Friday, November 30, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 11/30/07

Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 - April 21, 1910)

According to Wikipedia, Clemens, "better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humanist, humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. Twain is most noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has since been called the Great American Novel, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He is also known for his quotations. During his lifetime, Twain became a friend to presidents, artists, leading industrialists and European royalty.

"Twain enjoyed immense public popularity, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. American author William Faulkner called Twain 'the father of American literature'....

"After his death, Twain's family suppressed some of his work which was especially irreverent toward conventional religion, notably Letters from the Earth, which was not published until 1962. The anti-religious The Mysterious Stranger was published in 1916, although there is some scholarly debate as to whether Twain actually wrote the most familiar version of this story. Twain was critical of organized religion and certain elements of Christianity through most of his later life."

A few Twain quotes:

Faith is believing what you know ain't so.

The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it.

I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious -- unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force.

God's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.

Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned.

If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian.

Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.

When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know.

[The Bible] is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Somalia Offensive After Attacks

At least six Ethiopian bases in the city were targeted on Tuesday night by Islamists. Three civilians have died.


See also:

Number of displaced in Somalia tops 1 million mark

Caught in a Quagmire

Somali media restrictions "ridiculous"

Dateline Mogadishu

Scientists Spot The Furnace In A Star Factory

Nebula hosts super-hot gas cloud that may influence planetary systems.


Pre-Human Dating Scene Was A Real Jungle

Humans basically court each other one-on-one today, but 2 million-year-old skulls tucked away in South African caves suggest that our ancient male relatives dated troops of females.



African antelopes reverse the usual mating roles, researcher finds

Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in Utah

Bin Laden Urges Europe To Stop Aiding U.S.

(CBS/AP) Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden called on Europeans to stop helping the United States in the war in Afghanistan, according to excerpts of a new audiotape broadcast Thursday on Al-Jazeera television.


Feds: Sears Tower Plotters Eyed Qaeda Ties

(AP) A construction worker commanded a homegrown terrorism cell that sought an "unholy alliance" with al Qaeda to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb several FBI offices, a federal prosecutor said Thursday in closing arguments at the group's trial.


'Teddy Bear' Teacher Gets 15-day Prison Term In Sudan

KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN) -- A Sudanese court found a British teacher guilty of insulting religion and sentenced her to 15 days in prison Thursday for allowing a teddy bear to be named "Mohammed," British authorities and her lawyer reported.


Anger Over Church Advert Which Puts Jesus' Face On Beer Glass

An advertisement featuring the face of Jesus as a 'miraculous' apparition on a beer glass has caused anger among critics who say it undermines anti-binge drinking campaigns.


See also:

Image Of Jesus And Mary Seen On A Pancake

Earlier this year...

Vatican rejects woman's Virgin Mary claim

Hundreds flock to holy 'weeping tree' oddity

Virgin Mary Sighted At Local Church

Purported image of Christ on altar in Texas

Virgin Mary on a baking sheet

Is This Pope John Paul II?

Jesus Smudged on Garage Floor

Sealant Smudge Resembling Jesus Sells for $1,525 on eBay (Updated story to the one above.)


Christian Faithful Find a Miracle on Highway Overpass

Faithful Call Image On Underpass Wall 'Beautiful' (Same sighting as above, different report.)

'Virgin Mary' toast fetches $28,000

And just to show it isn't only Christians...

Miracle? Dream? Prank? Fish Talks, Town Buzzes

Chicken lays mystery Allah egg

Collections of more sightings HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Oral Roberts University Gets A Lifeline

TULSA, Okla. -- Oral Roberts University, the debt-ridden evangelical institution riven by scandal, has been handed a $70 million lifeline.


Boy Dies Of Leukemia After Refusing Treatment For Religious Reasons

Boy dies of leukemia after refusing treatment for religious reasons. Because of his faith, Dennis Lindberg, 14, didn't want vital transfusions; his biological parents did. A judge sided with the son, who died last night.


Dogs Can Classify Complex Photos In Categories Like Humans Do

ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2007) -- Like us, our canine friends are able to form abstract concepts. Friederike Range and colleagues from the University of Vienna in Austria have shown for the first time that dogs can classify complex color photographs and place them into categories in the same way that humans do. And the dogs successfully demonstrate their learning through the use of computer automated touch-screens, eliminating potential human influence.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dave Silverman On "Answers In Atheism" Internet Radio

Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists will be the guest tomorrow night (Thursday,November 29, 2007) on the "AnswersinAtheism" internet radio show. Hosted by Edwin Kagin (co-founder of Camp Quest), "AnswersinAtheism" can be heard on the internet beginning at 7:00 PM ET. Their program is archived for those who are unable to log on to the website, which is frequently over-loaded with calls and listeners.

Silverman serves as national Communications Director for American Atheists, and is a veteran of numerous news-talk and public affairs programs. He runs the NoGodBlog ( You can call in to the show on a toll-free number, 877-814-9287 (local: 859-384-7000) or send your e-mail questions/comments to .

Venusian Fireworks

WASHINGTON - Nearby Venus is looking a bit more Earthlike, with frequent bursts of lightning confirmed by a European space probe.


See also:

How to deal with an asteroid threat

Discovery to make nature-themed video games

Ill. Mall Bomb Plotter Pleads Guilty

Additionally, authorities say Shareef was connected to Hassan Abujihaad, a former sailor with the U.S. Navy who is facing charges that he allegedly passed military secrets about naval movements through waters in the Middle East to al Qaeda-related Web sites during the spring of 2001, several months after terrorists attacked the USS Cole in Yemen.


Female Suicide Bomber Wounds 7 U.S. Troops

(CBS/AP) A woman wearing an explosives belt blew herself up near an American patrol northeast of Baghdad - a rare female suicide bombing that wounded seven U.S. troops and five Iraqis, the U.S. military said Wednesday.


Musharraf Relinquishes Army Post

The Pakistan army has faced an unprecedented number of suicide attacks this year, largely seen linked back to Islamic militants connected to al Qaeda and the Taliban. The most recent two attacks, earlier this month, targeted a security checkpoint outside the Pakistan army's headquarters in Rawalpindi and a bus carrying junior employees of Inter Services Intelligence, an elite intelligence service.


Saudi: 200 Held Over 'Terror Plots'

Story Highlights:

Saudi officials: 200 militants arrested over alleged involvement in terrorism

Alleged plots included assassinations and an attack on oil facility

Official said 112 of those arrested were linked to transport of militants to Iraq


Israeli Airstrike Hits Gaza As Peace Talks Continue In U.S.

Story Hightlights:

Two Hamas members killed by airstrike, Hamas sources say

Israel says this week's airstrikes are response to mortars, rockets fired into Israel

Militants in Gaza fire rockets into Israel every three hours, on average, Israel says

Israeli PM, at peace talks in U.S., calls ongoing rocket attacks "a warning sign"


My Life Under A Fatwa

Born and raised by fundamentalist Muslims, Ayaan Hirsi Ali fled her native Somalia for a new life in the Netherlands. Her talents bought fame as a feminist, writer and MP; her criticisms of Islam made her a target for violent extremists. Johann Hari meets a woman who dared to stand up for her beliefs -- and paid the price.


See also:

Bankrolling Ali's Asylum


Frequently Asked Questions about the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust

URGENT APPEAL: Please Help Protect Ayaan Hirsi Ali

'Death Warrant' Author Offered Safe Haven After Thousands Riot

An exiled Bangladeshi author, in hiding in India from Islamic extremists, today gained an unexpected ally when a hardline Hindu nationalist leader offered her a safe haven.


