New Domain for Breaking Spells

I’ve just set up a domain and imported this blog to http://breakingspells.net so if you have me linked you might want to update that link.

I’m using a web hosting and domain registration service called 1and1.com and I really like what they do. If anyone else has been considering moving their blog to its own domain (say from WordPress or Blogspot), and you have questions about the process, drop me an email. I’ll be happy to share with you what I did & how I did it. Also, if you’re shopping for a host and need a domain name, 1and1.com is the way to go. I looked at a lot of different companies and this was the simplest. I also got some good feedback from friends that have used them.

Polls are Fun!

Especially when they suffer the Pharyngula effect:

PZ MYers likes to post links to the various unscientific polls that query the popularity of Evolution vs Creation. The latest, from a local television station somewhere (probably in the American south -I really couldn’t be arsed to sort it out), asks, “a school board member in SAD 59 wants the topic of evolutio0n dropped from high school science curriculums. Do you agree?” If we dismiss the equivical meaning of whether or not a school board member is that ignorant, nearly 1500 people voted “no” to the intended meaning of whether they agree with evolution being dropped.

Now, true enough, the poll was very likely hammered by one or more of PZ’s minions (I’m only hating because my minion count is “2”) hitting the “Refresh” button in their browser, but it leaves one to wonder: why don’t the Creationist nutters do the same?

They’re either honest (WWJD?) and have too much integrity, they’re not technically savvy enough to figure out their browser’s refresh button, they don’t have a Creationist blog popular enough to get the word out, or there just aren’t enough Creationists available to cast a vote.

Did I miss any options? I’m sure any creationist that happens upon this post would immediately jump on the first option, but he/she really shouldn’t bother since others (i.e. Expelled, Dr. Dino, Dembski, et al) have already disproved that hypothesis in spades.

h/t: A Poll in Need of a Kick in the Pants [Pharyngula]

Reason -vs- Faith

A new blog & website has been launched by the folks that brought us The Jesus Myth. It’s called Reason vs. Faith and described by the authors as:

My intentions for this site is to have a fair and balanced place for atheists, theists and agnostics to discuss whatever issues they would like…

The blog isn’t an Atheist Blog, but rather a crossroads of sorts, where they hope to have an intersection of atheistic and theistic dialog. They have plenty of atheist contributors, but are a bit short of theistic ones, so if any theists are reading they might like to try their hand at debate and discourse at Reason vs. Faith.

Carnival of the Godless – Oops!

I missed yet another opportunity to include a post with this outstanding blog carnival. I really must make a reminder for myself … if anyone knows of a tiny PIM or calendar that can sit in the system tray, perhaps that would be the solution (Outlook is just too bulky and cumbersome).

Anyway, while I might have missed a chance to post there, I’ll certainly not miss the opportunity to read the latest edition of  The Carnival of the Godless at Mind on Fire! I’ve already perused some of the links and the bloggers there have done a fine job of presenting them. Now… I’m off to read more…

For the link to submit entries to CoG, click here.

Calling yourself “rational” might not make it so

Lately, the “Rational Response Squad” has been making a bit of buzz in the atheosphere (and even in the theosphere).

Vjack asked for opinions from his readers before writing a fair review of RRS and their site. He found them to be “immature at times” but remarked that this “is a good thing.” Their aggressive, bold and ‘in-your-face’ style of attacking theists appealed to Vjack and he noted that they probably have a strong appeal to teens. Vjack also had some decent constructive criticism, suggesting that the RRS tone down the “chip on their collective shoulders” in an effort to play nice with the rest of the atheist/rationalist community. He also found their website to be “something of a mess.” I’ve always found it to be an html travesty and its poor design was the single biggest reason for me not staying on the site every time I ever visited.

Hemant Mehta, a.k.a. The Friendly Atheist, had a couple of blog posts that were critical of the RRS and their “aggressive tactics.” He compared and contrasted his method of outreach with that of the RRS and ended up with a response from Brian Cutler, one of the lead personalities of this group, which was to fallaciously measure “de-conversion” outcomes. I say fallaciously since there was no regard for methodologies or controls, so such an outcomes claim is meaningless from the start.

