Category Archives: Atheism

Kony 2012- The New Face of Christian Evangelism

By now you’ve probably seen the slickly produced and obviously well financed video called “Kony 2012”. When you first see the video, it’s hard not to be moved by it. But what is never discussed amid all of the heartstring plucking is that “Invisible Children“, the group who produced the video, are financed in part by the National Christian Foundation, the very same group who funds anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council. This article in The Advocate has a deeper analysis and I thought this portion of 10 O’Clock Live with Charlie Brooker was also insightful on the subject.

All of this could have never prepared me for the completely surreal and ironic turn of events within the last day or so. The seemingly angelic director of the “Kony 2012” video, Jason Russell, was detained by the San Diego police Thursday for being publicly naked, masturbating and obviously drug-induced (although his business partners claim it was stress related). The video is NSFW, so I will link to it and you can watch at your own discretion.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Believes We’re Damn Dirty Apes and Other Revelations

I confess, I’ve just not made time to watch the recent headline-making Richard Dawkins-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury debate. Bad Angela. Bad militant atheist. Still, whatever Rick Santorum thinks, a good CPAC panel does a great deal more to radicalize my beliefs than Professor Dawkins ever, ever could.

While I can’t know this for certain, I doubt when I finally watch this that I’ll be very surprised by any of the content. I’ve seen these two men converse before — I won’t say debate. For all his reputed venom, there is no such thing as a Dawkinslap, and I’ve always found him to be very blunt, but also quite respectful. I’m pretty well read and YouTubed up on Dawkins and his Four Horsemen colleagues. Please partake if you’ve not seen these discussions, featuring Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

One thing that would definitely NOT surprise me is the fact that Dawkins allows a scintilla of the possibility that there might be a God or a Great Something-Or-Other or FSM, whatevs. He’s said that before. He wrote a whole big long book about this. It’s called “The God Delusion.” And yet after this debate, like manna from heaven, gleeful headlines that Dawkins is an agnostic, not an atheist. Clearly a saucy headline. All he’s saying is there is a limit to his knowledge, and so of course he can’t say there absolutely is no such thing.

What I found more eyebrow-raising, unmentioned in most reports I’ve seen, although present in the Telegraph account, was the Archbishop’s admission that he believes that humans have non-human ancestors. Perhaps if I were a Christian, or one who doesn’t live in the U.S., that would surprise me less, too. I think it would be a very good headline. “Head of the Church of England Believes in Darwinian Evolution.” As good as “World’s Most Famous Atheist Isn’t Quite Strictly an Atheist”? Perhaps not. I still like mine though.

I leave you with one of my favorite Dawkins moments from the YouTubes: the look on his face when Deepak Chopra explains how scientists have hijacked quantum theory and what follows, what I suppose you MIGHT consider a Dawkinslap.

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Something From Nothing ? A Discussion between Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

It is definitely worth your time this weekend to sit down with this discussion. Two of my favorite thinkers hold a two-hour discussion on the really big topics of life and the universe, as well as thoughts on the ever-expanding frontiers of those two hefty subjects.

Join critically-acclaimed author and evolutionary biologist Richard
Dawkins and world-renowned theoretical physicist and author Lawrence
Krauss as they discuss biology, cosmology, religion, and a host of other
 topics.

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Filed under Atheism, Nature, Science!, Uncategorized

Oxymoron Defined – Conservative Christian Comedian

Quick, off the top of your head, name your five favorite comedians.  I don’t care who you are, what your ideology is, or even where you fall along the sense of humor spectrum, I’ll bet you a wooden nickel your five favorite comedians have one thing in common with my five favorite comedians — none of them are conservative.

And I think I know why.  In order to be a great comedian, I believe you have to have a sense of humor about yourself.  This is something all conservatives inherently lack.  They cannot laugh at themselves.  A little healthy self-loathing is the wellspring of good comedy.  A lot of unhealthy self-loathing can be the wellspring of great comedy.  But when you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t be funny.

I had the misfortune of catching Brad Stine on at CPAC (the Conservative Public Action Conference) on CSPAN yesterday.  He is billed as a “Christian Conservative Comedian.”  He is obviously the first two things.  But he is not a comedian.  I hereby issue the following challenge: First, I dare you to make it all the way through the video above.  Second, Find a funny part.  I’m not talking about the chuckles you get from watching a terrible contestant on American Idol.  Unintentional comedy doesn’t count.  I’m talking about intentional comedy– i.e. The Jokes.  There are none.  He can’t for one second take himself as anything less than a very serious, conservative Christian.  He cannot make light of himself because he fears it might make him appear weak.  Because he can’t do that, he’s not funny.

