Tag Archives: God

Strut your stuff: Gay Pride

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

On June 30, 2013, I participated in my first LGBT Pride Parade. My day started out by waking up at six in the morning, picking up a couple of friends, riding the Metro into Chicago’s loop on a beautiful summer Sunday morning and preparing for the world’s single greatest celebration of equality.

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The train ride into the city was full of rainbows and glitter. People were pouring into Chicago from all directions, at every moment of the day, via every mode of transportation and it became quickly apparent that the easiest way to navigate from the Metro, to the Loop, to Boystown was to simply “follow the rainbows.”

So, we followed the rainbows. We boarded the elevated rail for north Chicago’s Belmont Avenue and walked off into a sea of fabulousness. One of the first things I saw was two women sporting nearly-nude pairs of breasts, confidently walking by a gaggle of Chicago police officers. The next thing I saw was the bare behind of an equally confident man.

To Belmont, the train car we chose happened to be full of mostly female high schoolers all decked out in Pridewear – in less clothing than their parents would care to see. While scoffing at the brace-faced, underwear-clad 14-year-old, I was simultaneously thinking about what freedom means to an adolescent growing up to inevitable adulthood. I became lucid in the idea that that experience could be pivotal in their maturing.

Those who have long matured and are old enough to be the grandfather of said 14-year-old have already lived a lifetime of marriage and sexual discrimination, whether they were straight or not. Between the older generation and the pubescent, age mattered little, and everyone revelled in the celebration of freedom.

Walking through the crowd of more than one million people, the fascination continued. In the same cluster of people, there would be a typical suburban-esque family talking with a “Dykes on Bikes” couple and a transvestite. If you have a better example of breaking barriers, I’d love to hear it.

I was happy to see parents taking children as young as 3 years old to Pride. It shows there is hope for a future America that will be less discriminatory and offer more freedom than ever before. These children will grow up knowing that a straight person is not better than a gay person, and that marriage and sex is not controlled nor defined by heterosexuals.

Pride is not exclusively a celebration of the LGBT community. Predominantly it is, and is definitely how it started 44 years ago in Chicago, but it has since evolved into a celebration of freedom and human rights. Natural born rights of love and freedom of expression as well as the desire for removal of victimless crimes are what define Pride.

The Pride Parade is the be-all-end-all form of public displays of freedom; I would even argue that you’re not a true American until you’ve been to a Pride parade or minimally entertained the idea.

 

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Faith healing or faith killing?

Faith-healing, the immoral act of neglecting a person’s well-being to the point of death on the basis that modern science is ineffective or worse at healing than simply having a belief in a god.

At least that’s my definition.

The American Cancer Society says, “Faith healing is founded on the belief that certain people or places have the ability to cure and heal—that someone or something can eliminate disease or heal injuries through a close connection to a higher power.” and that,“available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments.”

The word “faith”, in itself, is already an oxymoron in regards to medicine. “Faith” is literally the belief in something in the absence of evidence. So “faith-healing” by definition would be comparable to trying to fly an airplane on the moon and wondering why you can’t get anywhere.

The beauty of a placebo effect means that anyone, so long as they truly believe in something (religious or not), will physically and mentally feel better. Obviously, this doesn’t correlate with long-term actual healing.

Already all over the news is the story of the Philadelphia couple, Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who were just charged with third degree murder for resorting to faith-healing when two of their children in the last four years weren’t treated for pneumonia and died. Cases like these crop up multiple times a year and it saddens me knowing that the kids nearly always have no say in the matter.

The real question that must be asked is whether or not this constitutes as murder.

The Schaibles, and many other fundamentalist families out there, follow a practice that is beyond medieval. Even bloodletting, which dates back to the time of Jesus, is considered unholy practice… oddly enough.

There are many scripts in the Bible that could loosely, with bending, refer to what might be called “faith-healing”, none of which speak of “medicine” as medicine in the practical and functional sense was non-existent 2000 years ago.

The nearest interpretation is probably from James 5:13-16, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

It seems the Schaibles and other fundies have made their beliefs mostly on the synthesized belief that the Bible somehow talks about medicine. The Schaibles said that, “[Medicine] is against our religious beliefs”, and that, “It means that we pray and ask to be healed the way that Jesus did when he was on Earth.”

