Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Quick Atheism and Religion Rundown for the Day

A Brief History of Disbelief
P. Zed Myers mentioned A Brief History of Disbelief the other day. He was having some problems find it in his area. Seems that it's causing a bit of controversy in the US, surprisingly. (Pharyngula: Flex your muscles a little, infidels)
He pushes people to protest and push for this series.
Either way, this is probably a good time to contact your local public broadcasting station and tell them you'd like to see them pick up this program, and pretty please, don't show it at 3am. Let's let the godless demographic make itself known, politely but firmly.
It's not like we're lobbying Fox News. Don't you all suspect that public broadcasting's viewership is skewed our way? All it takes is a phone call, so let's make our existence known in this simple and unthreatening matter.

I've seen A Brief History and I can say that Miller's style is slow, measured, uncontroversial in that languid BBC way.
I did like seeing Theoden from Lord of the Rings reading the quotes from Seneca, Hobbes, Epicurus et al.
If the program isn't available in your area, push for it to be screened. If you're in Canada this should be a dawdle. Let's face it, the CBC will never run from a good controversial documentary, whilst ironically churning out safe, middle of the road, middle funny sitcoms.
Stranger Fruit brings us a scan of this Letter to the Editor that's really, really, really, you add as many more 'reallys' as you need to, scary.
Rational Response Squad vs. Cameron and Comfort. C and C Devotion Factory got skunked.
Why do I keep The Guardian in my RSS feeds? It's a good paper, has good coverage and allows me to keep up somewhat with goings on in my force-adopted country. What to make, then, of this article (
Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | The New Atheists loathe religion far too much to plausibly challenge it) about the latest in non-theistic publication. There are some real problems with it from the headline
The New Atheists loathe religion far too much to plausibly challenge it
straight on down the line.
It's an extraordinary publishing phenomenon - atheism sells. Any philosopher, professional polemicist or scientist with worries about their pension plan must now be feverishly working on a book proposal. Richard Dawkins has been in the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic since The God Delusion came out last autumn following Daniel Dennett's success with Breaking the Spell. Sam Harris, a previously unknown neuroscience graduate, has now clocked up two bestsellers, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. Last week, Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything was published in the US. The science writer, Matt Ridley, recently commented that on one day at Princeton he met no fewer than three intellectual luminaries hard at work on their God books.

Okay, now let's be generous and include The Pagan Christ and a couple of books by Robert Price on the list to bring it to, what, a dozen? So this new wave, Noachian flood if you will, is a dozen new books in 2-3 years and that's a phenomenon worth sweating over? Don't get me wrong, it's nice to see an increase in atheist and questioning in writing. But what the hell? Have you seen the amount of 'Left Behind' crap out there?
And it's a very ill-tempered debate. The books live up to their provocative titles: their purpose is to pour scorn on religious belief - they want it eradicated (although they differ as to the chances of achieving that).

For a response, see the link above to the Letter to the Editor.

In a way, there's an upside on the Republican Prez debates the other day: 7/10 candidates professed some belief or acceptance of evolution. The prevarications of John McCain aside, I mean.
The Wall of Separation » Blog Archive » Monkey Business: Are Conservative Positions On Origins Finally Evolving?
It’s good to know that not all conservatives these days have adopted the Religious Right’s anti-science views. But we don’t seem to hear much out of them. Perhaps they should consider speaking up a little more often.

And for those who wondered where the condemnation from the Muslim world of OBL and the Al-Qaeda network has been:
Informed Comment
Tom Friedman is a Middle East expert who knows a lot about Islam. Why, then, does he keep saying misleading things? He wrote in his latest column, "To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

The Wall of Separation » Blog Archive » Teacher Gets An ‘F’: Appeals Court Affirms Right Of Public School To Stop Classroom Proselytism
Teacher Gets An ‘F’: Appeals Court Affirms Right Of Public School To Stop Classroom Proselytism
May 8th 2007
Public school faculty are expected to devote their energies to teaching whatever subject they have been assigned, not engaging in efforts to change the religious views of their students.

It's about frikkin' time this sort of thing got sorted out in the US.

Richard Dawkins was on the Ceeb the other day on George Stroumboupoulous's show The Hour.
Richard Dawkins on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos on CBC

Richard Dawkins is an outspoken atheist, secular humanist, and sceptic.
He thinks church is 'absurd' and has to do more with morals than religion. His recent book, 'The God Delusion,' was prostested and critized by religious leaders the world over.
To him, the Bible is fiction, faith is a virus and God is no different from the tooth fairy.

If there's a petition to knock a few 'u's out of Stroumboulpoulous's name, please sign it. It kills my WPM whenever I hit that speedbump.
And a day without Hovind is a day without sunshine...

Pharyngula: Kent Hovind begins to find a conscience
Kent Hovind begins to find a conscience

No I don't think so.
Maybe. In his latest epistle from prison, Hovind has suddenly realized that the right-wing Christian position is unjust. It would be nice if he were undergoing a little actual consciousness-raising, but I expect it has more to do with his "me, me, me" attitude and the awful realization that he is the subject of his own old black-and-white beliefs.

The Panda's Thumb: The Hovind Saga Continues
The Hovind Saga Continues

Hitchens, Sharpton and Faith - The Empire Zone - N.Y. / Region - New York Times Blog

You could tell from the background music that played beforehand – alternating recordings of James Brown and Gregorian chant – that this was going to be an unusual debate.
The question under debate (“Is God great?”) and the speakers — two men who are often depicted in harsh caricatures by their critics — might have caused some to expect something like a circus. Perhaps surprisingly, it turned out to be the public intellectual event of the evening, a bit like Bertrand Russell vs. C. S. Lewis.
Taking the atheist position was Christopher Hitchens, the journalist and author of a new book arguing that “religion poisons everything.” In defense of God was none other than the Rev. Al Sharpton, a man of the cloth who is perhaps even better known for his political and civil rights activism than for his training as a preacher.
Mr. Hitchens and Mr. Sharpton engaged in a sold-out debate tonight before a crowd that packed the Celeste Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library’s Beaux-Arts headquarters on Fifth Avenue. The polite but vigorous discussion was moderated by Jacob Weisberg of Slate Magazine, who began by asking Mr. Hitchens, “What have you got against God?”

And that's that for the day. A little bit of fodder for thought.

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