Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not Alone

I found this article, Cleveland Atheists: A Christmas story, in the Cleveland Scene Online Magazine. It is informative and unbiased in its delivery of the holidays from an atheist's perspective.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Christian Hypocrites

I watched Outside the Lines this morning, a behind the scenes news show for sports. Usually there isn't anything interesting, but today they had a special on Lisa Howe, the former soccer coach of Belmont University, who is a lesbian. Yes, emphasis on the boldfaced words. Belmont is a christian university with a discrimination clause in their contracts. They did not come out and say that her sexual orientation was the reason for the decision, but we (rational people) all know it was just another example of chrisitians being hypocritical. We accept everyone, so long as they are not gay. So this must mean that Belmont must not think of the LGBT community as humans. Christian university, an institution of higher learning. I smell an oxymoron.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Follow up on Bible Study in High School

An anonymous person found my blog, printed off the Bible Study entry and placed it in Mrs. Pullin's mailbox at the school. They highlighted the footer at the bottom of the printout with my blog title with my last name in it. Now there are only 2 reasons why someone would do this. #1: They don't like her or something she is doing and found someone else with the same outlook, which by the way would be their opinion. At no point did I write anything about animosity between us. Our working relationship is very functional and friendly. #2: They don't like me or something I am doing and decided to give her ammo to discredit me in some way. There is one problem here - either reason is completely negated by the fact that they did this anonymously. If you want to express your feelings on this type of situation where there is choice of sides to take, the only sensible and worthwhile way to do so is in person. There is no rationalizing away fears or shyness. If you have a reason to do this, you must have the backbone to personalize it. In conclusion: this anonymous person is just a plain old pussy. If you have something to say, whoever it is directed to, say it. Right now, after reading this post, because I know you are, because you found my blog. Take the time out to address me or her directly. Trust me when you do, it'll feel great.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Science Saved My Soul

I have to thank John Loftus for linking this video.  It is wonderfully presented, so I just had to link it myself for future viewing pleasure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

These are my students

I have an "interesting" group of students in my 7th period Pre-Calc class.  On Carl Sagan day I decided to take some time out of the normal schedule to show some videos of his in honor of him.  The six classes before my last one were all respectful of the content and Sagan.  7th period - not so much.  I have extremely bright students in this class, but for some reason, when it comes to commonly accepted views in the science realm, aka evolution, they are plain defiant.  They made rude comments about Sagan just because he was talking about the wonders of the explanatory power of evolution.  I stopped the video and layed into them.  I asked them what they believed about how species on earth evolved.  I got comments like "The bible says this or that" and god created man.  I asked them to prove this.  Naturally they are not fully matured or evolved in their thinking, let alone true biblical knowledge, so they fell back on what their parents said their bible says.  "SORRY! But you need to provide me with evidence without referencing a book full of reprehensible and immoral acts carried out in the name of your god."  Yes I did.  That sure sent a shock through the class.  They sat in silence until the bell rang.  The next day they brought in this book
Still trying to be funny, a couple of students wrote comments on their quizzes referencing how the problems would be solved because jesus said they would be.  Oh how I wish I could teach them how to be critical thinkers and to analyze their religion they way I did.  The problem is: I like my job.  One dim light of hope was one student now actively engaging with me in defending Christianity.  I asked if his parents knew and they do and have no problem with it - this student is the most "religious" in his family, oddly enough. 

Another interesting thing happened.  I received this email the day after from a 2nd period parent.

Mr. D,
My son (name) shared that his class watched a video on Carl Sagan. He showed me the video on You Tube. Could you explain how this fit in with your Math class?

Mr. xxxxxxxx

He was referencing the evolution video.  Really?  WTF?  I immediately responded by saying that it was to honor one of the greatest deliverers of science to the public we have ever known on a day that is recognized around the world as Carl Sagan day.  I ended the response with "Let me know if you need anything else."  Does this bible thumper really think someone is stupid enough to deconvert minors who are not your own children?  Naturally, I did not get any other emails from this brainwasher.  And people wonder why our country's science education is as sub-standard as it is. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Here's your Sign

I'm driving home from work and see this sign the other day, thinking to myself "I have to take a picture of that tomorrow."  First of all, why choose "Who"?  Oh yeah, because then you could fill in the blank with some god.  Secondly, how fortunate it is that the big bang had a fuse!  Would we not be here if it didn't?  Did some sort of early cosmic episode of the ACME company forget to add a lighting mechanism to Wile E. Coyote's bomb?  And last but not least, the question is framed from an uneducated perspective.  But then again, what would you expect from a church that is most llikely suffering from low attendance?  If they did some reading, combined with a little open-mindedness, they might just learn about the multiverse theory, which essentially states that what we conceive of as the "beginning" of our universe, wasn't really the "beginning of everything".   The moment people of religion do this, the more wonderful this world will be.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ethics in Pizza Ordering?

Here I am getting lesson plans ready for my Algebra II class on z-values, confidence intervals and the central limit theorem, getting ready to order some pizza for dinner, when I go to the store's website and find this message:

Any Delivery Charge is not a tip paid to your driver. Please reward your driver for awesomeness. Our drivers carry less than $20.

