Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts

Friday, 21 August 2015

Podcast #5 - Peachy Fiend



How do I do it? Only God knows - which means nobody.

Episode, the fifth, features a whole new discussion with Twitter celeb, spoken word and singing sensation Peachy Fiend (@PeachyFiend)!

I was going to write a blog post critiquing this article, Gimme that old-time atheism...
Most contemporary atheists get it wrong. Today’s atheism tends to stand on an absolutely self-contradictory claim: only that which can be seen can be known. (It’s a pseudo-scientific claim.) The application of this sentiment to God is simple. Because God can’t be seen, God can’t be known. The problem with the statement is simple.
Wut?

... but then I realized that it's way more fun to kick back and shoot the shit with Peachy. So, here's your homework. Read the article, maybe, and then go listen to the podcast and nod your head vigorously in agreement or disagreement. Hope you don't get whiplash.

I got my new microphone, so you'll get to hear me making my radio voice every once and awhile. I'm definitely an FM kind of guy, you'll be able to tell. And no, I'm not trying to pick you up, but it might sound that way. If that works for you, then who am I to argue?

Anyway! You can watch this episode over at Youtube or right here, below:


Here's where you can subscribe to My Secret Atheist PodcastITunesSoundcloud,  RSS URLYoutube, Stitcher (coming soon.)

SHOW NOTES

Ep 5 : Peachy Fiend

In this episode we talk with Twitter counter-apologist @PeachyFiend for the first time. We do a paragraph by paragraph analysis of a bewildering article by assistant professor of theology and philosophy at Carroll College, Eric E. Hall: ‘Gimme that old-time atheism’ (http://goo.gl/rSwUp7).

Sean got his new microphone too! So he’s trying out his radio voice. Please be patient with him!

Music Credits: 

‘Freedom voice of my soul’ by Art Boys Collection. (http://buff.ly/1hQgyb6
‘Shame On You’ by Spade Cooley. (http://buff.ly/1TY1IAz)

(Image source)

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Turkish Atheist Association Volunteers Feeding the Homeless


Back in March, I wrote about the fantastic and brave Atheist Association of Turkey, who are regularly getting death threats and had to even install a panic button in their building direct to the police. There are groups out to get them and even the government has blocked their website.

This group is so great though, that even when their own safety is under threat, they choose to help their community. Recently, they have begun distributing free soup - giving back to their community.

The distribution happens on Wednesdays, and you can contribute on their Twitter account. I haven't checked it out yet, and language is an obvious barrier for me.

Here are some pictures from their Twitter update.


(Image source)

Celtic Harps & 'Happy Blasphemy' Music


Ever wonder whether Jesus - assuming he actually existed - was really meek and mild or just a power hungry psychopath? Want to explore this issue musically with a Celtic harp? Of course you do. This is perfectly normal.
Each fortnight during a season I'll give you a brand new atheist or skeptical song, ridiculing religion, pseudoscience, and the paranormal while defending the importance of critical thinking and the scientific method.

And on the alternate fortnight (cause seriously, even I can't write a song a week!), we'll take a look at someone (or something) who is, or has done, something spectacularly ridiculous in the areas of religion, pseudoscience, and the paranormal, and vote them off the planet!
This is comedy musician Linda. Every fortnight (2 weeks) she will produce songs.


You'll be able to listen to more over at her site, The Bible & Other Fairy Tales.

(Image source)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Podcast #4 - Carolyn Hyppolite



Somehow, I keep churning out weekly podcasts. This week, I'm happy to present you with my latest aural endeavor, My Secret Atheist Podcast episode 4!

Episode, the fourth, features a whole new discussion with author and speaker Carolyn Hyppolite who has written Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist and will be appearing soon at the Non-Con near Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

This episode is really interesting. You get to hear about some of the inside machinations of people running a pro-life (anti-abortion) pregnancy crisis center type "clinic" - among other insights from Carolyn's fascinating past!

You'll also get to hear me apologize about the lousy sound quality. I have since gotten my mic, so I hope that things will improve. The episode itself though, seems to have been cursed in several ways - including a copyright violation on the music I got off archive.org.  This had me go back to the original project file... which promptly corrupted itself. The backup also failed! So I ended up cutting a pretty cheesy Google-endorsed free song directly into the previously saved MP3! My apologies to Carolyn and everyone.

Anyway! You can watch this episode over at Youtube or right here, below:


Here's where you can subscribe to My Secret Atheist PodcastITunesSoundcloud,  RSS URLYoutube, Stitcher (coming soon.)

SHOW NOTES

Ep 4 : Carolyn Hyppolite

Guests/Co-hosts:
Carolyn Hyppolite

Topics:
- Growing up Catholic.
- Proselytizing.
- Working in a Pro Life “crisis center.”
- Christ-centered religion.
- Problems with the Bible.
- Dating a Theist.
- Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Small-Voices-Testimony-Born-Again/dp/1497511267

The Non-Conference - http://www.thenon-conference.com/

Music Credits:
Opening/Close: “Smooth Talker” - Google Free Music


(Image source)

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Egyptian Government Training Squads to Refute Atheists & 'Correct Religious Awareness'


It's been awhile since we've heard from our friends at the Egyptian Religious Endowments Ministry. I was beginning to wonder if they were okay. Back in April, they were going to train a crack squad of roving religious apologists to deal with a recent onset of atheism and religious mehs - particularly with the young Twitter users among them.
“The groups will include one Quran reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” ministry spokesman Mohamed Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt. “The gatherings aim at spreading awareness on the threats of atheism, Shi’a, Baha’ism expiation, killings, and drug addiction.”
You know, sort of like travelling minstrels of yore.

