Atheism win

Alister McGrath is an outspoken author and professor of theology and other things christian. Skeptic Crispian Jago recently did a group of Skeptic Trump cards, and McGrath is listed as the arch nemesis of Richard Dawkins. I hadn’t heard of McGrath before I saw the card, so I did a quick Google search. The image that appeared on the web search is below:

Note there are almost as many pictures of Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as there are of McGrath. That made me happy.

These things happen

Several weeks ago, I reconnected on Facebook with one of my college roommates. I read over his info to see where he was and what he was up to (and learned that he and his wife were expecting their first child) but we didn’t actually communicate. I had a dream on Friday night in which this roommate appeared, along with his college girlfriend (who is now his wife). I got to thinking about the dream and realized I should probably get in touch, so I went to his Facebook page this morning to send him a message, and learned that the baby was born early Friday morning.

Is it a coincidence that the first time I thought of them in several weeks, subconsciously though it was, was within a few hours of the birth of their first baby?

In short: yes. I’ve heard and read explanations for how these things happen, and the basic conclusion is that things like this are statistically likely, even probable. I’m not convinced by those arguments, but it’s been a while since I’ve read about them, and I hadn’t had one of those experiences. Some more research is needed.

As a good skeptic, I don’t believe in spiritualists, mediums, psychics, astrology, or any other pseudoscientific pursuits. I would also put dream interpretation in this category: I don’t believe that dreams carry any significance whatsoever, aside from glimpsing our subconscious. That’s just my opinion, but it seems that any significance attached to dreams would be put there by some higher power, which is eliminated by the whole being an atheist thing. Why any creator would choose to speak through dreams, leaving a lot of people wondering what it means, is beyond me.

So I guess for now I’ll stick with my thought that it was just a coincidence, and that these things do happen. I will, however, call the proud parents to offer my congratulations and catch up.

Need I say more?

This comic sums it up perfectly. If you don’t read Calamities of Nature, I highly recommend it. Click on the image for the full comic.


The problem with religion

Found at, and it pretty much sums up what’s wrong with religion.

This was also addressed nicely on an episode of Mr. Deity, Mr. Deity and the Skeptic, which demonstrates the problems that arise for all-powerful supernatural beings when people start using their brains.

Disproving evolution is easy!

I found a video* this morning that “disproves” evolution,” and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. “How can anyone actually believe this nonsense?” is my first reaction, but I also feel like it’s actually doing a disservice to christian apologetics. Anyone who might be undecided on the issue of evolution vs. creation (and the bigger picture of god vs. no god) can’t take this guy seriously. Here’s a few choice quotes from the video, with my comments in italics below:

The main argument that evolutionists like Richard Dawkins use is that evolution is a fact. That may be true, but guess what? Us true christians don’t care about facts. Biblical truth is good enough for us.

First, Dawkins’ use of the “evolution is a fact” statement is hardly an argument, rather a conclusion drawn from his extensive research in the field. My main beef with this section, though, is him announcing that “we don’t care about facts.” It makes refuting nutjobs much easier when those same nutjobs that things like that.

Next, explaining that simpler organisms are found lower in the earth’s crust, which evolutionists explain by saying they evolved first, and were fossilized sooner.

What happened is that when the flood came, all animals ran up to the mountains to get away from the water. The smallest and slowest animals drowned of course first, because they could not run as fast. Then drowns the fishes, and then squids, dinosaurs, mammoths, and the snails in the end.

Ok, try to stop laughing. I’m really trying to figure out why the fish and squid will drown at all, let alone how they drown before the mammoths. And of course, the speedy snails have outrun everyone else, and are easily located in the top layer (just above the firstborn Egyptians). His next statement addresses the fast snails:

Still, there are skeptical scientists out there claiming things like velociraptors could run faster than snails. Well how do you know? Have you ever seen a dinosaur run? Have you ever seen a snail try to get away from the wrath of my loving god? In fact, snails can move pretty fast when they really have to.”

Snails can move fast when they have to, huh? How does he know? Has he ever seen a snail move fast? I certainly haven’t. Until he has, then he cannot use his “Have you ever seen a dinosaur run?” statement. But also in here is my absolute favorite: the wrath of my loving god. Read that a few times and tell me it makes sense.

One last one.

“So once again, I have proved that christianity kicks ass.”

Yes, I’m sure you did. Good for you, pal. I’ll close with another use of the fantastic graphic that I obtained stole from Phil Plait:

*This blogger is not responsible for headaches incurred from inadvertently smacking yourself in the forehead do to the sheer stupidity of this video.

Humor at the expense of religion

I’m always up for a laugh when it comes to religion, so I giggled furiously when I read today’s xkcd comic. Don’t forget the mouseover text!

For those who may not know, xkcd is a most excellent web comic that combines science, math, satire, relationships, and general geekery. New comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; I suggest you add it to your reader.

Picking your battles

As a relatively new atheist and skeptic, I sometimes have a pretty strong desire to run around telling people what I think. I’ve read a lot of information about how to debate with people, I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting logical fallacies, and feel like I could hold my own in a discussion with a reasonable person, regardless of that person’s views.

I was wondering today if there are people who think conjuring and stage magic tricks are evil, so I did a search. The reason I was thinking this is kind of a long story, so I’ll save that for another post. Anyway, my search turned up a post on a forum for “Unexplained Mysteries,” which is a good indication that it’s paranormal and pseudoscientific crap. The starter of this particular thread starts his post with this statement:

I am just a regular guy who believes anything is possible. I don’t need to see something in order to believe in it. Like bigfoot,dragons,werewolf,vampires,gnomes,witches,demons,jiin,angels, ect… I believe all of them exist and they still do exist.

What depresses me about this is his lack of understanding of how the world works, and moreover his blatant statement that he won’t change his mind. That tells me he won’t respond to any kind of actual thought or evidence, because deep down he just knows the truth. A discussion with this person would be futile, even more futile than trying to dissuade a Vogon from throwing you out of an airlock.

He then goes on to ask a question about whether others on the board believe there is good magic and evil magic, or just magic. I equate that to asking someone if they think unicorns are red or purple, when the real issue is that unicorns don’t exist. He closes his post with this sentence.

If you don’t believe in magic, you don’t believe in God, ghosts,demons or anything supernatural. It’s that simple.

Well ok then. Turns out I don’t believe in “God, ghosts,demons or anything supernatural,” so at least I don’t have to reconcile that with my non-belief in magic.

I really wonder how people can believe the things they do while being so blind to logic and straight up denying evidence. This is a battle I wouldn’t fight, because the only outcome is that I would get pissed off. It’s hard to look at someone who just needs a good dose of reasoning (or else a good hard slap in the face) and do nothing, but the battles would end with both armies in the same positions they occupied before the fighting started, with the ground between them covered with casualties. A lot of wasted effort for no change at all.

The only thing I can hope is that in the four years since that thread was started this person (not to mention some of the other posters; yikes) will have gotten a clue.