Monday, June 30, 2008

Stephen Hawking's Explosive New Theory

In this theory, the early universe can be described by a mathematical object called a wave function and, in a similar way to the light particle, the team proposed two years ago that this means that there was no unique origin to the cosmos: instead the wave function of the universe embraced a multitude of means to develop.


Cassini To Earth: 'Mission Accomplished, But New Questions Await!'

ScienceDaily -- NASA's Cassini mission is closing one chapter of its journey at Saturn and embarking on a new one with a two-year mission that will address new questions and bring it closer to two of its most intriguing targets -- Titan and Enceladus.


See also:

Phoenix Scrapes To Icy Soil In Wonderland

Phoenix Mars Lander Returns Treasure Trove For Science

Asteroid-hunting Satellite A World First


Quantum Computing Breakthrough Arises From Unknown Molecule

Evangelical Grunts

The process of creating good Christian soldiers starts early, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a group fighting to maintain the secularism of the armed forces. At Fort Jackson army base in Columbia, South Carolina, the director of the Christian outreach group Military Ministry, Frank Bussey, tells soldiers that "government authorities, police and the military = God's ministers". Photographs exist of Bussey's student-soldiers posing in their fatigues with rifle in one hand and Bible in the other, an eerily similar pose to jihadist martyrs with their rifles and Qur'ans. His Bible study classes are known as "God's Basic Training", where attending cadets learn "when you join the military, you've really joined the ministry."


Louisiana Gov. Signs Controversial Education Bill

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill that critics say could allow for the teaching of "creationism" alongside evolution in public schools.


See also:

Americans United Will Monitor Implementation Of New Louisiana Anti-Evolution Law

Mechanism And Function Of Humor Identified By New Evolutionary Theory

ScienceDaily -- A new publication answers centuries' old questions regarding the mechanism and function of humour, identifying the reason humour is common to all human societies, its fundamental role in the evolution of homo sapiens and its continuing importance in the cognitive development of infants.

Alastair Clarke explains: "The theory is an evolutionary and cognitive explanation of how and why any individual finds anything funny. Effectively it explains that humour occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it, and that recognition of this sort is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response, an element of which is broadcast as laughter.

"By removing stipulations of content we have been forced to study the structures underlying any instance of humour, and it has become clear that it is not the content of the stimulus but the patterns underlying it that provide the potential for sources of humour. For patterns to exist it is necessary to have some form of content, but once that content exists, it is the level of the pattern at which humour operates and for which it delivers its rewards."



Sarcasm Seen as Evolutionary Survival Skill

Baby Jesus Back After 6 Years

In January 2002, Tricia Hoffman noticed the statue of baby Jesus missing when her family took down their large Nativity scene display.


Rather than spend more than $1,000 on a new set, Hoffman used dolls or her son, Jack, now 10, as stand-ins for the last six years while Jesus was away from his manger at the West Des Moines Police Department's evidence locker.

"Jack usually didn't last too long," Hoffman said. "It was hard to convince him to lie out there in the freezing cold."


See also:

'Bleeding' Christ attracts thousands

Dallas Residents See Jesus In Granite Slab

Evangelical Movement Touts 'Jesus For President'

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- They're spiritual misfits. Rabble-rousers. They packed the shell of the old Baptist church on Negley Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to hear author, Christian activist and fellow misfit Shane Claiborne stump on the campaign for a third party candidate, Jesus.


See also:

Non-voters: It's all in God's hands

Survey: More Have Dropped Dogma For Spirituality In U.S.

Religion today in the USA is a salad bar where people heap on upbeat beliefs they like and often leave the veggies - like strict doctrines - behind.

There are so many ways of seeing God, public policy expert Barry Kosmin says, that "the highest authority is now the lowest common denominator."


See also:

Study: Most Americans say many religions can lead to eternal life

Americans religious, not rigid, study finds

Ariz. churchgoer rate is far behind nation's

Your Brain Lies To You

FALSE beliefs are everywhere. Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found.


Prosecutors Say SC Scammers Took $80M

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The three men, claiming to have been rescued from financial ruin by divine intervention, went to homes and churches across North and South Carolina spreading tales of financial rescue. With an investment of just pennies on the dollar, they promised an end to credit card debt, mortgages and hefty car loans.


Texas Supreme Court Rules Church Can't Be Sued In Exorcism

A divided Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former Colleyville church Friday, saying church members who were involved in a traumatic exorcism that ultimately injured a young woman are protected by the First Amendment.


Va. Judge: Church Secession Law Is Constitutional

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Eleven conservative Episcopal churches won a legal victory Friday when a circuit court judge upheld a Virginia law allowing congregations to vote to secede from their parent denominations.


Homosexuality A Result Of Genetics And Random Environmental Factors, Says Twins Study

Homosexual behavior is largely shaped by genetics and random environmental factors, according to findings from the world's largest study of twins.


Anglicans Form 'New Church' In Gay Clergy Row

The Anglican Church faces what is in effect a schism this weekend after the declaration last night of conservative evangelicals to create a "church within a church". The new body, called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, will have its own bishops, clergy and theological colleges.


See also:

Conservative Anglicans form breakaway church in revolution led from the south

Anglican Head Warns Against Conservative Challenge

An Anglican Schism: Headed for US?

'Safe' Catholic School That Let Killer Deal Drugs, Have Sex And Worship The Devil

Scotland -- ST DAVID'S High School in Dalkeith was a place where most parents felt secure in the belief their children were being educated in a moral environment which protected them from some of the more disturbing aspects of youth culture.

But the trial of Luke Mitchell for the gruesome murder of Jodi Jones has rocked that assumption to its foundations.


Priest Sacked For Affair Takes Catholic Church To Tribunal

A PRIEST is to sue the Catholic Church for sacking him over an 18-year affair with a woman.

Former monsignor Joseph Creegan is the first Scottish priest to take the Church to court, claiming for lost wages via an employment tribunal.


Christians Challenge Teaching Of Evolution

New Zealand -- A Christian group promoting intelligent design theory over evolution has sent teaching material to schools that critics say is religious propaganda and sloppy pseudoscience.


Russian Prosecutors Charge Jehovah's Witnesses With Incitement Of Religious Hatred

Prosecutors in Asbest, Russia (Sverdlovsk region) have charged local Jehovah's Witnesses with inciting religious hatred and have asked a court to brand their publications extremist materials, according to a June 24, 2008 report by the Interfax news agency.


Protests Over Disputed Shrine Paralyze Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India -- Thousands of police attempted unsuccessfully to keep people off the streets in Indian Kashmir on Sunday as mass protests continued for a seventh day against what demonstrators charge is a government plan to build Hindu settlements in the Muslim-majority region.


