Debate: Does the universe have a purpose?

Frank's Box

Number one item on Saint Fillan's Christmas list!!!
Plans to make your own

Hear what Michael Shermer has to say.

Christopher Hitchens: 'You have to choose your future regrets'

I wasn't sure what, or perhaps whom, to expect as the door opened at Christopher Hitchens's top-floor apartment in downtown Washington. The last time I had interviewed the renowned polemicist, author, literary critic and new resident in the medical state he's called "Tumortown" was in 2005. On that occasion, after a 5am finish to our extravagantly lubricated conversation, it was I who had felt the pressing need of hospital attention.

Since then there have been two dramatic changes in his circumstances. The first was the international bestselling success of his 2007 anti-theist tome God is Not Great. After decades of acclaimed but essentially confined labour, Hitchens suddenly broke out to a mass audience, becoming arguably the global figurehead of the so-called New Atheists. Almost overnight he was upgraded from intellectual notoriety, as an outspoken supporter of the invasion of Iraq, to the business end of mainstream fame. In America, in particular, he has reached that rare position for a journalist of becoming a news story himself.
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First JREF in the Classroom Module Now Available Free

 Do You Have E.S.P.? exposes students to concepts identified in the national science content standards and AAAS science literacy benchmarks related to the scientific process, Science as Inquiry, and Science in Personal and Social Perspectives and does so while presenting a topic of great interest to students as a result of E.S.P.'s wide-spread acceptance and its prominent place in popular culture.

Do You Have ESP? can be downloaded here.
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The Skeptic’s Skeptic

SCIENCE VALUES DATA and statistics and champions the virtues of evidence and experimentation. Those of us “viewing the world with a rational eye” (as the new descriptor for this column reads) also have another, underutilized tool at our disposal: rapier logic like that of Christopher Hitchens, a practiced logician trained in rhetoric. Hitchens—who is “leaving the party a bit earlier than I’d like” because of esophageal cancer, as he lamented to Charlie Rose in a recent PBS interview—has something deeply important to o!er on how to think about unscientific article

Paganism could join the six world religions taught in county schools

PAGANISM could be taught in Lincolnshire's schools after the issue was raised with the county's religious education advisor.
The question of whether Paganism should join the six world religions on the curriculum was raised with Lincolnshire County Council's body for religious education.
The board, due to meet again today, left the topic open for discussion after the RE advisor said she would look into the issue.
Minutes from a meeting of the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (Sacre) in March said: "The RE advisor reported she had looked into the query about Paganism forming part of the school curriculum.
"It was determined this covered a broad range of beliefs and practices.
"However, there was no direct guidance about whether it should be included, and it was left to the individual schools to make the decision about whether to include it.
"The RE adviser told the committee she would keep her eye on the situation and report back should there be any developments."
The Pagan religion venerates nature and worships many deities, both goddesses and gods.
The cycle of the natural year is seen by most Pagans as a model of spiritual growth and renewal, and as a sequence marked by festivals which offer access to different divinities according to their affinity with different times of year.
In October, Druidry was recognised as a religion in Britain for the first time. The Charity Commission accepted it as a faith and gave it the charitable status afforded to other religious groups.

Reported in Lincolnshire Echo

Open Letter To Kansas School Board

I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.
Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him...Read letter

Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public

This is a fascinating transcript, but a difficult read of long text.  It is worth the effort!  Great information.

The Birth of Conversion/Brainwashing in Christian Revivalism in 1735. The Pavlovian explanation of the three brain phases. Born-again preachers: Step-by-Step, how they conduct a revival and the expected physiological results. The "voice roll" technique used by preachers, lawyers and hypnotists. New trance-inducing churches. The 6 steps to conversion. The decognition process. Thought-stopping techniques. The "sell it by zealot" technique. True believers and mass movements. Persuasion techniques: "Yes set," "Imbedded Commands," "Shock and Confusion," and the "Interspersal Technique." Subliminals. Vibrato and ELF waves. Inducing trance with vibrational sound. Even professional observers will be "possessed" at charismatic gatherings. The "only hope" technique to attend and not be converted. Non-detectable Neurophone programming through the skin. The medium for mass take-over.
I'm Dick Sutphen and this tape is a studio-recorded, expanded version of a talk I delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the tape carries a copyright to protect it from unlawful duplication for sale by other companies, in this case I invite individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information."

