-age farmers two to three thousand years ago.
  • The sky is falling! God is going to get us, and boy are you sinners going to be sorry!
Here are a couple samples:
“Materialism, drunkard pleasure seeking, arrogant conceit, defiant sinfulness, moral perversion, and corrupt leadership… Do you not see [them] in America?”

"What do we have here? We have here, folks, Anthony Weiner type people…corrupt leaders. Is there ever any end to this corruption... ?"
But the real danger from preachers like MacArthur is that they want to take over America and turn it into a theocracy
"No other nation has literally been born out of a desire to be faithful and obedient to the living and abiding Word of God. America is the first nation that separated Church and State."
It's sad how many people fall for this brand of doom-and-gloom speech. There are certainly problems in America and around the world, but not the ones MacArthur is talking about.

Did you see drug users causing the subprime mortgage crisis? No, it was bankers and

Monday, June 27, 2011

America Hates Gays, but Hates Atheists Even More!

Last week's victory legalizing gay marriage in New York was a huge step forward. Although the pace of the civil rights campaign for gays is far too slow, it's great to see steady progress.

But now there's a new cause for celebration! A new Gallup poll shows that gays have achieved another huge victory: they're far more popular than atheists! When one oppressed minority gains ground on another, isn't that cause for celebration?

No, I'm just kidding (in case anyone misses the humor). I'm really pleased that America is slowly overcoming the religion-inspired discrimination and hatred against the LGBT community. But it's rather alarming that atheists are still so widely reviled. It's a testament to the power of religious discrimination that the Christian dogma machine has managed to instill such fear and loathing of America's most law-abiding group.

For your amusement, here is the Gallup breakdown of the most-reviled minorities in America. We atheists take the prize at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Muslims Lose in Dutch Free Speech Case

There's some good news from Amsterdam: Muslims lost in a bid to censor an obnoxious right-wing politician, Geert Wilders, who is known for his harsh criticism of Islam.

But under this small victory is something much more sinister: a new trick that makes censorship seem OK.

Geert Wilder's case was dismissed on a highly-technical "escape clause" in the law. The judge ruled that Wilders' remarks were directed at Islam (the religion), not at Muslims (the people). That meant his remarks didn't constitute hate speech. Apparently in The Netherlands you can hate a thing but not a person. It's disturbing that the case was thrown out on such a thin technical issue.

This is a small victory for free speech in a modern country where free speech shouldn't even be a question. I'm frankly shocked by this case. Is it really possible that free speech is disappearing in a modern democracy?

Apparently so. Consider this story from Denmark:
Lars Hedegaard, Islamic expert and president of the International Free Press Society, was found guilty of racism today by Denmark’s Eastern High Court. He was fined about $1,000. He will appeal.

The charges stemmed from what Hedegaard says were factual statements made about the higher-than-average incidence of family rape in the Muslim world.

But under Denmark's racism law, Article 266b, it doesn't matter if what you said was true. It only matters that a group was insulted.
Got that? Telling the truth can be illegal.

European Muslims have discovered a very clever Orwellian trick. Instead of being for censorship,