Turkey Probes Atheist's 'God' Book

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A Turkish prosecutor has launched a probe into whether a book by best-selling atheist writer Richard Dawkins is an attack on religious values -- a move that could lead to the prosecution of the book's Turkish publisher.


See also:

Turkish prosecutor probes whether atheist book "The God Delusion" assaults values

Pupil Defends Teacher In Muhammad Teddy Furore

A seven-year-old Sudanese boy has defended his British teacher, who stands accused of insulting Islam's prophet, saying that he had suggested calling the class teddy bear Muhammad because it was his own name.


See also:

'Teddy bear' teacher at risk of more serious charges

Sudan plays down teddy blasphemy case

Teacher charged over teddy row

In Study Of Brain Evolution, Zeal And Bitter Debate

While many anthropologists are convinced the Hobbit represents a new species of human, some argue vociferously that it is a microcephalic Homo sapiens with nothing new to say about evolution.


Study Finds Reproductive Edge For Men With Deep Voices

A man with a deep voice may have a survival advantage, a better chance of passing on his genes.


The Dance Of Evolution, Or How Art Got Its Start

Perhaps the most radical element of Ms. Dissanayake's evolutionary framework is her idea about how art got its start. She suggests that many of the basic phonemes of art, the stylistic conventions and tonal patterns, the mental clay, staples and pauses with which even the loftiest creative works are constructed, can be traced back to the most primal of collusions -- the intimate interplay between mother and child.


Megachurches Add Local Economy To Their Mission

Although community outreach is almost always cited as the primary motive, these economic initiatives may also indicate that giant churches are seeking sources of revenue beyond the collection plate to support their increasingly elaborate programs, suggested Mark A. Chaves, a religious sociologist at Duke University.


Dutch Lawmaker Planning Film Criticizing The Quran

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: A Dutch conservative lawmaker said Wednesday he is making a film to highlight what he describes as "fascist" passages in the Quran, his latest high profile criticism of Islam.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 11/27/07

Edwin Frederick Kagin, J.D. (born November 26, 1940)

According to Wikipedia, Kagin "is an attorney at law in Union, Kentucky, and a founder of Camp Quest, the first secular summer camp in the United States for the children of freethinkers....

"Kagin was also a founder and board member of Recover Resources Center, which provides an alternative addiction recovery program to the religiously-oriented Alcoholics Anonymous. He currently serves on the national advisory board of the
Secular Student Alliance, is Kentucky state director for American Atheists, and on January 13, 2006, was named national legal director for American Atheists, replacing the retiring Duane Buchholtz."

His personal website is located HERE.

'Holiday Tree' Or 'Christmas Tree' In State Capitol?

Wisconsin -- Rep. Marlin Schneider wants to pass a resolution that renames the State Capitol 'holiday tree' as a 'Christmas tree.'


According to Wikipedia, "In Germany and northern Europe, the practice of decorating coniferous trees originated in pagan times, when the trees were seen as phallic symbols representing the fertility of the nature gods. The practice was associated with the Winter Solstice (around December 21) which was seen as the date of the rebirth of the Sun God. Tree decoration was later adopted into Christian practice after the Church set December 25th as the birth of Christ, thereby supplanting the pagan celebration of the solstice."

The Puritans and most Protestants (including the Baptists) in early America didn't approve of the celebration of Christmas and there were even local laws passed against it because of these pagan influences.

Even today, there are some Christians who reject the Christmas holiday, and reject the "Christmas tree" specifically because of Jeremiah 10:2-4:

"Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (KJV)

So the "Christmas" tree has pagan origins and some Christians will be offended if it's called a "Christmas tree" and some will be offended if it's not.

Do I put up a tree?

Of course I do.

I hang it from the ceiling...

Xmas Tree

The one above is from about five years ago, the one below is from at least 10 years ago when I went to a little more trouble (the picture is turned upside-down):

Xmas Tree

Second Trial In Priest Molestation Case Gets Under Way

James Turner, 46, of Virginia Beach, Va., claims former Rev. Alfred Willis performed a sex act on him in a Latham, N.Y., motel room following a religious ceremony for Turner's brother, who was about to become a priest.


High Court Declines Mich. Faith-Based Program Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to get involved in a dispute between Michigan officials and a faith-based program for troubled youths.

The Michigan Family Independence Agency imposed a moratorium on Teen Ranch Inc., in Marlette in the Thumb area, from participating in a government-financed program for abused, neglected and delinquent children, saying the ranch coerced the 11- to 17-year-olds into religious activities.


Harris County Loses Lawsuit Over Bible Monument

HOUSTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review lower court rulings that a monument outside a courthouse featuring the Bible should be removed and that Harris County must pay the legal fees for the woman who sued over the monument.


See also:

Dispute Over Bible Display at Texas Courthouse Comes to an End at Supreme Court

Humanists To Honor "Golden Compass" Author

(Washington D.C., November 27, 2007) The American Humanist Association announced today that Philip Pullman, esteemed author of the controversial book, "The Golden Compass"--which has been made into a movie scheduled for release December 7--will be honored with the International Humanist Award in Washington DC in June. The award decision comes near the end of a two-month protest by the Catholic League, which has charged that the book and film are "anti-Catholic" and that the film, by being less confrontational, is part of a deceitful "stealth campaign" to promote an "anti-religious" book series.

"We didn't hear complaints about a pro-evangelical stealth campaign when C.S. Lewis' 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' was made into a film," noted Fred Edwords, American Humanist Association director of communications. "No humanists organized protests nor did the Catholic League complain of evangelical Protestant deceit. So why must we hear this nonsense now? Philip Pullman has provided humanistic fantasy stories that cut across religious barriers and can be enjoyed by most everyone."

English author Philip Pullman is a longtime humanist. He is a supporter of the British Humanist Association and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, both headquartered in London. Now he has consented to receive this prestigious humanist award in Washington DC.

The conference theme is "E Pluribus Unum: Reclaiming Humanist Values" and will bring humanists together from all over the world. Conducted jointly by the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the conference will take place June 5-8, 2008, and will also feature Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA), Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, and Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin (d-20). Other leading humanists are being lined up as speakers and will be announced on the American Humanist Association Web site at as they are confirmed. Pullman will receive his award and speak Saturday evening, June 7.

"My family enjoyed Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association and father of two. "These books teach civic values like opposition to tyranny, family values like love and kindness, and the values of character like courage and intellectual curiosity. So we are all looking forward to seeing the film and meeting Mr. Pullman."

Regarding religious protests of Pullman's work, Edwords added, "While anyone has a right to protest anything they're against, we can't allow ourselves to forget how it used to be, in the mid-twentieth century, when religious objections resulted in actual bans in this country. We don't ever want to go back to those days, when certain books and films could be blocked simply because powerful religious lobbies could stop what they didn't like. Therefore, today, when any pressure group wants to keep you from seeing a film, you may be justified in pushing back and doing the opposite. In the case of 'The Golden Compass,' we encourage Americans to see the film and judge for themselves."

Also see my earlier post directly below...

Golden Compass Author Hits Back

The author of the book on which the new film The Golden Compass is based has hit back at critics who accuse him of peddling "candy-coated atheism".


Warning: This story contains plot spoilers

See also:

'Holy War' Looms Over Kidman Film


ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists, will be the guest tomorrow (Wednesday, November 28, 2007) on the CBS network's "The Early Show." Her interview segment will air sometime between 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM ET -- please check local listings.