Well...then...why charge a delivery charge? It doesn't cost the store any money to deliver, just the driver paying for his fuel. I believe the charge is $2 or $3, which is what I would tip a pizza guy anyways. Ever since pizza delivery has begun charging for delivery, I have stopped tipping the driver, because I thought they instituted this charge to make up for cheap asses not tipping. Now I get this message when ordering pizza online? Sorry, but if they are going to charge me what I would have normally given to the driver, why would I give them anymore?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bible Study at the High School

Another crazy friday was winding down after a spirited pep rally where I was the anchor of the staff tug-o-war team pulling against the seniors in which we got demolished. We all filed back inside from the football field for the end of the day announcements. "Next Tuesday there will be a bible study in Mrs. Pullin's room." I heard that and spoke out loud to my students, "Whatever happened to separation of church and state?" Well I researched the legal aspect of this and found out that it is legal to hold religious group meetings in public education buildings. This is only my third year teaching and I never really thought too much about this. I learned something new.

But this isn't why I am posting this. We had a "religious" discussion in lunch the other day and it was no secret what my thoughts were. Mrs. Pullin never addressed me directly but the way she conversed with the group and the way she became defensive in her posture told me she had a problem with this. Let me remind you that we have had a perfect working relationship in my first 2 years. All of a sudden she organizes a bible study to be held in her room by her (I did find out it is illegal for a non-educator to hold religious meetings in a public school). Now I have no reason to link the 2 events but it seems to me a little more than coincidence. If there is a link, I want to know if this is an offensive move to combat any possible discussions on the topic occurring in my class? The topic does come up in brief snippets here and there but naturally, I am careful with my choice of words. I am considering sitting in on this study and offering an open-minded opinion of how to interpret and read the bible - READ THE WHOLE DAMN THING!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I was reading an interesting post by Explonential, found this video and had to steal it. By the way I don't condone kissing the monkey...unless of course...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can I get a Witness?

I came home from the mechanic shop today to see my friendly neighborhood Jehovah's Witensses walking down my front steps. I thought to myself, Fun times - I have some time to burn. I gave them a warm greeting and let them do their terribly abrupt schpiel. No introductory paragraph. I'm going to tell my fellow english teachers at school on Monday.

Their pamphlet was titled 'Why people do bad things'. I was very polite as George summarized it and John stood by in the dugout. Blah blah, good people doing bad things, blah blah, in the bible it says, blah blah divine inspired word of god. I stopped him and started on my 'I can't base my morals off of a book that is divinely written by the highest power in the universe who has bipolar disorder' rant. I don't think he quite got around to completing a semi-informative response before I went to my 'Science can explain so many things in our world whereas religion only becomes more detrimental to humans' rant. Then he was about to say that science can't explain everything, but I beat him to the punch! I know it can't but that is one thing that is great about the sciences - they carry out experiments that can lead to falsifications. Religion cannot and will never be able to.

Then he tried to talk about design and complexity. 'Do you mean specified complexity?' Yes. 'Cause I've read stuff by William Dembski and Stephen Meyer and it's pretty much a bunch of cool sounding techincal terms thrown around in different order but never really saying anything different from what has already been discounted.'

All in all, I did most of the talking and they did more of the listening. John barely even said ten words. George tried to get cozy with me by saying he loved math because of some genius math teacher he had in high school who needed to imbibe so that he could stop his mind from working non-stop. I am still not sure why he brought that up. Anyway, it was a fun conversation and I got his email. He said he would be back to give me some 'really interesting info' on origins of life. Oh goodie! Hopefully it's something that I haven't heard before!

The Stoning of Soraya M

I just finished watching this movie and I can honestly say that I have never felt more angry at the end of a motion picture. I know that all religions are man-made myths, and I also know how un-evolved the followers of Islam are, but when you see with your own eyes the vile, pure evil that the default religion of the middle eastern region creates, it makes you angry. It made me cry. The director of this movie laid instance upon instance of symbolism in this film. When you see the crowd that forms around Soraya's residence when the "verdict" of guilty comes down from the "town's authority", any non-muslim can understand the picture being painted - how religions spreads like a virus.

There was only one moment that evoked a laugh from me. The high counsel is the first person to cast a stone. He completely whiffs on his three throws before passing his obligation off to the deceitful husband of Soraya. The symbolism was not lost on me. The institution of religion, no matter how long its tendrils have been in place, has no ultimate power over humanity.

Despite all of the monstrosities, there is a tiny bright light shining through. In the process of creating the idea that Soraya is guilty of adultery, the town authority figures blackmail an innocent man, Hesham, into being the final witness needed to bring a verdict of death by stoning. When Hesham is presented with the stones, he lets them fall from his hands. Even after being inundated by and told that religion is exempt from criticism, we find that humanity will prevail in the end.

This is my message world - keep moving forward, out of the grips of ancient superstitions, together against the evils perpetuated by the institution called religion.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tyler, my nephew

One of my sisters has triplets - Vinny, Tyler, Teigan. They will be 2 years old on October 1st. Tyler has caught the short end of the stick when it comes to his health. He struggled the most at birth, has auditory implants, and has strabismus (lazy eye). He recently had surgery for this and it went well. However, in the recovery stage, a physician's assistant at the hospital failed to catheterize his antibiotics correctly - three times. Needless to say this caused Tyler some inconvenience and led to a rather scary situation with an eye infection. He is still in the hopsital recovering. The reason I bring this up is because my mother has consistently asked me to "pray for the poor little guy." I don't know if anyone can relate with a situation like this, but I cannot tell her "No, that won't help him." She has asked me if I believe prayer works and I flat out said no. I have not actually told her I am an atheist. I cannot tell her that it is the probabilistic genetic makeup, mixed with environmental factors that are responsible for his health problems. This speaks to the main reason I believe people, including my mother, believe in a prayer-answering god. They don't have to think about whether or not rational explanations feel "cold and empty". They have a false oasis that welcomes them whenever they "need it". But my questions to her and others are how do you know it worked?, and what about all the other prayers you made? Were they answered? Make no mistake, my mother is brilliant. She absolutely does not fall into the deluded, fundamentalist category. Her belief in a personal-intervening god is the only irrational idea she harbors. At some point in time, I need to have a long conversation with her about her beliefs. At least one, as anyone who comes upon this blog will know.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not Even Good Content for Fiction: Dangerous Christian Plot: Convince Courts Atheism is a Religion