So I’ll ask again, does freedom of and from religion grant the right to willful medicinal negligence of another human with a severe, potentially lethal, illness?

The obviously moral answer should be, “no”.

In my eyes, faith-healing should be non-permissible unless you are of legal adult age and the decision itself made only by the individual undergoing the “healing.” This way the consequences of the faith-healing are only on the individual requesting it.

Parents who faith-heal their children (where they have no choice in the matter) should be massively fined and potentially placed in prison depending on the gravity of the illness.

No matter the age or era, society or religion, no human should ever make a decision that infringes on the rights and freedoms of another individual… even if both are oblivious to the infringements. Religious freedom does not extend to someone other than yourself, even your child.

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Jurassic Park 3D: Play Smart with the Environment, Don’t Play God

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

Oh how we humans like to be masters of our environment, controllers of life. If we can do something, we do it. Though it may sound cliche, just because we can do something, should we?

Within the last couple of decades our knowledge of DNA has increased tremendously. Today, we are at the point where we can nearly bring back that which does not exist.

Like extinct species, for example.

With “Jurassic Park 3D” coming out, we can expect to see more entertained discussion of what it means to bring back extinct animals, not necessarily just for viewing pleasure. A scenario like “Jurassic Park” is not possible, as 65 million years is far too long to get a good DNA sample of any dinosaur, but it’s still interesting to contemplate.

Teams have attempted “de-extinction” before, and nearly succeeded. A team of French and Spanish scientists brought back an extinct Pyrenean ibex (goat) in 2003, only for it to die just minutes after birth and therefore go extinct again. The Pyrenean ibex only recently went extinct, in the late 1990s, with the last one found dead under a tree with a radio tracker around its neck. This animal went extinct because it was over-hunted.

Scientists all over the world are working toward turning science-fiction into science-fact. Is it right, though?

Earth is its own habitat and has its own life cycle. In human years, Earth would probably be in its late 40s and have much to offer in resources and knowledge. Over 98 percent of all species to have ever existed have gone extinct — billions of species. Who are we to say that we should “save the animals,” as the endangered species activists so loudly exclaim? And does it really matter if we bring back extinct species?

In the long run, no, it doesn’t remotely matter.

The real question is whether or not humans have had a major influence on the rate of extinction. I would argue we have had a massive influence in the last few hundred years.

You have heard it time and time again, drilled into your heads, that we are taking vital resources from major habitats of the world that end up hurting and removing species, be it altering the predator vs. prey ratios or removing habitats. I don’t need to tell you about humans damaging our lonely planet when you’re exposed to it everyday.

It’s one thing to try to bring back an animal we recently hunted extinct, and another thing to bring back animals like wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and mastodons. These three species have been extinct from four to 12 thousand years —  long before humans were a global threat.

Bringing back a few extinct or endangered animals that disappeared due to humans probably won’t help much from an ecological point, if at all. And bringing back extinct animals from 10,000 years ago is just scientific fun. Good luck trying to throw them into an unadapted environment which they haven’t been a part of for millennia.

Taking animals out of extinction for research’s sake is fine and dandy. It might, after all, lead to the discovery of many new and interesting things. Taking animals out of extinction to try and solve the world of problems that humans have created is a lost cause. And doing so just so we can have an “extinct exhibit” at the zoo is moronic and beyond egocentric.

The only way we can help our planet is to bring balance to the environment by the way we use it. Species come and go the same way we are born and die, and the only thing we can do is be a part of that cycle, naturally.

Staying ahead of that cycle is preserving the existence of our own species, for now. But there needs to be a balance because whether we like it or not, no matter how ahead we are, we’re dependent on what lives and grows on Earth.

Some call de-extinction “playing God.” Paleontologist Michael Archer at the University of New South Wales says we’ve been playing God ever since we drove animals to extinction.

