Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Faux News does it again!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

*Sigh* Idiots

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gen. Petraeus "Atheists in Military Leads to Failures"




In the General's defense, theists typically make better murderers than unbelievers.

Jane Goodall @ TEDTalks: What separates us from the apes?

Bill O Reilly Sends NEWSCORP's Stock Falling 34%

Rick Warren thinks no Atheist should be president.

Apparently Mr. Warren hasn't read the Constitution: Article VI section III

"...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States". Instead the example below would be preferable to an Atheist.




Monday, August 18, 2008

Intolerant Fundies...and Jesus needs his balls to drop!

VOTE NOW! - MSNBC Poll

Please vote here


Should the motto "In God We Trust" be removed from U.S. currency?
Yes. It's a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.
40%
No. The motto has historical and patriotic significance and does nothing to establish a state religion.
60%

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Richard Dawkins Lecture at UC Berkeley











Christian family kills 1 year old for not saying "Amen"

Associated Press

BALTIMORE - After denying Javon Thompson food and water for two days because he wouldn't say "Amen" after meals, the 1-year-old's caretakers waited for a divine sign that their message had been heard: a resurrection.

For more than a week, police say in charging documents describing the scene, the child's lifeless body lay in the back room of an apartment. Queen Antoinette, the 40-year-old leader of a group that called itself 1 Mind Ministries, brought in her followers and told them to pray. God, she said, would raise Javon from the dead.

Instead, Javon's body began to decompose.

The boy's mother, 21-year-old Ria Ramkissoon, and four other people authorities say are members of the group face first-degree murder charges in his death. But Ramkissoon's mother and attorney say that she was brainwashed by a cult and acted only at the group leader's will.

"The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots," Ramkissoon's attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said Tuesday after a court hearing. "She bought the program hook, line and sinker."

Court documents describe a group that operated secretly, dressed all in white and eschewed medical care. Antoinette, also known as Toni Sloan or Toni Ellsberry, called her followers "princes" and "princesses." And she and her followers were possessive of the children under their care.

The group never had more than a dozen members. It did not operate out of a remote compound, and the specifics of Antoinette's religious beliefs are unclear. However, it meets the definition of a cult, said Rick A. Ross, who has studied cults for 26 years, provided expert testimony and staged hundreds "interventions" to get people out of cults.

"It fits the profile of a classic cult in the sense that it's a personality-driven group and that Queen Antoinette is that animating personality and central defining element of the group," Ross said.

Young victims
Children have been killed in similar groups for failing to follow cult teachings, Ross said, and that appears to have been the case with Javon, who was viewed as a "demon," according to police statements supporting the murder charges.

Ramkissoon's association with the group began shortly after Javon was born in September 2005, according to her mother, Seeta Khadan-Newton. She gave birth at 18, and was struggling to care for her baby while working and taking college classes, she said.

Khadan-Newton, who moved with her daughter from their native Trinidad when the girl was 8, described Ramkissoon as sweet-natured and trusting. Khadan-Newton is Hindu, but her daughter became a Christian. Ramkissoon's church betrayed her trust, her mother said, when its pastor pleaded guilty to molesting boys in the congregation.

Ramkissoon was friends with Tiffany Smith, then a member of the group, and 1 Mind Ministries began recruiting her, Khadan-Newton said. After spending time with cult members, Ramkissoon started worrying she was going to hell.

"My daughter was very religious. She was into the Bible — obsessed with it," Khadan-Newton said. "They (were) going to show her the right way. She got sucked into it."

'She was brainwashed'


Ramkissoon left home with Javon in April 2006, and Khadan-Newton, who keeps a collage of photos of the child in her apartment, has not seen them since. But Khadan-Newton hasn't wavered in her belief that her daughter was not responsible for her grandson's death.

"She was brainwashed," she said.

Fearful for her grandson, Khadan-Newton began a drawn-out, heartbreaking effort to rescue him and his mother. She pleaded with police, social workers, judges and politicians to intervene, but she said she always got the same response: Since the child was with his mother, who left home willingly, nothing could be done. She sued for custody, but her daughter could not be found to be served with papers.

"I fear for (my grandson's) and my daughter's safety, you see. They are in a cult. I haven't seen or heard from my daughter since April," Khadan-Newton wrote in a letter to Circuit Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion about a month before the child died.

