Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Atheists On Religion, Science, And Morality (The Point)


Way back 5 years ago I remember watching this episode of The Point hosted by science advocate Cara Santa Maria, that featured Michael Shermer and one of my favorite physicists Sean Carroll talking about atheism, secularism and secular living, morality, and culture. It's worth a watch. There's also a follow up Q and A video.




Atheist Q and A


Monday, December 18, 2017

Eternalism Is Not The Steady State Theory


One way I can quickly tell someone isn't educated on cosmology and physics is when they confuse eternalism with the steady state theory. When most people hear "eternalism" they think it means the universe has an infinite number of past events. They mistakingly conflate the "eternal" in eternalism with meaning infinite past. And since we know our universe doesn't have an infinite past because of the big bang theory, they'll say eternalism must therefore be false.

Case closed.

But this of course only exposes one's ignorance, because anyone who knows better knows that eternalism is a completely different model than the steady state theory. I recently had a debate with a theist who made his ignorance on the subject matter abundantly clear, and it left him thinking he was correct on cosmology and that I knew nothing about science.

So let's define a few things to make it clear what eternalism is and isn't to show that it is not the steady state theory.



The steady state theory was a view that dominated physics before the discovery of the big bang and Einstein's general relativity. According to this view the universe is in the same exact (more or less) state that it currently exists in for an infinite amount of time in the past, and will continue the exist the same way into the infinite future. If we rewound the universe back any arbitrary amount of time, say, a billion years, a trillion years, a googol years, it would look more or less the same with galaxies, stars and planets. And if we fast forwarded the same amount of time we'd see a universe that looks more or less like it does now with galaxies, stars, and planets. During that time stars would die and new ones would continue to form, and whole galaxies may go in and out of existence, but overall at the largest scales the universe would look the same as it does now into the infinite past and future. There would be no overall change to the universe at the largest scale and entropy would stay the same at all times.

Einstein famously was a steady state theorist, as were most physicists in the early 20th century, until a Belgian Monk and physicist George Lemaitre took Einstein's theory of general relativity to it's logical conclusion and showed that the universe must be either expanding or contracting. A few years after that Edwin Hubble discovered the red shifting of all the other galaxies indicating the universe was indeed exapanding. Einstein abandoned the steady state view.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Rules Of Engagement: Sex And Dating In The 21st Century


OK - let's have a frank discussion on sex and dating in the 21st century. I think the time's about right.

The recent sexual harassment scandals in the media — if anything — should force us to have a discussion on what are the proper rules of engagement in the dating and sexual arenas, as well as in our regular everyday encounters.

As Bernie Sanders tweeted:


So let's go there. I will write this of course from a male perspective because it's the only way I can, and I will voice some of the concerns I have as a male on the current problems we're facing. And one of those problems is the gray area.

The Gray Area


If a man abducts a woman on the street and forces intercourse on her, this no one denies is rape. If a man and a women have consensual sex with one another, this no one denies is not rape. We can all easily pick clear examples of rape and non-rape with little effort. But now let's move closer towards the middle of the scale. Things get a little bit trickier.

Suppose a woman and a man at a party have a few too many drinks, get flirtatious, and end up voluntarily having sex. Is this rape? What if just the woman had a few too many drinks and the man was mostly sober? Is this rape? What if it was the man who had a few too many drinks and not the woman? Does this change anything? What if they were both women, or both men? Does that change anything? What if they were both sober and one was the clear aggressor and the other went along to bed but never gave affirmative verbal consent? Is that rape?



Talk Was Canceled, Free Thought Report


Well, my talk for the Long Island Atheists was canceled last minute apparently due to weather considerations. We had a few inches of snow that turned out to be nothing too bad, but nonetheless the venue was closed. My talk is now going to be rescheduled for January 19th at the same venue. In a way that's a good thing. It will give me more time to spice up my PowerPoint presentation to make it even better.

In other news, I came across the Freedom of Thought Report published by the the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which is to "document discriminatory national laws and state authorities which violate freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression."

Beginning in 2016 they put the report online where it breaks down every country.

They also have an interactive map version you can click on on the site. Hint: red is bad. And not only is most of the Islamic world the darkest red, China, the world's largest atheist country by population is too.


It's worth checking out. You can also download the "Key countries" report here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Speaking At Long Island Atheists, Plus Nones Grow to 34%


I've been a bit more busy than usual and haven't been able to blog as frequently. I'm still working on the conference and putting together the finishing touches on a new talk I'm doing for Long Island Atheists this Friday. It'll be a precursor to my panel discussion at the conference, called Make Atheism Great Again, about how atheists can better respond to the most common arguments theists have. If you're in the Long Island New York area and want to hear an awesome PowerPoint presentation, RSVP here. We will likely go for drinks afterwards.

