Saturday, March 31, 2007

Violence Tears Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Car bombs and gunfire killed more than two dozen civilians and wounded more than 60 in attacks throughout Iraq on Saturday, officials said.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Iraqi Widow Saves Her Home, But Victory Is Brief

BAGHDAD -- The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun's family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

In God Our Press Trusts

The question about whether the media treat religion fairly really ought to have two parts, and the second half ought to read: "Do the media treat skepticism about religion fairly?" The answer to both questions is no.


Market Bombs Kill 119 Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombers launched two deadly strikes Thursday in crowded Shiite marketplaces in Baghdad and a town north of Iraq's capital, killing 119 people and wounding 171. At least 17 others died in other bombings and gunfire around the country.


Dobson: Thompson Must Express Faith

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As senator turned actor Fred Thompson considers a presidential run, his Christian credentials are being questioned by Dr. James Dobson, a major voice among Christian conservative voters.


Richard Dawkins Explains 'The God Delusion'

Listen to Dawkins on Fresh Air from WHYY, March 28, 2007.

Dawkins Says Religion Is "Like Sucking A Dummy"

Professor Richard Dawkins has described religious believers as "sucking on dummies" for comfort and said that giving children a religious education was comparable to "erecting a firewall in their minds" against scientific truth.


God Is On Our Side. Does That Mean War?

Does believing that "God is on our side" make it easier for us to inflict pain and suffering on those perceived to be our enemies? If we think God sanctions violence, are we more likely to engage in violent acts?

The answer to both those questions, according to new research, is a resounding "yes," even among those who do not consider themselves believers.


Snake Oil And Holy Water

Are science and religion converging? No.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 3/28/07

Daniel Clement Dennett
Daniel Clement Dennett (b. March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts)

According To Wikipedia, Dennett "is a prominent American philosopher and atheist advocate. Dennett's research centers on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently a professor at Tufts University....

"He defends a theory known by some as Neural Darwinism....

"Dennett's views on evolution are identified as being strongly adaptationist, in line with the views of ethologist Richard Dawkins. In Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Dennett showed himself even more willing than Dawkins to defend adaptationism in print..."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Bombing, Blasts, And Death In Iraq

Today's reports HERE.

French Scientists Rebut U.S., Muslim Creationism

ORSAY, France (Reuters) - With creationism now coming in Christian and Muslim versions, scientists, teachers and theologians in France are debating ways to counteract what they see as growing religious attacks on science.


Extremists 'Are Encouraging Violence Against Muslim Women'

UK -- Islamic extremists are fuelling the spread of "honour" based violence against women in Britain, the country's most senior Muslim prosecutor has warned.


Man Cuts Tongue For Religious Faith

India -- A man was rushed to the government civil hospital here Monday after he cut his own tongue to offer it to a goddess.


I Saw Boys Murdered -- Then Their Parents Got Guns To Kill Each Other

Sunnis began shooting at Shia houses and Shias began firing on Sunnis.


God-Fearing Villagers Snub "Satanic" Bar Codes

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A hundred residents of a Russian village have refused to switch to new passports because they believe the documents' bar codes contain satanic symbols, state television reported Wednesday.


Monday, March 26, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 3/26/07

Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins (born March 26, 1941)

According to Wikipedia, Dawkins "is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

"Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centered view of evolution and introduced the term meme into the lexicon, helping found memetics. In 1982, he made a widely cited contribution to the science of evolution with the theory, presented in his book The Extended Phenotype, that phenotypic effects are not limited to an organism's body but can stretch far into the environment, including into the bodies of other organisms. He has since written several best-selling popular books, and appeared in a number of television and radio programmes, concerning evolutionary biology, creationism, and religion.

"Dawkins is an outspoken atheist, humanist, and sceptic, and is a prominent member of the Brights movement. In a play on Thomas Huxley's epithet 'Darwin's bulldog,' Dawkins' impassioned defence of evolution has earned him the appellation 'Darwin's rottweiler.'"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Can You Live With The Voices In Your Head?

Angelo, a London-born scientist in his early 30s with sandy brown hair, round wire-frame glasses and a slight, unobtrusive stammer, vividly recalls the day he began to hear voices. It was Jan. 7, 2001, and he had recently passed his Ph.D. oral exams in chemistry at an American university, where, for the previous four and a half years, he conducted research into infrared electromagnetism. Angelo was walking home from the laboratory when, all of a sudden, he heard two voices in his head. "It was like hearing thoughts in my mind that were not mine," he explained recently. "They identified themselves as Andrew and Oliver, two angels. In my mind's eye, I could see an image of a bald, middle-aged man dressed in white against a white background. This, I was told, was Oliver." What the angels said, to Angelo's horror, was that in the coming days, he would die of a brain hemorrhage. Terrified, Angelo hurried home and locked himself into his apartment. For three long days he waited out his fate, at which time his supervisor drove him to a local hospital, where Angelo was admitted to the psychiatric ward. It was his first time under psychiatric care. He had never heard voices before. His diagnosis was schizophrenia with depressive overtones.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cartoons Did Not Incite Hatred, French Court Rules

A French court yesterday ruled in favour of a satirical weekly that printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, rejecting accusations by Islamic groups that the newspaper incited hatred against Muslims.


Employee Claims She Was Unfairly Dismissed For Being A Witch

A teaching assistant is claiming that she was unfairly dismissed because of the fact that she is a witch.


US Rejects Anglican Ultimatum

The worldwide Anglican church was facing its long-awaited split last night after the bishops of the US Episcopal church firmly rejected an ultimatum, proposed at a meeting of Anglican leaders in Tanzania last month, to allow American conservatives to have their own leadership because of opposition to their church's liberal stance on homosexuality.


Mass Trial Of Islamists Accused Of Terror Plot Begins In Morocco

Morocco's rumbling "war on terror" faces an important public test tomorrow in a mass trial of extreme Islamists accused of planning the violent overthrow of the most liberal regime in the Maghreb.


Muslim Pupils Kill Teacher

MUSLIM pupils at a secondary school in northeastern Nigeria beat a teacher to death today after accusing her of desecrating the Koran.


The Case For Teaching The Bible

Is it constitutional?


Pew: (U.S.) Trends In Political Values And Core Attitudes: 1987-2007

Religious intensity is down.


Gov.: Budget Puts Me 'On The Side Of The Lord'

(CBS) CHICAGO The governor says he has heavenly help as he pushes for the largest increase in taxes and spending in the history of Illinois.

As CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports, Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he is "on the side of the Lord."


Friday, March 23, 2007

Man With Al-Sadr Ties Held In Attack On U.S. Troops

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A man with ties to a radical Shiite cleric is in U.S. custody in connection with an attack that killed five American soldiers in Karbala in January, U.S. officials said.


