Archive for May, 2011

There Is A Chance That I May Speak At TAM9!

Posted in Personal Stories on May 28th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – 3 Comments

TAM – The Amazing Meeting 9 will be in Vegas – July 14-17, 2011.  Every year they put out a call for “papers”.  Anyone can propose a presentation.  If they choose yours, you get 20 minutes to do a presentation in front of more than 1,000 people.  Last year they had 2 dozen proposals and I made the first cut down to 10.  In the end they could only choose 6 and I did not get to give my talk.

This year I have made improvements on my presentation and given it to more groups.  I have presented in Chicago, St. Louis (X2), Fayetteville AR, Little Rock AR, and Tulsa OK.  If you would like me to give a presentation to your group – let me know.

For TAM9, 31 people have proposed talks.  I just learned that I have survived the first cut down to just 12 people.  I have to spend some time working on my talk and now need to write a paper that could be published.  So, I will be busy this weekend.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Robert Ballard Explains Why Ocean Exploration Is A Good Investment – Colbert Video

Posted in Science on May 28th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off

Feb 10, 2009.

Over 2 years old but it is really cool.

This Would Be A Good Graduation Prayer!

Posted in atheists, Students on May 27th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off

catholic Rabbits

Posted in Catholic Church on May 26th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off

from the Nakedpastor.

Hello Out There In Postapocalyptia

Posted in religion on May 26th, 2011 by Derrick – 1 Comment

Post by Derrick

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Harold Camping’s Family Radio has gotten a great deal of unwarranted attention (and a pile of money, strangely) from its epically-failed May 21, 2011 prediction of the Rapture. (He now says it was “spiritual” in nature and says that we’re in for five months of judgment, culminating sometime in October.) The basis of his prediction was crazed–a concoction of speculation and numerology more like those spooky 19th-century extrapolations on the dimensions of Egyptian pyramids than any sort of recognizable Christian Eschatology.

The go-to counterargument, cited left, right and center, is Matthew 24:36, which claims no man knows the day or the hour. Even skeptics such as Phil Plait raise this point. Nobody seems to notice that this argument, that Camping has forgotten or ignored that particular verse, is simply flat wrong. Apparently, nobody actually went to the Family Radio web site (before it was taken down in a fit of pique), because Camping actually had a fairly extensive refutation of this claim, replete with scripture references.

I think it’s completely missing the point to criticize only Family Radio for supposedly ignoring scripture. We, as skeptics, ought to be pointing out that this is just one instance out of many where different groups of Christians pick and choose whatever verses suit their own individual fancies.

We’re quite familiar with Mainstream Christians’ tendency to pull out the No True Scotsman fallacy whenever that odious cult from Kansas claws their way back into the headlines. Again, the only skeptic I know of who regularly acknowledges the ample scriptural support for that hateful group’s anti-gay stance is Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience, who also points out that doctrinally, they are textbook Calvinists (who happen to have a particular single-issue fixation and a well-defined strategy for getting press.)

Both Family Radio and the Kansas Calvinists are practicing their religion as it is written just as much as anyone, despite their eccentricities. In point of fact, it’s the mainstream Christians who are ignoring more of the Bible, certainly the Old Testament. (To be sure, this is a good thing, and the more the better.)

When I see verses like Matthew 24:36, which do nothing but make excuses for the failure of God and scripture to measure up to any reasonable standard of verifiable truth, it makes me want to compile a list of what I call “sour grapes” bible verses. The epistles predict that followers and the word of god will be mocked by unbelievers; I frequently point out that this seems to be not so much a prophecy as an admission that Paul’s own message already wasn’t going over so well in some circles. If something is garnering ridicule, why would you consider that it might be actually ridiculous when you can jump to the conclusion that it’s all their fault, not your own. The verses which get thrown in my face about needing “spiritual discernment” in order to perceive that scripture is totally 100% true also goes on the list–you know your holy book isn’t looking so good when it needs to have sour-grapes excuses built right in.

So remember, children: don’t let these people play fast and loose with who is or isn’t on the level with their scripture. If nothing else, all these people running every which way is proof positive that not only is faith incapable of separating truth from fiction, it’s also proof positive that the bible is in no way the work of a perfect, infallible being. Not only would a perfect being not use so limited a tool as text to convey Truth-with-a-capital-T, if it did, wouldn’t they make it such that every person who read it must come to the same, exact, correct interpretation?

Creationism Banned From “free schools” In Britain

Posted in Creationism on May 26th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off

via NCSE

“Free school bids from groups advocating creationism and intelligent design as scientific theories will not be approved, according to the first government guidance on the issue,” reports the Times Education Supplement (May 20, 2011). The guidelines by which applications to establish free schools are assessed provide, “Creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas must not be taught as valid scientific theories,” and a spokesperson for the Department for Children, Education, and Schools told The Telegraph (May 20, 2011) that the Secretary of Education, Michael Gove, “will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum or as an alternative to accepted scientific theories.”

Like charter schools in the United States, “free schools” are established by local groups of parents, teachers, businesses, colleges and universities, and/or non-profit organizations, but funded directly by the government. Allowing free schools was a key point of the Conservative Party’s education platform in the 2010 British election. After the present coalition government took office, free schools “were given approval in the Academies Act 2010, which paved the way for existing state primary and secondary schools to become academies,” according to the BBC (May 23, 2011). As of May 2011, the Department for Children, Education, and Schools had received 323 proposals from groups wanting to establish a free school; between ten and twenty are expected to open by September 2011.

The guidelines were issued just a week after a new campaign — Creationism In Schools Isn’t Science, or CrISIS — petitioned the government to enforce its stated position on the teaching of creationism. “Creationism is known, and officially acknowledged, to be contrary to scientific fact,” the petition argued. “We therefore demand that creationism should not be presented as a valid scientific position, nor creationist websites and resources be promoted, in publicly funded schools or in any youth activities run on publicly funded school premises.” Endorsed by the National Secular Society, the religious thinktank Ekklesia, and the British Centre for Science Education, CrISIS was started by a concerned parent, Laura Horner, after a young-earth creationist was invited to speak at her son’s school in Exeter.

“The guidance is wonderful news and shows the Government taking a step in the right direction,” Horner told the Times Education Supplement. “We now expect the ban to be extended to apply to any activity taking place in school.” (The new guidelines concern only free schools; in the Exeter case, the creationist speaker was allowed to present his views as scientifically credible in a religious education class in a state school. Since creationism is often discussed in religious education, such classes offer a possible venue for creationism to be improperly presented as scientifically credible.) Roger Stanyard of the British Centre for Science Education told The Telegraph (May 20, 2011) that his organization was “largely happy” with the guidelines, but warned, “It depends how it is implemented. People will always find ways around the rules.”