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Paul the World Cup octopus dies in his tank in Germany

So farewell... Paul the octopus, famous for predicting football results
Paul the octopus, an unlikely star of the 2010 World Cup who 'predicted' the outcome of eight matches, has died at an aquarium in Germany.
Staff at the Sea Life centre in Oberhausen said they were "devastated" to learn that he had passed away during the article

The Lost Abbey e-Lynch Mob

The Lost Abbey, an ingeniously themed brewer of beers, came under attack for their Witch's Wit label by Wacky Wiccans and Poppycock Pagans.  The brewery's theme of Good vs. Evil drives each beers' original artwork and backstory.  As usual, there are some folks who just don't get it.

"In the beginning there was Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were told not to eat the fruit from the apple tree.They were tempted by the serpent and made a "choice" to eat from the tree. Their actions were not preordained but rather the actions of beings with free will. At every fork in the road, there are signs marking the struggle of Good vs. Evil. The Lost Abbey was imagined as part of a crusade in this ongoing story of Good vs. Evil beer. Everywhere we turn these days, there is a battle being waged between those who make good beer and those who make evil beer."

Read the article in the NY Times and Lost Abbey's response to see how the story unfolded.  The Saint's favorite comment from the Lost Abbey post came from Ramen the True Believer (see below).  Anywhere ignorance shows it dim, pudgy face, our brethren will be there to defend truth, justice, and the noodlan way.

True Believer says:
Dear Lost Abbey,
I am a Pastafarian and follower of the One True Creator, The Flying Spaghetti Monster. (May his noddly appendages reach out and touch us all.) I am deeply offended by your labels and the entire nature of this discussion.
Witches were created by Christians to scare children, sell Harry Potter books, and distract the massess from the fact that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe after going off his meds for a couple days (thus creating the flawed Earth we have today). Our Absolute Devine Beings, the Pirates, have been vilified, outcast and otherwise emotionally damaged by the Christian Church since the Middle Ages.
Witches are mythical. Pirates are real. We are the true victims here.
We demand that you stop creating made-up pictures of mythical creatures to build phony controversy in order to sell a heretical beer. As we all know, Heaven contains both a beer volcano and a stripper factory, and your use of fire with a clothed woman on a beer is a thinly veiled mockery of our core beliefs.
You have seven days to compy with our demands. After that we will unleash the Marinara upon you. You would be wise to cooperate.
May the FSM’s noodly appendages embrace you.

Love is Supernatural

Michael Shermer criticized for explaining emotionality.
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Psychic Readings To Be Regulated In Michigan

Anyone offering psychic readings or similar services in Warren, Michigan will soon have some new regulations to live by. These include fingerprints and paying an annual fee

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Image of toaster appears on Virgin Mary painting

FAIRFIELD, OH - Parishioners packed the Fairfield Church of Nazarene this week as word of the toaster apparition spread throughout the community. The phenomenon continues to prompt waves of intense emotion as people try to comprehend the heavenly message. Throughout viewing hours set up by the church, people can be seen weeping, fainting, and article

Don't ever forget


Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he's from the future

A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.

The LHC successfully collided particles at record force earlier this week, a milestone Mr Cole was attempting to disrupt by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment's vending machines. He also claimed responsibility for the infamous baguette sabotage in November last article

James Randi explains homeopathy

Pyramid power used to stop road accidents

THEY have been credited with supernatural or paranormal properties since the days of ancient Egypt. Now the putative power of pyramids is to be harnessed by Indian police to cut road accidents.

Traffic officers in Nagpur, 870km west of Mumbai, have agreed to allow small pyramids to be placed at 10 accident-prone sites in the city to see if their claimed positive energy can reduce crashes...Read article

God's Retirement

THE HEAVENS—At a press conference Tuesday, God Almighty, our Lord and Heavenly Father, gave his strongest indication yet that he might soon step down from his post as the supreme ruler of all things.