I found this article on a neighbor blog and absolutely had to share it. As an educator these are the ideas that spell doom for our future. Let's not hope, but let's stay focused, work dilgently, and stand firm in reality as it is, so as not to allow these dangerous delusions obscure our vision.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Acceptance Redefined

Apparently the "minds" behind the Creation Museum in Kentucky are not as Christian as the "good book" teaches them to be.

Compulsory Christianity

Barton combined hours of observation and analysis of museum materials into an ethnography, a detailed narrative about a place and its culture that is often used in sociology. Unlike other research methods, the ethnography does not strive for impartiality; rather, the researchers recognize and reflect on their own reactions to what they see.

On her third trip to the museum, Barton took her undergraduate students, who found the visit unsettling. Several in the group were former fundamentalists who had since rejected that worldview. Several others were gay. In part because of these backgrounds, Barton said, the students were on edge at the museum. Particularly nerve-wracking were signs warning that guests could be asked to leave the premises at any time. The group's reservation confirmation also noted that museum staff reserved the right to kick the group off the property if they were not honest about the "purpose of [the] visit."

Because of these messages, Barton said, the students felt they might accidentally reveal themselves as nonbelievers and be asked to leave. This pressure is a form of "compulsory Christianity" that is common in a region known for its fundamentalism, Barton said. People who don't ascribe to fundamentalism often report the need to hide their thoughts for fear of being judged or snubbed.

At one point, Barton reported in her paper, a guard with a dog circled a student pointedly twice without saying anything. When he left, a museum patron approached the student and said, "The reason he did that is because of the way you're dressed. We know you're not religious; you just don't fit in." (The student was wearing leggings and a long shirt, Barton writes.)

The pressures were particularly tough for gay members of the group, thanks to exhibits discussing the sinfulness of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. A lesbian couple became paranoid about being near or touching one another, afraid they would be "found out," Barton writes. This "self-policing" is a common occurrence in same-sex relationships in the Bible Belt, Barton said.

I wonder what security would do if I walked in dressed in a long, white robe with sandals. Do you suppose they would call the press to announce my coming?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Catholic Studies Professor Sticking to his Guns, and Silly Logic

I was reading Michael's Picks from Rationally Speaking on InsideCatholic details for its readers five ways to talk to the Left about same-sex marriage. The fifth way, Show that Gay Marriage is Harmful, compiled a list of people and organizations that were 'harmed' by gay marriage. Two groups of Catholic charities were affected. Boo-hoo. A Canadian teacher was disciplined by the teacher's governing body for denouncing the school’s teaching on homosexuality. His statement: "Sexual orientations can be changed and the success rate for those who seek help is high. My hope is that students who are confused over their sexual orientation will come to see me." Oh yeah by the way he is a school counselor. Umm, it is completely unethical for a counselor to project their own beliefs onto students who have complete trust in them. So once again, boo-hoo.

Now one of the people on the list, Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, lost his job teaching Catholic Studies for explaining why the Church teaches against homosexuality. A student complained via e-mail to the head of the department - "Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one's worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation." Howell states 'he disagrees with the idea that a professor must present lessons without even hinting at his own beliefs on a subject.' And, "It doesn't seem to me to be particularly honest or fair to a student. If you believe something, you can tell the student that. Where it becomes problematic is if it becomes injurious to a student by penalizing them for their beliefs. I always tried to be fair and honest and upfront with my students, and engage them on questions of human reason." Now I have to admit that the student complaining was the one taking the course. What else would you expect to be learning in Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought? As much as I want to help rid the world of all harmful anti-thought, I have to admit that I am in defense of this guy. It is his job to promote the uselessness of Catholic dogmas. However, I hope to one day see secondary and higher education using curriculum like this to address what humans once believed and why they believed it.

Another way to discuss gay marriage with lefty liberals is to focus on the words 'Right' and 'Marriage'. That statement left me unsettled right from the start. I thought, word-play, right? Correct. They focus on what it means to have rights, and that the freedom to marry is not a right. ??? For example, you can't marry someone who is already married, or someone who is related to you, or who is too young. How in the hell does this argue that the freedom to marry is not a right? The age argument is completely irrelevant to our society anymore. Kids aren't going to get married because their parents aren't arranging them anymore. With respect to incest, it just ain't fun! Lastly, who the hell wants to attempt to avoid the IRS as they claim their taxes twice and hope for two refunds? I know, that was a far reach. My point is that these "examples" of why it is not a right to marry are in no way connected to Inside Catholic's argument against gay marriage. Sure, free speech is a right, but with some basic, common sense limitations, so is marriage.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Slayer, Megadeth and Testament

Metal's annual premier event (in my mind) came to Tower City Amphitheater last night. The tour was to commemorate the 20th anniversaries of Megadeth’s fourth album, Rust in Peace, and Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. The strange thing was there were fewer people than I anticipated. I mean, it's SLAYER! Dave Lombardo ripping the shit out of his drum set. Ludicrous and dangerous riffs bouncing back and forth from Jeff to Kerry. Stupid, drunken assholes plowing their way through non-moshers. Ahh, metal shows (nostalgic stare off into abyss). But I do not dare forget about Megadeth! (we missed Testament:( Call me biased but Dave Mustaine can still crank out the most ridiculous guitar solos the world has ever experienced. I happen to prefer Lombardo's drumming over Shawn Drover's, but Mustaine easily takes the cake against Jeff and Kerry. Here is Take No Prisoners by Megadeth. Here is Angel of Death by Slayer.

