Dawkins kicks off

My Wednesday update is small this week as I'm up a mountain, failing to observe the stars.

But I don't need to say anything when Richard Dawkins letter to accompany his new book can say it for me.

A quote:

Scientists divide into two schools of thought over the best tactics with which to face the threat. The Neville Chamberlain 'appeasement' school focuses on the battle for evolution. Consequently, its members identify fundamentalism as the enemy, and they bend over backwards to appease 'moderate' or 'sensible' religion (not a difficult task, for bishops and theologians despise fundamentalists as much as scientists do). Scientists of the Winston Churchill school, by contrast, see the fight for evolution as only one battle in a larger war: a looming war between supernaturalism on the one side and rationality on the other. For them, bishops and theologians belong with creationists in the supernatural camp, and are not to be appeased.

Chamberlin? or Churchill? Where do you stand?

Dinosaur Adventure Land eats itself.

The Ministers of the Creationist Ministries' Dinosaur Adventure Land are under arrest for 58 counts of tax fraud.

When your defence lawyer describes it as a case of "Ignorance of the law and their religious beliefs." you know you are fucked.

This Dinosaur adventure land has made "April the 1st "Darwins Day." And rather than describe it, its safe to say that basically every hideous thought that has popped into your head? Yeah that's true.

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Their ignorance of the law included failing to pay around $470,000 worth of wages and hence the taxes on them by calling them "love offerings" to their ministers and volunteers instead. Resisting a search warrant and, depressingly, making $5 million dollars in 5 years selling merchandise about creationsim but seemingly not paying taxes on any of it.

Their ignorance of Religion was by being a "literalist who takes every word of the Bible as truth." Well that and making a big park about how God got pissed off with all the dinosaurs so killed them in Noah's flood a few thousand years ago (Apart from the triceratops in the picture he apparently saved.).

Like Mel "Jews have caused all the wars in the world" Gibson - it's so beautiful when who piss us all off destroy themselves for our benefit.

UPDATE: Sorry just got to add that according to this one of there proofs against evolution is a fossilised crayon. That's awesome.

Dawkins vs Colbert

A great start to the new Wednesday posting schedule was blogger being down earlier. Ah Well. Here we go.

Richard Dawkins was interviewed by Steve Colbert as can be seen below. It's very fun.

Damn thats all I have time for now. Sorry!

The Future of Skeptobot

So after the YTMND "event" and a regular flow of readers it's time to take Skeptobot further. I want Skeptobot to continue to grow. So here's the outline of my plan to try and turn you all into regular readers:

1) Skeptobot will get an update ever week. Currently this will be Wednesdays (most likely in the afternoon). Hopefully it will update more often than that - but I hope knowing there will be weekly content will help keep you coming back.

2) I know I do not have nearly enough readers for contributions - but the offer is there!

3) Apart from news updates and commentary about random crap. I have three little projects in my mind. I will most likely talk about these in the Bad Science Forums and the Richard Dawkins Forum but will co-ordinate them here. Two are silly - but one is quite serious.

4) Comments are good!

And to answer the comment of Ben Goldarce (yeah, that's right - look impressed) - the Christian comments came about from YTMND (an American "comedy" site where users use animated gifs and sound files to make their own little web pages).

A Christian user of the site there was creating webpages about how all atheists go to hell, and have killed more people than all religious people put together and so on. So suffering from insomina I put the site about the pale blue dot together. It's flawed, ugly and has very annoying music (due to an in-joke) but by some miracle has been visited 78,000 times in the last month.

The Christian users there took great offence to it, insulted me in the YTMND comments thread and then followed the link here - where they are a lot seem a lot more erudite and don't just tell me I'm going to hell. I've loced every second.

It's been splendid.

Dress like a dapper Christian

Oh man, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. I can't decide whats worse the windows 98 clip art "style" or the wonderful "loving" message. These T-Shirts are so ridiculous that (in the UK at least) they would be worth buying - as they would only be seen as being sarcastic. But then you are supporting the makers which - as these examples show - isn't something you should want to do.

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Christian Children?

A very well made point in Richard Dawkins The God Delusion is about children and religion. Put simply he shows the ridiculousness of the concept of religious children. Do you have a liberal child? Or an atheist child? A free-market economy supporting child? No. Because as a child - you haven't yet made up your mind on things. The correct terminology should be a "child of Christian parents". A child believes everything you say. At least let them stop believing in Santa and the tooth fairy before you claim them for a faith.

It makes you worry even more about things like this:

It is so scary this world in which we live.

Friday's Link Dump

A man who's child was horrifically killed in the Columbine tragedy is broadcast on cnn blaming the teaching of evolution, abortion and the except-ability of suicide.

Postmodern American Parents are trying to ban a book about the terrible effects of banning books

American Psychicexplains how to spot fake psychics.

Pale Blue Dot

So I've made over 60,000 hits with Pale Blue Dot on YTMND. It's a site where people upload a picture (often an animated gif), a sound and some text to typically amuse but sometimes to make a point whether it be political, religious or otherwise. I've got a lot of feed back in the comments to the site and it's obvious I need to clear some stuff up. But before I do that - here's the picture (furthest "sun-beam" right and just over half way down) and the quote.

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"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

To me that is an incredibly moving quote. It makes our trivial differences even more preposterous than ever before. But if you post it on YTMND you get over 1000 comments - most of which are postive - but a sizeable portion tell you that you are going to hell.

I'm going to write a longer response - but for the time being let me make some points.

1) I am not trying to disprove God. Not Odin, Yahweh, Allah, Ra, The Godhead or even Thor,or I'm only trying to give an insight into how one (brilliant) atheist thought, as a guide to how atheists see beauty in the world.

2) I'm not calling religion small minded. I am calling the faith that Whestone (and admittedly many like him) hold to be small minded. I know that may offend people. But if your faith can not take a little criticisms then you have to wonder how strong it is in the first place. I found the statement that all "Infidels" (Whestones olde worlde word for atheist, despite the fact that the majority of people he "quoted" were all deists) realised they were going to hell on their death bed ridiculous, offensive and laughable. But religious beliefs (or lack off) should be no more protected than political or ideological beliefs of any kind.

3) The quote is about how we need to come together to survive on our little pale blue dot. And that means we have to learn how to take criticism from each other. The target, if anyone, of the site was against the people who just wanted to outright ban whestone. A stance I do not believe in.

Anyway - I need to work. But I will put more thoughts here later.