Following a routine address during which God confirmed the recent extinction of several thousand species, the Divine Creator fielded questions regarding rumors of his possible retirement... Read article

Sending intelligent ENERGY into my screwdriver

The OTHER Last Supper

Prayer Meetings

Let’s say your boss holds a prayer meeting every morning at 10. Let’s say you’re not comfortable attending. At the next prayer meeting, your boss says, “Anyone who doesn’t like this can go stand in the hall while the rest of us pray.”
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Atheist Barbie

Synthetic Cell

Satan's Playthings

Law of attraction

"The Secret" is like Amway for the soul.

"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." — Mark xi. 24.

The law of attraction is a New (Dark) Age belief that one's mental disposition attracts similar external circumstances and events. In other words, your mental intentions and attitudes draw people and things of like intention and attitude to yourself. On one level this is trivially true. We generally hang out with people who think like us and share our values and we avoid people who disagree with us on important matters and don't share our values. But a moment's reflection should reveal that this "law" is false; it's not even truthy. Read article

Kool-Aid Psychology and the POWER of Positive Thinking

Michael Shermer

How optimism trumped realism in the positive-psychology movement
magazine cover

I am, by nature, an optimist. I almost always think things will turn out well, and even when they break I am confident that I can fix them. My optimism, however, has not always served me well. Twice I have been hit by cars while cycling— full-on, through-the-windshield impacts that were entirely the result of my blissful attitude that the street corners I had successfully negotiated hundreds of times before would not suddenly materialize an automobile in my path. Such high-impact, unpredictable and rare events are what author Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “black swans.” Given enough time, no upward sloping trend line is immune from dramatic collapse.

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I Want to Believe

Michael Shermer

In a 1997 episode of The Simpsons entitled “The Springfield Files” — a parody of X-Files in which Homer has an alien encounter in the woods (after imbibing 10 bottles of Red Tick Beer) — Leonard Nimoy voices the intro as he once did for his post-Spock run on the television mystery series In Search of…: “The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies, and in the end isn’t that the real truth? The answer is no.”

No cubed. The postmodernist belief in the relativism of truth, coupled to the clicker culture of mass media where attention spans are measured in New York minutes, leaves us with a bewildering array of truth claims packaged in infotainment units. It must be true — I saw it on television, at the movies, on the Internet. The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, That’s Incredible, The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist, Loose Change, Zeitgeist the Movie. Mysteries, magic, myths and monsters. The occult and the supernatural. Conspiracies and cabals. The face on Mars and aliens on Earth. Bigfoot and Loch Ness. ESP and PSI. UFOs and ETIs. JFK, RFK and MLK — alphabet conspiracies. Altered states and hypnotic regression. Remote viewing and astroprojection. Ouija boards and Tarot cards. Astrology and palm reading. Acupuncture and chiropractic. Repressed memories and false memories. Talking to the dead and listening to your inner child. Such claims are an obfuscating amalgam of theory and conjecture, reality and fantasy, nonfiction and science fiction. Cue dramatic music. Darken the backdrop. Cast a shaft of light across the host’s face. The truth is out there. I want to believe...Read article

Yamani or Your Life

Christopher Hitchens

I have just finished reading one of the most astoundingly stupid and nasty documents ever to have landed on my desk. It consists of a letter from a law firm in Saudi Arabia, run by a man named Ahmed Zaki Yamani, to a group of newspapers in Scandinavia. I quote directly from its main paragraphs:
Over the past months my law firm has been contacted by several thousand descendants of the Prophet, who have learned about your newspaper's republication of the drawing, depicting their esteemed ancestor as a terrorist suicide bomber with a bomb in his turban.

As descendants of the Prophet, these individuals feel personally insulted, emotionally distressed and defamed by your newspaper's re-publication of the drawing. They have therefore retained my law firm and instructed me to approach you …



Bible Atrocities

GENESIS 34:13 – Shechem had premarital sex with Jacob’s daughter Dinah, which angered Jacob’s sons. Shechem and his father, Hamor, agree to circumcision for the men in the city in order for Shechem to marry Dinah and make Jacob’s other daughters eligible for the men of the city. Three days later, while the men are still enduring the pain of circumcision, Jacob’s sons attack the unsuspecting city, killing Shechem and Hamor with swords, looting the city, seizing the flocks, herds, possessions and wealth, plundering the houses and carrying off their women and children.