God doesn't work for the SEC

God-damn it. Literally. Everyone once in a while I happen upon a story that just gets my blood boiling and that makes me want to punch someone in the throat. This is it. I wonder if we should rewrite the song 'Imagine' to include modern atrocities directly atttributed to religion. Imagine there's no god to use as bait in a ponzi scheme to take money from people just because they are gullible. I know, I know, what rhymes with gullible? I'm still pondering. People may choose to look at my view and say, "Hey they're the morons who should have seen it coming." No one deserves this. And christians say atheists have no morals.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just Because

I stumbled upon (again) this video and just have to share with anyone who hasn't seen it. Eloquence is not the word for Carl Sagan.
He is just plain awesome.

Carl Sagan: A Universe Not Made For Us

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Slow Whining Death of British Christianity

The title of this blog is an article written by Johann Hari for the magazine GQ. In it is the description of how the Chruch of England has gone from being the bully and persecutor to becoming the 'bullied and persecuted'. It is interesting to note that it is not faux pas to be openly irreligious in England, yet the religions control over a third of the state-funded schools. There is state-enforced prayer in schools. This does not resonate with the educational system in the states at all. But why the contradiction? How can America, with it's back-asswards view on a 'connection' between winning a presidential election and belief in a three-O god, not have an educational system like Britain's? I believe that the church's hold on the ed. system in Britain is the last piece of the puzzle to a truly secular nation. You might say that America is closer to this notion because our schools do not have state-mandated prayer, or that religion doesn't have as much influence in the schools here. This struggle can be seen in the ID/Creationism in the classroom debate. But I believe Britain has the correct model to apply in moving the human race forward towards rationality. The governing body needs to shed the assumption that irrational beliefs guide decisions which affect the populace. Then the younger generations (in colleges and universities, as well as primary education) will see the actions and attitudes displayed by their parents, their politicians, and their role models.

I tell my students that they always have a choice. They can choose to come to class, do their assignments, and treat each other with respect. If they choose to not do these things, there will be consequences. The consequences of not speaking up in favor of rationality in the educational arena and the political arena is the creation of a theocracy. We don't need to look any further than North Korea to see the consequences of this.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

They should have seen it coming

In an update on Constance McMillen, the Jackson, Mississippi school that duped her into missing her prom had to pay a settlement of $35,000 in the discrimination lawsuit as well as implement a policy banning discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I know this is going to be hard for such a back-asswards type of southern school, but hopefully any other schools practicing bigotry will see this and resolve their problems without being humiliated in national news. Then again, that would mean one less topic for me to blog about! But in the end, all that matters is equality and freedom.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On a Roll

My blog Logic and Reason has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Replace Apple Butter with Olive Oil

I was going through the Atheist Blogroll and happened upon a wonderfully created video at the blog The Gospel According to Chaos. There are many ideas in it that I can feel but not express. Hence, I want to share it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Religion and Science

For anyone wondering if Einstein believed in the human concept "god".

Religion and Science
The following excerpt was published in The World as I See It (1999).

by Albert Einstein

Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their development. Feeling and desire are the motive forces behind all human endeavour and human creation, in however exalted a guise the latter may present itself to us. Now what are the feelings and needs that have led men to religious thought and belief in the widest sense of the words? A little consideration will suffice to show us that the most varying emotions preside over the birth of religious thought and experience. With primitive man it is above all fear that evokes religious notions—fear of hunger, wild beasts, sickness, death. Since at this stage of existence understanding of causal connexions is usually poorly developed, the human mind creates for itself more or less analogous beings on whose wills and actions these fearful happenings depend. One's object now is to secure the favour of these beings by carrying out actions and offering sacrifices which, according to the tradition handed down from generation to generation, propitiate them or make them well disposed towards a mortal.

I am speaking now of the religion of fear. This, though not created, is in an important degree stabilized by the formation of a special priestly caste which sets up as a mediator between the people and the beings they fear, and erects a hegemony on this basis. In many cases the leader or ruler whose position depends on other factors, or a privileged class, combines priestly functions with its secular authority in order to make the latter more secure; or the political rulers and the priestly caste make common cause in their own interests.

The social feelings are another source of the crystallization of religion. Fathers and mothers and the leaders of larger human communities are mortal and fallible. The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes, the God who, according to the width of the believer's outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even life as such, the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied longing, who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral conception of God.

The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, which is continued in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient, are primarily moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a great step in a nation's life. That primitive religions are based entirely on fear and the religions of civilized peoples purely on morality is a prejudice against which we must be on our guard. The truth is that they are all intermediate types, with this reservation, that on the higher levels of social life the religion of morality predominates.

Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. Only individuals of exceptional endowments and exceptionally high-minded communities, as a general rule, get in any real sense beyond this level. But there is a third state of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form, and which I will call cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to explain this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it.

The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear in earlier stages of development—e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learnt from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer especially, contains a much stronger element of it.

The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no Church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with the highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as Atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.