Enter Reed Braden of UnorthodoxAtheism, who revealed that he encountered Cutler and one of his sidekicks in a chatroom where they made accusations that Richard Dawkins had or was having an affair outside of his marriage. This accusation made in the wake of RRS apparently not being able to ride the Richard Dawkins Foundation coattails. Braden later published another chatroom transcript where Cutler attempted to plead, beg, and -finally- threaten Braden in order to prevent him from further discussing or publishing the accusation. Ostensibly because “If this news gets out, Richard Dawkins will be nothing tomorrow (Brian Sapient),” although it smells strongly of self-preservation, mostly since it hasn’t much chance of being true based on the juvenile and irrational actions of the, perhaps, inappropriately named RRS.

Matt at [GBG] Atheist News writes that It’s Time to Drop the Rational Response Squad. And by “drop,” he means not link to them in blogrolls and not to reference them in serious discourse.

I think that’s the most sound advice I’ve heard so far. Reed Braden already removed the two posts I mentioned above (so you won’t find them in the links, but you might still find them in your rss feed aggregator or on Planet Atheism), which is probably a good thing. And, as for the RRS, they’re not in my links list, not even in this post. In my opinion, shaped mostly over the last few days, the Rational Response Squad is misnamed, juvenile, and without lasting academic or redeeming merit. They’re that train wreck you can’t avoid looking at, but at the end of the day you’re glad you weren’t on the train and their significance is forgotten.

Three Great Carnivals

Here’s a trio of don’t-miss blog carnivals:

And the Skeptics’ Circle #77 – The Overmedicalized Edition

I can never seem to remember to send an entry to blog carnivals, but I do spend my Sundays reading them! If you haven’t checked out one or all of these, you won’t be disappointed if you take the time to follow the links and read the pleathora of humanist, godless, and skeptical articles linked to each.

Atheosphere

Atheosphere

Over the course of the past month or so, I’ve read many different blogs in the “atheosphere” and ended up “starring” several in my Google Reader.  I also had this graphic that I played around with creating in Photoshop and wanted to find a creative way to share it, so here’s the links the blog posts I found interesting or worth reading closely and the pic -magazine style. I hope someone else discovers an new blog or a post they missed. If you like what I’ve put together or the picture above, I’ll include a link to the photo sans text at the end of this post.

The Intersection of Science and Religion

Pharyngula has a post and a subsequent thread of comments (when does PZ *not* get a thread of comments!) discussing Texas’ consideration of accrediting the Institution of Creation Research for training teachers in Are we tired of Texas inanity yet? As a citizen (temporarily) of Texas and as a college graduate there, I have to say I find this a disappointment as do many. My elected officials will certainly be hearing from me and, hopefully, others.

Religion is scientifically examined all the time, which refutes the Non-Overlapping Magisteria  hypothesis posited by the late Stephen J. Gould. At The Information Paradox, you can read a brief synopsis of how a Study shows younger generations are more skeptical of Christianity. The author cites a Barna Research Group study conducted in September. I’ll have to review that study and put the data up on the data page.

The Intersection of Atheists and Theists

The Teen Atheist has a moving blog entry about her struggles with theistic parents and going to college at Diary of a Teen Atheist. I found her post genuine and heartfelt and it was easy to empathize with her situation if only because she expresses it so well.

Hemant, the Friendly Atheist, has an open thread for Questions for Atheists that’s directed at his theistic readers. This promises to be an interesting thread that I’ll follow the next few days. Already one commenters have asked: “Where can I find an atheist book, website, magazine, etc. that doesn’t mock or attack or deride religious people or beliefs, but only puts forth a positive vision of what it is to be an atheist?” and, “what is the one thing you would like Christians to understand about you?”

Felicia Gilljam answers some of the questions inspired by Hemant’s post above at Life before death in two separate posts: first here then here.

De-Conversion has two great posts with the heading “Challenging Religious Myths”. The first is No Morality Without Religion. This post does a very good job of refuting arguments like, “without God, people have no reason to behave” and “morality comes from religion or God.” The second post is Atheism is Just Another Religion in which the author dispels the notion put forward by a lot of religious apologists that atheism, particularly with the recent flood of atheist bestsellers, is a religion in a kind of tu quoque argument. I’ve always looked at this as a tacit acknowledgment by believers that there is something to be ashamed of in being part of a religious dogma.

Along the same line of D-C’s articles, Debunking Christianity has Do Non-Believers Willfully Refuse to Believe? I can’t count the times I’ve been faced with the argument from Christian apologists that I’m not simply without God, but that God is available to me yet I deny God and just refuse to believe in the way someone refuses to believe in the holocaust or a round Earth.