Regardless of whether we’re “playing God” or not, humans need to stop thinking that there will always be a remedial fix to the problems we create and instead focus on preventing problems from even occurring in the first place. “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”

 

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The Neurological Explanation for Believing in God

Watch this video to get the neurological explanation for why people believe in god. Titled, “God is in The Neurons”, it is on the long side, about 22 minutes… but it’s worth more of a watch than your latest episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’. The meat of the material doesn’t come until several minutes in, so don’t cop-out early and do yourself a favor and watch it in entirety.

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What Facts Support Evolution?

I was perusing the web when I found this wiki response to a question about the validity of evolution. In 20 prime examples, this is the best, most clear-cut and concise write-up I have ever seen that validates evolution. I have read books on just individual examples listed, but nothing gets the point across faster than this right here. I would also like to add one of my personal favorite examples under the “sub-optimal design” category… the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve. It is a nerve that takes an unnecessary detour in all mammals when travelling from the brain to the larynx (voice box). In a giraffe the detour is 15 extra feet from what is necessary. Please, take a read, and share/comment at the bottom of the page.

Charles Darwin

  • Classification: Organisms naturally fit into groups, e.g. humans naturally fit into the ape group, apes naturally fit into the primate group, then into the mammal group, the vertebrate group, the animal group, etc. This can easily be explained if we say that humans shared a recent common ancestor with all the other apes, then a more distant common ancestor with the other primates, then a more distant common ancestor with the other mammals, etc. It’s not just humans; all organisms fit naturally into groups that show a kind of branching pattern, like a family tree. The most logical explanation for this is common ancestry – groups that seem more closely related shared a more recent common ancestor.
  • Homologous structures: The human arm, the bird’s wing, the whale’s flipper and the cat’s leg all share the same basic pattern of bones (one long bone, a joint, two small bones, a wrist made of lots of little bones and then five digits on the end) , even though they serve very different functions (human arms for grasping, bird wings for flying, whale flippers for swimming and cat legs for walking.) If they are built for very different tasks, why do they have the same basic structure? The answer is that humans, birds, whales and cats all share a common ancestor who had that kind of limb, and that over time, it’s been modified to fit the needs of those four very different creatures. (There are many, many other structures too that have different functions but the same basic underlying structure, showing that they came from modifications from a common ancestor. These are known as homologous structures.)
  • Genetic evidence: Perhaps the most powerful piece of evidence for evolution. Organisms that share more recent common ancestors, and are therefore more closely related, have more of their DNA in common. Humans, for example, share about 99.9% of our DNA with other humans, 98% with chimpanzees, 93% with rhesus monkeys, about 90% with mice, and so on… we share 50% with bananas! From this evidence we can draw a branching tree of who’s more closely and less closely related to humans. Doing the same thing for other species allows us to work out who’s related to who, and we get the same kind of tree we get from comparing similarities and differences (evidence 1) or looking at anatomical structures (evidence 2). Moreover, this is the same sort of technology used to convict criminals or in paternity tests – checking the similarities in DNA to find out who’s related to whom.
  • ERVs: ERVs, or endogenous retroviruses, are viruses that insert small bits of genetic code into the genome of the organism they infect. Biologists can easily see where an ERV has injected a bit of its own code, like a tag or mark. If ERVs infect a sperm or egg cell, then that genetic mark will be passed down to the children produced by that cell. By looking at the genetic markers left by ERVs in our genomes, we can therefore tell who shares a common ancestor with whom. And, of course, we see the same pattern – all humans share most of their ERV markers, some of them with chimpanzees, fewer of them with gorillas, etc.
  • Embryology: In the first few days of development, a human embryo looks very similar to that of any other animal. After a few weeks, we can tell it’s a vertebrate animal, but it doesn’t yet look human – it could be a fish embryo! After a few more weeks, it looks like a mammal embryo, but we can’t tell which mammal… and so on. Embryos of different species look very much alike in their early stages. The later on the embryos begin to look different, the more closely related the two species are. Further evidence comes when we look at some of the features embryos possess in their early stages. For example, at one point, human embryos have gill slits, like a fish (although never functioning gills), then later on a long tail, like most animals, then a yolk sac, like the eggs of birds and reptiles, and later still we become covered in fur like most mammals which we shed. Why would humans go through phases with gill slits, tails, yolk sacs and fur if none of these features are of any use to the adult? It’s because our ancestors at one point had gills, tails, eggs with yolks, and fur (not at the same time, though!) We humans have kept those genes, and while they’re inactive in adults, their effects show through at an early stage in development. And it’s not just humans – embryonic snakes grow legs, which they lose, and horses grow five toes, of which four eventually shrink leaving behind the single hoof.
  • Vestigial organs and behaviours: These are organs that an organism’s ancestors used for one purpose but either serve a different purpose or are not used at all in the modern organism. A good example’s the human tailbone or coccyx, which serves no function in humans but is what remains of our monkey’s tail, or our appendix or wisdom teeth. There are vestigial behaviours, too: for example, if a human baby falls backwards it will automatically grasp something, perhaps a throwback to our days when falling out of trees was a concern. Or consider goosebumps, when our hair stands on end – not much good in warding off an enemy or trapping heat nowadays, but very useful for a furry mammal, which is why we get them when we’re scared or cold. It’s not just humans – whales for example have vestigial pelvises, although they have no legs for them to attach to.