Well, we have a much awaited update now from Grand Mufti Ibrahim Negm from Dar al-Iftaa, which is the premiere moral authority in Egypt - they seem to tell the government what's right and what's wrong.
A wave of atheism is becoming stronger in the entire world, and has become more aggressive because of communication technology; while it exists in Egypt, it is not as aggressive, advisor to Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ibrahim Negm told Ten TV channel Tuesday.
Maybe atheists are shy because the police keep doing things like raiding and shutting their cafes?

You can read about the situation in previous posts on the blog. This wave of atheism has been treated by government and media over there sort of like a plague would be here.
Dar al-IFtaa, Egypt’s authority tasked with releasing religious opinions, will hold seminars to study and refute atheists’ arguments so as to spread “correct religious awareness,” according to Negm.

A “traditional religious scholar” cannot face negative phenomena that have spread lately in the Islamic world, such as extremist ideology, atheism, and “intellectual and sexual perversion,” he said.
Gotta up your game! Until then, though, why not arrest them all, right?
(Image source)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Days After Neel's Beheading, Bangladeshi Police Advise Bloggers to 'Stop Hurting Religious Feelings'

Niloy Neel
Just a few days after the fourth atheist blogger this year was murdered by religious lunatics - the blood not yet dry - Bangladeshi police have started up nice round of victim blaming.
Terming hurting one's religious sentiment as crime, Inspector General of Police (IGP) has advised the free thinkers not to hurt religious sentiment in their writings.

IGP AKM Shahidul Haque said: “According to laws if any one hurts one's feelings, he will be punished by the law.”

Advising the free thinkers, IGP said: “None should cross the limit.”
Basically, the eighty or so bloggers on the hit list - who are being killed off methodically - are screwed if they cannot get out a country where their own police force is either deliberated ineffective or completely incompetent.
 Asked about the prior list of the bloggers who might be under threat, he said they had no such list.
The terrorists who suppress freedom of speech and murder atheists need not do anything more - the police have just taken up their cause and have advised bloggers to shut up if they know what's good for themselves.
Before he was murdered on Friday, Niloy wrote in a facebook post that police didn't help him when he sought protection after he suspected that several people were following him.   
This is what the police did. They do not actually seem to help the bloggers, but rather let them get killed off. Then they do a pathetic job investigating the crimes. Now, just days after a blogger had his head chopped off, they are threatening the very ones most at risk with jail time if they speak their minds online.

Law enforcement appears to be either complicit or completely taken hostage.
According to Penal Code and ICT Act, hurting one's religious sentiment is a crime and according to the law one might be punished for 14 years for such offense, said the police chief.  
That just about settles it. Freedom from religion and free expression in Bangladesh are both apparently extinct. The bloggers need to be brought out of that country. Otherwise, we shall watch them be gruesomely murdered, one by one.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Another Atheist Blogger Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

Niloy Neel
It sickens me to write that yet another - the fourth this year - atheist blogger was hacked to death - decapitated by a bunch of insane and inhuman religious nuts.
Niloy Chowdhury Neel, an online activist and secularist protester, has been found dead in his home, according to early reports. He was decapitated and his hands had been cut off. The four or five assailants had apparently gained access to his building by posing as a tenant, shortly after Juma prayers this afternoon.
It's really that easy for people to get away with murder in Bangladesh - when the victim is an atheist, at least. This is the fourth since the year has begun and there are over 80 bloggers on a list of blasphemers which was presented to the government previously.
All four men killed were on a list of 84 "atheist bloggers" drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.

It was originally submitted to the government with the aim of having the bloggers arrested and tried for blasphemy. The groups which wanted bloggers arrested told us they have no knowledge of who is behind the killings.
The BBC article quoted above points out that not all of the 84 are actually atheist. Some are religious secularists. However, it's this branding as an atheist that apparently makes it okay to be butchered to death in the street or your home.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Canada needs to work to get these people OUT of Bangladesh or they will all be murdered.

It's only a matter of time, and Bangladeshi society is apparently already trivializing this brutal act in the media. Bob Churchill, Director of Communications at IHEU:
Already some Bangla media is downplaying this killing, in some cases not linking it to the spate of gruesome machete murders of atheist bloggers, writers, and secularist activists that has killed three men already this year.
We need our Office of Religious Freedom and Department of Foreign Affairs to not only strongly condemn this barbarism but also offer amnesty for all of these bloggers. Then, we all need to work with organizations interested in human rights to get these people out of Bangladesh.

This is a horrendous tragedy and my heart goes out to Neel's family and friends.

I hope other bloggers can get out in time.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

My Secret Atheist Podcast - Episode Three



I'm pretty sure you all have figured out the pattern by now. Last week episode two of My Secret Atheist Podcast came out. This week, I'm happy to present you with the latest fruit of my loom, My Secret Atheist Podcast episode 3!

Episode, the third, features further discussion with Baptist apologist blogger, Anthony Freeland who blogs at Truth InterruptedWe wrap up the discussion we started in episode 2 about same-sex marriage.