Culture War

In An Open Letter to Heather, Possummomma (aka, Atheist in a min van) responds to one of her readers who happens to be a Christian  but can’t seem to not read P-momma’s blog. While P-momma is an excellent writer, I suspect Heather’s stay has more to do with curiosity about atheism, atheist families, and how is it that atheists can actually be good, caring people with strong family values. This is contrary to what many Christians are taught throughout their lives and is a consistent point of contention in the so-called “culture war” between the godless and the godful.

Vjack at Atheist Revolution writes about the separation of church and state in I Value Truth as well as his thoughts on  an article written by Steven Conn, a professor of history at Ohio State University who criticizes Mitt Romney’s recent speech -Romney attempting to appeal to the religious right.

Christmas

Secular Planet doesn’t hold the punches on dealing with Santa Claus in Santa Claus: A Web of White Lies in which the author discusses his discontent with teaching kids about Santa during Christmas. I’m not sure I’m in total agreement, but the post was interesting. Personally, I’m planning on using the whole Santa Claus thing as an exercise in skepticism. I want to watch my little skeptic (6 yrs old now) come to the conclusion that the big guy is fake on her own. That and my wife would kill me if I told her now.

Daylight Atheism, a must-read stop in the atheosphere has a couple of posts about the “War on Christmas:” in The Real Enemies of Christmas he looks at the Puritan ban on Christmas celebration in the 1600s, putting the whole O’Reilly-esque whining about the “war on xmas” in perspective. Then, with How Not to Fight the War on Christmas he offers some fair criticism of liberal apologists that are a bit “wishy-washy” in their attempts “to stop using Christmas as an excuse to bash nonbelievers and assert their supremacy, and instead join in an effort to promote social justice.” Their stand against the religious right is “well intentioned,” says Ebon, but they’re not vocal and forthright enough against the bigots and loudmouths of the religious right.

At Debunking Christianity, there’s a brief description of The Trouble With Christmas, a book written by Thomas Flynn that I’d never heard of and will have to look more into.

You can always count on Austin Cline to have the latest topic being discussed in the atheosphere on his Austin’s Atheist Blog at About.com. He has probably more articles on “war on Christmas” topic than any single blog on the net:  Taking Christmas out of Christianity; Don’t Believe in Jesus? No Christmas Party for You! ; Christmas Wars as Tribal Conflict ; and, one of my favorite articles on the topic of Christmas (in the atheosphere) is Joy Stephenson: Don’t Dare Wish Me a Happy Holidays!

Morality, Good and Evil

Richard Dawkins wrote an essay at Newsweek’s OnFaith blog titled Logical Path from Religious Beliefs to Evil Deeds in which he explores, well, the logical path of evil enabled by religious belief whereas there isn’t one with atheism. This is a topic I’m always very interested in exploring since one of the first arguments religious apologists use against atheism is the tired and fallacious “Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler were atheists; therefore atheism is evil” argument. If you haven’t subscribed to the RSS feed for OnFaith, you really should at least visit and check it out.

One of my favorite blogs on in the atheosphere is Salient, who has an interesting post titled Instinct vs Morality, which I starred very quickly to come back and read more closely.

Yet another article from Pharyngula discusses a study that found that atheists and people without religious affiliation were the least likely to be prejudiced against minorities or immigrants. Click on Bad news: atheists can be good people (and find out what this is “bad news”) to read more.

Myths of Atheism

The Jesus Myth has a post that refutes a few of the myths that Christians seem to have about atheists in Hate: A Four Letter Word.

Feeding the Fish, a blog I hadn’t previously known about until I noticed it in the Planet Atheism feed, has a post  On Militant Atheists in which he echoes some of my own thoughts and feelings about the term “militant” as applied to atheism. It gets used frequently by religious apologists to describe their outspoken critics, but militant, when applied to atheism conjures a far different image than when it’s applied to “Islam” or “Christianity.” And the author of Feeding the Fish has the pictures to prove it!

A Stained Glass

Here’s the pic above without the magazine text & barcode. The Latin phrase means, “fortune is glass; just when it gleams brightest it shatters.”  I don’t know if anyone would like to use it, but feel free if you’d like. I just ask that you link back to me with a credit.