It turns out that we Atheists are possessed by demonic spirits but don’t realize it!

Where is “New Atheism” going?

Richard Dawkins and a little controversy are never too far apart. More on fairy tales here.

The winning essay for The Moral Landscape Challenge with Sam Harris. Later some follow up clarification was posted on how Science allows us to form justified beliefs about the world. Some interesting ideas and further reading on the formation of human morality here.

In India, Sanal Edamaruku has been accused of blasphemy for exposing miracle claims. This time Catholics are taking it as a direct insult of their Church.

Pope Cuddles wants to meet with the victims of child abuse. We would prefer if all remaining Catholic priests that are still abusing were arrested.

An introduction to Homeopathy might make you feel better.

Steven Novella on childhood vaccinations.

American attitudes towards Climate Change.

A Gallup poll shows that 42% of Americans are biblical creationists.

Pope Cuddles wants to bring peace to the Middle East using the power of prayer.

Paul Krugman on Inequality Denial.

The indiscriminate use of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have fostered a climate of religious violence and vigilantism.  

A discussion about Faith Schools.

Power through consent, not coercion and the Mirage of Political Islam.

A newly discovered type of planet, Kepler-10c, has been dubbed the “Goliath of Planets”

What happens the brain when people have a “spiritual experience?

The Gene Genie – students build the first eukaryotic chromosome!!

“The Unbelievers” movie by Dawkins and Krauss is available for download from iTunes.

God admits that the afterlife was never “anything more than speculation”.

Ten things we did not know last week.

Coffee Break Video: The Universe in a Nutshell  and Humans beings are works in progress.

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Replies to This Discussion

Yes, I think he lets himself down disgracefully. 

Some theists just love Dawkins!!

I can see he's got a valuable role to play.  And there's no harm in being colourful.  Sam Harris and the others are a bit over-academic for some situations.  We need a (sorry Richard) goofy Nigel Farage character sometimes. 

Reg, thanks for an excellent Sunday School as always.  The article on Sam Harris' website is rather fascinating.  In his essay criticizing (as invited by SH) perceived weaknesses in The Moral Landscape, Ryan Born states "Science cannot show empirically that health is good."  This is one of the cruxes of the matter.  Whatever is good can only ever be what you choose to be good.  It's always arbitrary.  However, as human beings, we have intuition about what feels good (i.e. healthy) and what doesn't.  We can formally codify this into a moral system and then choose to abide by it because we like the results: prosocial behaviour makes us more healthy, and we like to be healthy.  This moral system inevitably involves making sacrifices for other people, and it can be argued that in doing the right thing as agreed in the moral system, we end up happiest in the long run even if we have to make sacrifices.  This way of making sacrifices echoes our earliest beginnings as human beings cooperating for our very survival in small groups.  It fucking works.  It's easy to implement by anyone.  That's all that is required.  

The one I've come up with combines two moral axioms (health is good, take responsibility for your actions) with virtue ethics (how you carry out actions) with consequentialism (what do you think of the consequences, way after the fact?, or previous consequences of similar actions) and a form of utilitarianism (the greatest benefit and least harm for each person affected by your action).  This is real morality as it happens in the real world, not the contrived special cases you tend to get in philosophy classrooms.  

Mr Born states, "Ethics, i.e. moral philosophy, is a prescriptive enterprise, and thus will not yield so easily."  I say, describe what works, and why, and that is enough of a prescription.  You can't force people to do anything.  They'll do it because they choose to.  A crucial part of that is to advise people to watch out for sharks: don't be a sucker.  Be good but not a sucker. 

Philosophical justifications for morality.  "Once again I thank all those who have critiqued my ideas – I have found the input valuable. And I welcome further criticisms"  - you and me both.  Find me just one and I'll be happy. 

I shouldn't moan.  It's up to me to trawl the world using my computer. 

This made me laugh, from Private Eye a while back.  Even so, despite it all, I like Richard Dawkins.

Just added another story:

The Gene Genie – students build the first eukaryotic chromosome!!

Regarding the poll that indicates 42% of Americans are Biblical creationists - Wow!  I've seen that statistic before, and it was upsetting then, but it just now hit home.  I wonder if anybody has any data on what life events or education can, if not make atheists out of theists, at least help them see that Biblical creationism can't have happened?  Can we have any effect on these people?  I don't want to take away anybody's faith, but do they have to follow the thole story, hook, line, and sinker?

Obviously, having good science education in the public schools is key.  That then becomes a political issue, and for me right now, a call to action.  I have contacted my state legislators when there were bills in the NH Senate that were attacking scientific education, and those bills did not indeed pass.  I am not imagining that my emails alone made the Senate Education Committee vote reasonably, but they can't have hurt.

I am not a politically-inclined person.  I pretty much want to live my life, taking care of my family and trying to pay it forward the best I can.  I feel, like I do about national elections, that my vote doesn't really matter, but I vote anyway.  It is a symbol of having a voice.  Right now I feel like I need to find more of a voice, and try to productively and positively lower that 42%.  It seems a bit futile, however, but if we do nothing, it will certainly be futile.

The type of teacher that children don’t need and the teacher they should have. Well done on contacting the Education Committee. Take no prisoners.


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Sunday School May 28th 2017

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