London 7/7 Suspects Questioned

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Three men arrested in connection with the July 7, 2005 London bombings were being questioned by police on Friday.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thousands Of Iraqis Flee

BAGHDAD, March 21 -- About 160,000 Iraqis from outside the mountainous Kurdish north have moved there to flee a growing civil war, according to a draft of a report by an international group that tracks refugees and displaced people.


Brain Injury Said To Affect Moral Choices

Damage to an area of the brain behind the forehead, inches behind the eyes, transforms the way people make moral judgments in life-or-death situations, scientists reported yesterday. In a new study, people with this rare injury expressed increased willingness to kill or harm another person if doing so would save others' lives.


Italian Freed In Taliban Swap Deal

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Italy's deputy foreign affairs minister confirmed Wednesday that the Afghan government released five Taliban prisoners to win the freedom of a reporter who had been kidnapped in lawless Helmand province.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Soldiers' Bodies Dragged Through Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) -- Somali insurgents dragged soldiers' bodies through the streets of Mogadishu before burning them on Wednesday in heavy fighting that killed at least 16 people and injured scores more, witnesses said.


Witch Hunt

Sona's mother was murdered and dismembered; Kalo was attacked with a saw and scarred for life. Hundreds of other Indian women are killed or disfigured every year after being branded witches by their neighbours.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Iraq Bombers Blow Up 2 Children Used As Decoys

BAGHDAD, March 20 -- Insurgents detonated a bomb in a car with two children in it after using the children as decoys to get through a military checkpoint in Baghdad, an American general said Tuesday.


God Left Out Of EU Declaration

Neither God nor Christianity will feature in a 50th birthday declaration for the EU which will highlight European values and list key challenges for the future such as climate change.


Keeping The Faith

Some patients are prepared to die rather than accept treatment that is against their beliefs. Emine Saner on the dilemmas doctors face when medical ethics clash with religious and cultural mores.


Evangelicals Feud

As they court the evangelicals who have become so crucial to their party, Republican presidential candidates are stepping into the middle of a family fight.


God Forbid: Representing Non-Believers

Untangling the jumble of religious preference percentages is a daunting task, especially when many prefer to keep tight-lipped on the subject. But understanding these numbers and comparing them to the religious identification of our representatives can help us understand which religious groups are being represented and which are not.


Biology Teacher Fired For Referring To Bible

SISTERS, Oregon (AP) -- During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Judges Quit In Pakistan Furore

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) -- Seven Pakistani judges resigned on Monday over government moves to sack the country's chief judge, and the leader of an opposition alliance of conservative religious parties called for more protests.


Scientist Finds The Beginnings Of Morality In Primate Behavior

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.


Court Hears Arguments On Student Speech

WASHINGTON, March 19 -- Kenneth W. Starr had a strategy for convincing the Supreme Court that an Alaska high school principal and school board did not violate a student's free-speech rights by punishing him for displaying the words "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" on a 14-foot-long banner across the street from school as the 2002 Olympic torch parade went by.


See also...

High court hears 'Bong hits 4 Jesus' case

Qaeda Operative Confesses Role In Cole Bombing

A top operative of Al Qaeda has acknowledged his role in the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998 and in the attack on the destroyer Cole off Yemen in 2000, according to a hearing transcript released yesterday by the Pentagon.


Saving Believers

Former Christian finds calling to preach the good news of atheism.


Coming Out - As An Atheist

Comedian-actress Julia Sweeney read the Bible from cover to cover. And the more the devout Irish-Catholic studied the Old and New Testaments, she came to believe that God is about as real as Santa Claus.


Fans Applaud Politician For Revealing Atheist Beliefs

SAN LEANDRO -- A federal politician who publicly acknowledged last week that he doesn't believe in God appears to enjoy healthy support among constituents.


Secularism Versus Religious Power-Seeking

Two major articles in the national press this week came to the same conclusion: there is a civil war in progress in Europe, and it is not between Muslims and Christians or Hindus and Sikhs, it is between believers and non-believers.


Cleveland Church Members, Ex-Pastor Square Off In Trial

When the Rev. Artis Caver arrived in Cleveland in 1990 to take over the Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, he inherited a congregation of barely 100 and a chapel with a leaking roof and rotting rafters.


Resolute Life Taken At Rest Stop

Michail J. Makarenko, a Russian immigrant who had stopped during a trip from his home in Virginia to visit friends in New York, was attacked by another traveler who tried to sell him religious CDs, police said.

Brian K. White, 26, of Humble, Texas, is accused of bashing Makarenko repeatedly in the head with a rock, leading state police on a nearly 90-mile chase into North Jersey, then jumping from his car and lunging at troopers.

He was charged with murder, eluding authorities and weapons offenses.

Police described him as possibly delusional.

"He was claiming some divine entity made him do it," State Police Capt. Al Della Fave said.


Islamic Group 'A Threat'

THE Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir - banned in Europe, China and Saudi Arabia but legal in Australia - has been identified as a potential threat to the nation.


Brazil's Top TV Preachers Land In Hot Water In Miami

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- In their heyday, Estevam and Sonia Hernandes were the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of Brazil, on television preaching a gospel of material success and living a life to match.

But that was before they were arrested in Miami in January and charged with illegally smuggling cash into the United States, including $9,000 concealed in a Bible.


In Hindsight, Haggard Was No Saint

A church board looking into the pastor's fall from grace sees a pattern of troubling behavior that went unnoticed.


Baptists Suggest That Homosexuality May Be Biological

The president of the leading Southern Baptist seminary has suggested that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified.


See also...

The Problem, in A Fundamental Nutshell: 'Is Your Baby Gay?'

For The Christian Right, Gay-Hating Is Just The Start

On the morning of March 8 in Sioux Center, Iowa, a bus parked outside a hotel was found covered with anti-gay slurs, along with a hate-filled message on a piece of cardboard reading: "God does not love feary fags."


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Israel Rejects Palestinian Government

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Israel rejected the newly anointed Palestinian unity government Sunday after the Palestinian prime minister said the deal didn't rule out "popular resistance against occupation."


Mortar Blasts Shake Somali Capital

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Somali insurgents battled Ethiopian and government troops with mortar and artillery fire on Sunday, killing two people and wounding at least 16 others who were caught in the crossfire, witnesses and medics said.


Two new Islamic insurgent groups -- Altawhid Brigades and Jihad in Somalia -- claimed responsibility in a statement posted on the Internet for a recent mortar attack against the presidential palace in the capital. A 12-year-old boy died in the attack.


Grenade, Bomb, Mortar Attacks In Baghdad

Explosions in the Iraqi capital Sunday killed 11 people and wounded dozens of others, a Baghdad police spokesman said.


Iraq Gas Attack Makes Hundreds Ill

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombers detonated three chlorine-filled trucks in Anbar province, the U.S. military said Saturday.