  • Atavisms: These are “evolutionary throwbacks,” mutations that re-awaken old, deactivated genes and produce characteristics that an organism’s ancestors had, e.g. humans with tails or fur.
  • Pseudogenes: These are strands of DNA with no discernible function. Closely related organisms, like humans and chimps, or lions and tigers, share large amounts of this “junk DNA” with each other even though it doesn’t seem to give them an advantage – and again, the pattern of who has the most junk DNA in common fits together well with the family trees (or phylogenetic trees) established from other evidence like anatomy, embryos, ERVs, etc. The only way to explain this again seems to be common ancestry.
  • Molecular evidence: It’s not just DNA that closely related organisms have in common; other molecules, such as cytochrome C, can vary from organism to organism and still be functional. More closely related organisms have the most similar cytochrome C. The same is true of blood proteins and other substances too.
  • Human chromosome 2: Here’s something that’s specific to humans. The other great apes have a pair of chromosomes that humans don’t. Where did it go? The only way evolution can explain it is if two of the great ape chromosomes fused together to make a human chromosome. When we look closely at the structure of the human chromosomes and those of the other great apes, we can pinpoint the exact place this happened – where two great ape chromosomes fused to make human chromosome #2.
  • Ring species: For example, the Larus gulls; the Larus gulls in Europe can breed with those slightly different gulls in Asia, those in Asia can breed with those slightly different gulls further along in Asia, who can breed with those further along, and so on until we reach the east coast of North America. But those on the eastern coast of North America cannot interbreed with those on the west coast of Europe – they’re too genetically different. This shows how it’s possible for a species to change, very gradually, until it becomes a new species. Ring species like this show in space what must happen in time.
  • Progression of the Fossil Record: When we look at the fossil record, we see organisms appearing in a sequence. For example, fish appear around 500 million years ago, amphibians around 360 million years ago, reptiles around 300 million years ago, early mammals around 200 million years ago, primates around 60 million years ago, apes around 30 million years ago, two-legged upright apes around 5 million years ago and humans around 200,000 years ago. Why no humans in rocks 500 million years old? The answer must be that humans evolved later. If humans evolved from apes, which evolved from primates, from mammals, from reptiles, from amphibians, and from fish, then the fish needed to appear first, followed by the amphibians, the reptiles, etc. The sequence of fossils in the rock record perfectly matches what we need to explain the tree of life.
  • Transitional Fossils: Fossils that show a transition from one group to another group, e.g. Archaeopteryx, the reptile-like bird; Tiktaalik, the amphibian-like fish; Australopithecus, the human-like ape, etc. There are many, many, MANY more – just do a quick Google search!
  • Age of the Earth: Darwin’s theory of natural selection tells us that over time, and if the environment changes, it’s inevitable that organisms will evolve and adapt to fit it. Countless pieces of evidence mainly from geology but also from physics, chemistry and astronomy show the Earth is ancient – 4.5 billion years old – and life is at least 3.5 billion years old. Given that natural selection and mutation must happen, it’s absurd to think that organisms could have stayed the same for that length of time – evolution must have occurred on such an old planet.
  • Evolution of bacteria: Many bacteria have evolved resistance to antibiotics through natural selection. Other bacteria have evolved the ability to digest nylon, which was only invented by humans in the 20th century. Why do we observe such changes happening so quickly in bacteria? Because they have short generation times – bacteria can produce a new generation in 20 minutes, while it takes more than 20 years for humans. This is why we have to wait for hundreds of thousands of years to see human evolution in action, but we can watch bacteria evolve over weeks or months in the lab or in nature.
  • Peppered moths: A case study in natural selection. The white form of the peppered moth was the most common in England until that country industrialised. As tree trunks turned darker with soot and industrial pollution, white moths were more easily seen by predators, and so the darker moths were more likely to survive and reproduce. Over time, the population of moths grew darker over time. This is evidence that natural selection drives the change in the gene pool of populations that we call evolution.
  • Geographical distribution of species: The way species are distributed tells us a lot about their evolution. For example, marsupials only exist in Australia and South America, although they could adapt to climates elsewhere. Why so restricted? It only makes sense if marsupials first evolved back when Australia and South America were connected to each other (and Antarctica, but not the rest of the world.) As the two continents broke apart, marsupials diversified on them, but never had the chance to spread anywhere else. (Marsupials in Antarctica would have died out as the continent froze over.) The same is true of many species; their geographical distribution only makes sense in evolutionary terms.
  • Domesticated animals: These animals have been modified by humans over the years selecting who gets to breed and who doesn’t. If humans can change an animal’s gene pool through selection and produce such radically different types, why can’t natural selection do the same thing?
  • Sub-optimal design: Evolution cannot work from scratch, it can only modify/tweak pre-existing organisms’ features for new needs. This is why so many parts of organisms’ bodies aren’t as efficient as they could be. For example, the blood vessels in the human eye, or the path taken by the human testes as they descend into the scrotum. If they were designed from scratch, there would be more efficient ways to do it; evolution had to make do with what was already there and tweak it to fit the new environments.
  • Many, many more! Computer simulations of gene pools show evolution occuring; the structure of certain body parts can be fully explained by evolutionary processes, and any arguments against evolution (e.g. the “irreducible complexity” argument beloved by Intelligent Design advocates) have been shown again and again to not hold up to scrutiny. Since Darwin’s time so many facts have been shown to support evolution and fit into an evolutionary scheme that as the great geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky once said, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_facts_support_evolution#ixzz1oDTWg5dv