Speaking of making atheism greater, a recent American Family Survey has shown that the number of "nones" or people with no religious preference, which includes atheists and agnostics, has grown to 34%. Previous surveys by PEW in 2014 had shown the nones were up to 22.8% and a PRRI survey from last year showed the number of nones at 25% of the US population. (See here).

If these new numbers are correct, it would mean that the pace of secularization and decreased religiosity has been speeding up rapidly.

Courtesy of Secular Coalition for America

This is something I've been hoping would happen, which is the idea that the US would reach a tipping point where religion would give out and begin a rapid and irreversible decline, just like it has in Western Europe. I'm sure the likes of religious conservatives Roy Moore and Mike Pence have helped push this even further by exposing the insanity that happens when you take religion seriously.

The question of religion in the survey was as follows:


It reports atheists as just 5%, agnostics as 6%, and nothing in particular as 23% to get the combined 34% of no religion. Reporting the number of atheists is notoriously tricky. PEW's own surveys show how this is problematic, as they've had concurrent surveys that show it as low as 3.1% and as high as 9%. Other studies have the number of atheists at 26%.

It seems that how you ask the question matters a lot. It is still well known that many people think an atheist is someone who asserts with 100% certainty that god doesn't exist. But bare minimum atheism is simply lacking a belief in god. That's it. And that of course means many agnostics actually are atheists. This why when you ask people in surveys if they believe in god you get higher numbers of people saying no than you do asking people if they're an atheist.

But aside from semantic quibbles one thing is clear: traditional religious belief in the US is dying and the number of non-religious people might hit 50% in the next 15-20 years if these rates continue. That would truly be spectacular achievement.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Study: Brain Activity Remains After Clinically Being Pronounced Dead


The internet was abuzz recently with reports that brain activity can persist 10 minutes after the declaration of death. My initial thoughts were: might this be a naturalistic explanation for so called near death experiences?

According to the reports, 4 terminally ill patients were recorded with electroencephalographic (EEG) and showed delta wave bursts for up to ten minutes after being declared dead. This was recently thought impossible.

Also thought impossible, is brain activity by people without a heart beat and who were declared dead who were then revived (only to tell glorious tales of heaven). These near death experiences are "proof" some say, that consciousness is not dependent on the brain functioning. But these new results show that brain functioning may persist for considerably longer than previously thought after the declaration of death. And this might explain near death experiences in a perfectly natural way. Near death experiences can simply be just brain activity that was previously thought to not exist.

Read the paper here: Electroencephalographic Recordings During Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Therapy Until 30 Minutes After Declaration of Death

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sacerdotus Too Scared To Debate Me


A known charlatan and fake "philosopher" who goes by the name of Sacertodus tried to challenge me to a debate online recently. He made a list of unwarranted demands, like to see my full ID with my name and birthdate (apparently to prove I'm not a minor, because he's a Catholic and Catholics are known pedophiles).

I said sure, but on the condition that he provide his ID so that I can verify who he is and find out if his supposed degrees in philosophy and science are real, because anyone can fake a screenshot. I'm positive he has no degrees because he is so insanely ignorance on both science and philosophy it's impossible he can have a degree. Impossible.

For example, after 3 weeks of debating via our blogs he still doesn't know the difference between presentism and eternalism, and is still confusing eternalism for the steady state theory. He still doesn't know eternalism is derived from special relativity, and that it's just the philosophical name for the ontology of spacetime. On top of that he makes dozens of errors on ethics (asserting Catholic dogma as fact) and evolution (asserting that there was a genetic Adam and Eve who lived at the same time who we all descended from). There's no way someone with even 1 year of college education can be so ignorant on this.

And so because I didn't send him my data he claims I forfeited the debate. Please. I don't debate pathological liars (which he has a reputation for). I would easily whoop his ass in a debate and eagerly look forward to it. He'll be a piece of cake. All he has to do is email me his ID information and I will send him mine. He refuses to do that, and so he forfeits the debate. I have standards too. I don't waste time with charlatans.

If Sacerdotus isn't too scared to debate me, he can send the information any time. Or if he refuses, then he must drop any requirements for me to prove who I am. Ball's in his court.

Here's some links to my latest refutation of him showing how I easily refuted him without any effort:


https://disqus.com/home/discussion/atheismandthecity/sacerdotus_is_even_more_stupid_than_previously_thought_pt_1/#comment-3640605405

https://disqus.com/home/discussion/atheismandthecity/sacerdotus_is_even_more_stupid_than_previously_thought_pt_1/#comment-3641821038

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