State Secretary of Human Resources Brenda Donald said her agency has records of a couple of calls about Javon, including one in October 2007 from a person who said he was a relative of the boy and one several months later from a health care worker who knew a cult member.

Investigators went to an address they were given by the first caller but found it was vacant, Donald said. She said they weren't able to follow up because the caller would not leave his name or contact information.

There was no documentation of calls from Khadan-Newton, Donald said.

"It's a tragic, tragic situation and we responded with the information that we had in a responsive way and unfortunately it didn't change the outcome," she said.

Meanwhile, after cult members abandoned hope of Javon's resurrection, they switched to Plan B, police say. Antoinette burned Javon's clothing and mattress and put his body in a green suitcase. She stuffed the suitcase with mothballs and fabric softener sheets, and opened it occasionally to spray disinfectant inside.

In early 2007, cult members stored the suitcase behind a home in Philadelphia and relocated to New York City, according to police, who found the suitcase more than a year later, the body still inside.

Not knowing her grandson was dead, Khadan-Newton traveled in February 2008 to the Brooklyn apartment where the group was staying, and spoke to her daughter through an intercom. Ramkissoon called her by her first name, instead of Mom, Khadan-Newton said, and there were long pauses after Khadan-Newton asked questions about Javon's whereabouts.

A different daughter


"She said, 'My son is fine,'" Khadan-Newton said. "They (were) coaching her and telling her what to say."

In part because of Khadan-Newton's contact with a social worker in New York, authorities there tracked down Antoinette and two other cult members wanted in a separate case: Trevia Williams, 21, and Marcus A. Cobbs, 21. They were later charged in Javon's death. Ramkissoon returned to Baltimore and was living in a homeless shelter when she was arrested. A fifth person charged in the case, Steven Bynum, 42, is being sought in New York.

Ramkissoon called her mother last Sunday from the city jail. At first, Khadan-Newton didn't realize that she was speaking to her daughter — a conversation that reinforced her belief that Ramkissoon remains under the group's control.

"She sounded empty, like an empty shell. There was no emotion," Khadan-Newton said. "I was shocked. I didn't even recognize her voice. ... It's not the same person."


Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

William Lane Craig's "probability calculus" unraveled

William Lane Craig in his debates with Bart Ehrman and James Crossley, and probably other presentations, as well, offered something he called "probability calculus," where he argues against ruling out the Resurrection of Jesus based on its inherent improbability. I would like to break down this probability, which Craig touts as if it were some kind of helpful information. Bart Ehrman, who I assume has little if any education in probability and statistics, was not able to refute Craig in detail, instead dismissing the argument, saying, "mathematics is simply irrelevant" in the context of the Resurrection. And he's absolutely right. But that isn't a very satisfying refutation, is it?

Before we get into this further, I should note that despite Craig's terming this as "calculus," we really aren't doing anything more than basic algebra in our calculations. In other words, anyone with a high school degree should be able to follow along just fine as I go through this.

Also, it may help to see the video where Craig presents his "calculus" (beginning at time 2:45):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUMsCKlIBAo

Craig gives us this little equation:







Craig's notation here is a little unusual, so let's convert it to something a bit more conventional:






...where "S" stands for our background scientific knowledge, "R" stands for the Resurrection, and "E" stands for the specific evidence we have in the way of ancient testimony, Scripture, knowledge of first-century Jewish culture, etc. Please note that "¬" means "not."

Now, in order for something to be probable, it must have a probability value of greater than 0.5. So:







Plug that into our original equation:







Now let's make an equivalent substitution. Basic probability theory tells us that:





Hats off to hatsoff for his post on the subject.

This is what an overdose of Christianity does to you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Help get this hate group's tax exemption revoked - Catholic League

Please Fill out a 13909

Send it to this address: eoclass@irs.gov

Here is the info you will need on the form:

Catholic League

450 Seventh Avenue

New York, NY 10123

(212) 371-3191

Fax: (212) 371-3394

President name: William Donahue

Offense:

The Catholic League ran by William Donahue has engaged in libel against a Senator of the United States who is running for president. The group claims that Senator Barack Obama supports infanticide!

View the hate speech here

Infanticide: the practice of someone intentionally causing the death of an infant.