How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are capable of it. We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very different from the usual one. When one views the matter historically one is inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and for a very obvious reason. The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events—that is, if he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it goes through. Hence science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear and punishment and hope of reward after death.

It is therefore easy to see why the Churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees. On the other hand, I maintain that cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion which pioneer work in theoretical science demands, can grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, were it but a feeble reflection of the mind revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to enable them to spend years of solitary labour in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics!

Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a sceptical world, have shown the way to those like-minded with themselves, scattered through the earth and the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man strength of this sort. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.

You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man. For the latter God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe.

But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pledge of Allegiance

Here is an article from Boston, MA, School Committee Approves Pledge Proposal In it you will find happy people who are glad that they can again lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. Students will not be forced to say it. The strange thing is that no where in the article is there a mention of the famous insert 'One nation under god'. But if students are not being forced to say the pledge, then I believe it is a fair assumption that the 1953 addition 'One nation under god' is part of it. Senior Sean Harrington has been hoping for this day. “It’s just tears of joy,” Harrington said, wiping tears from his eyes. “I’m just so overly excited.” “I’m proud that this passed,” Harrington said. “I just thank God it passed.” No Sean, do not thank god it passed. Thank the religiously zealous school committee. Just hope that you'll be learning actual science in the science classroom.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ohio Academic Content Standards in Science

I am preparing for a workshop to prepare myself and a colleague to teach a STEM class (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) this coming school year. I was going through the science standards for Ohio to help get an understanding of what kind of projects the kids will be doing, and I found a great grade-level indicator. It is the 11th grade Ways of Knowing Standard, Ethical Practices Indicator:

Recognize that bias affects outcomes. People tend to ignore evidence that challenges their beliefs but accept evidence that supports their beliefs. Scientist attempt to avoid bias in their work.

This is a perfect statement to help understand why people hold on to their religious beliefs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Do you believe in god?

After listening to a podcast by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York, I was directed to the website
I found an interesting section called Ask a Philosopher and was skimming through some of the questions and aanswers. I thought this one was interesting.

(31) Ashley asked:

Do you believe in god?


No, I don't.

In the first place, I have never found the God premise a necessary foundation upon which to base an understanding, or a prediction of, the world around me. I have always found Naturalistic explanations far more accurate, comprehensible, and useful. By Ockham's Razor, therefore, I have chosen to reject the God Premise. (Ockham's Razor — 'entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem' — the principle that 'entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity' — the simplest explanation tends to be the best one.)

In the second place, I have never encountered a meaningful description of other people's understanding of the 'God' concept that I have not found to be internally logically self-contradictory. Consider, as just one example, the 'problem of evil'. The existence of evil in the world is logically inconsistent with the premise that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

In the third place, I have found that many of the efforts I have encountered to provide a logically consistent description of the God concept, result in descriptions of a God that is unworthy of my respect or admiration. This seems to be inconsistent with the concept intended for God by those who provided the descriptions. As but one example, it is easy to argue that what we consider 'evil' is actually a 'necessary evil' by God's standards in her effort to create the best possible world. But if that is the case, then God, for her own professedly omnibenevolent reasons, tolerates a degree of evil in the world that would be intolerable to any reasonable person. Such a God is hardly worthy of our respect and admiration, in my judgement.

In the fourth place, I am a very curious soul. I like to know why. I like the process of finding out why. I like the idea that I could find out why, even if I can't right now. But the God concept is an inquiry stopper. God is, by any definition I have ever encountered, incomprehensible, unexplainable, and beyond the reach of rational inquiry. I do not like the notion that there may be elements of the world that are, by definition, beyond my comprehension. It may turn out that there are in fact elements of the world that are beyond my comprehension. But I prefer to proceed on the basis that there aren't. Inquiry is pointless if it is given there is no comprehensible answer.

Stuart Burns

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra

The wife and I went to see the Cleveland Orchestra perform at Blossom last night. We had 10th row tickets in the pavilion (mom of course won them). Blossom is a wonderful venue to see the orchestra as the pavilion theater provides excellent sound quality. Case Scaglione from the Aspen Academy conducted "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", done originally by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The piece had a wonderful blend of volumes, pace, and emotion. The violin solos were on point. Next was Sergei Prokofiev's "Suite from Lieutenant Kije", Opus 60, conducted by David Zinman. It contrasted nicely with the first piece. Intermission came and then we got our surprise. Zinman conducted "Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor", Opus 15, by Johannes Brahms. World-renowned pianist Stephen Hough amazed the crowd and myself. Each of the 3 movements were perfect. The emotions you feel while the horns are blaring and the violins and cellos are strumming furiously are unexplainable. If ever you get a chance to see Stephen Hough play the piano, don't miss it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

50 Reasons I Reject Evolution

I got this from another blog,, but had to share it.

1.) Because I don’t like the idea that we came from apes… despite that humans are categorically defined and classified as apes.

2.) Because I’m too stupid and/or lazy to open a fucking science book or turn on the Discovery Science Channel.

3.) Because if I can’t immediately understand how something works, then it must be bullshit.

4.) Because I don’t care that literally 99.9% of all biologists accept evolution as the unifying theory of biology.

5.) Because I prefer the idea that a (insert god of choice) went ALLA-KADABRA-ZAM MOTHAH-FUCKAHS!!!

6.) Because I can’t get it through my thick logic-proof skull that evolution refers ONLY to the diversity of living organisms which reproduce with genetic variation, not to abiogenesis, or planet formation, or big bang cosmology, or whether God exists, or where they buried Jimmy Hoffa, or why the sky is blue, or how many licks it takes to get to the center of a fucking Tootsie Pop.

