Thursday, December 15, 2011

Science > Faith

I love TED. Roaming the website is like the video equivalent of Wikipedia surfing if you removed all of the boring parts. This particular video is the kind of thing that gets my heat racing. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

John Mackay, Creationist

The name "John Mackay" popped up in my RSS feed today. Mackay is a prominent Australian creationist and director of Creation Research, an online ministry funded by donations with the mission of discovering evidence to support biblical creation. 

Mackay has had the good fortune to debate such skeptics as Richard Dawkins and myself (the only time I get to feature in a sentence with Richard Dawkins). Dawkins has since enforced the policy of not debating creationists, but I'm still willing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is the Best Argument for God?

I've just watched a video from the ninth 'The Amazing Meeting' - a popular skeptic meeting - wherein participants were asked to choose what they thought was the best argument for God.

I'd like to put in my two cents.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rocky Horror Picture Show

I've just won two tickets to see Time Warp, a musical tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show at a local theatre. The prize includes backstage passes, and as yet undisclosed "memorabilia". To enter, I had to send an email to the competition address for Lifestyle1 magazine. Here is the email that won me the competition:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chain Email Christianity

I received a chain email from my mother this week. This might not hold the same significance for you as it does for me, but I was fairly certain I had succeeded in training my mother not to do this. Here it is below:
"Money bags
This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens
Once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So, forward this to
Your friends and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese
Feng Shui. The one who does not forward.....will be without money.

Kinda interesting - read on!!!
This year we're going to experience four unusual dates.
1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 and that's not all...
Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born - now add
The age you will be this year,

The results will be 111 for everyone in whole world. This is the year of
The Money!!!

The proverb goes that if you send this to eight good friends money will
Appear in next four days as it is explained in Chinese FENGSHUI.
Those who don't continue the chain won't receive.......
Its a mystery, but its worth a try. Good luck."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monckton's Truth Trumps Consensus

Monckton meets Hinshelwood, Photo by: Tash Impey, ABC South East SA

Last night's Monckton encounter was reported today by the ABC. I've got to say, I wish I'd prepared a more delicate soundbyte - I didn't expect to be interviewed. Is it normal to feel this sort of media-anxiety? Listening to the recording now.

While I endorse the ABCs coverage, I would have liked to have seen a paragraph detailing just how many experts have reviewed the IPCC documents and agree with their conclusions.

So here's the rundown:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Snivelling Communist!

I've just returned from the Mount Gambier leg of Lord Christopher Monckton's climate denial rampage. While I intend to do a full write-up, for now it's quite late, and I must get some shut-eye.

But let me summarise: I was the lone dissenter in the room. Lord Monckton relayed a bunch of bad science, harped on about communism and the forthcoming one world government, asked the audience to take his word, and when his authority was challenged, shut down further questions, and I was lead off stage by Climate Sceptic Party president Leon Ashby

Somewhere in the middle of Monckton's whining, he called me a "Snivelling Communist". In celebration of my new nickname, this blog has been relocated here, to, where I feel it shall remain.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monckton Ad Hominem

Christopher "Lord" Monckton, climate denier and general charlatan, has been asked to stop claiming to be a Member of the House of Lords in an official letter from the Clerk of the Parliaments.

I find ad hominem attacks distasteful, but here's an unfortunate truth: as long as the majority of people are still swayed by appeals to authority like this one, legitimate attacks on the credibility of the speaker (rather than his arguments) remain the most effective way to affect change in public opinion.

So with that said...

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Ice Cream Van

I am often accused of being anti-religious. While it bothers me to be so-labeled, I can see how such a conclusion arises.

In conversation with a close friend recently, I proffered  the following illustration:

"Imagine an ice cream van, that wanders through the neighbourhood selling ice cream to children. In every sixth ice cream the ice cream man inserts a handful of nails, and as a result, every sixth child dies a painful and slow death.

I protest against this practice vehemently, and society labels me as being 'anti-ice cream van'. How could anybody be against a practice that brings smiles to the faces of so many children?

How is it not obvious to society that I am not against ice cream vans, but against the practice of feeding nails to children?"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rise Up Australia!

Do you like to be entertained and frightened at the same time?

Visit this page and read about the formation of the Rise Up Australia Party. There are a few questions I'd like to ask of the party chairman, Rev Dr Daniel Nalliah, but his email address appears to be dead. My response to his announcement is below:

"Dear Rev Dr Daniel Nalliah

Re: Welcome to Rise Up Australia Party

I hope you will take the time to answer my questions regarding your article. I apologise in advance that some of them may appear antagonistic. I have tried my best to make them as to-the-point as possible.

My Own Stupid Fault

The great scam artist Peter Popoff is back with a vengeance.

I once asked evangelical christian and Climate Sceptic Party president Leon Ashby about what Peter Popoff means for the credibility of other faith healers. How does he achieve what he does, if not by the power of God? Will Leon accept that the placebo effect might be responsible for a large part of it?

Youth Beta

When I was a teenager, I fell in love with a Lutheran girl who attended a church-run program called Youth Alpha. The program featured an energetic video of a demon-hunting cowboy and an awkward man in his mid-twenties describing how great it was to not have sex.

Towards the end of each session, we would be broken up into groups to talk about ourselves, and more importantly, Jesus. I used to enjoy stirring up the group leaders by asking reasonable questions about religion.

In my last post about my fake conversion, I touched upon the concept of "busting the group-think bubble". This is the idea that simply by being present, an outed atheist or skeptic causes people to see themselves through the skeptic's eyes. In the context of a youth group, this means they are less likely to casually accept ideas that will make them appear ridiculous or complacent.

So I suggest the following. If there are youth groups in your area, attend. Be polite, reveal yourself as skeptical, and ask well-timed, pertinent questions.

What do you think?

My Fake Conversion

Let me share with you the story of my fake conversion. Last September, I took my evangelical girlfriend to the Penola Assemblies of God, a church that had been receiving much praise in the Christian community. According to rumours, members of the congregation had found themselves anointed with oil, and golden powder had rained down during worship.

From the beginning of the service it was evident that this was not like other churches I had been to. We were made to recite a prayer expelling a large variety of evil spirits. The standard ones were there, like lust and jealousy, but joining the fray were the spirits of laziness, of the love of money, of false gods. There were many more, covering every possible human inconvenience. The focus of the sermon was how unworthy, sinful and generally disgusting we all were.

The Survival of Morally Prescriptive Ideas About Sexuality

As I was preparing my eggs benedict this morning, I found myself wondering how it is that ideologies that restrict the freedom of adherents manage to stand the test of time. I speak mainly of the sexually restrictive ideas inherent in Christianity and Islam.