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What Is Time & Is Time Infinite & How Does Time Relate To The Universe

For many years I’ve tried to understand the concept of “time” and how it shapes us and the universe as a whole. Sure, time is trivial to understand when we talk about it in terms of the environment in which we live, but that doesn’t really mean anything when we are on a universal (and fundamental) scale. To put it quite simply, humans created the unit of time. Time is not something you can go out and measure quantitatively (as of yet)… this is why it’s known as the universal independent variable. In order for one human’s path in space to intersect with another human’s path in space, an order of time must be created otherwise the head of your paths are unlikely to meet together. Many years ago we used moon cycles, sun locations and stars in the sky to tell us an order of time. I won’t get into a lot of the history of the creation of time because it doesn’t correlate with my argument, and you can look it up yourself.

The Universe

Understanding time has plagued humanity almost as long as we’ve had cognizant brains. The reason lies with beginnings and with ends. Obviously, when talking about time, it is impossible to avoid the deterioration to the ultimate question… “why are we here” and “where did it all come from”. What I am going to do is attempt to give my explanation to time and the answers to the question postulated above.

Humans are action-reaction creatures. It is how we learn, how we understand, how we decide and how we act. From the moment we are born we become a sponge for information. We witness an event or an action and become of the consequences thereafter. This endless process is what shapes us and our mind. We literally are made up of our experiences. The point being, humans inherently know there are beginnings and ends to everything because it’s intrinsic in the world we are raised in. Naturally, it leads people to wonder why the universe had a beginning and what was the action that caused it. This is where we could get biblical (which is not the purpose of this article). But both sides of the spectrum use arguments of relation to “getting something from nothing”. As in, “the big bang was something from nothing”… or, “god is something from nothing”. I’ll leave the biblical portion of the article to that.

