Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Quick Guide of Creationist's (Incorrect) Claims

I thought I would pass this article along. It's a quick read, and targets many of the wrong beliefs that creationists (especially the young-earth variety) have.

Read it here.
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Conversation With My Pastor, Part 4

Here is the fourth installment in the ongoing email conversation between my former pastor and myself. 
Lance -
I am very glad you took the time to reply. I know how busy you must be, and writing something like you did is not done on a whim. It required deep thinking, and care, and both are evident in what you wrote. Please know that nothing you have said has offended me, or even approached what might be considered an insult.
I feel that I must apologize for the length of this. There are just so many ideas and things to say about them that I have a hard time being succinct. I am finding our conversation very interesting and enlightening, and hope it continues. I hope you feel the same.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Conversation With My Pastor, Part 3

I have been posting a series of emails between my former pastor any myself, discussing my unbelief. Last week, I posted part 2. Here is the 3rd installment:

If you are new to this conversation, I recommend you start with part 1.

Lance's reply:
Eric - 
Hey buddy. Clearly my plate has been full if it took me a billion years to get back to you. I’m very sorry about that, but I knew you understood. I wanted to set this email aside until I had a quiet moment. Well, give months later I got one, unfortunately it’s short. But here I am in a Starbucks, reading what you wrote and pondering.
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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day!

Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day. In the United States, our speech is protected, and this allows us to say whatever we wish about religious figures, doctrines, holy books and the like. Here is a list of some of the countries that not only disregard this freedom to blaspheme, but often punish blasphemers, sometimes by execution.
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Conversation With My Pastor, Part 2

Last week, I posted the first in a series of emails between myself and my former pastor. Here is my response to his email:
Hey Lance, thanks for responding in the manner that you did. "Coming out" to you was difficult, and while I didn't really think you would ostracize me, I am relieved nonetheless. 
I do not mind you asking questions about my change of mind, but I should be clear right off the bat: I am not "assured" there is no god. No one, who really thinks about it, can actually claim to be assured that there isn't. It's not possible to prove. With that said, let me spell out what I actually do think a little more clearly.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Faith and Epistemological Quicksand by Sean Carroll

On his blog, Physicist Sean Carroll talks about something that I think is really important for those of us who have discussions with theists. If you have been doing it for any time at all, you will recognize the things that Sean points out. He just words it better than I can.

Read "Faith and Epistemological Quicksand" here.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

A Conversation With My Pastor, Part 1

Update: Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 have been added.

Back in December 2011, I was thinking about the church atmosphere that I grew up in. I realized that the open, honest and loving group of believers I grew up with was something I always took for granted. I could have just as easily been brought up in a backwards fundamentalist community, where skepticism and free thinking are actively discouraged, so I am grateful of my roots.

A central figure in my developing spiritual life was my pastor, Lance. He was charismatic, genuine, honest, and accepting. He's the kind of person that makes you feel like you could tell him anything, and he wouldn't judge you. He's a teacher, but also a listener. He never reacted to questions or challenges, he simply answered them. He is, in a word, a Christian.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Is this a good answer? What do you think?

A twitter conversation I recently had with a christian apologist, Brett Kunkle, has been featured on his ministry's website for their weekly apologetics challenge. We were talking about morality, and whether it was objective or not. Brett was claiming that objectivity of moral values (It's wrong to torture babies for fun, no matter if anyone agrees with it or not) is self-evident. I was objecting to the use of moral intuitions or gut feelings as evidence that there actually are objective moral values in reality. I claim that this connection between what we intuit and what is actually real is not clear cut, at least when it comes to our moral sense.

Part of their challenge format is a video answer given by Brett a few days after the readers have chewed on it a bit. Today Brett released his answer to my objection. What do you think? Did he adequately answer the question that I posed:

"Why would the fact that I intuit something to be true be considered evidence that it really is true?"

Please read my original objection here. The discussion of my challenge (with clarifications) at STRPlace is here. Reading those will make my objection seem clearer, and save me time walking newcomers through the finer points. Thank you for reading, and please feel free to leave your thoughts about this in the comments!

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong: 1930 - 2012

A truly inspiring human died today.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Fight For Space Documentary

I hope this gets made.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

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Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm Sorry For Being Homophobic

I used to be a christian. I also used to think being gay was an abomination. There is no coincidence there, it is because of the first thing that the second thing happened. I really took what the bible said about homosexuality to heart, and more or less despised gay people. Moreover, I saw them as enemies, not as human beings that were related to me in the most profound sense.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Christians, can you help me answer this?

This is not a new question, but I have been unable to find a good answer for it. I wonder if you can help me find it. You don't have to answer in your own words if you don't want to, but perhaps you can point me in the right direction.

If Adam and Even did not know good and evil before eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, how could God hold them morally responsible for their evil? 

Imagine Adam and Eve having no concept of right and wrong. Imagine them not even comprehending the idea that disobeying God was "wrong" but obeying him was "right." Do we hold or pets morally responsible for the "wrongs" they commit, even though they don't have a clue that what they do is considered wrong?

God said to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because they would die if they did so. (Gen 2:17)

The serpent later questions them about what God said would happen if they ate of it, and said that they "will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:1-5)

They later eat the fruit and their "eyes were opened." (Gen 3:7) They realized they were naked and they felt shame and hid from God.