7.) Because the fossil record doesn’t comprise the remains of every single living thing that ever existed on this 4.5 billion year old planet, even though fossilization is a rare process that only occurs under very specific circumstances.

8.) Because science has yet to produce any transitional species… except for the magnitudinous numbers of them found in the fossil record which don’t count because… I uh, OOH LOOK! A SHINY OBJECT!!! *runs away*

9.) Because I know nothing about Darwin except that he had a funny beard.

10.) Because the theory of evolution (which, according to scientists, perfectly explains the richness and diversity of life on Earth) contradicts biblical literalism… ya know, flat Earth with a firmament that keeps out the water, talking snakes, people rising from the dead, bats are birds, flamey talking bushes, virgin births, food appearing out of nowhere, massive bodies of water turning into blood… etc etc.

11.) Because I think the word “theory” actually means: “random stabs in the dark” when it really means: "an explanation of certain phenomena that is well-supported by a large body of facts and often unifies similarly well-supported hypotheses" i.e. atomic theory, gravitational theory, germ theory, cell theory, some-people-are-dumb-motherfuckers-theory, etc.

12.) Because the fact that science is self-correcting annoys me. Most of my other beliefs are rigidly fixed and uncorrectable.

13.) Because I am under the severely mistaken impression that evolution implies someone in my very recent ancestry was a chimp.

14.) Because everything appears designed to my mind which was expertly tuned by nature to perceive design, probably as a survival mechanism.

15.) Because some secretly fabulous closet-dwelling televangelist (who unironically preaches hate towards gays) told me that evolution is Satan’s way of leading me away from God.

16.) Because that same guy (who was also caught snorting blow off a male hooker’s shiny naked ass) told me that God planted those fossils to test my faith.

17.) Because I’m 100% correct about everything 100% of the time and there is 0% chance that some snooty Oxford educated scientist with numerous honorary doctorates could possibly know something that I don’t.

18.) Because I don’t know that fossils are found in sedimentary strata corresponding to their age as one would expect if evolution were true.

19.) Because I don’t understand why, if we share common ancestry with chimps, there are still chimps. And when someone with more than three brain cells in their head inevitably replies: “for the same reason Americans share common ancestry with Brits but there are still Brits, I can’t follow the logic. It’s just too big a leap. Who am I, Evil Knievel?

20.) Because my mom dropped me on my head when I was a baby.

21.) Multiple times.

22.) On purpose.

23.) Because the idea that life evolved naturally over billions of years is infinitely less believable than the idea that an 800 year old man crammed two of every species into a giant wooden boat when the entire planet flooded, an event for which there is absolutely no geological evidence whatsoever and also makes no fucking sense at all.

24.) Because Jesus totally rode around on a fucking t-rex. He’s just that badassed. And also, did you know that t-rexes were vegetarians? Ken Ham says so and I believe it.

25.) Because I don’t realize that saying “microevolution is possible but macroevolution isn’t” is as stupid as saying “I can pick my nose for one second but I cannot pick it for 10 seconds.”

26.) Because the education system failed me miserably.

27.) …and then took a big wet dump on my face.

28.) Because I think that knowing how nature works magically obliterates all of its beauty.

29.) Because I didn’t know that evolution has been tested and observed in laboratories.

30.) Because when confronted with that, I refuse to believe it. It’s obviously a scientific conspiracy aimed at turning everyone on the planet into atheists... even though evolution says nothing about god's nature nor whether he, she, it, or they exist.

31.) Because I’m too stupid to realize that Social Darwinism has nothing to do with evolution and is actually a pseudo-scientific bastardization that real science largely rejects.

32.) Because the planet and all the life on it was designed for humans… kinda like how the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY was designed specifically for the dust-bunnies that may accumulate on the floors.

33.) Because I don’t realize that if we actually found croco-ducks in the fossil record, it would falsify evolution.

34.) Because plenty of respectable people like Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee (who are not scientists) don’t accept evolution, and that somehow validates my opinion.

35.) Because my mother didn’t know not to drink while she was pregnant. She also didn’t know not to repeatedly throw herself down a flight of stairs in an attempt to undo the accident of screwing someone who voted for Bush both times.

36.) Because I don’t know that “irreducible complexity” has been debunked a frazillion times by a frazillion different people and is no more credible an argument than “NEEN-er NEEN-er NEEN-er, I’m right and you’re wrong.”

37.) Because I have never seen a duck evolve into a cat over night, despite the fact that such a thing would be contrary to all known scientific disciplines.

38.) Because I have no imagination, learning is too much effort, I don’t like proven facts, change scares me, and I think deoxyribonucleic acid is something I’m supposed to clean my bathroom floors with.

39.) Because evolution means that I absolutely MUST reject everything else I know, abandon all my beliefs, and start aping around my house like a fucking monkey. OOOh-ooohh-ooohohh -OOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!!

40.) Because I haven’t put my cave on the market and moved into the 21st century yet. I’m waiting for the cave market to rebound from the recent financial meltdown.

41.) Because I don’t know what an atavism is and if you told me, I still wouldn't believe it. Too weird.

42.) Because I don’t know that evolution explains methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and also provides the answer in preventing it from turning into a superbug and killing massive numbers of people.

43.) Because I don’t know that evolution is routinely used in medicine to diagnose and treat certain illnesses such as genetic ailments, bacterial infections, and viral infections.