Free-Speech Case Divides Bush And Religious Right

WASHINGTON, March 17 -- A Supreme Court case about the free-speech rights of high school students, to be argued on Monday, has opened an unexpected fissure between the Bush administration and its usual allies on the religious right.


New Face Of Jihad Vows Attacks

TRIPOLI, Lebanon -- Deep in a violent and lawless slum just north of this coastal city, 12 men whose faces were shrouded by scarves drilled with Kalashnikovs.


$11,000 Bounty On Taslima's Head

LUCKNOW -- An Indian Muslim group has offered a 500,000 rupees ($11,319; BD4,267) bounty for the beheading of controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen.


Does Candidate's Religion Matter?

For the first time in nearly a half-century, a candidate's religion is becoming a significant issue in presidential politics.


Church Seeks Elton Ban

A concert by Sir Elton John in Tobago is under threat after calls from church leaders there to ban him from the island because he is openly gay.


Atheism Hasn't Hurt Fremont Rep. Stark

NEWARK -- Atheism might be the last political taboo, but it doesn't seem to have hurt Rep. Pete Stark in his East Bay district.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Attack Kills Thai Children

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Suspected insurgents hurled explosives and opened fire on an Islamic school in southern Thailand, killing three Muslim students and wounding another seven.


Friday, March 16, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 03/16/07

James Madison
James Madison (March 16, 1751 - June 28, 1836)

According to Wikipedia, Madison was "an American politician and fourth President of the United States of America (1809-1817), was one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States. Considered to be the 'Father of the Constitution', Madison played a bigger role in designing the 1787 document more than anyone else. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. As a leader in the first Congresses, he drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is also known as the 'Father of the Bill of Rights'. As a political theorist, Madison's most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to limit the powers of special interests, which Madison called factions. He believed very strongly that the new nation should fight against aristocracy and corruption (especially of British origin), and was deeply committed to creating mechanisms that would ensure Republicanism in the United States."

Some Madison quotes:

"Democracy does not need the church, or the clergy."

"A just government, instituted to perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy."

"That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such a business."

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient allies."

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

"I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency of a usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against trespass on its legal rights by others."

"The civil government ... functions with complete success ... by the total separation of the Church from the State."

"Religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government."

"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

"Who does not see that the same authority, which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever."

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."

"This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest."

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pentagon: 'Civil War' Inadequate Term For Iraq War

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new Pentagon report said some elements of the war in Iraq fit the definition of civil war, but the term "does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict."


Interpol Calls For Arrests In Argentine Bombing

PARIS, France (AP) -- Interpol plans to issue international requests for the arrest of five prominent Iranians and a Lebanese militant in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina, the international police agency said Thursday.


Thailand Bomb Wounds 11 Muslims

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- A bomb wounded 11 Muslims outside a mosque in southern Thailand, in possible retaliation for the execution-style killings of eight Buddhist commuters in the same area earlier in the day.


Terror Suspect Said To Confess To Other Acts

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who took responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks, said he decapitated the American journalist Daniel Pearl, according to a revised transcript released today of his remarks at a military hearing held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Saturday.


A Secular Sensation

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., might have crossed what some are calling "one of the last frontiers" in politics when he delighted atheists this week by acknowledging that he does not believe in a supreme being.


Women And Children Shot In Bus Massacre

Nine people, including four women and two teenage girls, were shot through the head yesterday in one of the most shocking attacks so far in Thailand's worsening Islamic insurgency.


Rep. Stark Applauded For Atheist Outlook

WASHINGTON (AP) - The American Humanist Association applauded Rep. Pete Stark for publicly acknowledging he does not believe in a supreme being. The declaration, it said, makes him the highest-ranking elected official - and first congressman - to proclaim to be an atheist.


God's Dupes

Moderate believers give cover to religious fanatics -- and are every bit as delusional.


For The God Question, A Biological Perspective

That a book so forthrightly titled (no subtitle necessary!) and forcefully argued as The God Delusion could reach and make an extended stay on the upper strata of the best seller lists over the past months may tell us something about a shifting cultural climate. It may be a changing Zeitgeist (a term the author employs late in his book for just such welcome raisings of consciousness) to counter the excesses of those who have aggressively pushed a narrow religious agenda upon the mainstream.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 03/14/07

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 - April 18, 1955)

According to Wikipedia, Einstein "was a German-born theoretical physicist who is widely considered to have been one of the greatest physicists of all time. While best known for the theory of relativity (and specifically mass-energy equivalence, E=mc2), he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics 'for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.'

"Einstein's many contributions to physics include his special theory of relativity, which reconciled mechanics with electromagnetism, and his general theory of relativity which extended the principle of relativity to nonuniform motion, creating a new theory of gravitation. His other contributions include relativistic cosmology, capillary action, critical opalescence, classical problems of statistical mechanics and their application to quantum theory, an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules, atomic transition probabilities, the quantum theory of a monatomic gas, thermal properties of light with low radiation density (which laid the foundation for the photon theory), a theory of radiation including stimulated emission, the conception of a unified field theory, and the geometrization of physics.

"In 1999 Einstein was named Time magazine's 'Person of the Century'. In popular culture the name 'Einstein' has become synonymous with genius."

Einstein said he believed in Spinoza's God. Spinoza's God "is the natural world and has no personality."

His use of the word "God" to decribe his religious attitude towards Nature, caused a certain amount of confusion among some people, which he later attempted to clarify.

Here are some of his relevant quotes on the matter:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.

On another note....

Today is Pi Day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Congressman Says He Doesn't Believe In God

Secular groups Monday applauded a public acknowledgment by Rep. Pete Stark that he does not believe in a supreme being, making the California Democrat the first member of Congress - and highest-ranking elected official - to acknowledge publicly that he does not believe in God.


Woman Says She Sees Jesus In Burned Wallpaper

(CBS13) SACRAMENTO Christine York's house is a total loss. Treasures going back more than 100 years and memories spanning four decades were lost in a fire.


Creation Museum Growing

PETERSBURG - Even though it's not scheduled to open for another 11 weeks, the Creation Museum in Boone County is already expanding.


Islamic Militants In Pakistan Bomb Targets Close To Home

In Peshawar and other parts of North-West Frontier Province, which abuts the tribal areas, residents say English-language schools have received threats, schoolgirls have been warned to veil themselves, music is being banned and men are told not to shave their beards.

Then there is the mounting toll of the suicide bombings. One of the most lethal killed 15 people in Peshawar, most of them police officers, including the popular police chief.


Monday, March 12, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 03/12/07

Rep. Pete Stark
The Secular Coalition for America, the "only organization in the nation whose primary purpose is lobbying Congress on behalf of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans," has announced the winner of its "Find an Atheist, Humanist, Freethinker Elected Official" Contest. The contest was launched "to explore visibility and respectability challenges for nontheists in public office," and the winner was determined by whoever "came out" as "the highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States."