Muslims Will Be Searched By Sniffer Dogs Despite Religious Objections, Say Police

England -- Some Muslims had raised objections over being searched by the explosive-detecting animals, but British Transport Police have said they will continue to use the specially trained animals.


Amid U.S. Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows In Pakistan

Just as it had on the day before 9/11, Al Qaeda now has a band of terrorist camps from which to plan and train for attacks against Western targets, including the United States.


See also:

Pakistan claims success in battling militants

Smoke and mirrors in the Khyber Valley

Pakistani soldiers uncover Taliban 'kidnap jail'

32 Militants Killed In Afghan Violence

(AP) Troops fought gunbattles and called in airstrikes against insurgents in southern Afghanistan, killing 32 militants, the U.S.-led coalition said.


See also:

Taliban use swords to slit the throats of Afghan 'traitors' in public executions before thousands

Taliban flourishing, Pentagon reports

Resurgent Taliban May Step Up Attacks, Pentagon Says

Taliban to intensify insurgency, says Pentagon

Afghan Civilian Deaths Up 62%, U.N. Says

U.S., NATO deaths in Afghanistan pass Iraq toll

Iraqi Judges Targets Of Bombing Attacks

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Four Iraqi judges were targeted in separate bombing attacks Monday in Baghdad, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.


See also:

Truck bomb kills 7, wounds 3 in Iraq

Iraq judge gunned down

Program in Iraq against al-Qaida faces uncertainty

Changing Colors

The rise and fall of a Sons of Iraq warrior

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ACLU Might File Suit To End Lunch Prayer

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue the U.S. Naval Academy unless it abolishes its daily lunchtime prayer, saying that some midshipmen have felt pressured to participate.


Bush, White House Push 'Faith-Based' Agenda Despite Mounting Record Of Misuse

President George W. Bush's "faith-based" initiative has been riddled with abuses and should be scrapped, not celebrated, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


Mormons Urged To Back Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

The Mormon Church, a major backer of the 2000 ballot measure that reaffirmed California's ban on same-sex marriage, is asking its members to "do all you can" to support a November initiative that would reinstate the ban as a state constitutional amendment.


See also:

Mormons seek distance from polygamist sects

San Diego County Pastor Rallies Clergy Against Gay Marriage

Efforts will include a 40-day fasting period before election day and 100 days of prayer.


Lawsuits: Archdiocese Covered Up Abuse

MIAMI -- Two new lawsuits accuse the Archdiocese of Miami of covering up a priest's abuse of two boys in the 1980s.


Dutch Prepare For Maya Apocalypse

Thousands of Dutch people are buying boats and rations and building bunkers to await an apocalypse predicted by the Maya of South America.


Petra Faile and her husband have bought a life raft and other survival equipment in preparation for Armageddon.


Mrs Faile said she was concerned that immigration was pushing the Netherlands, a low lying country protected by dikes and sea walls, beneath the waves.

"They keep letting people in. And then we have to build more houses, which makes the Netherlands even heavier. The country will sink even lower, which will make the flooding worse," she said.


Spanish Parliament To Extend Rights To Apes

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.


Band T-Shirt Draws Charge

IT is blasphemous, will get you arrested and has sparked debate about Australia's lack of a Bill of Rights.


Eccentric Cleric Finally Evicted From Vicarage

An eccentric vicar whose alleged bizarre behaviour has been attributed to the "voice of God" he apparently routinely hears in his head is finally on the verge of being evicted from his vicarage, following a two-year legal battle with the Church of England.


Thousands Of Somali Children Need Urgent Medical Aid

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Somalia needs urgent medical aid to save thousands of malnourished children and wounded adults who are trapped in one of the most violent, lawless countries in the world, an international aid group said Thursday.


"Somalia is no longer on the verge of a catastrophe, the disaster is happening now"


Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and turned on each other. Thousands of civilians have been killed in Somalia since 2007, caught in vicious disputes over ancient clan loyalties, religion and government.


Salman Rushdie Is Knighted By The Queen

Salman Rushdie received his knighthood from the Queen today amid fears it could trigger a backlash among Muslim extremists.


Indonesia Backs Sharia Law, Poll Shows

A majority of Indonesians would like to see Sharia law implemented in their country, a new poll shows, although only a minority favour the harsh measures sometimes associated with the system.


Forsake Lipstick 'To Avoid Rape'

Women in a northern Malaysian city ruled by conservative Islamists are being urged by the city's authorities to forsake bright lipstick and noisy high-heels "to preserve their dignity and avoid rape".


Algeria Court To Rule Next Week In Trial Of Christian Converts

ALGIERS (AFP) -- An Algerian court is to hand down its judgement on July 2 following the trial of two Christian converts accused of proselytising....


See also:

Muslims should be free to convert, says cardinal, after death threats

Saudi Arrests 700 Islamists Plotting 'Oil Attacks'

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has arrested 701 Islamists in the past six months on suspicion of plotting attacks on oil industry installations...


Afghanistan Blast Kills 3 Coalition Soldiers

KABUL, Afghanistan - Three more foreign soldiers serving in Afghanistan were killed Thursday in an attack by Islamic militants, raising the number who have died so far this year to at least 114.


See also:

Rise in Taliban attacks worries U.S.

GAO Audit: $6B To Pakistan, For What?

Iraq Blast Kills 23, Including 3 Marines

(CBS/AP) A suicide bomber attacked a meeting Thursday of pro-government Sunni sheiks west of Baghdad, killing at least 23 people, including three U.S. Marines. At least 18 more people died in a car bombing in the northern city of Mosul.


See also:

3 U.S. Troops Dead In Northern Iraq Blast

American grad student dies in Iraq

Iraqi military to take control of Anbar province

For Iraqi Christians, Money Bought Survival

Israeli Cabinet To Consider Swap With Hezbollah

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will ask his Cabinet on Sunday to approve a deal with Hezbollah that would involve exchanging prisoners for two captured Israeli soldiers.


See also:

Israel closes Gaza crossings

Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran

Lander Finds Conditions For Life On Mars

(AP) The Phoenix lander's first taste test of soil near Mars' north pole reveals a briny environment similar to what can be found in backyards on Earth, scientists said Thursday.


See also:

Moon-Bound NASA Spacecraft Passes Major Preflight Tests


Accidental Discovery Could Enable Development Of Faster Computers

Neuroscientists Discover A Sense Of Adventure

ScienceDaily -- Wellcome Trust scientists have identified a key region of the brain which encourages us to be adventurous. The region, located in a primitive area of the brain, is activated when we choose unfamiliar options, suggesting an evolutionary advantage for sampling the unknown. It may also explain why re-branding of familiar products encourages to pick them off the supermarket shelves.