You can watch this episode over at Youtube or right here, below:


Here's where you can subscribe to My Secret Atheist PodcastITunesSoundcloud,  RSS URLYoutube, Stitcher (coming soon.)

SHOW NOTES

Guests/Co-hosts:
Sean McGuire (@GodlessPoutinehttp://www.mysecretatheistblog.com
Anthony Freeland http://truthinterrupted.wordpress.com

Drop Date: August 6, 2015

Topics:

- The situation in Alabama.
- The situation in Quebec.
- What about the Muslims and Hindus?
- Tony revises things with a phone message.

- What if all the politicians were atheists?

Music Credits:

Opening: “Red​-​Headed Woman” - Pk jazz Collective - (source)

Close: “The Cadillac Rocker” - Marius Joppich - (source)


Phone Sound: “Telephone 3 Rings & Pickup Sound Effect” - (source)

(Image source)

Friday, 31 July 2015

My Secret Atheist Podcast - Episode Two


Somehow, the stars have aligned and we've been able to birth episode two of ... My Secret Atheist Podcast!

Episode, the second, features further discussion with Baptist apologist blogger, Anthony Freeland who blogs at Truth Interrupted. We had  discussion about marriage, same-sex marriage, wedding cakes in Oregon and the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

We spoke on for so long that my finger went numb cutting out any superfluous content to make even half the material fix into 40 minutes. I promise to work on that, and get a mic in future episodes.

You can watch this episode over at Youtube or right here, below:


Here's where you can subscribe to My Secret Atheist PodcastITunesSoundcloud,  RSS URLYoutube, Stitcher (coming soon.)

SHOW NOTES

Guests/Co-hosts:
Sean McGuire (@GodlessPoutinehttp://www.mysecretatheistblog.com
Anthony Freeland http://truthinterrupted.wordpress.com

Drop Date: July 31, 2015

Topics:

- The history of marriage.
- Same-sex marriage in Quebec, Canada.
- Same-sex marriage in the USA.
- the bakery which refused to provide gay wedding care in Oregon.
- Impromptu Kalam cosmological argument discussion - first of many, probably.

Music Credits:

Opening: “Headphones on Your Heart: Square Wail remix” - leeni - (source)

Close: “Summer Crush” - shirobon - (source)


Middle: “Superluminal Motion” - little-scale - (source)

(Image source)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

You Atheists Have It So Great Now! So Prove God Doesn't Exist!


Stephen Anderson teaches philosophy in London, Ontario. He also wrote this article over at Philosophy Now, where he puts atheism on trial.
There was a time – some years ago – when to profess disbelief in a Supreme Being could be hazardous to one’s health. You could get hacked to pieces with a scimitar or boiled in oil. Neither the public nor the authorities had much tolerance.
This is certainly true some years ago. In places like Bangladesh people are still been hacked to death for being atheist. In Indonesia, someone was thrown into jail and nearly killed there. In Egypt people are thrown into jail. Mr. Anderson can feel free to consult the following useful report from IHEU.
Atheists today never tire of reminding us of that, as if the follies of distant ancestors should make us blush. But though in times past publishing one’s skeptical doubts could be daring, it is so no longer. Yesterday’s radical position is today’s orthodoxy. Today, atheism has taken its comfortable seat by the fire and has its feet up. It has de facto control of education, the universities, and the academic press. It is the go-to position of our media and the controlling assumption of political discourse. Popular atheist authors have no trouble churning out bestsellers and culling invitations to speak. Atheism has never been so respectable.
You know, Netflix is making a movie all about Madalyn Murray O'Hair who was dubbed the most hated woman in America. No doubt, more whining. I'll admit that within certain wings of academia atheism could be the predominant view - especially in the Philosophy department, but I wonder how much Mr. Anderson knows about the outside world.

In this article, Stephen Anderson is challenging the comfortable orthodoxy of atheism - because us atheists are practically controlling the universe. So, I expect to find some reasonable evidence for a god. I mean, I'm sure that's what he's going to do.

Nope, he's going to put atheism on trial. Next week, I expect him to put a-unicornism on trial as well.

He starts out by utterly failing to properly define a-theism. He declares that atheism is a claim that there are no gods - effectively shifting a burden of proof onto this claim. In response, I would like to define Mr. Anderson's a-FSMism as a claim that there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster. Perhaps, I shall put him on trial for this later on this week.

He then makes the nauseating mistake of assuming atheism and agnosticism are somehow mutually exclusive and decides for us that we all probably don't want agnostics to dilute all of our faithful certainty that there is no god.
If I’m wrong about this, I’m open to being challenged: maybe atheists don’t mind pulling the deadweight of those who may be less than firm in their metaphysical doubts. But the charity principle seems to suggest we must accord atheism the firmness its most passionate advocates want it to have. Thus we have to take atheists at their word, understanding their claim as being that there is ‘no God.’ Period.
I'm an atheist and an agnostic about God the same way I'm an a-Cthulhuist and agnostic about Cthulhu. Again, I pull out this chart, which is common knowledge within the New Atheist movement. Why can't these philosophers simply speak to an actual on the street atheist?