The winner was Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.).

The SCA press release said in part:

"There is only one member of Congress who is on record as not holding a god-belief.

"Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a member of Congress since 1973, acknowledged his nontheism in response to an inquiry by the Secular Coalition for America. Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.

"Although the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, the Coalition's research reveals that Rep. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress. Recent polls show that Americans without a god-belief are, as a group, more distrusted than any other minority in America. Surveys show that the majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president even if he or she were the most qualified for the office.

"Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America, attributes these attitudes to the demonization of people who don't believe in God. 'The truth is,' says Silverman, 'the vast majority of us follow the Golden Rule and are as likely to be good citizens, just like Rep. Stark with over 30 years of exemplary public service. The only way to counter the prejudice against nontheists is for more people to publicly identify as nontheists. Rep. Stark shows remarkable courage in being the first member of Congress to do so.'"

The Secular Coalition for America suggests that "It is very important that you, other nontheists and our theist allies, contact Rep. Stark to thank him for his brave and historic decision."

See their Action Alert HERE.

Contact Pete Stark to thank him here:

Let's Build An International Secular Movement!

I am very pleased to be part of this movement. Coming from the Middle East, living under the Islamic Republic in Iran, one of the most brutal regimes of the 20th century, I feel very passionate about the aims of this movement. As a first hand victim of political Islam, as a woman who has lived under the rule of Islam, I have experienced first hand the brutalism and suppression of an Islamic regime and political Islam. As a left activist fighting for freedom and equality I experienced this brutal regime and this reactionary political force, loosing many friends and comrades.


Bishop Joins Row Over Gay Rights

The Catholic Church in Scotland has joined the row over gay rights laws.


See also...

Bishop warns Labour: Don't count on the Catholic vote

Islamic Militants Warn Austria, Germany

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) Islamic militants threatened to attack Germany and Austria unless the two European nations break ranks with the U.S. and withdraw their personnel from Afghanistan, according to a Web statement.


Australia To Get Muslim Political Party

Sydney - Australia's 300,000 Muslims need their own political party - but it will be open to all faiths, the imam of Sydney's biggest mosque said Monday.


Catholic Church Accused Of Ignoring 'Laundry Slaves'

A southern Tasmanian child abuse campaigner has accused the Catholic Church of ignoring the state's so-called "laundry slaves".


Atheist Kid Camp Must Move

ST. CLAIR TWP. - A summer camp for atheist and agnostic youth will no longer be held at a Butler County campground run by a Christian group.

Camp Quest, whose motto is "It's Beyond Belief!," is one of six small camps nationwide that cater to youths who question religion and the existence of God.


Pulling Muslims From Dark Age

This past week individuals from various professions and different ethnicities sharing a connection with Islam gathered in St. Petersburg, Fla. The meeting was billed as Secular Islam Summit.


Islamic Extremists 'Infiltrate Oxbridge'

Leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge have been targeted by Islamic extremists who remain widely active on campuses, a prominent academic is warning.


Man Faces Life In Jail For Desecrating Quran

Karachi: A man found guilty of committing blasphemy by desecrating the Quran has been sentenced to life imprisonment, a court official said yesterday.


Al-Qaeda Plot To Bring Down UK Internet

SCOTLAND YARD has uncovered evidence that Al-Qaeda has been plotting to bring down the internet in Britain, causing chaos to business and the London Stock Exchange.


Al-Qaeda: The Second Coming

This weekend Osama bin Laden turned 50, probably on the wild Pakistan border, while Madrid falls silent today to honour its 2004 bomb victims . But what of al-Qaeda? In a major investigation, an expert on terror reveals it is evolving into a potent new threat.


Drought Blamed On Lack Of Faith

A LEADING Muslim cleric has blamed the devastating drought, climate change and pollution on Australians' lack of faith in Allah.


Priests To Purify Site After Bush Visit

(AP) GUATEMALA CITY Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.


When The Ain'ts Go Marching In

If there really is a Supreme Being who is concerned about how His name is worshipped on Earth, these days He may be wishing he had put a caveat in His scriptures: Please don't irritate the scientists.


Suicide Bomber Hurts 3 In Net Cafe

RABAT, Morocco (Reuters) -- Morocco said on Monday it was investigating whether an overnight blast was a militant suicide attack after a man with explosives under his clothes was blown up and three others were wounded at a Casablanca Internet cafe.


Baghdad Car Bomb Kills 31 Pilgrims

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Dozens of Shiite pilgrims were killed Sunday in Baghdad when a car bomb exploded near a minibus that was part of a stream of traffic bringing pilgrims home from a religious ceremony in the holy city of Karbala, police said.


In New Tactic, Militants Burn Houses In Iraq

BAGHDAD, March 11 -- Sunni militants burned homes in a mixed city northeast of Baghdad on Saturday and Sunday, forcing dozens of families to flee and raising the specter of a new intimidation tactic in Iraq's evolving civil war, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 03/11/07

Douglas Adams Douglas Noel Adams (March 11, 1952 - May 11, 2001)

According to Wikipedia, Adams "was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and amateur musician. He is known most notably as author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Hitchhiker's began on radio, and developed into a 'trilogy' of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a towel, a comic book series, a computer game and a feature film that was completed after Adams's death. He was known to some fans as Bop Ad (after his illegible signature), or by his initials 'DNA'.

"Adams was a self-declared 'radical atheist', though he used the term for emphasis, so that he would not be asked if he in fact meant agnostic. He stated in an interview with American Atheists that this made things easier, but most importantly that it conveyed the fact that he really meant it, had thought about it a great deal, and that it was an opinion he held seriously. He was convinced that there is no God, having never seen one shred of evidence to convince him otherwise, and devoted himself instead to secular causes such as environmentalism. Despite this, he did state in the same interview that he was 'fascinated by religion.' [...] 'I love to keep poking and prodding at it. I've thought about it so much over the years that that fascination is bound to spill over into my writing.' His fascination he ascribed to the fact that so many 'otherwise rational... intelligent people... nevertheless take it [the existence of God] seriously'.

"One analogy that Adams put forward on the subject of religion was that of the 'sentient puddle'. This analogy is intended to refute the suggestion that the existence of God and His love for mankind would be proven by the fact that the world is perfectly designed for our needs. He compared such thinkers to an intelligent puddle of water. He said the puddle is pleased with itself and certain that the hole in the ground it occupies must have been designed specifically for it since it fits so well in it. The puddle looks up to the sun above and worships its divine benefactor. The fate of the puddle is to exist under the sun until it has entirely evaporated".

Adams also said this about religious belief:

"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

Some other Adams quotes:

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

For a moment, nothing happened.Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

He inched his way up the corridor as if he would rather be yarding his way down it.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.