Ellen will be talking about efforts by the Catholic League to boycott the forthcoming movie "The Golden Compass" based on the novel of the same title by writer Philip Pullman. Pullman is hitting back at his critics who are accusing him of promoting "candy coated atheism."


Ellen will be the guest on the Peter Heck Radio Show on WIOU coming out of Kokomo, Indiana tomorrow -- Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 beginning at 4:15 ET. Check local listings. You'll be able to hear the program on WIOU 1350AM if you live in the broadcast area. The complete show will then be archived and available on Peter Heck's web site, .

Ms. Johnson will be discussing Atheism, the recent Utah Christian cross case, the flap over the "Golden Compass" and much more.

First Americans All From Siberia

Humans somehow made their way into the Americas from distant lands, but knowing precisely when and from where they made the journey are matters of heated scientific debate.

New genetic evidence, however, backs up a chilly northwestern arrival to North America from Siberia about 12,000 years ago, via a temporary land bridge spanning the Bering Strait. The findings further challenge an alternative idea that humans sprinkled in to both North and South America on open sea voyages 30,000 years in the past.


Japanese Robot Gets More Life-Like

TOKYO (Reuters) - A pearly white robot that looks a little like E.T. boosted a man out of bed, chatted and helped prepare his breakfast with its deft hands in Tokyo on Tuesday, in a further sign robots are becoming more like their human inventors.


Palestinians Rally Against "Doomed" Summit

(CBS/AP) Tens of thousands of people in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip rallied Tuesday against the Mideast peace conference under way in the U.S., while the group's top leader in Gaza insisted the summit is "doomed to failure."


Taliban Bombings Rock Kabul

A suicide bomber struck the Afghan capital today, killing two, injuring four, and highlighting once again the devastating decline in security that has wracked Kabul over the past year.


New Message From Bin Laden On The Way

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda's TV production unit promised on Monday a new message from Osama bin Laden would be made public soon.


Sacred Places

U.S. News & World Report's latest issue has a number of articles on sacred places and religion.

An overview page is located HERE.

Jerusalem Divided

Over years of strife, Jerusalem's Arab and Israelis have perfected their radar for telling each other apart and for knowing when they've strayed too far into hostile territory.


What Makes Us Moral

The deepest foundation on which morality is built is the phenomenon of empathy, the understanding that what hurts me would feel the same way to you. And human ego notwithstanding, it's a quality other species share.


Taslima Nasreen: The Great Indian Dilemma

Many Indian Islamic Fundamentalists opposed Nasreen's presence in the country and also offered a bounty of Rs 5,00,000 for her beheading. But the Indian government was clear and firm on giving a 'home' to her in India.


See also:

Citizen Taslima

Fortune-Tellers Popular In Islamic Iran

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Clerics in the Islamic Republic of Iran frown on the practice, but Nazanin says she has more customers than ever wanting their fortunes told.

Sitting behind a computer in her Tehran apartment, she predicts the future based on her knowledge of "jyotish" -- the science of light -- a practice related to astrology which she said is thought to have originated in ancient Persia.


Virtual Antarctica Revealed In High Definition

An international science team unveiled a new high-definition, interactive map of Antarctica on Tuesday, capping an eight-year satellite mapping project.

The Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica, or LIMA, is the most geographically accurate depiction of the full continent ever made -- and it's being made freely available over the Web.


'Muhammad' Teddy Teacher Arrested

SUDAN -- A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.


Monday, November 26, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 11/26/07

Charles SchulzCharles Monroe Schulz
(November 26, 1922 - February 12, 2000)

According to Wikipedia, Schulz "was a 20th-century American cartoonist best known worldwide for his Peanuts comic strip....

"Peanuts ran for nearly 50 years without interruption and appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries....

"Schulz, reared in the Lutheran faith, had been active in the Church of God (Anderson) as a young adult and then later taught Sunday school at a United Methodist Church. But, he remained a member of the Church of God (Anderson) until his death.

"In an interview in the late 1980s, however, Schulz stated that his philosophical views had evolved over the years: 'I do not go to church anymore... I guess you might say I've come around to secular humanism, an obligation I believe all humans have to others and the world we live in.'"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 11/25/07

Andrew Carnegie Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 - August 11, 1919)

According to Wikipedia, "Carnegie is known for having built one of the most powerful and influential corporations in United States history, and, later in his life, giving away most of his riches to fund the establishment of many libraries, schools, and universities in America, Scotland and other countries throughout the world....

"By the time he died, Carnegie had given away $350,695,653 (approximately $4.3 billion, adjusted to 2005 figures). At his death, the last $30,000,000 was likewise given away to foundations, charities, and to pensioners."

Carnegie was a "self-made" man, immigrating to the United States from Scotland at 13, he began his career as a telegraph messenger for $2.50 a week. From humble beginnings, he went on to become one of the richest men in the world. He distanced himself from religion and identified himself as a positivist.

["Positivism is a philosophy that states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method." source]

Sunday School For Atheists

The pioneering Palo Alto program began three years ago, and like-minded communities in Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore., plan to start similar classes next spring. The growing movement of institutions for kids in atheist families also includes Camp Quest, a group of sleep-away summer camps in five states plus Ontario, and the Carl Sagan Academy in Tampa, Fla., the country's first Humanism-influenced public charter school, which opened with 55 kids in the fall of 2005. Bri Kneisley, who sent her son Damian, 10, to Camp Quest Ohio this past summer, welcomes the sense of community these new choices offer him: "He's a child of atheist parents, and he's not the only one in the world."


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Crucifixes Allegedly Made In Sweatshop

(CBS/AP) A labor rights group alleged Tuesday that crucifixes sold in religious gift shops in the U.S. are produced under "horrific" conditions in a Chinese factory with more than 15-hour work days and inadequate food.


Afghan Suicide Blast Kills 7

KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide attack targeting Italian soldiers building a bridge resulted in the deaths of one soldier and six Afghans, including three children who had gathered to watch the construction Saturday, officials and witnesses said.


IRAQ: Extremists Fuel Anti-Women Violence In Basra

BAGHDAD, 20 November 2007 (IRIN) - Anti-women violence in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, about 600 km south of the capital, Baghdad, has increased markedly in recent months and has forced women to stay indoors, police and local NGOs have said.

"Basra is facing a new type of terror which leaves at least 10 women killed monthly, some of them are later found in garbage dumps with bullet holes while others are found decapitated or mutilated," the city's police chief Maj. Gen. Abdel Jalil Khalaf told IRIN in a telephone interview.

"The perpetrators are organised gangs who work under religious cover pretending to spread instructions of Islam but they are far from this religion. They are trying to impose a life style like banning women from wearing western clothes or forcing them to wear head scarf," Khalaf said.

In September, Khalaf added, police found the body of a decapitated woman with that of her also decapitated six-year-old son lying beside her.


ACLU: Senate Prayers Could Lead To New Suit

The Indiana Senate's decision Tuesday to open its proceedings with a prayer to Jesus Christ has drawn more legal threats from the ACLU of Indiana.


Priests Fail To Coax Out Suicide Cult

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Priests have tried unsuccessfully to persuade members of a doomsday cult to leave a cave in southern Russia where they remain barricaded inside despite the intervention of their leader.