(source)
You might think that forcing us to make a claim that we know that a god does not exist is already egregious. Well, he goes even further and asks us to define the god we do not believe in.
If that’s fair enough, then let’s move on. The next step is to study the nature of atheism’s claim. If the fundamental affirmation of genuine atheism is that there is ‘no God,’ then what sort of ‘God’ is it that the atheist aims at denying?
I know! Why not let the theist define his own god for us! Otherwise, I shall simply define it as immaterial imaginary friend which does not exist. I am not making a claim! The theists are making a claim!

Apparently, because I think all of the god claims are more or less equally ridiculous, I must also forfeit my right to point out the brutal contradictions in the god claims of others. This is because the god claims of the religious are apparently untouchable - it is I, the atheist, making a claim and it is up to me to disprove all gods in existence.
So atheists say that no god of any kind exists. But we must now ask, do they do so merely out of raw will, or fear, or personal preference, or private taste, or do they sincerely hope to do this on an evidentiary basis? The atheists I meet say, “We disbelieve because of the evidence.” Usually, they insist that something like history, science, truth or logic is on their side; and that something like credulity, superstition, and foolishness is essentially on the other side. But here, we need to pause to consider rather than assume the nature of appropriate evidence.
Surely, a teacher of philosophy can tell the difference between saying no god of any kind exists and saying they have seen no evidence of any god existing. History, science, logic and other tools can be used to point out damaging inconsistencies in god claims, but it can never be used to prove the non-existence of every possible god out there.
That’s what it means to say we hold a conviction on evidence. What constitutes ‘adequate evidence’ has to be decided on the basis of the ambition of the theory. For atheism, the statement is that “Evidence shows that there is no God.” We need to think now: what is appropriate evidence there? The ‘God’ concept is a lot more complicated than the ‘gravity’ concept. Many theists believe God is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent. They also believe that He transcends the limits of time and space. They believe He has existed historically, and will continue to exist indefinitely; and so on. We must ask, then, “What is sufficient evidence to rule out the existence of such a being?”
Arhghghghhgghggh! Am I being asked to prove that God - a notion Anderson admits is so complicated and unlike anything we can even comprehend - does not exist? See, I told you the burden of proof would be shifted.

Why not have the theist use evidence to prove that this complicated omnipresent, space-time transcendent, infinite being exists? Oh, because it's God, that's why.

I cannot go on further.

The article goes on, stumbling about on the deeply flawed assumption that atheists are gnostics - which the vast majority are not. Even Richard Dawkins is an agnostic.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

My Secret Atheist Podcast - Episode One


Hey, what? I just made my first ever podcast! It's called... wait for it!... My Secret Atheist Podcast!

Episode, the first, features introduction and some discussion with Baptist apologist blogger, Anthony Freeland who blogs at Truth Interrupted. I'm sure you'll remember he did a blogging debate with me not long ago. I admitted at the time that formal debates aren't my cup of tea and I'd prefer some kind of discussion format, instead.

For now the plan is to have discussions with Anthony about current day topics. Later, I want to have alternating guests and even panels!

You can watch this episode over at Youtube or right here, below:


Here's where you can subscribe to My Secret Atheist PodcastITunesSoundcloud,  RSS URLYoutube, Stitcher (coming soon.)

In addition to the show notes below, I'd like to apologize for the crappy audio quality. We started out with already crappy headsets on rather crappy Skype only for me to talk into my webcam mic rather than the headset.

Also, please excuse the rambling. I've edited the tape to remove umms and when we were flung too brutally off topic.

SHOW NOTES

Guests/Co-hosts:
Sean McGuire (@GodlessPoutine) http://www.mysecretatheistblog.com
Anthony Freeland http://truthinterrupted.wordpress.com

Drop Date: July 23, 2015

Topics:
- Tony’s story.
- Sean’s story.
- Catholicism and the Bible.
- What evidence would be needed for Sean to believe in God.
- Is Tony’s conversion story based on logical reasoning or evidence?
- Not another “Does God Exist Show”
- One million “umms” edited out.
- Sean needs a mic and studio, badly.

Music Credits:
Opening: “Cream Soda Slurpees” - Sean’s friend Counterpoint (1989-1992) on his Amiga 500!  - (source

Close: “Mother 3 - Porky's Porkies (Cover)” - greatspaceadventure - (source

Middle: “sonic death rabbit - dead rabbit lullaby (lsdj)” - baseck - (source)

(Image source)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Canadian Atheist Blog Is Down


You probably noticed that Canadian Atheist has been down since yesterday. I've been in contact with Veronica Abbass and she tells me that this is being worked on.

The blog seems to be a frequent target. I hope it comes back soon and wondering if there are some very stable or secure WordPress providers out there who could possibly offer a safe haven?

(Image source)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Russia Blocks Atheist Web Site Which 'Insulted Believers'


VKontakte has been described as the Russian version of Facebook. Just yesterday, there was some controversy because the social network blocked an atheist group who were saying things which might made religious people sad.
The group called "There is no God" on the VKontakte networking site - which had over 26,000 followers - went offline for users across the whole country.

A moderator's message on the blocked webpage said that the move was due to a ruling by a court in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region of Chechnya in May 2015.
The region also has strictly enforced modest dress codes based on religion. The consequences of not wearing the right thing can lead to violent attack.