Infant: A child up to 2 years (24 months) of age.

The word "infant" came from the Latin infans which was derived from in-, not + Fari, to speak = not to speak, speechless. The idea was that, since the ability to speak was thought to arrive at the age of two, younger children were infants.

By an odd twist, some adults may only show their infantile attitudes when they open their mouths to speak - like Mr. Donahue.

Please fill out the form provided and email it to the address at the top of this page.

Just in case William Donahue reads this here is a message for him:




Swedish government bans Religion in Schools -- even private ones

By: Andrew Brown writing for the Guardian

The Swedish government has announced plans to clamp down hard on religious education. It will soon become illegal even for private faith schools to teach religious doctrines as if they were true. In an interesting twist on the American experience, prayer will remain legal in schools - after all, it has no truth value. But everything that takes place on the curriculum's time will have to be secular. "Pupils must be protected from every sort of fundamentalism," said the minister for schools, Jan Björklund.

Creationism and ID are explicitly banned but so is proselytising even in religious education classes. The Qur'an may not be taught as if it is true even in Muslim independent schools, nor may the Bible in Christian schools. The decision looks like a really startling attack on the right of parents to have their children taught what they would like. Of course it does not go so far as the Dawkins policy of prohibiting parents from trying to pass on their doctrines even in their own families - and, if it did, it would certainly run foul of the European convention on human rights. It does not even go as far as Nyamko Sabuni, the minister for integration - herself born in Burundi - would like: she wanted to ban all religious schools altogether. But it is still a pretty drastic measure from an English perspective.

The law is being presented in Sweden as if it mostly concerned fundamentalist Christian sects in the backwoods; but the Christian Democratic party, which represents such people if anyone does, is perfectly happy with the new regulation. There is little doubt that combating Islamic fundamentalism is the underlying aim, especially in conjunction with another new requirement that all independent schools declare all their funding sources. This would allow the inspectors - whose budget is being doubled - to concentrate their efforts on those schools most likely to be paid to break the rules.

In the background to these announcements comes the release of a frightening documentary film on Swedish jihadis, which follows young men over a period of two years on their slow conversion to homicidal lunacy.

The question is whether we in Britain will come to see this as a necessary move in the struggle to contain Islamist ideologies. Can a defence of freedom convincingly be mounted by a state that takes such a firm view of what is or is not true? Or can freedom not be preserved without such measures? The dilemma makes no sense from a completely liberal position, where it is assumed that the truth will always win out in fair competition, and that the state is almost always to be distrusted. But Swedes have never really been liberal in that sense, notwithstanding the fact that the two ministers involved here are members of the Liberal party.

Superficially, the British position could not be more different. The British government's strategy with Islam or protestant extremism in Ulster has been - so far as we have had one - flattery and corruption, or what Microsoft, in another context, calls "embracing and extending". Find the leaders, flatter them, and draw them into the ruling class in the hope that they will then cooperate and see that their followers do too. The gamble that the government is taking on faith schools is that if religious groups are given their own schools to run, they will do so in ways that will turn out for the benefit of society as a whole, as well as of their pupils. Certainly this works quite well with the Church of England. Anglican schools are happy, by and large, to teach religion as if it were not true; to put it in a more flattering light, they concentrate more on the fruits of the spirit than on dogma. However, no one supposes that society is threatened by a terrorist movement nurtured in C of E primary schools.

Demanding that Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic schools stop teaching their own religions as if they were true, which is essentially the Swedish position, looks an impossible task for a British government. But I think it might also be a necessary one. It is certainly the only way to discover whether the parents of such schools really want the "ethos" or the pseudo-factual beliefs and what exactly it is that the people who fund them think they are buying with their money.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Richard Dawkins and Alister McGrath



From "Root of All Evil? The Uncut Interviews" 3-DVD Set

Buy it here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Atheist Debaptism Ceremony



A little girl gets debaptised by American Atheists' Legal Director Edwin Kagin at a special ceremony.

There is no dunking anyone in holy water for these atheists.

All you need is a hair dryer.

In case anyone's wondering, no, they aren't taking this seriously. It's all in good fun.

However, it does point out how irrational it is to believe Baptisms will "save" a person.

Holy water has the same effect as the blow dryer in the video does -- none at all.

