Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guess What? I Saw Richard Dawkins Today!

One of the great things about living in New York is that big names swing by quite regularly. This evening I got to see the "world's most popular atheist" himself, Richard Dawkins. The event was hosted by the New York City Atheists and the Secular Coalition for America. It was rather modest: it was a small room with seating for only about 100-150 and unfortunately I missed the earlier lecture he gave about his new book, An Appetite for Wonder. I had to see the second viewing, in which he just took questions on cards we had filled out before the event. I wrote on my card my question for him, "What advice would you give to young atheists/secularists who want to carry the fight against religion and superstitions?" Unfortunately, I didn't get to have my question read in the second event that I attended, but they may have read it aloud to him in the initial event.

The reason why they had two events was because the line was so long they couldn't fit everybody in the venue, and so they had to split us up into two groups so that each group would get to see Dawkins speak for about 1 hour on his new book. At least, that's what I thought was going to happen. Instead, the first group probably got to see him lecture and then take questions, but the second group I was in just got to see him answer audience questions. But hey, the event was free and it wasn't out of my way or anything, so I can't complain much.

So now I've gotten to see three-fourths of the so called "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." I first saw Sam Harris during his book tour for The Moral Landscape, then I saw and met Hitchens at a debate over Islam, (and I also saw Michael Shermer give a lecture for his book, The Believing Brain, and I met Neil deGrasse Tyson too). Now that I've seen Dawkins, the only one left is Daniel Dennett. But to be honest, if I could meet any well known atheist and have a conversation with them, I'd prefer to meet a scientist like Lawrence Krauss or Sean Carroll. The reason why is because there are times when I'm debating a theist and I feel like I need a personal physicist to call on, kind of like a life line, when I need a highly technical question answered.

 Dawkins receiving an honorary New York City Atheists hat.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Christian Epiphany

I just recently had an epiphany about Christianity.

It started a few years ago when I was talking to a friend about the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. My friend said that he saw how Judaism and Christianity were similar to each other, like two brothers, but that Islam, he said, was like a distant cousin, very distinct from the two. At the time I concurred with him, but now I actually disagree. As I see it now, Judaism and Islam are a lot more similar to each other, and it is Christianity that's the distant cousin.

Think about it.

In Judaism and Islam, there are many dietary restrictions, like being forbidden from eating pork and fasting. It is forbidden to make engraven images of prophets, saints or god. God is purely monotheistic and immaterial, having no bodily forms. Houses of worship have no images, just words or calligraphy. Christianity on the other hand, has no dietary restrictions (not eating meat on Friday for Catholics during Lent was commutated). Engraven images abound on stained glass windows, statues, paintings, and crucifixes etc. And god is triune, coming in three forms that are separate and distinct yet all are one. That's considered blasphemy is Judaism and Islam.

It's Christianity that is the oddball of the three Abrahamic faiths when you really think about it.

This brings me to my epiphany. While watching a documentary recently about Indian shamans who are worshiped as gods by their followers, I thought to myself how odd it is for religions to be centered around people - mortals of flesh and bone, some of whom have died and are still worshiped as gods. I mean, who could worship a god that dies? And then it struck me. That's the same thing that Christians do! Christians worship a man - Jesus - as god, a man who they believe was divine and mortal.

All of these Indian religions now make more sense given this new perspective. And when Christianity is seen through this phenomenon of people worshiping other people as gods, a practice that goes back beyond the dawn of human civilization, and one that thrives in modern day India, I've been able to see it in a much different light. Christianity follows in the footsteps of those religions who had god-kings and demi-gods who were human or who took human form. In some ways, it's no different from the countless sects and religions throughout the world that worship shamans and mystics and that cling to their every word as manifestations of divine wisdom.

You can't have your faith and eat it too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Curious Case Of S.E. Cupp

OK, let's get one thing out of the way right now: she's hot. Like blood-leaving-my-brain-going-somewhere-else-so-I-can't-think hot. But I must not let her hotness influence my criticism of her. She's been called out by many atheists for her self loathing attitude towards her own worldview. (I thought that was reserved for Jews.) I don't get this woman. She proudly proclaims her atheism, but then spends much of her time criticizing atheists as "militant" (for the heinous crime of ranking politicians on their attitudes towards things like secularism and evolution!), says she'd never vote for an atheist president, and actually helps the Christian Right strategize ways to combat secularism. WTF?

Talk about self loathing. I mean Jews and Christians can be self loathing, but this is extreme. I'm having doubts that she really is an atheist, and not just a ploy to make atheists look bad. Older Fox News watching conservative religious Americans can watch her mouthing off rants against the intolerant godless liberals who are waging war to "overthrow God, and silence Christian America for good.” And they'd fall right for it and say, "Look, she's an atheist, she's one of them and she's exposing what we've been thinking is true all along! She must be right."

Does she really believe what she preaches? I'm not sure. An atheist can certainly be a conservative, although almost all atheists are socially liberal, even if they are fiscally conservative. But how can an atheist truly support the Christian Right in their attempt to destroy the separation of church and state? It's like a gay person supporting the discrimination against gay people. (She even hurts her own support for gay marriage when she helps the Right, this shows what a hypocrite she is.) That's where the self loathing part comes from. I've yet to actually meet any fellow atheists who were against secularism, at least not soft secularism. No one is advocating that all religious belief be banned and wiped clean from society. Not the American Atheists, nor the Secular Coalition for America, nor is Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. But apparently for Cupp, preserving Jefferson's meaning of the First Amendment, separating church and state, is too militant.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Science Lesson: Autumn Equinox

Today is the Autumn Equinox, and that means it is the first day of fall. On the equinox, the sun's rays fall directly onto the equator perpendicular to the earth. As a result, sunlight covers the earth equally from north to south pole (the same thing happens on the Spring Equinox). All over the world, day and night are the same length (12 hours) and the sun will set at due west on the horizon and rise due east.

As time moves forward heading to the Winter Solstice, which usually occurs around December 21st, the days in the northern hemisphere will begin to get shorter and the nights will get longer by about a minute every day. The opposite will happen in the southern hemisphere. Then it will reverse after the Winter Solstice and the days will get longer in the northern hemisphere until the Summer Solstice, which occurs usually around June 21st. This is what causes the seasons.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nice Video Explaining The Origin Of The Universe

Watch AronRa and Friends Destroy Muslim Apologist Hamza Tzortzis

The Greatest Biblical Passage That's Actually Not In The Bible

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."


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