The reasoning behind this ruling is the same we've been hearing for awhile now, starting with the anti-blasphemy law passed in the wake of the Pussy Riot protest. It is now a crime in Russia to do anything which might insult religion.
A scan of the court decision published by Russian media accused the page of publishing materials that can "insult the feelings of Orthodox Christians", based on an inspection of the page by prosecutors on April 6.
The page apparently contained the usual photo memes and cartoons making fun of religion - Orthodox Russian in particular.
One is a cartoon drawing of Jesus telling a surgeon during an operation: "I created this cancer, how dare you remove it?," with the surgeon replying "Shut up Jesus."
Some versions of this story claim the page was temporarily blocked, implying it's back now. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

(Image source: Flickr)

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Video & Reaction to Christopher DiCarlo & Conrad Black: 'The Decline of Christianity'

Conrad Black and Faith Goldy.
In April, I posted about a live taping of The Zoomer. The program appears to be my television nightmare and is hosted by Conrad Black and Faith Goldy.
THE DECLINE OF CHRISTIANITY? Hosts Conrad Black and Faith Goldy explore the fate of Christianity in the wake of diminishing congregations and persecution in the Middle East.
I witnessed the episode and it was, on the whole, dreadful. It was only my sheer determination to get through it alive and report it back to you, dear readers, which prevented me from throttling myself. Black seemed to use it as his own platform for trashing atheism - I guess he wants to expand his print attack into other media.

Thankfully, the program did have a single atheist, Christopher DiCarlo, who valiantly worked to counter an otherwise completely religious panel. Also, the co-host who believed that religion is under attack, and Black who even brought on Dr John Lennox - to talk trash about atheism with - at the end of the show.

You can watch the embedded video below or go to the site. You can skip ahead to 23 minutes, if you prefer.


I emailed DiCarlo after watching the program and asked him his opinion about his treatment on the show, the (little) time allocated to him given the topic, and how he felt about having John Lennox on at the end of the program.
Lord Black is Catholic. I'm not sure what kind of Christian Faith Goldy is. But the entire show, from Moses Znaimer to the audience, are predominantly faith-based.

Even one of the ways the show was pitched i.e. is Christianity in decline because of Muslim persecution, demonstrates a victim perspective.

Conrad is very emotional. I think this is partially due to the fact that the numbers don't lie. Organized religions in the West are in decline. Catholicism's only hope is to pitch their views to developing nations and other parts of the world that are still hanging on due to generational or familial ties -- hence, the reason Pope Francis is from Argentina. I thought is was a bit disrespectful to me for Black to show clips of his interview with Lennox and NOT state that just a few days earlier, I had a lengthy dialogue with Lennox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5YDmkAyiO4

I was also surprised that John Lennox did not mention our discussion either. I have gone out of my way to refuse to debate but accept the invitation for dialogue. And I even went so far as to suggest that he and I take opposing sides -- in the interest of fairness -- so we can better understand why we might have such diametrically opposed world views. But no theist has ever accepted my proposal.
DiCarlo also mentioned that he really felt like the token non-believer thrown into the mix. However, he did receive some good feedback from some of the attendees in the audience.

I have similar thoughts. Although, I wonder how much value appearance on these programs actually brings. Whereas, I can understand why David Silverman goes onto Fox News - to bring publicity - I wonder how much this program is actually watched. Then again... I wonder how many people read this blog!

That said, I'll end this post with the dialogue between DiCarlo and Lennox. I haven't watched it yet, but it's likely to be much more worthwhile.


(image source)

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Netflix to Produce Movie About Madalyn Murray O’Hair

Madalyn Murray O’Hair
Madalyn Murray O'Hair was referred to as the most hated woman in America by Life magazine back in 1964. She was the original atheist activist, unparalleled, who founded American Atheists. It was also her case which banned Bible readings in public schools in the US.
Murray filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore City Public School System in 1960, in which she asserted that it was unconstitutional for her son William to be required to participate in Bible readings at Baltimore public schools. In this litigation, she stated that her son's refusal to partake in the Bible readings had resulted in bullying being directed against him by classmates, and that administrators condoned it.

After consolidation with Abington School District v. Schempp, the lawsuit reached the Supreme Court of the United States in 1963. The Court voted 8–1 in Schempp's favor, which effectively banned mandatory Bible verse recitation at public schools in the United States. Prayer in schools other than Bible-readings had already been ended in 1962 by the Court's ruling in Engel v. Vitale.
In 1995, an illustrious life and career was cut short violently when she, her son and her granddaughter were kidnapped and murdered.

I must admit that other than this information, along with a few colourful radio interviews I heard, I know very little about O'Hair. That's why I hope that Netflix doesn't totally screw up the story when they release a movie about her life in 2016.
Also new to Netflix’s slate is The Most Hated Woman In America, starring Melissa Leo (The Fighter) in the true story of the controversial rise and untimely demise of Madalyn Murray O’Hair — iconoclast, opportunist, and America’s most outspoken atheist for the separation of church and state. Tommy O’Haver (An American Crime) wrote and will direct the film, and Pitch Perfect 2 producers Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks will produce through their Brownstone Productions. Again, Netflix has worldwide rights and will release day and date with its theatrical and transactional release sometime in 2016.
Variety is also reporting this.