See also:

How Switching Language Can Change Your Personality

New Fossils Of Extremely Primitive 4-Legged Creatures Close The Gap Between Fish And Land Animals

ScienceDaily -- New exquisitely preserved fossils from Latvia cast light on a key event in our own evolutionary history, when our ancestors left the water and ventured onto land. Swedish researchers Per Ahlberg and Henning Blom from Uppsala University have reconstructed parts of the animal and explain the transformation in the new issue of Nature.


See also:

Huge Genome-Scale Phylogenetic Study Of Birds Rewrites Evolutionary Tree-of-life

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The Family"

It's one of the most influential and least well known organizations in the country. The Family, also known as The Fellowship, consider themselves followers of Christ, and individuals responsible for changing the the world. An inside look at the power and history of The Family with Jeff Sharlet (a contributing editor for "Harper's" and "Rolling Stone," and an associate research scholar at New York University's Center for Religion and Media) on Tuesday's edition of The Diane Rehm Show.

Listen by clicking on one of the related audio links HERE.

Humanists File Legal Brief In Summum Case: No Permanent Religion In Public Parks

Washington, D.C. -- The American Humanist Association today filed a legal brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Pleasant Grove City, UT, et al. v. Summum. The amicus brief argued against allowing the Summum religious group to display its aphorisms in the same public park where a Ten Commandments monument appears. In addition, the American Humanist Association urged the Court to hold that permanent religious monuments in city parks constitute government endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.

"It's a question of fairness," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "If you allow one religious display, to be fair you must allow them all. But government shouldn't be in the religious display business, and there are too many religions to be able to do that anyway. Churches, mosques and synagogues should erect their own displays on their own property and let the government worry about governance."

The case brings up 1st Amendment concerns of government endorsement of religion. According to the AHA's legal brief, "By itself, the text of the Ten Commandments sends an overwhelmingly religious message, and the context in which the monument is displayed here only heightens the effect of government endorsement of this message."

The brief also addresses the legal question of equal access. "The display of the Ten Commandments sends the message to nonadherents of Judeo-Christian religions that they are not full members of the political community... Although the Supreme Court has characterized a nearly identical Ten Commandments monument as nothing more than 'acknowledgement' of the role played by religion, there is no principled or neutral way to decide which beliefs are deserving of the government's 'acknowledgment' and which are not."

"We had two purposes for writing this brief," said Bob Ritter, coordinator of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the legal arm of the American Humanist Association. "Our first priority was to inform the Court that public parks are not permanent public forums for donated permanent monuments. Although monuments erected on public land may have been donated by a private donor, by virtue of government taking ownership and control of such displays, they represent government-endorsed speech and not the free speech of the donor."

Other organizations signing on to the Amicus Brief include The American Ethical Union, Atheist Alliance International, the Institute for Humanist Studies, the Secular Student Alliance, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.


See also:

Americans United Files Brief In Supreme Court Religious Display Case

State/Church Watchdog Asks AG To Investigate, Enjoin Sale Of Holmen Star Hill Site

The Wisconsin Attorney General is being asked to immediately investigate a suspected open meetings violation by the Village of Holmen, Wis., and to enjoin its sale of a parcel of land at the end of June to the Lions Club. A $1,200 bid by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for a parcel of property on Star Hill, circling a huge cross and Christmas star, was rejected by the village in May, in favor of a $600 bid by the Lions Club.


Teaching Not Preaching In CA Bible Belt

Like many other places, Modesto is becoming more religiously diverse.

But unlike any other place, religion is a required course in high school here.


States Refusing Grants For Abstinence Education

WASHINGTON - Skeptical states are shoving aside millions of federal dollars for abstinence education, walking away from the program the Bush administration touts for slowing teen sexual activity. Barely half the states are still in, and two more say they are leaving.


The Myth Of The Moral Majority

Here's the church. Here's the steeple. Open the doors and -- hey, where did all the evangelicals go?


See also:

Americans religious, not rigid, study finds

New Discovery Proves 'Selfish Gene' Exists

ScienceDaily -- A new discovery by a scientist from The University of Western Ontario provides conclusive evidence which supports decades-old evolutionary doctrines long accepted as fact.


See also:

Evolutionarily Preserved Signature Found In The Primate Brain

Scientists Fix Bugs In Our Understanding Of Evolution


Sarcasm Seen as Evolutionary Survival Skill

Science Is Not Philosophy

ID is often referred to as Creationism light. In fact it's more Creationism in drag. Though its proponents claim scientific neutrality, they are usually overtly religious people affiliated with overtly religious institutions. They have written essays and books about why ID is science. And yet when all the sophistry is boiled down, the theory amounts to "living things are complicated. Some-one must have made them."

It may be a sublime idea worthy of religious and philosophical contemplation, but it fails to meet the definition of science. It can't be proven and it can't be tested. Complaining that science won't take ID seriously is like grieving the fact that mathematicians won't consider a flower pot to be a number.


Philadelphia Set To Honor Darwin And Evolution

PHILADELPHIA -- In the long-running culture war between evolution and creationism, Philadelphia is firing the latest shot.


See also:

How Darwin won the evolution race

Ex-Traffic Cop Says He's Jesus

Deep in the heart of Siberia's birch forests lies one of the largest and most remote religious communes of the planet. More than 5,000 people have left their families and their homes to move here and join the Church of the Last Testament, which has more than 10,000 followers worldwide. The church centers on one man. He is known simply as Vissarion, meaning "he who gives new life," or simply as the teacher, and he claims that he is Jesus Christ.


Cracks Begin To Show At Summit Discussing Gay Clergy Rift

The people gathered on the Mount of Olives were united in voice as they sang their officially approved hymns, but on the second day of a conference which has laid bare the divisions in the Anglican communion over homosexuality, notes of discord could already be heard.


Australian Group Plans Protest Over Pope's Visit

SYDNEY (AFP) - A coalition of Christians, atheists and gay groups will stage a protest against Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Australia for World Youth Day next month, organisers said Monday.


See also:

World Youth Day condom protest against Pope


Girl missing since 1983 was kidnapped on Vatican archbishop's orders, police told

Saudi Marriage Officiant : 'It Is Allowed To Marry A Girl At The Age Of One'

The Prophet Muhammad is the model we follow. He took 'Aisha to be his wife when she was six, but he had sex with her only when she was nine.


Female Circumcision: A Tradition Steeped In Blood

Research commissioned by the Department of Health suggests that more than 20,000 British girls are at risk of being forced into the agonising procedure, where all or part of their external genitals are cut off and stitched up. Officers will question all adults taking girls on certain flights, believing it is their best chance of saving thousands of children from female genital mutilation at the hands of tribal "elders" called in by their own families.