Former Preacher Advocates A Secular Country

A former preacher and children's music composer turned atheist spokesman said last week that the nationwide increase in secularism is a good thing for the country.


Controversy Erupts After Schools Pull 'Atheist' Book

The Centre for Inquiry and the Canadian Secular Alliance is calling an Ontario school board's decision to remove a children's book from its library shelves, "an overt example of the discrimination against atheists by the religious."


Rock Of Ages, Ages Of Rock

Creationist geologists are thriving, paradoxically, at a moment when evangelicals are becoming more educated, more prosperous and more open to scientific progress. And though they are a lonely few among Christian academics, they have an influence far out of proportion to their numbers.


Sex Scandal Hits Atlanta-Area Megachurch

Decatur, Ga. (AP) -- The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.


$50 Million Settlement In Priest Sexual Abuse Cases

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A Roman Catholic religious order has agreed to pay $50 million to dozens of Alaska Natives who were victims of sexual abuse by Jesuit priests, their lawyer said Sunday.


Sisters Behead Uncle And Aunt In Front Of Their Children

An Iraqi couple were beheaded in front of their children by their cousins because the man wore Western-style trousers.

Three suspected al Qaeda militants, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife, forcing the couple's children to watch, according to Iraqi police.

The killing came because the school guard Youssef al-Hayali was considered an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers.


Unholy Row Over University Lecture Event

DUNDEE UNIVERSITY has been accused of "antagonising Christians" with a forthcoming Christmas lecture that challenges one of the central tenets of the faith.

Second-year dental student Emily Mackie said the university's decision to call its inaugural Dundee Christmas Lecture "Why Evolution is Right ... and Creationism is Wrong" is badly timed and insensitive to Christians.


Today Is Evolution Day!

Charles Darwin Today marks the anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859.

According to Wikipedia:

"Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (published 1859) is a seminal work in scientific literature and arguably the pivotal work in evolutionary biology. The book's full title is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. It introduced the theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It was controversial because it contradicted religious beliefs which underlay the then current theories of biology. Darwin's book was the culmination of evidence he had accumulated on the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s and expanded through continuing investigations and experiments since his return.

"The book is readable even for the non-specialist and attracted widespread interest on publication. The book was controversial, and generated much discussion on scientific, philosophical, and religious grounds. The scientific theory of evolution has itself evolved since Darwin first presented it, but natural selection remains the most widely accepted scientific model of how species evolve. The at-times bitter creation-evolution controversy continues to this day."


Ape-Man Evolution

Friday, November 23, 2007

Faith-Based Spending Goes Relatively Unchecked

For the past six years, President George W. Bush's administration has spent billions of dollars to largely aid Christian faith-based groups, in assisting prison inmates as well as the poor and less-fortunate persons here and worldwide. Yet many experts and investigators nationwide agree government controls auditing this spending, or checking into whether the religious groups are illegally using this federal funding to promote their faiths, are weak or nonexistent.


Oral Roberts University President Quits Amid Lawsuit

(CNN) -- Richard Roberts, the embattled president of Oral Roberts University and the son of its namesake evangelist founder, stepped down Friday, according to the school's Board of Regents.


Deadly Blasts Rock Indian Cities

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Blasts outside courts in three northern Indian cities on Friday, have killed at least eight people, CNN-IBN TV has reported.

The near-simultaneous blasts detonated in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, all in Uttar Pradesh state. The Associated Press reported officials saying as many as 13 people had died, all lawyers.


In August, at least 44 people were killed and scores were wounded in bombings in the southern city of Hyderabad.

Those were described as terror attacks carried out by Islamic militants.


Bombings In Baghdad, Mosul Claim 22 Lives

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb slammed an Iraqi police patrol in Mosul, Iraq, on Friday afternoon, killing nine people and wounding 21, according to a police official.


See also:

Bombing at Baghdad pet market kills 13

Foreign Fighters In Iraq Are Tied To Allies Of U.S.

BAGHDAD -- Saudi Arabia and Libya, both considered allies by the United States in its fight against terrorism, were the source of about 60 percent of the foreign fighters who came to Iraq in the past year to serve as suicide bombers or to facilitate other attacks, according to senior American military officials.


"The bad imams tell the young people to go to Iraq and fight the American Army, because if you kill them or they kill you, you will go to paradise," Sheik Adnan Khames Jamiel, a leader of the Albu Alwan tribe in Ramadi, said in an interview.


Devout Muslims And Jews Mull Dividing Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- From opposite sides of the wall that once divided Jerusalem, Israeli Shlomo Yirmiyahu and Palestinian Yakoob Arrajabi watched in 1967 as the Jewish state seized the Arab east of the city in a blaze of gunfire.


Pakistan's Taliban At The Gates

The local police precinct in the village of Matta has a new sign: Taliban Station. The same thing in the village of Kabal -- in fact, nine of the twelve districts in the picturesque Swat Valley, 100 miles from Pakistan's capital, have been taken over by militants, who have torched music shops, barred girls from going to school, forced women to wear burqas and decreed that men must grow beards. As if to complete the flashback to Taliban-era Afghanistan, the new overlords have even attempted to blow up centuries-old Buddhist monuments.


See also:

Musharraf May Quit Army by Saturday

Suicide Bombers Kill 35 in Pakistan

Suicide attacks kill dozens in Pakistan

More Than Half Of Afghanistan 'Under Taliban'

More than half of Afghanistan is back under Taliban control and the Nato force in the country needs to be doubled in size to cope with the resurgent group, a report by the Senlis Council think-tank says. A study by the group found that the Taliban, enriched by illicit profits from the country's record poppy harvest, had formed de-facto governments in swathes of the southern Pashtun belt.


Polk School Board Leans Toward Inclusion Of Intelligent Design

LAKELAND, FL -- A majority of Polk County School Board members say they support teaching intelligent design in addition to evolution in public schools.


Atheists Protest Menominee's Plan For Nativity Scene

MENOMINEE, Wis. -- The nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics filed a letter of protest with the city for deciding to put a Nativity scene in its bandshell.


With 'Prophet' In Prison, Child Bride Can Heal

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- To Elissa Wall, seeing polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs sentenced to prison was worth more than the restitution to which she's entitled.


Utah Less Mormon Than Ever

Latter-day Saints' majority population shrinks to recorded-low 60.7 percent amid boom.


Kolkata Mobs Hunt For Anti-Islam Author

HEAVILY armed Indian troops patrolled the streets of Kolkata last night after a day of violence in which rampaging Muslim mobs demanded the expulsion from the city of the controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen.


Israel Becoming Less Secular

( An Israel Democratic Institute (IDI) demographic survey finds religious growth and secular decline - but most significant is that the proportion of religious in the public is highest among the youth.


Study: Babies Can Tell Helpful, Hurtful Playmates

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even infants can tell the difference between naughty and nice playmates, and know which to choose, a new study finds.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Atheist Group Plans to Appeal Judge's Ruling

A national atheist group plans to appeal a judge's ruling that allows 14 white steel cross memorials to remain alongside Utah highways to honor fallen troopers.


ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists will be on the Fox News Channel on Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007) to discuss the appeal on the Utah Christian cross case.

Johnson will be on "American Pulse" with Julie Bendaras at 2:25 PM ET -- check local listings.


ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists, will be a guest on CNN Headline News this Friday, November 23, 2007, in an exchange with Bill Donahue of the Catholic League. The topic is the soon-to-be-released movie, THE GOLDEN COMPASS based on the book of the same title by Atheist writer Philip Pullman.