I've been really impressed with the Netflix originals I've seen so far, like House of Cards and BoJack Horseman, but I worry that they might take too many liberties with this production -- and the broad public, including myself, is in no position to know what's for real and what's embellishment.  I guess we'll see how things go in 2016.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

'An Arab Atheist Is Usually a Parasite' - Saudi Opinion Piece


There's a vile opinion piece over at the Saudi Gazette all about Arab atheists -- a group that's been growing in number and voice recently despite local government and mosque often working hard to suppress it.
An Arab atheist is usually a parasite — someone who claims to be knowledgeable but is not and will probably eventually commit suicide. Many Western atheists have been discoverers, inventors or prize-winning authors with goals to achieve in life.

An Arab atheist is usually a drunk, certainly a degenerate and has definitely nothing to offer. Though some people spend time with them for a laugh, the Arab atheist assumes they are admirers.

Arab atheists are usually contradictory, deluded and with complexes gathered in a worthless mind. These people often verbally insult all that is sacred and religious, and most of them do so just to attract attention and the curiosity of common people who laugh at the idiotic notions they hear.
Reads very much like some second world war anti-Semitic propaganda I've run into before. Lest I run the risk of getting accused of lifting this entire piece of filth, I'll summarize the next paragraph.

He goes on to cite atheists like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein as being industrious, while Arab atheists will never amount one jot and will all die from drug overdoses or traffic accidents. I'm uncertain how these two forms of death are in any way equivalent.

He asks whether any contemporary Arab atheists have invented anything useful, written any worthy literature or have done any Nobel Prize worthy acts.  He then concludes, bizarrely, that Arabs are unable to be proper atheists.

What a ridiculous assertion coming from someone living in a country where atheists are thrown in jail or even murdered by the state! Surely, he must be aware of this. And surely, he must be aware that Raif Badawi, one accused of being an atheist, was even nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Oh, I'm sure there are many undercover atheists who are doing excellent things, but they're too concerned about being killed to reveal their lack of faith. Being dead is a harsh career breaker and a huge impediment to scientific progress.
In comparison, a Western atheist is far better than an Arab atheist in terms of attempting to deal with and understand life and leave a deep scientific or intellectual heritage. Please do not take Arab atheists seriously. There is nothing to be taken seriously anyway.
To even have articles like this published in Saudi Arabia might signify certain religious and government groups may feel threatened. That's what I read from this.

BiZoHa Orphanage - 'With Science We Can Progress!'

The Andrea Vogt Roadside Stand will allow the school to sell homegrown produce alongside a busy highway.
This is a guest post by Chris de Brabander documenting some of the absolutely astounding progress being made at the BiZoHa orphanage in Uganda!



The project to build and operate a secular orphanage in Uganda was launched at the end of February, and in just a little over four months time has made remarkable progress. 

Donations have steadily streamed in, and under the capable management of Project Director Bwambale Robert, already five buildings are completed including the hostel, classroom, kitchen, latrine, and a roadside stand for earning income from sale of snacks, drinks and crafts on the local road frequented by travelers. Construction has also started and is progressing very quickly on a health clinic at the site. 

The BiZoHa Clinic will serve the local communities as well as the orphanage and school. While it will not be able to handle all the medical needs of the area, it will be a great relief. Currently there is only one small government-run clinic serving the six local communities, and most essential drugs are not always available at that health unit. 

BiZoHa Clinic will have a trained medic with a small science lab for examining specimens and dispensing medications for common problems such as malaria and parasites. They will also provide health and hygiene education to the community.


Future plans for the site include adding a museum, which will feature exhibits about the culture of the Rwenzori People and way of living. It will serve as a tourist attraction and an educational tool for research students. Plans to erect more hostels to serve orphans plus students to enroll in the future school and some guest houses to shelter volunteers and guests will come in the course of time. These will offer alternate sources to sustainability.

Water has been piped in to BiZoHa from the mountains. In addition, Bwambale has plans to install rainwater harvesting tanks to supplement the piped water, especially as sometimes the pipes break or get washed away. Tank water can be used for washing clothes, bathing and in the latrine toilets.

BiZoHa plants crops in order to be self-sustaining, and irrigation is needed during the dry season for the crops to thrive. Also, Bwambale is exploring whether further water purification mechanisms might be put in place at point of use for drinking water, to replace boiling.

One solar panel has been installed, and a second has been funded and will be installed very soon. These solar panels and others (funding welcomed!) will make the site self-sustaining with electricity.

The intention is to enclose the hostels, classrooms, dining area, kitchen and toilets in one walled area for security reasons, with the clinic just outside the walls. 


The local community has been very welcoming. Local construction businesses have been busily engaged in getting the site ready quickly for the arriving orphans. A matron has been hired to look after the children in the hostel, and there will also be employment for a cook, teachers, medic, and perhaps other positions as BiZoHa becomes increasingly established. The site will welcome sixteen orphans in late August, and Bwambale has been visiting the local communities to identify children for this pioneer group. 

In addition BiZoHa’s school will accept students on a tuition basis from the nearby communities. Education will be secular humanist, based on science and using reason and free thought as the foundation for knowledge. Instruction will be in English to establish the footing for success in life for the children. The motto of the school will be “With Science, We Can Progress” which is painted on buildings along with the “Happy Humanist” logo. 

Opportunities to sponsor room, board and tuition for the resident orphans ($250 per year) and needy local students who live at home ($125 per year for tuition only, and/or $90 for meals at school) are available. Information on some orphans is already listed and ready to accept donations. Sponsors will receive communications about the child’s progress in school. 