Young Muslims 'Are Turning To Extremism'

Extremists are winning the battle for the hearts and minds of Britain's young Muslims, a disturbing police report warns.


In Algeria, A Tug Of War For Young Minds

ALGIERS -- First, Abdel Malek Outas's teachers taught him to write math equations in Arabic, and embrace Islam and the Arab world. Then they told him to write in Latin letters that are no longer branded unpatriotic, and open his mind to the West.


Routing Of Fighters Brings Anxious Calm To Kandahar

Afghan security officials have repeatedly blamed the resurgent Taliban activity in Kandahar on an influx of foreign fighters who have crossed into southern Afghanistan from Pakistan. Many of the inmates freed in last week's prison break are from Pakistan's lawless tribal areas on Afghanistan's eastern border, which have become a hotbed of training for suicide bombers and Islamist fighters, according to Afghan officials in Kandahar.


See also:

55 Afghan Militants Killed, Coalition Says

Afghanistan foreign troop deaths in June exceed those in Iraq

U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Streched Thin

From Afghanistan, NATO Shells Militants in Pakistan

22 Bodies Found Along Pakistan Road

Dead believed to be from group of 30 peacekeepers taken by Taliban.


See also:

Five killed as religious groups clash in Khyber

Pakistan's Dangerous Turn

Report: $6 billion in aid to Pakistan poorly tracked

U.S. Embassy Staff, Soldiers Killed In Baghdad Blast

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Four Americans -- two soldiers and two civilians from the Defense and State departments -- were killed Tuesday in a blast that rocked a municipal building in Baghdad's Sadr City, the U.S. Embassy said.


See also:

3 U.S. troops, interpreter killed in Iraq

U.S.-allied Iraqi politician kills 2 U.S. troops, wounds 4

Gunman in Iraq kills 2 American soldiers, wounds 4

GI Killed In Ambush Outside Baghdad

Iraq crackdown in Amarah continues; harassment alleged

Freed Of Militias, Basra Has New Problems

Daily Life in Sadr City, Iraq

Battle shapes up over future of US role in Iraq

Iraq Through the Looking Glass(es)

First Violation Of Israeli, Hamas Truce Reported

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired two rockets into southern Israel Tuesday, violating a truce between Israel and Gaza's Hamas leadership which began last week.


See also:

Sarkozy challenges Israel over Jerusalem

Israeli police: Suicide sparks Sarkozy scare

Israeli rights group says military abusing Palestinian detainees after arrest

Violent clashes continue in northern Lebanon

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Award-Winning Comedian George Carlin Dies

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Comedian-actor George Carlin, know for his raunchy, but insightful humor, died Sunday in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 71.


See also:

GEORGE CARLIN DEAD AT 71 -- Comedian, Critic, Atheist

Carlin on Religion (YouTube video)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yesterday and Today...

Today marks the beginning of Camp Quest in Ohio, which runs through the 28th. It is also the birthday of Jean-Paul Sartre (June 21, 1905 - April 15, 1980).

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice. AP covered the "Druids, New Agers and people just looking for a party" that converged for Summer Solstice At Stonehenge.

Also see:

Scientific reasons for Earth's seasons

Summer solstice celebrations:ancient and modern

Bright Chunks At Phoenix Lander's Mars Site Must Have Been Ice

Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it.


Report Rules Out Subatomic Doomsday

Europe's CERN particle-physics lab has issued its long-awaited report on safety issues surrounding the Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest and most expensive atom-smasher. Some have feared that when the collider reaches full power, sometime next year, it might create microscopic black holes or other exotic phenomena that could endanger Earth. The new report, like earlier safety studies, rules out the possibility of global danger.


We Urgently Need Your Help Now!!

Please help stop the Discovery Institute from boldly introducing religion into public education.


Lawsuit Filed Over 'I Believe' Plates In S.C.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A group that advocates separation of church and state filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to prevent South Carolina from becoming the first state to create "I Believe" license plates.


See also:

Americans United Files Lawsuit Challenging South Carolina's 'I Believe' License Plate

Watchdog Asks Wisconsin Assembly to Stop Praying

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national watchdog working to keep church and state separate, has asked leadership in the Wisconsin State Assembly to stop opening sessions with prayer, pointing out that one representative went so far as to "exorcize the Assembly Chamber."


See also:

FFRF Asks Immigration Office to Drop Religious Oath for Naturalized Citizens

Pastors Challenge Law, Endorse Candidates From Pulpit

Few Americans would invite an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, but that's exactly what Minnesota pastor Gus Booth wanted when he stood behind his pulpit and told his congregation God wanted them to vote Republican.


Rapture-Ready Evangelicals Impersonate Army Officers

A few days ago, a tip was sent to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) research department to check out an organization called Marshall Minutes Military Ministries.


'Pro-Life' Drugstores Market Beliefs

When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.


See also:

Poll Finds Scant Support for Criminalising Abortion

World Publics Reject Criminal Penalties for Abortion

The Mother, The Child, The School Board And The Psychic

Leduc's weird tale began on May 30, when she dropped young Victoria off for class at Terry Fox Elementary and headed in to work, only to receive a frantic phone call from the school telling her it was urgent she come back right away.


Teen's Death Blamed On Faith Healing

GLADSTONE, Oregon (AP) -- Authorities say a teenager from a faith-healing family died from an illness that could have been easily treated, just a few months after a toddler cousin of his died in a case that has led to criminal charges.


Science Teacher Dissed Evolution

A Mount Vernon teacher undermined science instruction in the public school district by discrediting evolution in his classroom and focusing on creationism and intelligent design, an investigation has found.


The report confirmed that Freshwater burned crosses onto students' arms, using an electrostatic device, in December.


See also:

Teacher Accused of Branding Kid With Cross


In a week or so, the trumpets will sound, heralding the start of 18 months of non-stop festivities in honor of Charles Darwin. July 1, 2008, is the 150th anniversary of the first announcement of his discovery of natural selection, the main driving force of evolution. Since 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth (Feb. 12), as well as being the 150th anniversary of the publication of his masterpiece, "On the Origin of Species" (Nov. 24), the extravaganza is set to continue until the end of next year. Get ready for Darwin hats, t-shirts, action figures, naturally selected fireworks and evolving chocolates. Oh, and lots of books and speeches.


See also:

Charles Darwin: 'Is man an ape or an angel?'

On the Origin of a Theory

Darwinists for Jesus

Gay Brains Structured Like Those Of The Opposite Sex

Brain scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is a biologically fixed trait.