The Catholic League has condemned this critically-acclaimed book for promoting a "stealth Atheist agenda." The movie is slated for release on December 4, and news reports have established that producers New Line Cinema, have "toned down" portions of the film that religionists might find offensive. The Catholic League has called for a boycott of the movie. (See: HERE )

The segment with the Johnson/Donahue debate will air nationwide on the CNN Headline News channel sometime after 5:00 PM ET on Friday, Nov. 23. Check local listings. You can then join the conversation and post your comments on the NoGodBlog at .

DVDs Of The 2007 AAI Convention Are Now For Sale

Here is some great news from the Atheist Alliance International (AAI)!

Just in time for holiday shopping, the 2007 "Crystal Clear Atheism" convention DVDs are now for sale!

The full set consists of eight individual DVDs which include workshop presentations and a convention highlights disk. Those additional disks (workshops and highlights) can NOT BE FOUND ANYWHERE OTHER than through this exclusive AAI offer! The DVD collection is presented in a keepsake binder with original Gary Smith artwork on the cover. The cost of the full eight DVD set is $80.

To place your order, please go to:


Video From the AAI 07 Conference
- The Richard Dawkins Foundation, AAI

UPDATE: DVDs are coming very soon from RDFRS! The video on our DVDs was a 2-camera shoot in HD at 24fps, color corrected, and compressed to DVD. Our audio is from our own high-quality lapel mic setup. This upcoming 2-DVD set (glass mastered, professionally manufactured discs with full color jacket and on-disc art, like the other DVDs we've released) will be priced at $20


AAI 2007 Convention Photos/Slide Show Now Online

The Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is pleased to present a beautiful collection of photos taken at the 2007 "Crystal Clear Atheism" AAI Convention.

The online photo album/slide show can be viewed at:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Newdow, FFRF Launch New Challenge Of "Under God" In Pledge

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has joined Michael Newdow in launching a new challenge of the religious phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Plaintiffs include an anonymous Hanover couple who are Foundation members, as well as the Foundation on behalf of its New Hampshire members.


Just 16% Want Voting Suggestions From Religious Leaders

Just 16% of American adults say that it is appropriate for local religious leaders to suggest who individuals should vote for on election day. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 70% believe that such voting suggestions are inappropriate.


Mayor Resigns, Claims Abduction By Satan Worshippers

CENTERTON, Ark. -- The mayor of an Arkansas town resigned on Wednesday, claiming he was abducted and brainwashed by Satan worshippers nearly three decades ago.


Courthouse Car Bomb Kills Five

Story Highlights:

Car bomb at a police checkpoint in central Ramadi kills five Wednesday.

Two die as U.S. military combat patrol bombed in eastern Baghdad Tuesday.

Iraqi police in southwestern Baghdad found the bodies of five men dumped in a yard.


Bomb Kills Iraqi Children Gathered Around U.S. Troops

Story Highlights:

Bomb killed three children and three American soldiers.

Another bomb goes off as a convoy passes in Baghdad, killing nine.

Car bomb in Mosul explodes near police patrol; three people killed, 15 injured.


Christians Seek Right To Sue BBC For Blasphemy

A Christian group trying to prosecute the producer and broadcaster of Jerry Springer - The Opera under blasphemy laws will take its case to the high court in London today.


Preachers Feel Heat Of Grassley Tax Probe

Washington, D.C. - Nonprofits such as the Nature Conservancy, the Red Cross and the Smithsonian Institute all have endured uncomfortable probes by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, watchdog of the Senate.

Now it's a much different group of tax-exempt operations - televangelists - that are having their spending practices questioned by the senator.


Pot Plea Fails To Take Root

NEW LONDON -- A Norwich man's religious beliefs were not enough to reduce his jail time for marijuana possession.


New Science Rule Sparks The Evolution Debate Anew

The long-standing debate over teaching evolution in school came to Orlando on Thursday night, where about four dozen people assembled at Jones High School to give their views on proposed revisions to state science standards.


Lawmakers Vow To Revise Mexico's Constitution To Strengthen Separation Of Church, State

MEXICO CITY -- A group of opposition lawmakers said Friday they will introduce a measure to strengthen Mexico's long-standing separation of church and state, which they see as imperiled.


Principality Of Liechtenstein Plans Separation Of Church And State

Liechtenstein plans to reorganize the relationship between Church and State. Prime Minister Otmar Hasler has presented a concept for disentangling Church and State. Constitutional amendments and new laws will govern the new relationship between the State and the various religious communities.


So Long, Gideons

The one thing travelers could reliably count on in their hotel rooms: a Bible in the bedside table. But like many traditions, this one may be dying.


Judge Bans Moment Of Silence

A federal judge today issued a preliminary injunction barring a suburban school district from implementing the state's new law mandating a moment of silence at the start of classes, calling the statute too vague and "likely unconstitutional."


Church Is A Divorce Asset

MINEOLA, N.Y. - The estranged wife of a pastor claims her husband blended his professional and personal finances so thoroughly that his church should be counted as an asset in their divorce.


Panel Backs $5 Million In Tax-Exempt Bonds For Church Project

Victor, a spokesman for the national Freedom from Religion Foundation, said, "Religious people have the right to spend their money on churches; they just don't have the right to spend everybody's money."


Hitchens Enlists The Help Of World's 'Greats' To Support Argument That God Is Not Great

"The Portable Atheist" presents the writings of philosophers, scientists, writers and thinkers in support of his side of the great God debate. Starting with an introduction he wrote, the anthology includes Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, George Eliot, Anatole France, Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell and some never before published pieces by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


Islamist Insurgency Grows In Somalia

The Islamist-led resistance in Somalia is growing in scale and aggression, with insurgents openly taking on Ethiopian troops and African Union peacekeepers in the capital Mogadishu, in fighting that has killed dozens, possibly hundreds, in the past three weeks.


Anti-Gay Church Vows To Take Control Of Microsoft

An evangelical Christian pastor has vowed to take over Microsoft, one of the world's largest companies by packing it with shareholders who will vote against their policy of advocating gay rights. The Reverend Ken Hutcherson, a former Dallas Cowboys player is the self proclaimed head of the Antioch Bible Church, based in Redmond, the home of Microsoft's headquarters. Microsoft has a strong diversity policy and LGBT staff enjoy a well-funded employee group. Mr Hutcherson told a shareholders' meeting that he would be the company's "worst nightmare", threatening that he has the support of not only the 3,500 members of his church, but perhaps also millions of evangelical Christians and orthodox Jews.


Man-Sized Sea Scorpion Claw Found

The size of the beast suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought, the team says.

The claw itself measures 46cm - indicating its owner would have been longer even than the average-sized human.


New Ape Fossils Found In Africa

Fossil hunters exploring the eastern edge of the Rift Valley of Kenya have found the jawbone of a 10-million-year-old ape that appears to be a close relative of the last ancestor of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas. The discovery of this ancient ape strikes a new blow against a theory that apes in Africa died out millions of years ago only to be replaced by other apes that had migrated to Europe and Asia and then returned.


Evolutionary Comparison Finds New Human Genes

Using supercomputers to compare portions of the human genome with those of other mammals, researchers at Cornell have discovered some 300 previously unidentified human genes, and found extensions of several hundred genes already known.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Trendy Hotels Bail On The Bible

Since 2001, the number of luxury hotels to include Bibles and other religious materials has dropped by 18 percent, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.