If somebody thinks they're a hedgehog, presumably you just give 'em a mirror and a few pictures of hedgehogs and tell them to sort it out for themselves.

It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too.

Life is wasted on the living.

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.

That young girl is one of the least benightedly unintelligent organic life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.

The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

The mere thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Time is bunk.

We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

You live and learn. At any rate, you live.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What Happens When A Country Gives Up Religion

During Franco's dictatorship Spain was a very Catholic country. After three decades of democracy, as the Catholic Church likes to say, Spain is not a Catholic country anymore. Loss of religion first became apparent with the legalization of divorce, contraceptives, and the promotion of sex ed all opposed by the Church. This was followed by the decriminalization of abortion, the acceptance of drug possession for personal consumption (drug users are not criminals in Spain, but treated instead as medical patients) and a general acceptance of premarital sex in society.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Militant Leader Arrested In Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq, was arrested Friday in western Baghdad, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.


Kenyans Make Arrest In 2002 Israeli Plane, Hotel Attacks

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenyan police have arrested a man they believed to be a key al Qaeda suspect who tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner and helped plan the simultaneous bombing of a hotel in 2002 that killed at least 15 people, officials said.


Priest, Now Accused Of Theft, Fought Audit

One of two Roman Catholic priests accused of stealing and misappropriating as much as $8.6 million donated by parishioners in South Florida sought to end an audit of church finances, complaining to diocesan officials that the financial scrutiny was undignified and a waste of money, according to documents released by prosecutors.


Academy Denies Claims From Job Candidate

A teacher applying for a senior job at a Teesside school claims he was confronted by "religious intolerance" at his interview.


I Hate Religion

While saying religion is the worst thing that has ever happened on earth most likely is punishable by death in West Texas, I believe it is certainly the truth. Jesse Morrell of Open Air Outreach ministries may not be the best example of religious fanaticism, but he certainly exemplifies everything wrong with religion.


Religion: Public Enemy No. 1

A few years ago I would have been willing, even eager, to enter into a vigorous discussion with any proponent of any religious dogma. I now feel an existential nausea at the very idea.


Mosque Leaders Sentenced In Terror Sting

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Two leaders of an Albany mosque who were snared in an FBI sting involving a fictional terror strike were sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison. The former imam, Yassin Aref, professed innocence before his sentencing and criticized the government's treatment of Muslims.


Unholy Conflict In The Holy Land

The majority of Israelis are secular Jews, but the religious Jews in the country wield enormous influence. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, designed it that way, inadvertently blueprinting a conflict that has yet to be resolved.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hard-Liners Forge Leads In N. Ireland Election

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Hard-line Catholic and Protestant parties have won the bulk of seats decided so far in the election for a new legislative assembly in Northern Ireland, a vote designed to clear the way for creation of a new power-sharing local executive that can pull support from across the sectarian divide.


Suicide Car Bomber Kills 28 In Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Black smoke filled the skies over central Baghdad just before midday Monday as a suicide car bomber detonated explosives in a busy commercial district, killing 28 people and wounding 56 others, Baghdad police said.


School District Sued Over Graduation Held In Church

TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Newark public school district, saying a school's decision to hold its graduation ceremonies in a Baptist church violated a Muslim student's religious freedom.


Georgia Moves Closer To Bible Classes

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia is poised to introduce two literature classes on the Bible in public schools next year, a move analysts say would make the state the first to take an explicit stance endorsing -- and funding -- biblical teachings.


Australian Muslims Go For Surf, Lifesaving And Burqinis

As a teenager growing up in a Sydney suburb, Mecca Laalaa never felt anything but Australian, even though she was for the most part unable to engage in the most quintessential of Australian pastimes: swimming at the beach. "Restricted by my clothing," Ms. Laalaa explained.


Heaven's Door Closed To Dylan

It was unlikely that the pair would ever be close friends: Pope Benedict XVI, conservative theologian, and Bob Dylan, iconoclastic singer and poet. Yet the pontiff's feelings about the singer run so deep that he once tried to stop him performing at the Vatican.


Muslim Incited Terror Murder

A British Muslim has been found guilty of encouraging terrorist murder during a protest against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.


Does Your Candidate Love Jesus?

An atheist presidential hopeful might not have a prayer.


Two Suicide Bombers Kill 100 Shia Pilgrims

A double suicide bombing against Shia pilgrims killed more than 100 people as Sunni militants tried to incite Shia militias to break their adherence to the US and Iraqi forces' Baghdad security plan.


Religious Schools May Use Tax-Free Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO -- A government agency may issue tax-exempt government bonds to help religious schools pay for improvements, even if the schools are "pervasively sectarian," the California Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Monday.


Man Peddles 'Holy' Bottled Water

A Stockton, Calif.-area businessman is peddling blessed bottled water.

The half-liter bottles of Holy Drinking Water are being distributed by Wayne Enterprises. They only carry the blessings of Catholic and Anglican priests, but company President Brian Germann plans to expand to other faiths.


N.Y. Teacher Fights Modern-Day 'Witch Trial'

A Long Island elementary school teacher is suing the Hampton Bays school district after she was fired because her administrators allegedly believed she was a witch teaching witchcraft to her students. Her lawyer is calling the case a "21st century re-enactment of the Salem Witchcraft Trials."


Church Hosts Conference On 'Ex-Gay' Therapy

The controversial idea that counseling and therapy can overcome homosexual tendencies is at the heart of what's called the "ex-gay movement." Proponents of ways that gays and lesbians can be "cured" recently held a conference in Phoenix, Ariz.


Hard Road Against Focus On The Family

How effective can a fledgling faith-based gay-rights organization be in fighting the homophobic multimillion-dollar empire that is Focus on the Family?


Ex-Steuben Pastor Pleads Guilty To Sex Abuse Charges

BATH -- A former Steuben County pastor faces up to 32 years in prison following his guilty plea Monday to felony sexual abuse charges.


Trinity Baptist Faces New Abuse Lawsuit

The second negligence lawsuit in just more than a week was filed Thursday against Trinity Baptist Church, also saying the Jacksonville church hid knowledge of alleged sexual abuse of children by former Pastor Robert Gray in the 1970s.


Evangelical Leader Says Giuliani's Divorce A Problem

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- A Southern Baptist leader said Tuesday that evangelical voters might tolerate a divorced presidential candidate, but they have deep doubts about GOP hopeful Rudy Giuliani, who has been married three times.


Evangelicals' Work In Africa Criticized

Christian evangelicals have been coming to Africa for centuries. Critics accuse them of taking advantage of vulnerable communities - forcing people to abandon traditional beliefs in exchange for desperately needed goods and medicine. Graham, though, says his group is meeting spiritual as well as physical needs, and he's proud of what has been accomplished.


Lawyer: Priest Not Legally Wed

LOUISA -- The Catholic priest accused of embezzling money from two parishes is not legally married to the woman he lived with in Spotsylvania County, his lawyer said yesterday.