What we fail to recognize is the notion of infinity. BUT WAIT! This is not another argument for infinite time! Anyone with any form of intelligible thought process has heard somebody argue a universe that exists outside that of time, whether religious or not. I do not believe in a universe that has a time line that extends infinitely in both the early and later directions. I speculate that everything in the universe is happening at once.

That’s right, there is no timeline, or rather, it is a timeline of no length. Let me put it into perspective here. If I were to write this entire article fading from the color red to the color blue, would you be able to tell me which letter was purple? The answer is no. But that still isn’t precisely a good analogy. The events in our day are all superfluous, there is no strict beginning or end to events in our day-to-day life. Our brain perceives beginnings and ends to make sense of things because it’s the natural process as to how we learn. But every single little sub-atomic particle in the entire universe is behaving superfluously with each other at any point in “time”, removed from however you divide it, there is no literal beginning of anything, it’s all arbitrary. Which means it’s possible for everything to be happening at once. The only confusion is how we clarify which event happened after another event. Einstein showed how time and space are relative and it has been proven that the faster you go the slower time appears (look up the Hafele-Keating experiment). In fact, without relativity, our GPS satellites wouldn’t work. If time is relative, then maybe we are locked in this mentality of thinking time is an actual thing… simply on the basis we exist at speeds exasperatingly less than the speed of light.

Ultimately, I think the questions, “why are we here” and “where did it all come from”, are invalid questions to ask. It might be an extremely complicated and far out reaching version of the question, “what is the color of the number 3″. That question is a non-question. And we may not be intelligent enough of a species to understand that or see why this is the case. Again, this is just a speculation. But without the existence of “time”. Then there is no beginning and there is no end. There will definitely be an end to humanity at some point in the future, how far out we don’t know.

Ultra zoom in (this shows you where we are in the universe): Click

What existed before the known universe very might as well be another universe, in constant contraction and expansion… or dissipation. Which then begs the question, “what is beyond the “edge” of our universe?” Well, recently, there has been a lot of data coming in from research astrophysicists have been doing that leads us to believe there could be other universes butting up against ours. There are unexplained bubbles of energy all around the “edge” of our universe that come out to be exactly what we would expect if another universe (not too different from ours) were bumping into us. Knowing this, we can speculate an infinite amount of universes, all with their own laws of physics and chemistry and biology. But we would never be able to witness this or go there because time and space and physical law limit us from crossing that “edge”. In our universe, space is expanding, but we can’t go where space isn’t yet and we also can’t see where light hasn’t traveled yet. Which means we would never ever, ever, be able to witness first hand another universe whether one existed or not… only by 2nd hand witnessing would we be able to infer.

I hope this wasn’t too cloudy of an article. My roommate and I talked about this and the like for nearly 2.5 hours trying to come to an agreement of opinion and/or understanding. If you wish to ask a question about my opinion, or leave a comment, feel free to do so below.

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The Passive-Aggressive Religious & Famous Atheists

John Lennon - The Beatles

Countless times I have been told by religious people (friends included) that I have no moral structure, don’t know love, don’t have a purpose, and more. The absolute worst is when a religious friend makes a remark that is condescending when they don’t even realize what just came out of their mouth. There have been times where a religious female friend of mine finds out I’m dating a new woman and I get an unintentional passive-aggressive grilling as to how I’m treating said woman I’m dating. It’s almost like my religious friends are assuming that because I don’t believe in their religion, I lack the care and integrity of others, including the people of whom I’m dating. This stuff comes out of the mouths of friends of 4+ years, and it still astonishes me. It makes me question why I’m friends with them (or why they’re friends with me)… but then I realize that without that delusion, they are great people and fun to be around.

“No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as Patriots. This is one nation under God”.