Autumn Meteor Shower Hitting Its Peak

This weekend brings us the return of the famous Leonid meteor shower, a display that in recent years has brought great anticipation and excitement to skywatchers around the world.

While the Leonids have been spectacular in years past, this year a modest display is expected.


Mugabe Paid Witch Doctor In 'Gas From Rocks' Scam

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe has said ministers at a Cabinet meeting he agreed to pay two head of cattle and three buffaloes to a woman who claimed she could produce gasoline out of rocks, the official media reported Friday.


Judgement Day: Intelligent Design On Trial

NOVA's program "Judgement Day : Intelligent Design on Trial" is now available to watch for free online!


For The Glory Of God

Critics say the brand of literalist religion Richard Dawkins condemns is limited to a small minority of believers -- but in fact it's all too common.


Religious Scholars Mull Flying Spaghetti Monster

(AP) -- When some of the world's leading religious scholars gather in San Diego this weekend, pasta will be on the intellectual menu. They'll be talking about a satirical pseudo-deity called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose growing pop culture fame gets laughs but also raises serious questions about the essence of religion.


Saudi Gang-Rape Victim Is Jailed

An appeal court in Saudi Arabia has doubled the number of lashes and added a jail sentence as punishment for a woman who was gang-raped.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Court Clears Way For Egg Rights Showdown

DENVER -- The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for an anti-abortion group to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person.


Dinosaur Found With Vacuum-Cleaner Mouth

WASHINGTON - Perhaps it was one of those eureka moments, when the scientists realized they had discovered a new dinosaur with mouth parts designed to vacuum up food.


Do-Gooders Can Become The Worst Cheats

Morally upstanding people are the do-gooders of society, right? Actually, a new study finds that a sense of moral superiority can lead to unethical acts, such as cheating. In fact, some of the best do-gooders can become the worst cheats.


Radical Cleric Can Be Sent To U.S.

LONDON, England (CNN) -- A British court ruled Thursday that radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri can be extradited to the United States, a member of al-Masri's defense team confirmed to CNN, though any final decision on extradition is still several months away.


Cult Awaits End Of Days In Cave

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Members of a Russian doomsday cult barricaded themselves in a cave to wait out the end of the world as the cult's leader underwent psychiatric exams Thursday, Russian media reported.


The cult, which calls itself the "true Russian Orthodox Church," believes the end of the world will come in May 2008.


Talking Jesus Messenger Of Faith

$19.99 at Target

  • This colorful and richly detailed talking figure brings the New Testament to life with a Jesus character that kids can play with and move.
  • God's only son, Jesus helped people by teaching them God's lessons, healing them and performing miracles.
Usually ships within 24 hours.

This item is available online, but is not available in stores.

Batteries Included


Killing For The Cult

UK -- The ritual murder of an elderly sushi-shop owner by a gang of women has exposed the secrets of a bizarre Japanese cult, and shone a disturbing light on the nation's weakness for extreme religions.


Catholic Bishops Say Voters' Souls At Stake

BALTIMORE - Proclaiming a sense of new energy and empowerment, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday issued instructions to Catholic voters that their eternal salvation could be at stake when they cast ballots.


Brazil's Religious Fanatic Dies From Fasting

A religious fanatic in Brazil forced her family to abstain from eating in order to "go to heaven" and ended up dying from hunger after fasting for more than a month, the local media reported Wednesday.


Priest Admits Having Sex With Inmates

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- A Roman Catholic priest who worked as a chaplain at a women's federal prison pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexual abuse for having sex with two inmates.


Tropical Fish Can Live For Months Out Of Water

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -- A tropical fish that lives in mangrove swamps across the Americas can survive out of water for months at a time, similar to how animals adapted to land millions of years ago, a new study shows.


Cast As Witches, Then Cast Out

UIGE, Angola -- In parts of Angola, Congo and the Congo Republic, a surprising number of children are accused of being witches, and then are beaten, abused or abandoned. Child advocates estimate that thousands of children living in the streets of Kinshasa, Congo's capital, have been accused of witchcraft and cast out by their families, often as a rationale for not having to feed or care for them.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mogadishu Violence Sparks Mass Exodus

Mogadishu -- More than 170 000 people have fled fighting in Somalia's capital in the past two weeks, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday, worsening a humanitarian crisis already facing the country.

With near-daily clashes between Ethiopia-Somali forces and Islamist rebels, the UNHCR said it was doling out its last stocks from Mogadishu to the displaced, but warned of tough conditions as host areas struggle with the influx.


Prayer Not Effective, And Could Even Be Harmful

The Tear Fund has just published a report Prayer in the UK claiming that prayer is effective and many people in the UK pray. The National Secular Society dismisses this report as an exercise in delusion about the power of prayer and evasion that prayer is declining in popularity.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society responded by pointing to the prestigious Harvard Medical School's report: Largest Study of Third-Party Prayer Suggests Such Prayer Not Effective In Reducing Complications Following Heart Surgery, which you can read: here.


Just For Fun...

From the James Randi Educational Foundation:

Paranormal Urination Test VIDEO!

Georgians Pray For Rain ... Literally

Since the dawn of time, people have prayed for rain in some form -- from the tribes of Africa to American Indians. And where prayer fails, science sometimes pulls through.



Georgia Plans Service To Pray For Rain

Humanists Call Governor's Rain Prayer Event Inappropriate

New Earths May Be Popping Up In Pleiades

Hot dust particles could represent planetary building blocks, scientists say.


Bomb Hits Gathering Of Sheiks Opposing Al Qaeda

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least two people were killed and six were wounded south of Baghdad on Wednesday when bombers targeted a gathering of sheiks opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq, police in Babil province said.


See also:

Explosion In Al Qaeda Stronghold Kills 2 GIs; Key Sunni Group Evicted From Mosque

Church Loses Bid To Overturn Will

A judge ruled that a Hastings woman's estate should go to her friend, rather than to the church that she believed had turned its back on her and her husband during his final illness and death.


Indian Man Marries Dog

An Indian man who believed he had been cursed for stoning to death two dogs has atoned for his sin by marrying another dog in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wow! Japan's Moon Probe Updates Earthrise

High-definition camera sends back reprise of famous Apollo-era photos.


Scientists Claim To Clone Monkey Embryos

Breakthrough is potential boon for stem cell research.


Mass Arrests Follow Gaza Violence

(CNN) -- Hamas forces rounded up 400 people in overnight raids after clashes with rival Fatah gunmen that left at least seven Palestinians dead and more than 50 wounded, Fatah representative Hazem Abu Shanab said Tuesday.


Lawmaker Killed In Philippine Parliament Blast

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- At least two people were killed Tuesday in an explosion at the entrance of the Philippine parliament, including a lawmaker who apparently was the target of the blast, Chief Geary Barias of the National Regional Capital Police said.


Abu Sayyaf operates largely in Basilan province, according to the State Department's Web site, and wants to establish a separate Muslim state for the country's minority Muslim population.

The government has been fighting to contain the group, which is blamed for several terrorist attacks in the country, including the bombing of a superferry in 2004 that left about 130 people dead.


Somalia Troops Shut Radio Station

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in December 2006 to drive out the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu and restore the U.N.-backed transitional government after a decade and a half of near-anarchy. In response, the Islamist extremists launched an insurgency against the Somali government and Ethiopian troops, who have made only "limited progress" against them, according to a U.N. report last week.