U.S. Mint Goof Creates 'Godless Dollars'

PHILADELPHIA - An unknown number of new George Washington dollar coins were mistakenly struck without their edge inscriptions, including "In God We Trust," and are fetching around $50 apiece online.


Public Acceptance Of Evolution

The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States.


How My Eyes Were Opened

Is it racist to condemn fanaticism?


Long Live Satire

In the name of academic freedom, Clare College, Cambridge, should have defended the pupil responsible for printing cartoons depicting Muhammad.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

History Channel Insults The "Godless"

This week, the History Channel was advertising their encore presentation of the Dark Ages. They called it; "600 years of degenerate, godless, inhuman behavior."

I can't think of a period of time in "human" history that is more distinguished by the consequences of belief in God or gods. Aside from the fact that their ad is inaccurate, it is slanderous and insulting to all nontheists.

Does anyone think they could get away with saying the the Dark Ages were "600 years of degenerate, gay, inhuman behavior"? Of course not. The "godless" had about as much to do with the Dark Ages as gays did.

As PZ Meyers at Pharyngula points out in his blog:

If you take a look at their timeline, they define the Dark Ages as the period from 410 AD, when Alaric of the Visigoths (Christian) sacked Rome (Christian), to 1095 when Pope Urban II (Christian, probably) sent an armed mob of knights and hangers-on (Christian) to savage the people of the Middle East (Muslim, mainly). In between, we have the Holy Roman Empire (yeah, I know, not Holy, but definitely Christian) and sundry European wars, and Vikings (pagan, but definitely not godless) running about.

It would be more accurate to say the Dark Ages were "600 years of degenerate, religious behavior."

I have written an email to the History Channel complaining, and I think others who feel insulted should as well. Why should nontheists be maligned for the actions of theists? Why should we allow ourselves to be associated with words like "degenerate" and "inhuman" and not respond?

I think that until we don't see this kind of thing popping up from time-to-time, we can't say we are making any progress to be treated respectfully at the table of public discourse.

See the ad HERE .

Noah and the Teenage Dinosaurs

Jesus riding dinosaur

I have previously posted on Conservapedia, a website founded by US religious activists to counter what they claim is "liberal bias" on Wikipedia.

I ran across this, posted on Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World blog. It is hilarious and disturbing at the same time.

[Note: the image at right is not something associated with the entry, but it seemed like it should fit right in.]

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Biblical evidence suggests that people and dinosaurs coexisted.

The word dinosaur was coined in 1841 by creationist Richard Owen[1], from the Latin for "terrible lizard". Dinosaurs were a group of large lizards that previously lived in abundance on Earth.

Darwinists believe that dinosaurs lived from 230 million until 65 million years ago and that they are all currently extinct (except for birds, which they consider to be descended from dinosaurs). They claim the fossil evidence supports their beliefs.

Creationists believe, based primarily on Biblical evidences, but also drawing on archeological and fossil evidence, that dinosaurs were created on the 6th day of the Creation Week[2], between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago; that they lived in the Garden of Eden in harmony with other animals, eating only plants[3]; that pairs of various dinosaur baramins were taken onto Noah's Ark during the Great Flood and were preserved from drowning[4]; that fossilized dinosaur bones originated during the mass killing of the Flood[5]; and that some descendants of those dinosaurs taken aboard the Ark still roam the earth today[6].

Because the term only game into use in the 19th century, the Bible obviously does not use the word "dinosaur." However, they are mentioned in numerous places throughout the Good Book. For example, the behemoth in Job[7] and the leviathan in Isaiah are almost certainly references to dinosaurs.

h/t reader JX.

... adding, here's some of their source material:

How did those huge dinosaurs fit on the Ark?

Although there are about 668 names of dinosaurs, there are perhaps only 55 different "kinds" of dinosaurs. Furthermore, not all dinosaurs were huge like the Brachiosaurus, and even those dinosaurs on the Ark were probably "teenagers" or young adults.

Creationist researcher John Woodmorappe has calculated that Noah had on board with him representatives from about 8,000 animal genera (including some now-extinct animals), or around 16,000 individual animals. When you realize that horses, zebras, and donkeys are probably descended from the horse-like "kind", Noah did not have to carry two sets of each such animal. Also, dogs, wolves, and coyotes are probably from a single canine "kind", so hundreds of different dogs were not needed.

According to Genesis 6:15, the Ark measured 300 x 50 x 30 cubits, which is about 460 x 75 x 44 feet, with a volume of about 1.52 million cubic feet. Researchers have shown that this is the equivalent volume of 522 standard railroad stock cars (US), each of which can hold 240 sheep. By the way, only 11% of all land animals are larger than a sheep.

Without getting into all the math, the 16,000-plus animals would have occupied much less than half the space in the Ark (even allowing them some moving-around space).


The Bible is reliable in all areas, including its account of the Ark (and the worldwide catastrophic Flood). A Christian doesn't have to have a blind faith to believe that there really was an Ark. What the Bible says about the Ark can even be measured and tested today.

Noah and the Teenage Dinosaurs sounds like a great name for a band. (BTW: I wonder what "Biblical evidence" means... that the Bible says so? I'd also like to see the "archeological and fossil evidence" they claim that supports this).

Also: Tom Tomorrow has a great related cartoon here: This Modern World: You can't trust science! and you should buy a book of his here: The Great Big Book of Tomorrow or more stuff here:

And... just in case anyone might think there is anything to the Creationist story of Noah...

I wish I could find the source that figured out how many species per second Noah would have to process to get them all on board in time, but there is a good account of some of the problems here:

The following is just one section of what you will find at the link above about the problems with the story:

The Water Fiasco

As the title of this section indicates, we'll now look at a few problems created by the water supply, most notably the lack thereof. The amount necessary to produce a flood of global proportions far exceeds the current amount available on, in, and above the earth. While this doesn't prove the water wasn't present, the burden of proof is on those who defend the story to provide it with a plausible explanation. As the "fountains of the deep" (Genesis 7:11) contain only 1% of the necessary water, 99% would have to fall from the supposed sky ocean. Thus, the goal of covering every mountain with only forty days' worth of precipitation would require a rainfall of six inches per minute, which is far too tremendous for the primitive ark to remain intact. In great contrast, we would typically expect a rainfall of only six inches per hour from a category five hurricane. One can only decide that this requirement is hardly feasible to carry out, especially when the heat generated by the impact of the raindrops on the flood surface would have been more than sufficient to boil the water and prevent it from rising.