Maybe Brad Stine could learn a thing or two from this guy:

This is a clip of Louis C.K. on David Letterman.  So it’s clean.  It’s clean and it’s funny.  And it’s funny because Louis C.K. understands that if you’re going to make fun of other people for being idiots, you had better make it clear that you’re perfectly capable of being an idiot yourself.  The best comedy always involves a bit of self-deprication.  That’s why there are no genuinely funny conservative comedians.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Dennis Miller or Victoria Jackson.

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Christopher Hitchens Memorial Statue Campaign

I know, I know. The notion of a statue of Hitch for anyone who genuinely appreciated his work can seem only slightly less moribund than the mummified V.I. Lenin displayed like Snow White in her glass coffin. There is that. But what persuades me this proposal is not a repudiation of Hitch’s legacy as Hitch himself intended it is that a statue represents the status of his ideas in our society. For years, the Crackpot Right has been threatening a Culture War, and by God — essentially by God — they’re bringing it. Particularly in the current U.S. political environment where all the credible Republican candidates (Huntsman and Ron Paul are not really conceded as credible by anyone, right?) are at least unstinting religious zealots, those of us who are sane need our heroes and we need to be inspired to stand up. So damn the contradictions, immortalize the essential Contrarian, as the very existence of this statue will be a refutation to those who take their wisdom from on high or not at all.

I also find it a delightful notion to consider a golem of Hitch staring balefully out onto a society of hovercars.

Christopher Hitchens Memorial Statue Campaign.

(Crossposted to http://angeng.wordpress.com/)

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Penn Jillette On Atheism And The 2012 Election

Though the titled “An Atheist’s Guide to the 2012 Election,” the above video is actually quite a lot more than the title would have you think.  In it, the always gregarious and often funny Penn Jillette (the Penn half of magic and comedy duo Penn & Teller in case you’re Amish) pokes fun at obvious subjects like Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann.  But he also calls out fellow atheists on the idiocy of believing Obama is some sort of closet atheist and makes several other interesting detours along the way.  I especially like the part about how the word “Christian” didn’t really come to encapsulate a movement until after Roe Vs. Wade.  It’s 20 minutes well spent.

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Mass fight breaks out between monks at Jesus’ birth site in Bethlehem

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem is the place where Jesus is believed to have been born. The site is shared by the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian churches. Reportedly, dozens of Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks were cleaning with brooms when a fight broke out over the encroachment of territorial boundaries within the church… Jesus must be so proud.

Hmmm… This type of behavior over territorial disputes reminds me of something…

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Christopher’s In Heaven Now

Christopher Hitchens was a complicated man.  He was hard not to like, but he was also hard to like.  Possessed of a keen intellect matched only by his keen wit, he was a passionate spokesman against the tyranny of religion.  But he was also a bit of an insufferable blowhard who championed the Bush regime’s Iraq campaign.  When he smashes theological arguments with logic and reason against which there is no logical argument, it is a wonder to behold.  But watching him defend an administration that is in all likelihood guilty of war crimes is a real bummer.  He had his reasons for doing so, but try as I might, I was never persuaded by them.

Buy this book and read it

I first encountered the Mighty Hitch in the early 2000s, wen he was writing pro-atheism articles in magazines like Skeptic.  This was long before it was fashionable to write about such things.  But those articles were the first I had read that made sense of all the conflicting thoughts and feelings I experienced after leaving the Catholic church in the 10th grade and during my subsequent search for a religion that resonated with me.  It disturbed me deeply that I found none.  And here was someone telling me that was OK.

Letters To A Young Contrarian was the first Hitchens book I read and it changed my outlook on life.  Up to that point, The Rebel by Albert Camus had been my secret pick-me-up manifesto.  But by the time I read it, it was more than 30 years old.  Good as it was (and still is) it can’t help but be a product of its time.  Letters brought it all to the present, even though much of it springs from lessons of the past.  Emile Zola and Vaclav Havel are here, but it’s Hitchens’ voice that makes it such a strangely comforting read.  The last thing one thinks of when one thinks of Christopher Hitchens is the word “nurturing,” but there you have it.  That’s what he is in this book.  This is the book for those of us who found ourselves in the unfortunate position of being a contrarian, a rebel, or remotely counterculture, where a present-day elder statesmen was encouraging us not to give up the good fight, even when it felt bad.

Here is a great, hour long appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal where he talks about the book.

Kurt Vonnegut began the eulogy of his friend and fellow writer, Isaac Asimov with the words, “Isaac’s in Heaven now,” providing a much-needed and essentially Vonnegut-esque moment of levity.  And so it goes.  It is with a heavy heart that I must report Christopher’s in Heaven now.  And I’m sure he’s giving ’em hell.

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Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

Christopher Hitchens was one of the great minds of our time. I feel sorry for anyone on the opposite end of an argument with him. This video is a collection of some of his finer moments. He will certainly be missed.

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