Police Smash Nigerian 'Al Qaeda'

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigerian security agents arrested several men who allegedly had materials for making explosives, and evidence has linked them to the al Qaeda terror network, a senior security official said Monday.


'Growing Up In The Universe' Now Available Free Online

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is proud to announce that it is now offering all 5 hours of Richard Dawkins' 1991 Royal Institution Lectures for Children titled "Growing Up in the Universe" for free online!

Click here to watch:

Bill Moyers Interviews Jonathan Miller

Bill Moyers talks with British intellectual, Jonathan Miller about his upcoming PBS series, "A Brief History of Disbelief."


Onward Science Soldiers

In a poll taken in 1998, only 7 percent of the members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the elite of American scientists, said they believed in a personal God (Larson and Witham 1998). While the percentage is undoubtedly greater in the U.S. scientific community as a whole, it is probably safe to say that the majority of American scientists are nonbelievers, in marked contrast to the general public.


See also:

Onward Christian teachers?

The Evolution Of Creationism

After their notorious legal defeat, intelligent design proponents are resurfacing with insidious new assaults on science.


Malaysia Firm's 'Muslim Car' Plan

The Malaysian carmaker Proton has announced plans to develop an "Islamic car", designed for Muslim motorists.

Proton is planning on teaming up with manufacturers in Iran and Turkey to create the unique vehicle.

The car could boast special features like a compass pointing to Mecca and a dedicated space to keep a copy of the Koran and a headscarf.


Couple Cite Bible For Defense

MARYVILLE - A Maryville couple who profess to be "bondservants" of God were bound over to a Blount County grand jury Friday on charges they operated a plant nursery without proper state certification.

During their preliminary hearing both Wendy Gail and William Albert Roseburgh said they are prevented by their religious beliefs from signing any type of agreement with anyone or any organization, and they faced the court without the aid of an attorney, quoting the Bible as saying God will give them the proper words to speak.


Bishop Seeks Limits For Sex Abuse Payments

A prominent Chicago bishop is suggesting legal changes that would shield Roman Catholic institutions from paying excessive damages in sex abuse lawsuits, which he says jeopardize the mission of the church.


Intertwining Faith And Legal Procedure

Aguillard wants his school to graduate lawyers whose understanding of the law is rooted in "the absolute truth of the Bible" and the foundations the Bible provided for American law.


Snakebite Victim's Family Sues

LONDON -- As a woman bitten by a rattlesnake during a church service in London struggled to breathe, hospital employees made derogatory comments about her religious beliefs rather than providing proper care, contributing to her death, a lawsuit charges.


Koran Translation Angers Afghans

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan police have arrested a man accused of publishing an unofficial translation of the Koran that has sparked protests in parts of the country, newspapers said on Monday.


Spiritualist Camp Members Say They Talk To The Dead

CASSADAGA, Fla. -- The scent of incense hangs in the air as one passes between the columns saying "Welcome Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp." So does a musty odor.


Supremacist Group Seeks Longview Church

An argument broke out among Longview City Council members Thursday over whether to allow a white-supremacist church to hold an organizational meeting at the McClelland Arts Center.


Woman Killed In Exorcism

A 22-year-old woman has been killed during an exorcism ritual in New Zealand, drowning in the house of a relative as up to 40 family members looked on, police said yesterday.


Police Hold 180 In Iran Religious Clash

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Police detained 180 people in a western Iranian city after unrest involving Sufi Muslims, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Sunday.


7 D.C. Schools Must Ponder Education Without Religion

The announcement last week by the Archdiocese of Washington that it plans to convert seven District schools to charter schools has forced teachers, students and parents to begin contemplating something that seems unreal: what a Catholic school education would be without religion.


Television Viewing Tonight

PBS NOVA special on the Dover "intelligent design" trial beginning at approximately 8:00 PM. Check local listings.

Also, American Atheists President Ellen Johnson will be the guest tonight on the CNN program "Out in the Open" hosted by Rick Sanchez. Her segment will air beginning at approximately 8:00 PM. Check local listings.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 11/11/07

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007)

According to Wikipedia, Vonnegut "was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).

"Vonnegut was a Humanist. He served as Honorary President of the American Humanist Association."

"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!"

- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Humanists Call Governor's Rain Prayer Event Inappropriate

(Washington, D.C.) Humanists see Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's call for a rain prayer to be a divisive distraction from the work of government. While leaders of some Georgia religious groups will pray together on Tuesday outside the Georgia state capitol, the American Humanist Association will continue to advance scientific solutions to such environmental problems--solutions that humanists see as of value to all.

American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt explained, "Our elected officials aren't being true to their oath of office when they promote divisive political props like government organized prayer. Our elected leaders have no business calling on people to express their beliefs in one way over another, nor should public pronouncements of a governor give his personal faith a privileged place over other worldviews."

Millions of Americans, including many Georgia citizens, don't see prayer as an answer to any question, especially after the American Heart Journal last year published the results of the most scientifically rigorous study of the efficacy of prayer to date. That study concluded that prayer doesn't work.

"The governor should be doing the business of government instead of publicly engaging in his personal religious practice," Speckhardt added.

Millions of Americans who retain faith in prayer see it as a private matter and are offended by politicians' attempts to hijack their deeply held religious beliefs to boost political poll numbers. In this regard, American Humanist Association President Mel Lipman declared: "Not only does Gov. Perdue's rain prayer event inappropriately endorse religious belief over nonbelief, it inappropriately sets a standard for how religious people should behave."


FFRF 07 Convention Webcast Available

(Madison, Wis.) Speeches from the Freedom From Religion Foundation's 30th annual convention, which took place at the Monona Terrace convention center in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 12-14, 2007, can be watched or heard online at:


Could We Live Forever? Or Even Come Close?

(CBS) In a quiet Boston suburb, on the appropriately named Elder Road, Esther MacKay has made it to 102 years old - and counting.


Children Die In Somalia Violence

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- Neighborhoods in the Somali capital were deserted on Sunday, a day after 17 civilians were brutally killed in the wake of intense fighting between Ethiopian-backed Somali troops and Islamic insurgents, according to witnesses and journalists in Mogadishu.


Televangelist Releases Financial Documents

ATLANTA -- An Atlanta minister has released his church's finances in response to a Senate investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing that targets him and five other well-known televangelists.


Holiday Display Policy Defeated

At the end of a sometimes contentious, heated, and confusing debate, the Sonoma City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday night not to pursue adoption of a policy that could allow religious displays, including a Christmas creche, on the Plaza.


Cleric Places Fatwah On 'Evil' Camel Beauty Contests

A LEADING authority of Saudi Arabia's hardline school of Islam has condemned camel beauty contests as evil, saying those involved should seek repentance in God.


A Third Of Adults Believe God Watches Over Them

Two in five adults say prayers and one in three believes that God is watching over them, a new poll reveals. Of the 20 million Britons aged over 18 who say they pray, 13 million do so at least once a month, 12 million every week and 9 million every day. Most people (68 per cent) pray for family and friends, 41 per cent to thank God and 25 per cent over world issues.


Sins Of The Father

In a suburban McDonald's a father begged his wayward daughter to come home... so he and the men of her family could have her beaten, raped and murdered. Fearing violence, but moved by his tears, she relented -- and died.


Court: Druggists May Deny Emergency Pill

SEATTLE (AP) -- A federal judge has suspended Washington state's requirement that pharmacists sell "morning-after" birth control pills, a victory for druggists who claim their moral objections to the drug are being bulldozed by the government.