- George Bush

Ricky Gervais on Atheism

I am an agnostic-atheist. Agnosticism, is often mistaken for a belief… but nobody can be only agnostic. You are either an agnostic-theist, agnostic-atheist, gnostic-theist, or gnostic-atheist. Realize that there are very few “true” atheists… someone who claims to know that a god does not exist. Most people who claim to be “atheist”, are of the form agnostic-atheist. I, therefore, believe we will never answer the question as to whether a higher power exists or not but that the answer is most probably that one does not exist. This is a form of “Freethought”, which is more fundamental to my beliefs:

Freethought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or the intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena. – Wikipedia

Here is a list of famous atheists:

Woody Allen, John Lennon, Robert Altman, Daniel Radcliffe, Abe Lincoln, Isaac Asimov, Bill Nye, Barry Manilow, Peter Atkins, Kevin Bacon, Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, Kari Byron, William Shatner, Penn & Teller, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Mark Twain, John Adams, Douglas Adams, Seth Green, Jodie Foster, Bruce Lee, Rafael Nadal, Bertrand Russel, Ivan Pavlov, Mark Zuckerberg, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Portman, Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Marie Curie, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, Thomas Edison, Stephen Gould, Steven Pinker, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Dave Mathews, Sir Ian McKellen, Julianne Moore, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Christopher Reeve, Gene Roddenberry, Susan B. Anthony, Lance Armstrong, Ricky Gervais, Warren Buffet & Bill Gates (have donated over $70 billion to charity), Ernest Hemingway, Charles Schulz, Richard Branson, Keanu Reeves, James Cameron, Arthur C. Clark, Stephen Hawking, Sigmund Freud, Kathy Griffin, Seth MacFarlane, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Orwell, Charles Darwin (later life), Brad Pitt, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ayn Rand, George Carlin, Matt Stone, Pat Tillman, Kurt Vonnegut, Roger Waters, Gene Wilder (yes, Charlie Chocolate), Steve Wozniak, Rodney Dangerfield, Marlon Brando, Hugh Hefner, Billy Joel, Sarah Silverman, Ted Turner, Ted Williams, Charlie Chaplin, Larry King, Helen Mirren, Katherine Hepburn, Ray Romano, Joe Rogan, Edgar Allan Poe, Hellen Keller, Ben Franklin, Frank Zappa, Robert Frost, Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Pierre Laplace, Napoleon, Walt Whitman, Thomas Huxley, Andrew Carnegie, H G Wells, Frank Lloyd Wright, James Joyce, Howard Hughes, Confucius…

… and many many more. Feel Free to comment and/or share below.

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New Book, Preacher Boy: About A Liberty University Student Turning Back On Creationism

A new book was recently published in both paperback and Kindle that’ll sure get people’s heads to turn. The author and I have been in contact over the last couple months through WordPress and this surely will be an interesting story to read. It is written in an effort to come across as a creationist’s point of view… as that is what Tim was for quite a long time. I think it will be interestingly insightful for both creationists and non-creationists. Read what the Amazon description has to say.

Meet Tim. A homeschooler from rural Virginia, Tim dreams of attending Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and becoming a pastor of his very own Church. Indoctrinated in fundamentalist Baptist theology from toddlerhood, Tim is uniquely gifted to succeed in his pastoral training. After some close encounters with gay activists,Jerry Falwell, napalm explosives, the FBI, ATF, Police, nudist missionaries, alcoholic alums, sword wielding Muslim roommates and death threats from a Kenyan Muslim…Tim got quite the Liberty Experience. Tim, the preacher boy, took those things in stride but when he was challenged to read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins his life and faith would never be the same.

Those of you who don’t know about Liberty University, it is probably the most hardcore religious “education” you can get. Their institution contains dinosaur bones and fossils with plaques that read ’6,000 years old’… when science tells us they are at least 65 million years old. Tim is somebody who went there in hopes of becoming a preacher, and left the complete opposite. I just purchased the paperback version and look forward to reading it and I suggest anyone else whom is curious should do the same. You can Twitter him @Tim29Short

Kindle

Paperback

Preacher Boy, by Timothy Michael Short

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Striving Towards Admiration

Admiration is something that we all want on ourselves whether we admit it or not. We want to be admired by our family, admired by our friends, admired by our community and most importantly admired by a significant other. You all know what I’m talking about. You want your efforts to be recognized and you want to be liked by the people around you. I bet you there are those people in your life that you almost hold up on a pedestal. These people might not be heroes to you but you marvel at how “real” and lively they are. You admire them.