The water originating from underneath the earth's surface would erupt with noxious gases, such as sulfuric acid, that would make their way into the atmosphere and cause the earth to become uninhabitable. The lava expected to accompany the subterranean water would also bring the already scalding liquid to its boiling point. Furthermore, if the oceans somehow miraculously avoided vaporization, nothing would have prevented the water from receding beneath the earth once the outpour ceased unless the pressure exerted by the water above collapsed the previous passageways. Such a scenario would then force the water to remain or evaporate. Since the water is no longer present and the clouds in the supposed sky ocean don't have the capacity to hold this amount of liquid, we can only assume that it mysteriously vanished. However, the problems of the water's source and destination are moot points since the entire ocean should have almost instantaneously been converted to steam. In fact, the steam rising from the ocean beds would have been concentrated enough to boil off the planet's atmosphere.

Keep in mind that this tale would make sense to the early Hebrew who apparently believed there was an oceanic reservoir in the sky (Genesis 1:6-7). If a mysterious canopy of water existed above the earth at one time, as some Christians have offered as an explanation for the origin of the water, the mass of liquid would raise the atmospheric pressure enough to cause a dramatic increase of oxygen and nitrogen to toxic levels. Such a canopy would also extend beyond the ozone layer, a problem concluding with the denaturation of water molecules by high levels of ultraviolet light. If you subtract the requisite of covering the world's highest mountains, of which we have no reason to believe the story's inventors were aware, most of these problems would conveniently disappear. As it stands, however, the necessary water requirement is too extraordinary for covering the earth's surface by fifteen cubits.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Iraq Attacks On Shiite Pilgrims Claim More Than 120 Lives

HILLA, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents stepped up attacks on Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Karbala on Tuesday, with a series of bombings and small arms attacks that left more than 120 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

In the deadliest attack, suicide bombers targeted Shiite pilgrims in Hilla, killing 93 people and wounding 147 others, police said.


Praying Under The Stairs

Muslim students have claimed that they frequently feel humiliated and under stress because the University does not provide adequate prayer facilities.


Iraq's Mandaeans 'Face Extinction'

They claim that Islamic extremists in Iraq are trying to wipe them out through forced conversions, rape and murder.


Atheists Battle Against Religion

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case brought by a group of atheists who claim the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives violates the separation of church and state.

It's just one example of how atheists are becoming increasingly assertive — arguing not only that religion is false, but also a threat to civilization.


Monday, March 05, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 03/05/07

Penn Jillette
Penn Fraser Jillette (born March 5, 1955 in Greenfield, Massachusetts)

According to Wikipedia, Penn Jillette "is an American illusionist, juggler and comedian known for his work with fellow illusionist Teller in the team known as Penn & Teller....[He], along with his partner Teller, produces and hosts Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, which is currently in production for its fifth season. In the show, the two analyze cultural phenomena, debunk myths, criticize people and aspects of society they deem "Bullshit," and generally have fun -- with a bit of magic thrown in.... In January 2007, Penn took the "Blasphemy Challenge" offered by the Rational Response Squad and publicly denied the existence of the holy spirit."

See also...

"There is No God," by Penn Jillette, on NPR's "This I Believe"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Executions Must Be Condemned, U.S. Says

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military is calling on all Iraqi leaders, Sunni and Shiite, to condemn the recent kidnapping and killing of 15 Iraqi police officers in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Sunni woman.


The Gospel Of Prothero

A Boston University professor argues that Americans, though 'spiritual,' are woefully ignorant about religion.


BNP Seeks Anti-Abortion Catholic Votes

The British National Party is building an alliance with radical anti-abortion activists in an attempt to reach out to Catholics and secure their votes in future elections.


Half Of Muslim Schools Not Inspected

UK - More than half of private Muslim schools have not been inspected for five years, while some have not received a full inspection for a decade.


See also...

'We are independent - we can choose what we wish to teach'

Rise Of The Funerals That Leave Out God

More than 30,000 funerals in Britain last year were nonreligious, as families turn increasingly to "celebration-of-life" ceremonies rather than church services, according to new figures.

The rise is being attributed to people's growing willingness to admit that they are non-believers, and to their desire to avoid "hypocrisy".


Blair U-Turn Over Forced Marriages

Tony Blair is to back moves to make forced marriages illegal. The move, a U-turn in government policy, will ensure the introduction of a new law enshrining powerful rights for victims, many of them under age, who have been compelled to marry against their will.


Girl Lost In Poker Game Pleads For Help

HYDERABAD (Reuters) - A teenage girl in southern Pakistan, whose late father lost her in a poker game when she was 2 years old, has asked authorities to save her from being handed over to a middle-aged relative.


Pakistan Makes A Deal With The Taliban

KARACHI - The Pakistani establishment has made a deal with the Taliban through a leading Taliban commander that will extend Islamabad's influence into southwestern Afghanistan and significantly strengthen the resistance in its push to capture Kabul.


Houses of the Holy

A Star investigation into Toronto's Prayer Palace congregation finds that despite the members' dutiful tithing, the church spends little on charitable projects.


Darwin's God

God has always been a puzzle for Scott Atran. When he was 10 years old, he scrawled a plaintive message on the wall of his bedroom in Baltimore. "God exists," he wrote in black and orange paint, "or if he doesn't, we're in trouble." Atran has been struggling with questions about religion ever since -- why he himself no longer believes in God and why so many other people, everywhere in the world, apparently do.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Conservative Conference Heralds 'Mission From God'

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "We're going to get the band back together, and we're on a mission from God."


Does Cheney 'Validate' al-Qaeda?

Captured al-Qaeda documents reveal that Osama bin Laden's principal goal in the 9/11 attacks was to lure the United States into a clumsy counterattack in the Middle East that would alienate Muslims, help al-Qaeda recruit more jihadists and bog down the American military in a no-win war.


Looking For A New Home In Iraq

KARACHI - Having solidified its leadership and opened up financial lifelines, al-Qaeda is preparing for its next major step - establishing a new base in the heart of the Middle East, Iraq.


Ready To Take On The World

KARACHI - Al-Qaeda will this year significantly step up its global operations after centralizing its leadership and reviving its financial lifelines. Crucially, al-Qaeda has developed missile and rocket technology with the capability of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear warheads, according to an al-Qaeda insider who spoke to Asia Times Online.


The Rise Of The Mighty Evangelicals Filled With The Spirit Of Capitalism

The arrest of two Brazilian religious leaders inspires scrutiny of a growing church.


Pope Is Warned Of A Green Antichrist

An arch-conservative cardinal chosen by the Pope to deliver this year's Lenten meditations to the Vatican hierarchy has caused consternation by giving warning of an Antichrist who is "a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist".


Navy Chaplain Dismissed Over Uniformed Protest

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A Navy chaplain said Thursday he was dismissed from service following his public protest of the branch's policy on nondenominational prayer.


Interference Of Religious Groups In Curricula Damages Education

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas recently reported that the Kuwaiti education ministry plans to delete Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the high school curriculum. This article states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion, including the freedom to change his religion and beliefs. Dr. Rashid Al-'Anzi, chairman of the committee on human rights curricula, explained that the article was deleted "because it is contrary to the Islamic shari'a… and is not in accordance with what we want the pupils to learn."