Friday, November 09, 2007

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 11/9/07

Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 - December 20, 1996)

According to Wikipedia, Sagan "was an American astronomer and astrochemist and a highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics, and other natural sciences. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He is world-famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been seen by more than 600 million people in over 60 countries, making it the most widely watched PBS program in history. A book to accompany the program was also published. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for the 1997 Robert Zemeckis film of the same name starring Jodie Foster. During his lifetime, Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he frequently advocated skeptical inquiry, humanism, and the scientific method....

"Sagan wrote frequently about religion and the relationship between religion and science, expressing his skepticism about many conventional conceptualizations of God. Sagan once stated, for instance, that 'The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard, who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by "God," one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.' Sagan is also widely regarded as a freethinker or skeptic; one of his most famous quotations as seen in Cosmos, was 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'"

Comet Surprise

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- A comet that unexpectedly brightened in the last couple of weeks and is now visible to the naked eye is attracting professional and amateur interest.


See also:

Astronomers find the sun's long-lost twin

Italian Musician Uncovers Hidden Music In Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'

ROME, Italy (AP) -- An Italian musician and computer technician claims to have uncovered musical notes encoded in Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper," raising the possibility that the Renaissance genius might have left behind a somber composition to accompany the scene depicted in the 15th-century wall painting.


Mother Charged In Son's Drowning

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee mother has been charged with drowning her 5-month-old son inside her apartment near 25th and Wells streets last month.

According to the criminal complaint, police found a notebook in Arkisha Johnson's home with a note saying that God told her to give the baby to him.


Crowd Drags Ethiopian Corpse

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- An enraged crowd dragged the body of an Ethiopian soldier through the streets of Somalia's capital Thursday after gun battles with Islamic insurgents killed 19 people, witnesses reported.


Afghan Blast Death Toll Reaches 75

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The death toll from Tuesday's fatal bomb blast in this country's northeast has increased to 75, Afghan officials said Friday.


Sunni Sheikh Killed In Suicide Attack

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An influential Sunni sheikh active in the reconciliation movement against al Qaeda in Iraq died early Thursday evening in a suicide attack in Khalis, a village about 50 miles (85 km) north of Baghdad, police said.


Ore. High Court Weighs Circumcision Case

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- The father of a 12-year-old boy told the Oregon Supreme Court on Tuesday that circumcision is a decision best left to the custodial parent while his ex-wife argued a trial judge should have given more consideration to her concerns about the effect on her son.


Nativity Proposal Defeated

There won't be a nativity scene displayed on the Berkley City Hall lawn this year, after voters rejected a fiercely debated ballot proposal Tuesday.


Ruling Has 'Quick And Dramatic' Impact On Church-State Cases

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Legal experts say a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has quickly weakened taxpayers' ability to sue government for violating the separation of church and state.

The court ruled in June that the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation did not have legal standing to challenge President Bush's faith-based initiative.


Ten Commandments Posted At State Capitol

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- On the eve of the general election, a federal judge ruled yesterday that a display of historical documents containing the Ten Commandments may be posted on state property.


School Board Approves Amended 'In God We Trust' Posters

BAKERSFIELD - Kern High School District trustees have given the green light to posting the nation's motto "In God We Trust" in high school classrooms.


Priest Arrested For Stalking Conan O'Brien

NEW YORK - A priest has been arrested on charges of stalking late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien by writing him threatening notes on parish letterhead, contacting his parents and showing up at his studio, prosecutors said Wednesday.


Duo Disputes Use Of 'Under God' In Schools

CONCORD -- A California man whose challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court three years ago has joined a Hanover couple to take up the same fight in New Hampshire.


Monk Jailed For Schoolboys Abuse

An 80-year-old monk has been sent to prison for 15 months for sexually abusing boys at a Roman Catholic school more than 30 years ago.


Oral Roberts' Son Accused Of Misspending

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A Beverly Hills house and country club membership. Vacations in Palm Springs and the South Seas. A closet as big as an apartment, stuffed with hundreds of pairs of shoes, suits, dresses and golf shoes.


Iran: Two Journalists Stabbed By Islamic Extremists

Tehran, 8 Nov. (AKI) -- Two Iranian journalists, known for their criticism of the government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been stabbed in the past 24 hours.


General's Troops Routed By Zealots

Dozens of Pakistani security forces policing a former tourist haven surrendered to militants yesterday, raising the stakes in the country's political crisis. The police officers and troops, outnumbered and demoralised, laid down their arms before hundreds of pro-Taleban extremists who are imposing Islamic law in an area beloved of Western hikers.


Five MPs Among Up To 50 Killed

A suicide bomber killed up to 50 Afghans yesterday, including five MPs and several children, in one of the bloodiest incidents since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.


Georgia Plans Service To Pray For Rain

ATLANTA -- What to do when the rain won't come? If you're Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, you pray.

The governor will host a prayer service next week to ask for relief from the drought gripping the Southeast.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Convicted Priest Faces New Abuse Charge

CHICAGO (AP) - A retired Jesuit priest convicted of molesting two boys was taken into custody Friday on a charge that he molested a boy he took on a trip to Switzerland and Austria seven years ago, prosecutors announced.


Friday, November 02, 2007

GodTube Competes With YouTube

PLANO, Texas (AP) -- GodTube is among religion-based Web sites that closely copy popular secular models. is similar to the social networking site MySpace, and is the religious right's response to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Similar sites target Muslim and Jewish audiences.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

12% - Secular Americans

The number of Americans who say they are atheist or agnostic, or choose not to identify with a religious tradition has increased modestly over the past two decades, with Pew surveys since the beginning of 2006, finding that 12% of U.S. adults identify themselves as secular or unaffiliated with a religious tradition; that compares with 8% in the Pew values survey in 1987. This change appears to be generational in nature, with new cohorts coming of age with lower levels of commitment to a religious tradition. Among respondents born before the baby boom (that is, prior to 1946), only about 5% are secular or unaffiliated compared with more than double that number among Baby Boomers (11%). The most secular Americans are those 30 and younger -- sometimes called "Generation Y" -- 19% of whom do not identify with a religious tradition. Pew surveys taken over the past 20 years show that, within each age cohort, the size of the secular group has remained constant over time indicating that people have not become less secular as they have aged. For example, 14% of members of "Generation X" (born 1965-1976) did not identify with a religious tradition in 1997, about the same as in 2007. Democrats and independents are less likely than Republicans to identify with a particular religious tradition, and the gap has widened over the past two decades. Currently, 5% of Republicans say they are atheist, agnostic, or decline to state a religious preference, which is the same percentage that did so in 1987. But the number of Democrats in this category is now 11%, up from 7% in 1987; currently 17% of independents are classified as secular, an increase from 9% in 1987.


Mounting Federal Earmarks Fund 'Scores' Of Religious Groups

Earmarks setting aside federal funds for religious organizations -- including Christian groups openly focused on conversions and missionary work -- are on the rise in appropriations bills in both the US House and Senate.


Appeals Court Orders Legislative Prayer Suit Dismissed

INDIANAPOLIS - The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana lost the latest round in its fight over prayer. A Federal Appeals Court dismissed the lawsuit against the ceremonies that opened sessions of the Indiana House.


Former Pastor Sentenced To Five Years For Molesting Boy

DALLAS (AP) -- A former pastor was sentenced to five years in prison and 10 years of probation for molesting a 10-year-old boy whose family he had known for more than 50 years.