After all this, God is recorded as saying, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Gen 3:22)

From the biblical account, it seems clear to me that before they ate, only God knew good and evil. So Adam and Eve did not know good and evil until they disobeyed God and ate. That means they did not know that to disobey God was morally wrong. How could God justify this permanent, world-changing, eternal punishment for a crime that the perpetrators didn't even know they were committing?

This is not a post that is meant to be sarcastic or mocking in any way. This is a genuine challenge I am seriously curious about. Thank you.
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kids, Curiosity is a Good Thing.

John Boswell, the man behind Symphony of Science, has made a remixed auto-tuned song highlighting some of the advice Mr. Rogers has for children. It's an important message for adults as well.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Scary Christian School "Science" Textbook

A friend of mine shared this link, and it is scary! Read what this christian textbook says about how we can know things, and how science works. These poor children are being taught this garbage.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Symphony of Science: We are Star Dust"

No Carl in this one, but wonderful nonetheless. Listen to the lyrics, and think about what these scientists are really saying. It's one of the most surprising and yet startlingly obvious realizations I have had in my life. Check out John Boswell's other science songs at Symphony of Science.
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Wonderful Collection of Hubble's Best Pictures

The Hubble Space Telescope is turning 22, and what better way to celebrate than to look at a gallery of some of its most breathtaking pictures? Follow this link for the eye candy.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Only Faith in God can Fulfill Man's Deepest Needs.

Many times I have heard people refer to the fact that their faith met their human needs more than an atheistic worldview ever could. But is that reason to believe it?

The idea that atheism "can't answer man's deepest needs" as evidence against it is just silly to me. First of all, I think that man's deepest needs are not impossible to meet if you don't believe in a god. But even if it was, why would that be evidence for or against either side?

Only if you presume that the property of being able to "meet man's deepest needs" is a necessary condition for the truth of a worldview does this make sense to you. But why think that? There could be in fact many emotional, "spiritual," and physical needs that we just cannot ever fully meet. But where is it written that we humans are guaranteed such fulfillment in the first place?

Why do so many people seem to think that the existence of some sort of human desire or yearning means there must be something out there that satisfies that desire?
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Animal Morality

Found an interesting TED talk on moral behavior in non-human animals. We are not so different. Watch it here.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Believers in God: What is the most personally convincing evidence/argument/reason you have for belief that God exists?

 No judging here, just collecting information. Please reply in the comments. Be nice!
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Christopher Hitchens Day

Today is Christopher Hitchens' birthday. He would have been 63. Fans of his are calling today "Christopher Hitchens Day" as a way to remember him.
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Interested in Evolution?

Animal hand homology

I came across a wonderful youtube channel that has compiled over a hundred shows on evolution from PBS, NOVA, the BBC, and other channels. If you want to learn about what evolution is and what the evidence for it is, this is a great resource:
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Belief in God is not Stupid

When talking about religion with someone who believes differently than you, it is very easy to get frustrated because they don't see things the same way. You try and make your point as clearly as you can, as reasonably as you can, but still they just don't “get it.” You may, after a while, begin to formulate reasons in your mind as to why this other person just doesn't understand you. You figure that they must not be listening to what you are really saying, or they are just plain stupid, because everyone who is reasonable and familiar with the evidence (like you are) will obviously come to the same conclusion as you, right?
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Who Was the First Human?

Richard Dawkins, talking about his new book, The Magic of Reality, explains an important fact about evolution. Namely that a chimpanzee didn't one day give birth to a human, nor a dinosaur give birth to a bird. At any point along the ancestral trail, there was never a point where the parent of one species gave birth to a different species. The creature born is always the same species as the parent. I previously wrote about this concept here. Watch the video for a great explanation.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Symphony of Science: Dinosaurs!

John over at Symphony of Science has released another remix-ucation video. If you love dinosaurs (who doesn't?) head over there and watch it!
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Darwin Day!

Today is Charles Darwin's 203rd birthday. I am grateful for his contributions to science, though I was once very much against them. Now I accept the fact of evolution and see how interesting and elegant this theory is.
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sam Harris: The Fireplace Delusion

Sam Harris has written a wonderfully enlightening and remarkably relatable piece on how the mind reacts when cherished beliefs are challenged by outside sources. He likens the love of a burning wood fire to the love of whatever religious beliefs one may have, and notes that we often react similarly if either idea is attacked. He asks his readers to be honest with themselves and pay attention to how their own mind behaves while they read his summation of wood fires. Then they can more accurately understand how the religious mind works when challenged.

Read it for yourself here.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Open-Minded Are You?

Nearly all of us think that we are open-minded, rational, unbiased, thoughtful people. We follow the evidence wherever it leads, and we listen to reason. When new evidence comes to light about something that we already hold an opinion on, we believe that we will process it in an unbiased way. This is hardly the case.
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss

I just finished “A Universe From Nothing,” by Lawrence Krauss. I found it intensely interesting and enlightening. From a purely scientific perspective, I found it engrossing and understandable, even for a lay-person like myself. There were definitely some points that I did not completely understand, but it helped me to also watch his lecture about this topic online for clarification.
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christopher Hitchens' Last Interview

In the Christmas issue of the New Statesman, guest editor Richard Dawkins interviews Christopher Hitchens for what turned out to be the last time. It is a fascinating, edifying read, and Christopher still manages to surprise me even when I feel like I know what he thinks about most things. What a mind.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Universe From Nothing: Preview of a Review

Today I received my copy of Lawrence Krauss' new book, "A Universe From Nothing." I am excited to get started reading it, as his lecture at AAI 2009 about this very topic brought up many questions in my mind.

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