See also:

Male Homosexuality Can Be Explained Through A Specific Model Of Darwinian Evolution, Study Shows


California set for summer of love as court reverses gay marriage ban

Hardline Archbishops Declare Anglican Split

Hardline Church leaders have formally declared the end of the worldwide Anglican Communion, saying they can no longer be associated with liberals who tolerate homosexual clergy.


See also:

Anglican church in meltdown over gays and women

500 clergy set to desert Church over 'betrayal' on women bishops

Are the Anglicans About to Split?


Gay priest resigns after furore over church blessing

More than half of Britons think Christianity is likely to have disappeared from the country within a century, according to a survey

Saudi Arabia Arrests Alleged Gays In Raid

(AP) A Saudi newspaper says religious police have arrested 21 allegedly homosexual men and confiscated large amounts of alcohol.


Iran Police Shut Clothes Shops, Hairdressers In Crackdown On Un-Islamic Dress And Hairstyles

TEHRAN, Iran -- Police closed 32 clothes shops and hairdressers and stopped cars and pedestrians in the street in an intensified crackdown on women who do not abide by Iran's strict Islamic dress code and on men who take up fashions seen as too Western, Iranian media reported Monday.


See also:

Bahais detained in Iran contact families

Catholic Church And Academics Battle Over University

Berlin - A power struggle reached a climax this week between the Catholic Church and academics at the German speaking-world's sole Catholic university, raising questions about whether faith and scholarship can get along with one another.


Polish Chaplain Decries Religious Rhetoric

Warsaw ( - In an interview with the KAI news agency, Poland's presidential chaplain, Father Roman Indrzejczyk dismissed demands for a 'religious war' by the country's Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) political party.


MPs Hear Sobering Testimony Of Religious Prosecution

OTTAWA -- A Parliamentary committee on human rights received a sobering message Monday after hearing testimony about religious persecution around the world and how Canada should respond to it.

In one instance, MPs heard how 300 Christian girls were raped. In another, they were told how 7,000 Egyptians were imprisoned for their faith.

But perhaps the most poignant moment was a Pakistani Christian father describing, on video tape, how his four-year-old daughter had been raped and left unconscious by the roadside after he refusing demands to convert his family to Islam.


See also:

Canada has apologised for forcing about 150,000 aboriginal children to attend state-funded Christian boarding schools aimed at assimilating them

Church not ready for sexual abuse apology: Quebec archbishop

Muslim Countries Win Concession Regarding Religious Debates

UN body says only religious scholars should be allowed to discuss matters of faith.


Hindu Man Set On Fire In East London 'For Dating Muslim Girl'

The 20-year-old, who is fighting for his life in hospital, was torched as he sat in his car in Forest Gate.


Radical Indian Politician Calls For Hindu Suicide Bombers To Target Muslims

MUMBAI, India -- A radical right-wing Indian politician called on Hindus to form suicide bomber squads and attack Muslim neighborhoods....


See also:

Hindus upset over Hollywood film

Bali Bomber Warns Of Al Qaeda Attacks

(AP) An Islamic militant awaiting execution in Indonesia for carrying out the 2002 Bali bombings has warned that al Qaeda would be "very likely" to launch revenge attacks if authorities kill him, a magazine reported.


See also:

TV Anchor Freed By Al Qaeda Militants

Abu Qatada: Islamic Cleric Is Released From Jail

Abu Qatada, the radical Islamic cleric described as Osama bin Laden's "right-hand man in Europe", has been released from jail after a judge ruled that there were no grounds to keep him in prison.


See also:

Terrorise the non-believers, orders 'Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe' after he is freed on bail

Five NATO Troops Killed In Afghanistan

(CNN) -- A surge in fighting across Afghanistan has left five more foreign troops dead on Saturday, bringing the number of NATO and U.S.-led troop deaths in June to more than 30.


See also:

Blast Kills 10 Afghans In Helmand Province

Deadly suicide blast hits south Afghanistan

Old-Line Taliban Commander Is Face of Rising Afghan Threat

Taliban Seizes Seven Afghan Villages

Afghan Officials Say Taliban Stand Crushed

NATO, Afghan Troops Kill 36 Taliban

Taliban prep for battle outside Kandahar

The Afghan war worsens

The Youngest Terrorists

U.S.: Shiite Cell Possibly Involved In Deadly Iraq Blast

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A car bombing that killed dozens Tuesday in a predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad may have been conducted by a militant trying to incite Shiite violence against Sunnis, the U.S. military said Wednesday.


See also:

51 killed in huge Baghdad car bomb

Amara: The Next Battleground

In Iraq's South, a Mission Has Dual Aims

Iraq goes after Shiite militants near Iran

Iraqi Troops Arrest Senior Sadrist

Survey says 500,000 Iraqis fled fighting in 2007

Resort rising in semi-autonomous northern Iraq

U.S. Says Israeli Exercise Seemed Directed At Iran

WASHINGTON -- Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.


See also:

Israel prepares to strike Iran

Israeli air exercise may be message to Iran

Is Israel Poised To Attack Iran?

U.N.: Bomb Iran and face Mideast 'ball of fire'

Ceasefire Begins In Gaza After One Year Of Blockade

JERUSALEM/GAZA (IRIN) - After one year of a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip, the residents of the beleaguered enclave have some reason for optimism, after a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel went into effect on 19 June at 6am local time.


See also:

Truce takes effect between Israel and militants in Gaza

Israelis, Palestinians battle in hours before truce

Hamas announces 6-month truce with Israel

Israel confirms truce with Hamas

Israel, Hamas watch to see if truce will hold

Your last chance: Israel's warning

IDF to redeploy troops from Gaza if truce holds

Israel brushes aside U.S. pressure over statehood deal


Rights group camera catches men beating Palestinian shepherds

U.S.: Two Venezuelans Are Supporting Terrorism

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government designated two Venezuelans, including a diplomat, as supporters of international terrorism Wednesday for what it called their support of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Bishops Hold Back Progress, Say Humanists

The American Humanist Association denounced Friday's document issued by the United States' Roman Catholic bishops in which the bishops "warned" against the "moral dangers" of embryonic stem cell research. The document states that "no commitment to a hoped-for 'greater good' can erase or diminish the wrong of directly taking innocent human lives here and now."

In response, the American Humanist Association warned against the harm to the common good that would result from any delays caused by the bishops' statement. "Once again the Roman Catholic Church has made medieval doctrine a stumbling block to medical and social progress," declared Fred Edwords, the organization's director of communications. "The Church routinely decries science in the name of life. But stem cell research is already on its way to developing breakthrough treatments for devastating diseases. And if we ever hope to see real progress against diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's syndrome, we need to set aside the outdated condemnations of a faith that is becoming less relevant with each passing day. The position of the bishops is in fact anti-life when it impedes the search for real, here-and-now cures to terminal illnesses."

