Monday, March 31, 2008


Carnival of the Godless #88 is up and running at Atheist FAQ. I do not have a posting in this edition, but I intend to read through many of the entries to get ideas for future blog postings.

Humanist Symposium #17 is up and running at Mind On Fire. I do have a posting in this one - a blog entry that I wrote on the desire-utilitarian view of justice.

Happy reading.

"Google bombing" Expelled

There are a bunch of people out there trying to "google bomb" Ben Stein's movie "Expelled."

I actually don't know what this is supposed to accomplish.

I do know that, if you search Google for "Ben Stein Expelled" or any of a number of other options, my posting, Ben Stein's 'Expelled' is second on the list of hits - and that this posting accounts for about 30% of the hits on my Atheist Ethicist" site each day.

I kinda like that. I like the fact that the dominant criticism of the movie not only says that the people responsible are doing bad science, but they are making the world a worse place.

Science saves lives. ID theorists cannot give us a single piece of useful information - that can actually make predictions about the real world, helping us to cure disease or avoid the things that actually cause measurable real-world death and suffering.

I'm kinda hoping all of this google bombing doesn't knock me out of this position.

Perspective Cover

I want to start using this blog for what it was originally meant for - a journal, of sorts, of my efforts to make the world a better place than it would have otherwise been.

I have released the book Perspective on the Pledge as a private publication, but I am going through the hoops of making it generally available through your local bookstore.

I am in a dispute with unnamed others about the cover. I worry that a cover where a black child is saluting what appears to be a Confederate flag might put off potential buyers. On the other hand, the cover does depict the intent of the book - to look at what it is like to live in a country where the government's official pledge is to view you as inferior to your fellow citizens.

Of course, somebody who does not know the contents will not know what a book, with a black person saluting a confederate flag, could possibly be about. It could relate to any number of socially charged issues. Which would make people nervous - make them want to stay away.

So, we have a classic dispute here in art vs. business. will this cover help to sell books? Should it matter?

I have a couple of weeks to decide. Then, everything gets set in concrete.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Review:Whorton Hears a Who

I came across an interesting review of this movie today.

And what has Hollywood done with this gentle plea for tolerance? It has been turned into something that looks astonishingly like far-right propaganda about how Christians are a persecuted minority -- as if this were 100AD in the Roman Empire -- and loudmouthed atheists are ruining everything.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Dishonest Questioning

Kellym78 has a well written criticism of those who sought to portray planned parenthood as a racist organization in, Abortion is a Racist, Genocidal Act.

She demonstrates that the people who participated in this campaign are liars who concocted a process whereby they can 'bear false witness' against others, collecting evidence that can be easily distorted into providing support for their desired conclusion.

One of the things that I am noting more and more is how the culture of the religious right is a culture of lies and deception. Its members apparently have no love of truth. The are people who have decided where they want to go, and are willing to use any and every dishonest trick in the book to get there.

Please note, in saying this I am not condemning all members of the religious right. I only note, once again, that where intellectually honest members may exist, they are far too few and far too weak to have any effect when we look at the whole of the culture, where lies and other forms of deception are the order of the day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Progress Report: Perspective - New appendix and cover art.

Technically, this is the blog where I should be reporting on my progress for the Perspective on the Pledge book.

Today, I got a first look at some artwork that will probably provide the cover. I provided an idea for the cover. However, a friend of mine supplied a very interesting suggestion.

I also added a second appendix - this one on offense. Obviously, people are going to protest that the story is offensive, and will attempt to reject it on those grounds alone. Or they will interpret the story as objecting to the story's equivalent of 'under God' and 'In God We Trust' on the grounds that they are offensive. The appendix makes clear that I do not consider offense to be a morally legitimate concern. It's truth that matters, not offense.

And, on the issue of freedom of speech, I argue that freedom of speech implies a freedom to criticize. What the right to freedom of speech protests people from is not criticism, but from violence (including the violence inherent in government censorship).

I sent a querry letter to a potential publisher, Prometheus Books, three weeks ago, but I have heard nothing back. If I do not hear back soon, or hear back with a negative response, I will go ahead with my plans to self-publish. I want to have this book available sooner rather than later.

Then comes the issue of promotion . . .

I will have more to say on that matter later.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

All Children are Born Atheists?

vjack at Atheist Revolution is bringing forth the absurd claim that all children are born atheists. His reasoning is that the definition of atheism is a lack of belief in a God. Children lack a belief in a God. Therefore, all children are atheists.

If 'lacking a belief in God' can make one an atheist, then every rock and flower and chirping bird is an atheist.

This is simply not how competent English speakers speak.

In truth, the definition of a word is what it means to competent speakers within a language. If we look at the way competent English speakers use the term 'atheist', it means 'one who believes that the proposition 'God exists' is certainly or almost certainly false.'

One has to have enough cognitive capability to have a belief about God, and that belief must be the belief that the existence of such an entity is so unlikely that it has no practical value.

Which means that the statement 'all children are born atheists' is false.

We could, of course, make it true by inventing our own language - by inventing a new term for 'atheist'. But let's not then lie and say tht this is the definition as if all competent English already use the term in this way. Instead, our 'proof' that all children are born atheists would be like the following proof that you cannot split an atom. The meaning of 'atom' is 'a' (without) 'cut' (or 'that which cannot be cut or broken into parts') So, the idea that some scientists have that we can split an atom is absurd.

The fact is, 'atom' does not mean 'without cut', and 'atheist' does not mean 'without belief in God'.