44.) Because I believe there is a strong comparison between designed inanimate objects such as buildings, paintings, and watches (which we know were pieced together from identifiable components by human beings) and living organisms (which reproduce with genetic variation under the effects of environmental attrition).

45.) Because I see no significant similarities between humans and apes. *scratches my ass-crack then smells my fingers*

46.) Because I think I’m too special to have been crafted by any natural process and the entire planet, solar system, galaxy, and universe were created with me especially in mind.

47.) Because I unquestioningly swallow the ignorant anti-science bullshit spewed directly from the fraudulent stupid asses of people like Ken Ham, Ted Haggard, Fred Phelps, and Kent Hovind.

48.) Because I’m a freethinker and freethinking really means ignoring anything that contradicts what I already believe.

49.) Because I don’t know what confirmation bias is.

50.) Because despite the fact that in all my years of life, I have never seen any magic, I still believe magic is the answer to anything I don’t immediately comprehend.

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case. Quod erat demonstrandum, I fucking win. Take that you EVILutionists!

~By Bobbie Jean Pentecost

Maynard James Keenan Speaking the Truth

Found this on a neighbor blog. Thought I would share it because Tool is one of my favorite bands and I never realized what Judith was really about.

Water Shortage

My wife and I were coming back from Put-in-Bay and she was asleep in the car when I was really thirsty but didn't want to stop. I saw a McDonald's and went through the drive-through. I asked for a "big glass of water"(I don't really drink soda). Hesitation, then, "That'll be $1 please pull up." Ok, so maybe she thought I wanted a bottle of water. I get to the window and what appears to be the manager leans out the window and asks for the dollar. I said that I didn't want a bottle of water, just a glass so I could refill my big travel mug. I didn't even have a dollar and was not going to use my credit card. She said I could have a small water for no charge. I quickly replied "Whatever! I don't care what size it is!" A worker handed it out the door and I took off, pissed off to no end. What the hell is wrong with this world? I wanted a main ingredient to life! And someone was denying me this! If it had to do with the cost of the cup, lid, and straw (most likely) I could have handed my container through the window and they could have filled that! What the hell is this shit!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nature Museum To Help Bring New Science-Teaching Techniques To Schools In Dallas

This is from a daily email I get from the National Education Association.

The Dallas Morning News (7/21, Hobbs) reports that the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), the Dallas Citizens Council, and the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science are collaborating on "a new program," called Leaders in Science, that will bring "fresh material and new science-teaching techniques to schools." Fifth-grade teachers and some fourth-grade teachers "will have access to a full-time museum staffer who will coordinate the program and make classroom visits." Teachers "also will receive lab support, collaborate with other teachers, and be able to request various artifacts to enhance learning." The Dallas Morning News notes that the program addresses the difficulty Texas students have faced in their attempts "to pass the science portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills."

Gee, I wonder why they can't pass the science test? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the "teaching" of creationism!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Religious Exemptions in Health Reform

Read all about it! Healing through prayer covered by insurance! Sorry had to do it. Whatever over-simplification I am making is still cause for concern. I recently sent a pre-written letter to my representatives voicing my opinion that Christian prayer should not be covered through the new healthcare legislature. If people are supposed to be paying deductibles and premiums that are going into a pool that is encompassing this pseudo-science, then everyone should be raising their voices. Here is a letter from Sherrod Brown (OH), United States Senator in response:

Dear Mr. DiBattista:

Thank you for getting in touch with me regarding religious exemptions in health reform.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into law on March 23, 2010, requires that individuals and their dependents have health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. If an individual chooses not to obtain health insurance after 2014, he or she will have to pay a fine that is either a flat dollar amount or a percentage of income.

As you mention in your letter, some religious doctrines forbid medical treatment or specific medical procedures. Followers of these religions believe that receiving certain medical treatments would violate their First Amendment right to exercise their religion freely.

Therefore, the PPACA includes a religious conscience exemption, which states that the health insurance requirement does not apply to any individual who belongs to a recognized religious sect or division that is “conscientiously opposed to acceptance of the benefits of any private or public insurance which makes payments in the event of death, disability, old-age, or retirement or makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care.”

This exemption does not apply to one specific religious group. Rather, in order to qualify for a religious exemption, individuals must demonstrate that they have rejected participation in public benefit programs like Social Security and that their beliefs have been in effect for a significant amount of time. Regulations concerning the exact process by which religious exemptions will be awarded are forthcoming from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This exemption attempts to strike a balance between the constitutional right to religious freedom and the public policy imperative that there be broad participation in private insurance risk pools in order to keep costs down for everyone. Please know that I am closely monitoring the implementation of the new health reform law and will not hesitate to pursue improvements should they be needed.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me.


Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

Chat with a "believer"

I saw an ad on the tele for Need Him Ministries (click on the Watch our TV Spot at the bottom left) and I thought to myself, wow, this is a very in-your-face christian message. My curiosity was peaked. I found a chat link and began speaking with Casey R. The following is a transcript:

Christopher: Isn't it irresponsible of us as humans to interpret the physical workings of the universe as the product of supernatural causes as opposed to thinking logically and rationally about our place in the order of existence?

You are now speaking with Casey R of needhim-large.
Casey R: Hello

Christopher: Hi

Casey R: how are you?

Christopher: Good, yourself?

Casey R: i'm doing good

Casey R: so do you know Jesus as your King and Friend?

Christopher: I used to believe in it

Casey R: what caused you to stop?

Christopher: I began reading math books (I'm a math teacher) and physics books and then that led me to interesting online articles and videos and debates that really just made me stop and think, wow, how in the world did I actually believe this?