Friday, March 02, 2007

Conservapedia - The US Religious Right's Answer To Wikipedia

A website founded by US religious activists aims to counter what they claim is "liberal bias" on Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia which has become one of the most popular sites on the web. The founders of say their site offers a "much-needed alternative" to Wikipedia, which they say is "increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American".


Islamic Group's Wrath Stokes Fears In Gaza

Islamic fundamentalists are suspected of murdering three women thought to be prostitutes in the Gaza Strip. The deaths follow the bombing and torching of businesses and public places that radicals believe to be un-Islamic.


Life Sentence Upheld In Danish 'Honor' Crime

COPENHAGEN -- Denmark's highest court Wednesday upheld a life sentence against a Pakistani man for plotting the death of his teenage daughter because she married without her family's consent, the court announced.


Fourth Victim Claimed In Jordan 'Honor' Killings

AMMAN -- A criminal prosecutor has charged a Jordanian with murdering his aunt in a new so-called "honor" crime, after he spotted a man scrambling out of her house, the Jordan Times reported Thursday.


Saudi Book Fair Under Religious Attack

RIYADH -- Publishers displaying books at an international book fair in Saudi Arabia are coming under scrutiny and pressure by religious police.


The Silence That Kills

On Feb. 20, The A.P. reported from Afghanistan that a suicide attacker disguised as a health worker blew himself up near "a crowd of about 150 people who had gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open an emergency ward at the main government hospital in the city of Khost." A few days later, at a Baghdad college, a female Sunni suicide bomber blew herself up amid students who were ready to sit for exams, killing 40 people.


Falwell Says Christians Shouldn't Focus On Global Warming

LYNCHBURG, Va. The Reverend Jerry Falwell says global warming is "Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus" from evangelism to environmentalism.


Fourth French National Dies After Saudi Attack

Islamic militants swearing allegiance to al Qaeda launched a violent campaign to topple the U.S.-allied Saudi monarchy in 2003, with suicide bomb attacks on foreigners and government installations, including the oil industry.


Evangelical's Focus On Climate Draws Fire Of Christian Right

Leaders of several conservative Christian groups have sent a letter urging the National Association of Evangelicals to force its policy director in Washington to stop speaking out on global warming.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Lively World Of Non-Belief

Stuart Jeffries piece on faith and unbelief is an example of a certain kind of liberal intellectual position which seeks to stand above the current debates about the place of religion in contemporary society, to (using the term Jeffries is so fond of) wryly adjudicate from the sidelines. His claim is that there is a vicious and uncompromising battle going on between two equally intolerant clans - "shrill camps shouting unedifyingly at each other" - the believers and the faithless. The core thesis is that rather than accepting the beliefs of others, secularists have become hysterical in their quest to "airbrush" religion from public debate, to create a soulless, value free public sphere.


Religious Right Gets Research On Gay Families Wrong

Social scientists who have done research on gay and lesbian families say religious fundamentalists are deliberately distorting their work to make the case that heterosexual married couples provide the best environment for rearing children.


Scholars Criticize Jesus Documentary

NEW YORK (AP) - To resolve the question of whether the remains of Jesus and Mary Magdalene may have rested in two limestone boxes discovered in a Jerusalem suburb, the filmmakers of a new documentary took novel approaches - including turning to statisticians.


Ex-Muslims Form Anti-Religion Group In Germany

Berlin - Former Muslims in Germany publicly launched a group Wednesday with the provocative name National Council of Ex-Muslims, and said they would be a voice for non-religious people of Islamic cultural origin.


Atheists Have Had 'Free Pass' For Too Long, Law Group Says

( - Humanists and atheists gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Wednesday, charging the Bush administration with overstepping its bounds by promoting grants to "faith-based" organizations.


All School Religious Holidays Dropped

TAMPA - The Hillsborough school calendar will not recognize any religious holidays next school year, but it will continue a traditional day off for students to attend the state fair.


Church-State Question Before Justices

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has sued to get rid of crosses in city parks, to end Good Friday public holidays and, most vigorously, to thwart President Bush's faith-based initiative.

Now, the group that for 30 years has sought a firm divide between church and state will be at the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case that could affect taxpayers' ability to challenge -- and government's ability to defend-- a multitude of public programs that involve groups with a religious affiliation.


God's Word, Plus Static, On Calvary Satellite Network

Amid accusations over sex, money and control, Pastor Chuck Smith is about to surrender much of the evangelical radio empire to a man he calls morally unfit for ministry.


Hersh: Bush Funneling Money To Al Qaeda-Related Groups

Hersh says the U.S. has been "pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight" for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to "stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence." Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of "three Sunni jihadist groups" who are "connected to al Qaeda" but "want to take on Hezbollah."


The Conservatives' "Secular Problem"

Lots of ink has been spilled about how Democrats and liberals suffer from a "religion problem" -- a perceived hostility towards Christianity and religion in general.

But Pew Research Center exit poll data from the 2006 midterm elections shows the opposite.


Jon Matthews, Right-Wing Houston Radio Host Gets 3 Years In Prison

The star of Houston's 24/7 Right-wing line up on Christian owned KSEV, this Law & Order advocate was recently sentenced to 3 years in prison for breaking his probation from a 2004 conviction of exposing himself to an 11 year old girl.


7 At A Baghdad Wedding Are Killed by A Car Bomb

The attack appeared to be part of a mounting battle in western Iraq between insurgents with ties to Al Qaeda and other local and tribal groups, local residents said.


Afghan Bombing Sends A Danger Signal To U.S.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 -- The audacity of a suicide-bomb attack on Tuesday at the gates of the main American base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney underscores why President Bush sent him there - a deepening American concern that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are resurgent.


Taliban: Suicide Army Is Ready

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban's top military commander said his forces have assembled a hundreds-strong army of suicide attackers poised for a spring offensive against NATO troops in Afghanistan.


3 Dead In Blast Near Afghan School

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A roadside bomb in western Afghanistan left three civilians dead and 48 wounded, including 10 children, officials said Thursday.


Accounts Differ On Iraq Soccer Field Blast

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An explosion at a makeshift soccer field near Ramadi, injured at least 25 people Tuesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.


'The Bishop' Taunts With Letters, Dud Pipe Bombs

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- He calls himself "The Bishop." Exactly why is just one of the many mysteries surrounding the increasingly menacing figure.


Research Links Some Scriptures To Hostile Acts

PROVO -- Chances are, not many people in Utah would like to think of scripture as a violent medium that promotes hostility.

But a study of 490 students -- 248 of them at Brigham Young University -- suggests a correlation between exposure to scriptural violence that is condoned by God and increased aggression.