Admiration does not always mean they have many friends nor does it mean they always are doing the right thing. Although, the more admirable you become, the greater people will think of you, and the more respect you will receive. I cannot say that I am an admirable person, though, I know what it takes to become admirable and I strive for it every day of my life knowing that someday someone will recognize this and reciprocate.

These people are confident. You need confidence in everything you do, no matter what. Only confident people are taken seriously and only confident people are admired. Whether it be your friendships, family or loved one, every decision you make is your decision and you better act on it. If it’s a bad decision, so what, you made a decision and that’s what matters. Admirable people are confident and direct. I hate it when someone isn’t direct and/or beats around the bush, it kills me inside. Sometimes I can be brutally honest, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. It’s the quickest way to get on with life.

Hands down the most important is honesty. Why? Because people who are dishonest get their ass chewed out later in their life and any form of admiration built up is now completely and utterly gone. A lie is a lie, whether it’s white or not. But it goes deeper than just that. Remember above I said something about reciprocation? Well, when you meet someone whom you potentially could fall for, you know it’s right when your openness and honesty is reciprocated by said person. This is the whole trust thing. In my eyes, the only people whom are most admired are those that are like an encyclopedia. Someone could open up this encyclopedia and I would give them any information about me they happen to come across without hesitation. If you have a diverse encyclopedia, then there is always something new and almost unexpected no matter the page this person flips to. People who hide pages of this encyclopedia from those closest to them are not admirable. And people who don’t have a diverse and unpredictable encyclopedia just aren’t expanding the horizons of their life enough. There is no such thing as a perfect person but there is such thing as a wholly open and honest one, and those are the ones worth keeping around.

Being admired requires a purpose. Your purpose is set by yourself. You, and you alone. Nobody tells you your purpose. If your purpose is “To serve God”, good… but that is his purpose. If you were to brand yourself, what would “brand (name here)” be? Admirable people have a cause or a lifestyle and they don’t stray from it. To go along with your “brand”, you should learn to live saintly. Follow your own path and don’t listen to others. Admirable people use their own brain and are not prone to influence. They are logical, rational, live simply and educate themselves. You’re just a pawn if you grab hold of cultural fad or ideology. Admirable people are above that and will stand to defend their being.

I believe one of the most necessary but overlooked traits of an admirable person is vulnerability. Admirable people aren’t afraid to show their weak spots. They know what they are good at but most importantly they know what they are bad at. Others see this vulnerability because said person is open about it, but the same time he is improving upon the vulnerable areas. Being honestly vulnerable shows the people in your life that you are a real human being… think abandoned puppy… you want to do good for them where you can because you already know they are good.

This was a very spur of the moment post, it’s based off recent observations and how I live my life… just remember to have a purpose, be unpredictable, live saintly, be open and honest, be vulnerable, and be confident. If you liked this, feel free to share or subscribe.

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Penn Jillette’s 10 Commandments For Atheists

As some of you may have read, Glenn Beck asked Penn Jillette what sort of moral fabric do atheists have if they don’t believe in a god. He made a list of “10 commandments” that would be acceptable not only by non-believers but would comply with any other sane person in the world. He later went on to write a book on such a topic called “God, No!”.

Penn Jillette on Piers Morgan Tonight

Here are these 10 commandments.

1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.

2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let’s scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra— but when your house is on fire, I’ll be there to help.)

3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)

4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you’re religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you’re a Vegas magician, that’ll be the day with the lowest grosses.)

5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)

6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that “Thou shalt not kill” only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it’s all human life.)

7. Keep your promises. (If you can’t be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don’t make that deal.)

8. Don’t steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)

9. Don’t lie. (You know, unless you’re doing magic tricks and it’s part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)

10. Don’t waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it’ll make you bugnutty.

Aside from being a magician, Penn Jillette is an outstanding thinker. I say thinker because he is highly logical, methodical, and is capable of great reasoning… actually might be why he is so damn good at magic. Watch this enlightening video that gets even believers inspired…

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