GENESIS chapters 6 & 7: Unhappy with the wickedness of man, God killed every living thing on the planet except Noah’s family. Men, women, infants and animals drowned in unimaginable terror and agony.

GENESIS 19:6- In Sodom, Lot’s home was assaulted by a homosexual mob seeking to have relations with two angels. Lot volunteers his virgin daughters to the crowd, saying “you can do what you like with them” as long as the guests are left alone.


Jesus backward

Arrrr, there be a star

Wiccan Wife

I am struck by the glorious potential of the Wiccan female as wife material.
"Why a Wiccan?" you might ask. jsm was rather harsh in his judgement of their religion, but the precise scriptural details don't concern me. Several things seem very clear to me about Wiccan females: read more

One more jab at witchy nonsense...Encyclopedia Dramatica

Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World

Souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens, intelligent designers, government conspirators, and all manner of invisible agents with power and intention are believed to haunt our world and control our lives. Why?
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Let us pray

NSS supports Penn & Teller’s right to attack the Vatican on TV

An American TV show, in which the NSS features, has come under ferocious attack from Catholic groups, who are calling for future series to be dropped. One internet site where the show was available for viewing has taken it down...

How Old is the Grand Canyon? Park Service Won't Say

Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) article

The Virgin Mary


Burden of Proof

Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World

Members of the earth's earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.

According to recently excavated clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform script, thousands of Sumerians—the first humans to establish systems of writing, agriculture, and government—were working on their sophisticated irrigation systems when the Father of All Creation reached down from the ether and blew the divine spirit of life into their thriving civilization.

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The Brick Testament

Want to learn the bible Lego style?
Check out The Brick Testament

Creation Stories

Read about fun stories of creation from around the world and across time.
at The Genesis Project

Islamists want to prohibit non-Muslims from referring to God as Allah

In Malaysia last month, there was vicious rioting after high court judge Lau Bee Lan issued a ruling on the proper naming of God. A complaint had been lodged by Muslim groups that local Christians were using the word Allah in their services and publications...
By:Christopher Hitchens
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10 Reasons why Superman is better than Jesus

from The Good Atheist

This article made me want to include a little list of why Superman is better than Jesus. I’ve made a comparative list so that I can definitively prove that the last son of Krypton is superior to the King of Kings in almost every way.

Scary Gods of Love

Everyone needs a little help getting busy sometimes. You could try Viagra ... or you could bust out the big guns and try the invocation of an ancient booty spirit.

Most of us are familiar with the various fat, flying babies that adorn cards on Valentine's day, but the rest of our ancestors also had religions strewn with love deities that were often even more disturbing than a flying cherub whose job is to shoot you with arrows that make you want to hump.
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Modern Witchhunt

A woman has been tortured by her neighbours for two days and forced to eat human waste before she finally gave in and confessed to practising article

Bible Bingo

Jesus mafia

Thor's hammer


Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. Frater Ravus

Killing ratio

Calvin & God

The Intelligence² Debate - Stephen Fry (Unedited)

The Intelligence² Debate - Stephen Fry (Unedited)
Uploaded by Xrunner17. - Check out other Film & TV videos.

The God Fraud

Best-selling atheist author Sam Harris pushes back against Karen Armstrong's sympathetic take on religion.

In her article ("Think Again: God," November 2009), Karen Armstrong discovers that Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and I have mistaken "fundamentalism" for the totality of religion. (Sorry about that.) But do Richard and Christopher really hold religion responsible for "all human cruelty"? That is a surprise. I hadn't realized that they were idiots.

In any case, I am hopeful that Armstrong's winsome depiction of Islam will shame and enlighten them, as it has me. They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom, while we are ignorant bigots who know nothing of theology (of course), politics (Christopher, are you listening?), human nature (what's to know?), or the proper limits of science (um ... narrower?).
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