As stated in the following resolution of the American Humanist Association, passed at its meeting Wednesday, June 4 in Washington DC, "The American Humanist Association supports research utilizing stem cells from embryonic as well as other sources and federal funding for such research commensurate with its potential to advance scientific knowledge and lead to the development of novel therapies. Further, we encourage the development of ethical guidelines for such applications through the use of reason rather than religious or political doctrine."

AHA President Mel Lipman, added "Humanists value human life, and believe that every person has inherent worth and is entitled to be treated with dignity and compassion. Humanists do not see a moral equivalence between a cluster of unformed cells and living, breathing human beings. It is therefore our obligation to support research that could have a positive impact on the lives of millions around the world."

The full statement appears below.


Adopted by the Board of Directors
June 2008

Inspired by compassion and informed by reason, Humanists are committed to the treatment of each person as having inherent worth and dignity. In recognizing the potential of the medical and biological sciences to improve human lives through the cure of debilitating diseases, amelioration of suffering, and reduction of the consequences of aging, Humanists oppose efforts to constrain the advance of beneficial scientific research on the basis of religious or political dogma.

WHEREAS research using human embryonic stem cells holds great potential for treatment of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and other debilitating afflictions, and

WHEREAS stem cells possess the remarkable capacity to differentiate into any somatic tissue, thus creating an unprecedented wealth of potential investigative and therapeutic applications and

WHEREAS the derivation of additional stem cell lines will greatly facilitate important research and its translation into therapeutic benefit and

WHEREAS stem cells derived from preimplantation blastocysts are the most plentiful source of such stem cell lines and

WHEREAS embryos obtained or derived for research or therapeutic purposes with the informed consent of the donor are not destined for personhood and have no independent moral status and

WHEREAS embryonic stem cells derived from the process commonly referred to as "Therapeutic Cloning" (the transfer of a somatic cell nucleus into an enucleated egg) as well as stem cells obtained by the manipulation of somatic cells by artificial means may have particular value in regenerative medicine by providing cells that are a perfect match for patients

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Humanist Association supports research utilizing stem cells from embryonic as well as other sources and federal funding for such research commensurate with its potential to advance scientific knowledge and lead to the development of novel therapies. Further, we encourage the development of ethical guidelines for such applications through the use of reason rather than religious or political doctrine.


Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Christian Theologians Prepare For Extraterrestrial Life

Little green men might shock the secular public. But the Catholic Church would welcome them as brothers.


Scientists Confirm That Parts Of Earliest Genetic Material May Have Come From The Stars

Scientists have confirmed for the first time that an important component of early genetic material which has been found in meteorite fragments is extraterrestrial in origin, in a paper published on June 15, 2008.


See also:

Life's Raw Materials Came From Stars?


International Mission Studying Sun To Conclude

Phoenix Mars Lander Inspects Delivered Soil Samples

Regional Revival Tackles Community Standards

About 30 people gathered for a regional revival Friday night that included a book burning as a statement to reach out to local residents.


Ala. Senator To Propose "I Believe" License Plate

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A Republican state senator said Friday he plans to introduce a bill to create a faith-proclaiming "I Believe" license plate in Alabama similar to one approved recently by South Carolina lawmakers.

"It would send a message that the government in Alabama believes in faith and family," Sen. Hank Erwin of Montevallo said.



Senator Hank Erwin: God judging U.S. with disastrous hurricanes

Illinois Man Changes Name To 'In God We Trust'

(AP) A school bus driver and amateur artist from the Chicago suburb of Zion has legally changed his name to "In God We Trust."


Children's Rights Trump Religious Beliefs: Judge

A Canadian judge has ruled against a Jehovah's Witnesses couple who opposed blood transfusions for their premature sextuplets, saying children's rights overrule their parents' beliefs when lives are in danger.


Israel-Hamas Peace (Quietly) At Hand?

It was certainly a noisy prelude to a cease-fire: Just as an Israeli envoy was flying to Cairo on Thursday to negotiate a long-delayed truce with the Palestinian militants of Hamas, a huge explosion rocked a building in Gaza.


See also:

Gaza: A year under Hamas

Four U.S. Troops Killed In Afghan Blast

KABUL, Afghanistan - Four American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb Saturday in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.


See also:

Afghan official: 870 inmates escaped from prison

Afghan forces hunt escaped Taliban prisoners

15 militants killed in search for Afghan prisoner escapees

A Sober Assessment of Afghanistan

Sex Trade Thrives In Afghanistan

Karzai Threatens To Invade Pakistan

Female Suicide Bomber Strikes Iraqi Soccer Fans

BAGHDAD - A female suicide bomber targeted a crowd of soccer fans celebrating Iraq's win in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday, wounding at least 34 people near a cafe north of Baghdad, police said.


See also:

Female suicide bomber strikes soccer fans in Iraq


Sadr Launches his Election Campaign

Where Is Osama Bin Laden? An Analysis

It isn't a comforting assessment.


The Long Life Of The Frontier Mullah

Taliban have enmeshed themselves in the region, especially Waziristan, marrying local women, living like locals, alternating between working in the fields and firing rockets on US coalition forces in Afghanistan and the Pakistani military.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Godless Interstate

PhillyCOR Billboard

During The IHEU 17th World Humanist Congress And The AHA 67th Annual National Conference held in Washington, DC last week (see post below), our billboard in Philly received more press coverage....

On the first day of the conference (June 5), the Philadelphia Inquirer had an article in their local section (B2) that took up almost half the top of the page. It was also on the home page of their website ( that day.

The article is online here: A word for nonbelievers

[Be sure to vote on their related online poll.]

FOX News picked up the story nationally the next day.

Video of the coverage can be found here: Godless Interstate

Steve Rade, the man being interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer and FOX News in the coverage above, donated the $22,500 needed to mount the billboard for three months, and is a key member of the coalition effort PhillyCoR, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Reason, which includes the American Humanist Association and it's independent marketing adjunct FreeThoughtAction, Atheist Alliance International, the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia, and Temple University Secular Students.

See also:

"Imagine No Religion" Billboard Campaign Visits Denver for Two Months

The IHEU 17th World Humanist Congress And The AHA 67th Annual National Conference

Last week (June 5-8), Humanists from over twenty countries attended The IHEU 17th World Humanist Congress And The AHA 67th Annual National Conference at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington DC.

Over 500 participants gathered in our nation's capital for an exciting four-day conference filled with breakout sessions, plenaries, panel discussions, and award ceremonies honoring such Humanists as Rep. Pete Stark, Jamie Raskin, Matthew LaClair, Judge John E. Jones, Eleanor Smeal, Carolyn Porco, and Philip Pullman. Attendees were also treated to a surprise keynote speech by Christopher Hitchens on the final day of the conference.