FLASHBACK: Bush's 2000 RNC Convention hypocrisy

Profile: Stephen Jay Gould - Classic Film











Why Senator John McCain Cannot Be President: Eleven Months and a Hundred Yards Short of Citizenship

Gabriel Chin's paper on McCain:

Abstract:

Senator McCain was born in 1936 in the Canal Zone to U.S. citizen parents. The Canal Zone was territory controlled by the United States, but it was not incorporated into the Union. As requested by Senator McCain's campaign, distinguished constitutional lawyers Laurence Tribe and Theodore Olson examined the law and issued a detailed opinion offering two reasons that Senator McCain was a natural born citizen. Neither is sound under current law. The Tribe-Olson Opinion suggests that the Canal Zone, then under exclusive U.S. jurisdiction, may have been covered by the Fourteenth Amendment's grant of citizenship to "all persons born . . . in the United States." However, in the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court held that "unincorporated territories" were not part of the United States for constitutional purposes. Accordingly, many decisions hold that persons born in unincorporated territories are not Fourteenth Amendment citizens. The Tribe-Olson Opinion also suggests that Senator McCain obtained citizenship by statute. However, the only statute in effect in 1936 did not cover the Canal Zone. Recognizing the gap, in 1937, Congress passed a citizenship law applicable only to the Canal Zone, granting Senator McCain citizenship, but eleven months too late for him to be a citizen at birth. Because Senator John McCain was not a citizen at birth, he is not a "natural born Citizen" and thus is not "eligible to the Office of President" under the Constitution.

This essay concludes by exploring how changes in constitutional law implied by the Tribe-Olson Opinion, such as limiting the Insular Cases and expanding judicial review of immigration and nationality laws passed by Congress, could make Senator McCain a citizen at birth and thus a natural born citizen.

Read the paper in its entirety here.

Another act of a loving god

Reuters:

CHANDIGARH, India - At least 145 people, mostly women and children, were crushed to death under the feet of thousands of pilgrims in a stampede at a temple in northern India on Sunday, police said.

"We have confirmation now that 145 people have been killed," Daljit Singh Manhas, a senior police officer told Reuters by telephone.

Chanting and singing hymns, Hindu worshippers were snaking up a 2.5-mile trail, leading to a hill-top temple in Himachal Pradesh state, when part of iron railings on one side of the road broke, causing the stampede.

Thinking there was a landslide, the pilgrims panicked and started fleeing down the hillside, trampling falling women and children, police and witnesses said.

Earlier, The Associated Press quoted a policeman as saying that at least 68 people, including 30 children were killed at the mountaintop Hindu temple. But the figure changed quickly.

"The injured have been taken to two places and the toll could be more as we are awaiting news from other hospitals," Manhas added.

Thousands of worshippers had gathered at the temple in Bilaspur to pray to a Hindu goddess during an annual festival.

Witnesses said people jumped over broken railings and bodies to save themselves. Children lost their grip on their mothers' hands and were crushed under the feet of scared pilgrims.

"Many children and women were shouting for help and I saw people tumbling down the hillside," pilgrim Dev Swarup, 48, told Reuters by telephone from Bilaspur.

"There were rumors of boulders coming down on us and we all ran like the others," said Swarup, his voice choked with emotion.

'Too many rumors'
Slippers, parts of torn clothes and bags with flowers and offerings lay along the narrow path winding up the hill, television pictures showed.

People crowded into hospitals looking for injured relatives.

A television channel showed a young women pilgrim pleading for water in a corner as rescuers brought more injured people on stretchers for treatment.

More than 10,000 people were trying to get into the temple and police had to struggle desperately to keep the situation under control.

"There were too many rumors, and we tried our best to keep things under control, but it went out of hand," one officer said.

Most of the worshippers were from the neighboring state of Punjab, with numbers rising sharply at the weekend.

Stampedes at temples are not uncommon in India where thousands of people gather to pray during festivals. In 2005, about 265 pilgrims were killed in a stampede near a temple in the western state of Maharashtra.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Debate: PZ versus Banana Boy

Believe it or not:

PZ Myers will be debating none other than "Banana Man" Ray Comfort.

It will take place on August 5th at 10 AM on WDAY 970

For more info go to Dr. Myers site here.