In addition to scholarships, donations to the building and outfitting of the site are very much needed and each one is so very appreciated. These monies will go to such things as security, a microscope for the lab, medications and supplies, educational items for the school, furnishings, uniforms for the children, play equipment, partial sponsorships, food, etc.  To support this project financially, any coin counts and will be spent on what it’s meant for! 

Donations can be made easily at 

For inquiries on large donations to sponsor upcoming construction needs (building dedications), or any donation where a tax receipt is desired, please visit the Brighter Brains website and donate via that channel and use the email provided there to indicate that the donation is for BiZoHa and whether there is any particular need you want your donation to go toward.  [Note that due to summer vacations, tax receipts will be processed after August 18 and email responses will be delayed.]

We look forward to hearing from you. With science, we can progress!

Monday, 6 July 2015

16 Year Old Singaporean Atheist Blogger Sentenced to Four Weeks In Jail, But Is 'Free'

Amos Yee (source)
Amos Yee, 16 year old atheist and political blogger in Singapore, who uploaded a crude sexual image and wounded Christian religious feeling, is a free man today. He was found guilty and sentenced to 4 weeks in jail. However, the sentence was backdated to June 2 and he's spent over a month in mental hospitals.
The 16-year-old has spent more than 50 days in remand to date and his sentence was backdated to June 2, meaning that he can walk free from court.
Apparently, a private doctor has agreed to counsel Yee and his family. Although Yee doesn't appear to have any mental problems, nor autism (as was curiously suspected), the doctor believes some work is required lest he disrupt 'social harmony'.
Yee has been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for the past two weeks to assess his suitability for a mandatory treatment order, after a doctor said that Yee may have autism-spectrum disorder. However, a doctor at IMH said Yee did not have Autism Spectrum Disorder or any other mental disorder.

The doctor's report noted that from an early age, Yee has been "trapped in the Net" and is "unable to discern untruths in cyberspace". The doctor's report also said Yee admitted to his guilt and promised not to reoffend, as he realised his actions were against the law and could disrupt social harmony. The teen also admitted he had used his intelligence in the wrong ways. 
Sounds disturbingly like the sort of explanations the Saudi government uses to justify their brutal suppression of freedom of speech in their country - this idea that social harmony must be maintained. Yee has apparently agreed to the counseling. Given his circumstances, who could blame him?

Yee had been rushed to hospital because he stopped eating for over 70 hours. Media seems to be downplaying the blindingly obvious cause for this - he was locked up in a mental ward for two weeks.

His lawyer has vowed to appeal:
"Let's not run away with the idea that just because he's remorseful and stuff, that is in relation to the social context. Whether this was a crime or not, still remains a question we want to determine in High Court," Mr Dodwell added.
All of this because a 16 year old posted a video criticizing Christians along with a silly ling drawing of the previous Prime Minister having sex with Margaret Thatcher. This is where the bar is in secular and democratic Singapore.

Of course, Yee is only 'free' so long as he keeps his mouth shut and refrains from freely expressing his opinions online. Freedom like that is pretty worthless and is only freedom in name.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

16 Year Old Singaporean Atheist/Political Blogger In Psych Ward, Sentencing Today

(source)
In late March, 16 year old Singaporean atheist blogger, Amos Yee,  made a Youtube video criticizing the recently deceased Prime Minister -- who is disturbingly idolized in his country. He also had sharp criticisms for many Christians in the country as well. He also posted a crude drawing of Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew having sexual intercourse with Margaret Thatcher. You can see both on my previous post about Amos.

If only Canadian teens were so politically involved.

The government was not impressed and he's been charged wounding religious feeling and dishonoring the former PM. The proposed punishment for his free expression seems to be months in a reformative training centre, which sounds ghoulishly Orwellian.

Even worse than that, Yee has recently been subjected to three weeks of psychological testing and two weeks of examination to determine whether or not he's autistic.  

Even more shocking was the news release which alluded to putting him on medication - perhaps while being at a reprogramming camp.

Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Although there is no proven cure yet for autism, some medical care may help reduce their symptoms. For example, some medications are approved by US Food and Drug Administration to reduce irritability in children with autism. If the court decides that Yee must undergo MTO, it is not known what kind of ‘treatment’ the teen will receive.
What I didn't realize is that Yee has forcefully confined within the Institute of Mental Health for the past two weeks! After his lawyer was not able to obtain bail for Yee (obviously a dangerous criminal!) on Friday, Yee has apparently grown very depressed and has not eaten for the past 72 hours. This resulted in a trip to the emergency room after his blood glucose levels plummeted.
He is reported to be held at block 7 in the institution, believed to be the remand ward where mentally ill patients and the criminally insane are also held.

Mdm Mary Toh tells TOC on Sunday that her son’s blood glucose level has dropped and that he has also been feeling giddy.

Mdm Toh had earlier said her son had not been eating for several days, was also not sleeping well and was feeling depressed. She says he has lost weight too.

“Even this morning, he was asking me why he can’t be released,” Mdm Toh says.

“Amos pleaded [with me] to get him out soon,” Mdm Toh told TOC on Wednesday. “He can’t stand even another day in there. He said prison is better than IMH.”
Remember, this is all over a kid who posted a Youtube video and a racy picture. What the hell is going on in Singapore?

Yee is expected to be sentenced Monday (which is likely to happen within the next few hours, because Singapore is a day ahead of North America).