During the event, Representative Pete Stark was named 2008 Humanist of the Year and
Humanism got a Million Dollar Boost from Louis Appignani.

The American Humanist Association thanks all who attended.

Humanists Applaud U.S. Supreme Court For Upholding Detainee Rights

Washington -- Humanists applauded today's U.S. Supreme Court decision that backed habeas corpus rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In Boumediene v. Bush, the court ruled 5-4 that prisoners cannot be held indefinitely and without charges at Guantanamo, the U.S. naval base in Cuba. It is the third such ruling against the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners. But here the Court said that the political branches don't have "the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will" by deciding for themselves when and where the Constitution's terms apply or to say "what the law is."

"This is a great reaffirmation of the rule of law against a runaway executive branch," commented Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "The Bush Administration's policies toward detainees have been both inhumane and un-American. Holding people indefinitely without trial, practicing torture, and trying to make an end run on the Constitution aren't what America is about. This is not what our country stands for. Thankfully the High Court agrees."

The ruling not only declared that detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution but that the current system of classification of "enemy combatant" and review is inadequate. The court has twice ruled that detainees can challenge their detention in civilian court. The Bush Administration and a then Republican controlled Congress have previously argued that detainees have no rights and aren't entitled to civilian court hearings. In today's ruling, the court specifically struck down a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that denied habeas corpus rights to detainees.

"Habeas corpus is one of the most fundamental aspects of our legal system," added Mel Lipman, a constitutional attorney and president of the American Humanist Association. "And we're pleased that the Court also acted to prevent further delay in this case, given that some of these detainees have been behind bars for more than six years now. But it remains for the Court to firmly recognize that the principle of habeas corpus must be extended to all persons in our detention, regardless of the extraordinary conditions of the times. The Constitution can't be suspended just because we're engaged in an undeclared war against non-state actors."

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens formed the majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Approximately 270 detainees are currently at Guantanamo held on ties to al-Qaeda and suspicion of terrorism.


See also:

Justices: Gitmo detainees can challenge detention in U.S. courts

Supreme Court: Guantanamo Detainees Have Habeas Rights

Supreme Court ruling could free scores from Guantanamo

Detention Camp Remains, but Not Its Rationale

Somewhat related:

How Germany Is Dismantling Civil Rights amid Terror Fears

Conservative Political Courage in England

Creationist Bill Passed By Louisiana House Of Representatives

On June 11, 2008, with less than two weeks left in the legislative calendar, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 733, a bill which opens the door to creationism in public school science classes. The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Frank Hoffman and in the Senate by Sen. Ben Nevers, purports to "promote critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."


See also:

The new Louisiana Coalition for Science

Europe's Last Witch Pardoned By State

THE last witch executed in Europe was a victim of "judicial murder" more than 200 years ago, the government of the Swiss canton of Glarus said yesterday.

The decision to exonerate Anna Goeldi, executed in 1782, came after a long debate in the Swiss state. It was initially blocked by local authorities and the Protestant Church.


See also:

Deadly Hunt For 'Witches' Haunts Kenya Villagers - Mob of more than 100 kills 15

Today Is Friday The 13th, But Should You Be Worried?

The superstition surrounding Friday the 13th has connotations steeped in biblical history and numerology, and the date reflects a double whammy of bad luck.

The number 13 is said to come from the number of apostles attending the ill-fated Last Supper, while Friday is a day of blackness because that's the day the crucifixion took place. Another school of thought contends that the tradition came from a single event -- the slaughter of the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307.


See also:



Texas Sect Leader: Doomsday Begins Thursday, June 12

A Brief History Of The Unicorn

In a centuries long case of mistaken identity, we've finally rounded up another suspect. The June 11 discovery of a one-year-old, one-horned deer may put Bambi in the company of the rhinoceros, the narwhal and the onyx as creatures who spawned the enduring myth of the unicorn.


Interesting books on the subject:

"The Lore of the Unicorn" by Odell Shepard

"Unicorn -- Myth and Reality" by Rudiger Robert Beer

And just for fun...

"Unicornis" by Michael Green and James J. O'Donnell (Fantasy, Art)

"The Last Unicorn" by Peter S. Beagle (Fantasy)

Group Asks Court To Halt Gay Marriage

SAN FRANCISCO -- A conservative Christian group heaved up the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass when it asked the California appeals court Thursday to temporarily prohibit gay marriages in a last-ditch attempt to derail the commencement of same-sex unions next week.


Naked Jogging Priest Found Guilty Of Indecent Exposure

GREELEY, Colo. -- A Roman Catholic priest who said he was jogging naked during the predawn hours because he didn't want to sweat in his clothes was found guilty Thursday of indecent exposure.


Education And Civil Liberties Groups Assert That Tax Commission Overstepped Its Bounds In Attacking State Constitution

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has joined litigation in Florida designed to remove two ballot amendments that would erase religious freedom safeguards and harm public schools in the state.


The amendments would permit voucher subsidies for religious and other private schools in Florida and eliminate the state constitution's language barring tax aid to religion. The result would be that houses of worship and religious schools would receive massive new streams of public funding. The measures were engineered onto the ballot through backdoor political maneuvering by former Gov. Jeb Bush, an ardent advocate of taxpayer aid to churches and church schools.


Religious Clashes Erupt In India

At least 40 people have been injured in religious clashes on a remote delta island in India's eastern state of West Bengal, police say.


Terror Accused 'Wanted To Set Up Islamic State In Scotland'

TWO Muslim supporters of "violent jihad" discussed setting up a secret Islamic state in a remote part of Scotland, a court heard yesterday.


Al-Sadr: New Force To Fight U.S. In Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is establishing a new fighting force to battle U.S.-led troops in Iraq, he said in a letter read in Iraqi mosques Friday.


See also:

Iraq Says Talks on Pact With U.S. at Impasse

Maliki says talks over U.S. troop presence at an impasse

Militias Gone From Basra But Fear, Apprehension Remain

Afghan Suicide Blast Hits U.S. Troops

(CBS) A Taliban suicide attack hit a U.S. military convoy in northeastern Afghanistan Friday, leaving at least nine soldiers dead, according to CBS News' British partner network Sky News and Taliban sources.


Six Killed In Northern Gaza Blast

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Six people were killed and more than 60 were injured Thursday when an explosion ripped through a senior Hamas commander's house in northern Gaza, Palestinian security sources said.