Casey R: so you let your intellect at the expense of your spirit

Casey R: then you came to the point where your head took over?

Christopher: When I say 'this' I mean christianity

Christopher: No my 'head' has always been a part of my way of life, but I was just acting escapist when I was a 'believer'

Christopher: You are however assuming something when you speak of spirit

Casey R: Chris your here to repent

Casey R: i cant force you to do what your here for

Casey R: but thats what your here for

Christopher: No I just wanted to chat about this.

Casey R: No you relize you've mess up a bunch

Casey R: and so you came to the chat to try and strenthen your belif in how mental you are

Casey R: when really your wrong and you know it

Christopher: Wow, that's pretty bold to say of someone that you have never met

Christopher: By the way, how old are you?

Casey R: haha i worked with you for an extended period of time

Casey R: not exactly you but the same basic person

Christopher: I have never met you

Casey R: yes but there are many people like you in the world

Christopher: But not one exactly like me

Casey R: yes there is a percentage different

Casey R: i thought you were big on math?

Casey R: didnt you know that phyically there is only a small variance

Christopher: What does that have anything to do with this?

Casey R: between the genes of one person and another

Casey R: the same is with personalities

Casey R: your self righitous

Casey R: and you need to become Christ righteious

Christopher: Yes but like I said there is not one person exactly like me and there never has been and never will be

Casey R: well technicalle we can create a clone of you

Casey R: and acording to your view of life that person would be exactly you

Christopher: And?

Christopher: What makes me self-righteous?

Casey R: because you belive that your mind is everything

Christopher: It is what we can always rely on to understand our surroundings in an empirical way.

Casey R: empirical knowlege is flawed

Christopher: Really? Like this reality isn;t the real reality?

Casey R: because many things cannot be observed

Casey R: Jesus came to this earth and explained to us the relatiy of many things that cannot be observed

Casey R: he taught that there was a system of non emperical rules

Christopher: And now we get into the area that creationists always fall back on. You can't observe god because he is outside our perceptive ability

Casey R: that when follwed allowed God to rule

Casey R: in our lives

Christopher: yeah called faith.

Casey R: no you can observe God by his works

Christopher: Really

Casey R: but it does require faith first

Christopher: Example

Casey R: and by the way i'm not the creationist that your typically use to

Casey R: i've even published on evoltuion

Christopher: So I have to have faith before I can look at the beauty of the earth and conclude that god made it

Casey R: no not that kind of works

Casey R: like when he touches a body and heals it

Christopher: Can you provide me one truly unbiased instance in history of this happening where there were multiple accounts?

Casey R: yes

Christopher: Shoot

Casey R: when i was 5 i slit my wrist

Casey R: maybe i was 4

Casey R: it was an accident i sorda thought i was superman

Casey R: and I lossed a large amount of blood and should have died

Casey R: but the Lord had mercy on me and healed me

Christopher: Ok so how do you know jesus saved you?

Christopher: You can find many instances in the medical field where people who should have died didn't

Casey R: the doctor amoung others said it was miraculous?

Christopher: It is a word in our vocabulary that you are interpreting in a meta-physical sense

Casey R: meh

Casey R: it was meta physicle

Casey R: ok

Casey R: i prayed and the Lord increased my iq

Casey R: he made me much smarter

Christopher: ?

Casey R: more than a standard deviation

Christopher: Now your being plain condescending. Just because you looked up a mathematical definition doesn't mean I'm impressed

Christopher: I will be impressed and will convert if you can prove that jesus healed you

Casey R: i'm gviing you another example

Christopher: of?

Casey R: i was dumb and he made me smart

Casey R: he healed my brain

Casey R: he is still working on it today but each day get a little better

Christopher: No you weren't dumb, you were either delusional or hallucinating. Do not be so hard on your rational self. It is all you have.

Casey R: no i had tests run and they came out poor

Christopher: Like mentally retarded?

Casey R: as far as your concerned yes

Casey R: by someone who was professionally trained to do so

Christopher: What do you mean "as far as your concerned yes"?

Christopher: You don't have to answer that if you don't want to

Your party has left this session.

Casey R: ok so are you ready to repent yet?

Christopher: no sorry man. i have to go though. I have to get ready for a meeting I have early tomorrow. It has been a pleasure speaking with you though. I hope you can one day come to a full rational realization of your place in this world.

Casey R: uh umm sure

Casey R: when you get ready to repent

Casey R: you can get on and someone will reintroduce you to the Lord

Casey R: :) Jesus Loves you and so do we :)

Christopher: Thanks take it easy

WOW! There are a couple of things that will jump out at you right away. Grammar? Sentence structure? This is why I asked how old he was. The strangest thing was the sense I had that he was a robot, or soldier. It's hard for me to describe. Very odd. Anyway I thought it might be interesting to post this and get some feedback.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ridiculous State Laws

I watched this video Atheists legally banned from public office today and once again felt sad to be an American. A man who was recently elected to a city office position is trying to be ousted because he does not believe in god. According to the video, there are 7 states (Texas, Arkansas, both Carolinas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Maryland) with laws in their state constitutions that make it illegal to hold public office as a non-believer. However, article 6 in our federal constitution states "No religious test shall ever be required as qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States." Fortunately there is something called the Supremacy Clause that states if there are contradicting articles between the Federal Constitution and a State Constitution, the Federal article takes precedence. What do personal beliefs have anything to do with your ability to carry out the tasks appointed to you in a public office position?