Here's Yee's last Facebook post, on July 2nd, from within the mental hospital:
Well my fellow viewers, I think until I am released from Prison, this is all I can manage to say.

In lieu of all of my news, and me being in remand, is centrally, the discourse on our rights to freedom of speech. And those rights, I still manage to uphold, as you can see, even when I am placed in jail. And the reason why is because maybe as of now, perhaps comparatively to most people, I know that my views can influence people, I know that my voice is powerful, and I should never be afraid of using it, especially when the primary aversion to my voice is formed by an unjust and corrupt Government.

But really my fellow viewers, you have a voice too, you always had a voice, and I urge everyone to never doubt the power of what a voice of just a single individual can hold, because a voice can convey ideas.

An idea is controversial, an idea is something we must stand behind, must answer for. An idea, a good idea, is more powerful that any Government or Cathedral. Will survive eras, will survive social and economic turmoil.

And if we allow the government, the police and the law, to continue to censor us, to use archaic laws to dictate our ideas and our views, to use fear to threaten us into not expressing our views, then though I am a prisoner, when freedom cannot be granted to me, you are a prisoner although freedom is granted to you. And that’s more saddening than any number of months or years in jail that I have to endure.

And if I am locked up in Prison and unable to continue posting pictures of Lee Kuan Yew buttfucking Margaret Thatcher, then I hope that there is a person out there, whoever you are, who will continue doing so. And believe me, there will be.

But don’t ever never aim to be the next Einstein, the next Gandhi or the next Amos Yee (Haha). But instead, focus on you, and become the best possible version of yourself. Because everyone, including you, are exceptionally unique, and it is the ones that embrace their uniqueness, that they become someone truly special and great.

So now alas I am done, I take my leave

Adieu my friends adieu… parting is such sweet sorrow…
It's hard to believe these are the words of a mere sixteen year old.

There have been protests within Singapore and Hong Kong for Yee's immediate release.

Petition is here.

Amnesty International demanding Yee's immediate release here.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Bangladeshi Politician Jailed For Hurting Religious Sentiment, Branded 'Atheist' & Life Threatened

Abdul Latif Siddiqui
Atheist bloggers aren't the only ones in Bangladesh who need to be very careful about what they say. Politicians also risk being murdered for expressing any opinion which could inflame the rage of Islamic terrorists.
“He will be killed wherever he is found. No atheist has been spared since the independence of Bangladesh,” the Dhaka Tribune quoted Maulana Junayed Al Habib as saying at an Iftar gathering at Jamia Madania Madrassa in Dhaka.
Apparently, Al Habib is a representative of an organization which represents some 70,000 religious schools - Islamic madrassas. The fact that he has the gall to speak this threat in public and that he's not immediately hauled off to jail for it, says a lot about the current state of human rights in Bangladesh.

In fact, Bangladesh is an excellent study case of what happens to a so-called secular nation in which religion has assumed such primacy that it has now effectively become a terrifying theocracy.
Slandering religion and “hurting religious sentiment” are illegal in Bangladesh. Vigilantes have also taken the law into their own hands. This year alone, suspected fundamentalists have killed three secular bloggers in separate machete attacks.
Murdering politicians who happened to say something impious is perfectly okay, though.

Siddiqui was fired by the Prime Minister while he was abroad in New York. He made the fatal mistake of pointing out that perhaps the Muslim Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, the Hajj, might be a bit of a waste of money.
“It is sheer waste of manpower. Some 20 lakh [two million] people have gone to Saudi Arabia. They have no work to do. It is deduction, rather than production. They are spending and consuming. They are taking the country’s money to Saudi Arabia,” he said in alleged footage of the event posted on YouTube. 
They are taking the money of a rather poor country and transferring it en masse to Saudi Arabia - a mind-numbingly rich human rights abuser.

For this comment, he got seven months in prison. He is now on bail. Apparently, he lives in a secular country. His lawyer had this to say.
“Atheism is not illegal in our country and we do not have Sharia Law to demand [the] death sentence [for] atheists. The government should take stern action against all irrespective of their political or other identities in such cases,” Barua told the Dhaka Tribune. 
Keep repeating this and perhaps someone might believe you. It's been clearly demonstrated that atheism will get you murdered in Bangladesh by mouth frothing, machete wielding religious lunatics. The government appears to be taking stern action by apparently being scared shitless of the terrorists and making mealy mouthed excuses.
They say “it is a sensitive matter” and that they plan to persuade the groups not to stage confrontations during the holy month.

“The government is monitoring the situation carefully and nobody would be allowed to create any law and order situation during Ramadan,” a minister told BenarNews, requesting anonymity.
Sounds like they're handling this situation like a boss! Laying down the law in Bangladesh!

Meanwhile, protesters appear to still be in need of some delicate persuasion not to slice this politician - who is not even necessarily an atheist - to ribbons.
Members of Islami Oikyo Jote – also a part of Hefazat – marched in Dhaka’s Lalbagh area on Tuesday to protest his release.

“The atrocious atheists and murtads (infidel) are being patronized by granting Latif Siddiqui bail. They will not be allowed to live in this country,” Mufti Faizullah, secretary general of the Jote, said, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
Why are the authorities not throwing this man into jail? I guess jail time might further offend his delicate religious sensitivities. 

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