See also:

Gaza Cease-Fire Talks Falter Amid Violence

One In Five Religious Persons Visit Church, Mosque Weekly

THE HAGUE -- Nearly 60 percent of the Dutch population say they have a faith. But only 20 percent of this group go to a church, mosque or other place of worship every week, reports the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) based on data from 2005/2006.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Texas Sect Leader: Doomsday Begins Thursday, June 12

Nuclear war will begin Thursday, June 12, or sooner, according to the latest prediction of self-proclaimed prophet Yisrayl "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins, the founder of a religious sect in Abilene, Texas.


See also:

Christian service 'sends email from the dead'

Document storage and "Rapture" triggered email messaging system

The day of judgment

Put A Little Science In Your Life

Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that's precise, predictive and reliable -- a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional. To be able to think through and grasp explanations -- for everything from why the sky is blue to how life formed on earth -- not because they are declared dogma but rather because they reveal patterns confirmed by experiment and observation, is one of the most precious of human experiences.


Hints Of 'Time Before Big Bang'

A team of physicists has claimed that our view of the early Universe may contain the signature of a time before the Big Bang.


See also:

Hints of structure beyond the visible universe

Trailer For Religulous

The documentary RELIGULOUS follows political humorist and author Bill Maher ("Real Time With Bill Maher," "Politically Incorrect") as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion.


More humor:

Regime change in heaven

Promotion Of Religion Is Not Legislators' Job, Say Civil Liberties Groups

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas submitted a friend-of-the-court brief today to a federal appeals court urging the court to rule against a religiously motivated 2003 amendment to Texas' "moment-of-silence" statute. The amendment added "pray" to the statute's list of activities for students during the moment of silence.


See also:

IRS Should Investigate Minnesota Church For Electioneering, Says Americans United

Calif. Polygamist Convicted Of Torturing 19 Kids

MURRIETA, Calif. - A self-described polygamist was convicted Wednesday of charges that he tortured and abused some of his wives and 19 children and stepchildren.


Woman Says Jesus Told Her To Kill Her Husband

Greenville County, SC -- A woman accused of killing her common-law husband told authorities her husband had used the Lord's name in vain too many times and that she shot him because "Jesus told me to do it," according to court testimony Wednesday.


Report: Troubling Texts At Va. Islamic School

McLEAN, Va. - Textbooks at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.


South Carolina: Christian License Plate Law Approved

South Carolina now offers specialty license plates both for atheists and Christians.


Stanton Council Ousts Mayor, Apparently Over Prayer Flap

Stanton, CA -- The City Council this week ousted Mayor David Cadena.


Will Smith's Scientology School

When people first heard Will Smith and his wife, Jada, were donating $1 million to a new private school, there were cheers all round, however, the press has changed its tune after discovering the facility will be run on Scientology principles.


One In Four Don't Believe In God, Poll Finds

Fewer than three-quarters of Canadians believe in a god, suggests a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey.


The Great Evangelical Decline

What Baptist leaders have known for years is finally public: The Southern Baptist Convention is a denomination in decline. Half of the SBC's 43,000 churches will have shut their doors by 2030 if current trends continue.

And unless God provides a miracle, the trends will continue. The denomination's growth rate has been declining since the 1950s. The conservative/fundamentalist takeover 30 years ago was supposed to turn the trend around; it didn't make a bit of difference.


See also:

Shrinking Flock Examines Its Identity

A New Step In Evolution

One of the most important experiments in evolution is going on right now in a laboratory in Michigan State University. A dozen flasks full of E. coli are sloshing around on a gently rocking table. The bacteria in those flasks has been evolving since 1988--for over 44,000 generations. And because they've been so carefully observed all that time, they've revealed some important lessons about how evolution works.


See also:

Bacteria make major evolutionary shift in the lab


Complex Synapses Drove Brain Evolution

New Way To Think About Earth's First Cells

Loyal to Its Roots

Opponents Of Evolution Adopting A New Strategy

DALLAS -- Opponents of teaching evolution, in a natural selection of sorts, have gradually shed those strategies that have not survived the courts. Over the last decade, creationism has given rise to "creation science," which became "intelligent design," which in 2005 was banned from the public school curriculum in Pennsylvania by a federal judge.

Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are "creationism" or "intelligent design" or even "creator."

The words are "strengths and weaknesses."


See also:

Debating creationism in Louisiana schools

Analysis of SB 733: 'LA Science Education Act'

Louisiana Will Face Lawsuit If New Law Brings Religion Into Public School Science Classes, Says Americans United

The Cons of Creationism

Darwin still causing waves after 150 years

Creationist Theme Park Plan Stirs Up Locals

Germany -- A Swiss firm has announced plans to construct a "Genesis Land" in the Heidelberg area. But local politicians and theologians don't like the prospect of becoming home to an anti-Darwin amusement park.


Indian School Names Monkey God Chairman

LUCKNOW, India (AP) -- He's a revered Hindu monkey god. And now, he's the chairman of an Indian business school.


See also:

Widow throws party to find place in heaven

Albinos, Long Shunned, Face Threat In Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- Many people in Tanzania - and across Africa, for that matter - believe albinos have magical powers. They stand out, often the lone white face in a black crowd, a result of a genetic condition that impairs normal skin pigmentation and strikes about 1 in 3,000 people here. Tanzanian officials say witch doctors are now marketing albino skin, bones and hair as ingredients in potions that are promised to make people rich.


Couple Charged In Norway Over Genital Mutilation Of 5 Daughters

Police said they have filed preliminary charges against a husband and wife for the genital mutilation of five of their daughters, the first such case opened under Norwegian laws against female circumcision.



EGYPT: Parliament criminalizes female circumcision

Al-Qaida Threatens Norway

Terrorist organization al-Qaida, which has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Danish Embassy in Pakistan, now is making threats against Norway as well.


The 14-Year-Old Afghan Suicide Bomber

As three soldiers are blown up, teenager caught on a lethal mission reveals how he was groomed to kill British troops.


See also:

'I Wish I Had the Taliban as My Soldiers' says President Hamid Karzai

Australia calls for 10,000 more troops in Afghanistan

Analysis: May was Afghanistan's most violent month

Security Reports Show a Country in Crisis With Number of U.S. Troops Killed Rising

Fear, disillusion and despair: notes from a divided land as peace slips away

Afghanistan Unraveling

Militants' Rise In Pakistan Points To Opportunity Lost

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. and its allies squandered an opportunity to cement alliances with tribal elders they regard as key to driving Islamic extremists out of havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and now face a long and costly effort to regain influence there, counter-terrorism officials and diplomats say.


See also:

Taliban Leader Flaunts Power Inside Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban likely behind Danish embassy blast: officials

6 Dead After Pakistan Embassy Blast

2nd Blast This Week Kills 3 In Pakistan

Musharraf Resists Pressure To Quit


Pagan sect at Pakistan border lives amid conservative Muslims