Are all theories of knowledge equal?  

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adopting fashionable pomobabble, Trask argues that magical understandings of the universe are just as acceptable as scientific understandings, but that preferences for science and reason over “revelation,” emotionalism, whimsical impulse, and other “ways of knowing” is just so much prejudice. “Scientific epistemologies,” he writes, “legitimize the exclusion of those who do not understand truth exclusively through empirical verification.” Science is cruelly shoving magical theories away from the table, through its emphasis on such things as testability, or evidence, or replication of results and silly stuff like that. See, it’s just cultural imperialism to prefer a medical treatment that’s been subjected to rigorous double-blind field trials, instead of a witch doctor shaking his rattles and chanting.
That's from Timothy Sandefur's article at Positive Liberty about the equality of theories of knowledge as proposed by Stephen W. Trask. Trask claims that science is really another religion after all, and all religions should be treated the same in the science classroom.

Imagine what the world would be like if government really were required to accord equal respect to supernatural as well as scientific beliefs. As McRoberts and I point out in our article, this “would, if consistently followed, unravel every government undertaking. Suppose that a man has a patently absurd notion that his neighbor is reading his brain through highly sophisticated alien technology. Under current law, he cannot sue for a nuisance, because this is a frivolous and irrational claim. Some courts have taken judicial notice of the irrationality of certain pseudosciences, including phrenology and astrology. It is hard to imagine what would happen to tort law, or the law of evidence, if government were to seriously attempt to treat naturalistic and supernatural theories of the world as equally valid in every respect.” Supra at 45.

It would be madness to consider that there must be no experimentation or evidence within the structures of our government and that anything a person could think up would be equally as valid as something provable and tested by hundreds of scientists. It's a ridiculously transparent way to try to push religion within public institutions.

Fortunately for us all, there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to treat supernatural and secular notions as equal. The Constitution, in fact, clearly contemplates a government which is devoted to secular concerns and is free to choose policies on the basis of secular reasoning. Not only does it forbid any religious test or oath—a pretty secular concept—but in many places it allows and even requires government to act on secular reasons. A person may not be convicted of treason, for example, except on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act: in other words, a court may not rely on a person’s supernatural belief or dream visions or religious dogma, when deciding innocence or guilt under this clause. Congress can grant copyrights so as to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts,” even if their doing so is purely based on secular reasoning.


There is only one restriction on government’s preference of secularism over supernaturalism: it must not restrict individuals from freely exercising their religion if they wish. Otherwise, the government may subsidize and promote secular ideas—and it should be encouraged to do so, too, since those ideas are, in point of fact, far more likely to be true.

I'm really tired of the thought that everyone is just as right as anyone else so let's just accept their opinion and be respectful of their point of view regardless of how ridiculous it might be. Yes, taken as a whole people should be treated equally. But on an individual level I'm not going to have as much respect for a person who thinks the government conspired to cause 911 as the person who discovered the structure of DNA. One of these people has a more rigorous approach to finding evidence. I'm going to hold that person's opinion in a higher regard. I'll let you work out which one.

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Good Planets July 28, 2007  

Monday, July 30, 2007

The newest Good Planets is up at The Gypsy's Caravan. And if you don't think "awww" when you see this video you have no heart.

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Review: The Planets edited by Byron Preiss  

Friday, July 27, 2007

I finished reading The Planets(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) a month or so ago. I meant to post a review long before now, but I was a little intimidated. My knowledge of astronomy (and many other scientific fields) is pretty elementary, so writing a review for a science/science fiction hybrid of a book is a bit unnerving. But, here we go.

I very much enjoyed the book. Three science fiction short stories stood out to me as being very, very good and standing the test of time: Dreadsong, Dies Irae, and Small Bodies.

Dreadsong by Roger Zalazny is about a scientist who imagines airbag-filled creatures that live in the atmosphere of Saturn. The most interesting part of the story is the alien thoughts of the creature as it hears the signal from humans and tries to respond as it is dying.

Dies Irae by x is probably my favorite. It's about a priest who goes to help a man stricken by fear. The man guides genetically created creatures that are building reactors on Uranus, preparing for human colonization. But the fact that some of these creatures have obtained sentience is a small thing compared to the haunting realization at the end.

Small Bodies by Paul Preuss is about a Creationist minister who comes into conflict with scientists when they are forced to allow him to accompany them on a mission to explore asteroids. When they find evidence of fossilized life on one of the asteroids, he searches feverishly for an explanation in the Bible and finds it. On his weekly transmission to his parishioners he begins to explain the discovery framed in the light of Creation, but something in the sea of stars makes him delay.

I also enjoyed After the Storm by Harry Harrison about a United States cut off from the rest of the world.

And surprisingly, even though this book was published in 1985, when Voyager II was making its way to Uranus, the information about the planets was still very current to things I see today in news reports. The book speculated frozen ice on the poles of Mars, something that seems to have just been "discovered" in the last couple of years. Perhaps it was just confirmed. It's amazing how much information about our outer solar system has come from the expeditions of Voyager I and II.

Pluto was still a planet in 1985 and not much was known about it. Much was speculated and I'm not sure if any of it can be confirmed or has been disproved as we still know very little. New Horizons should tell us a lot in another 8 years when it reaches Pluto, Charon, and the Kuiper Belt. I was a little surprised that although the book mentioned asteroid belts, it did not mention the Kuiper belt by name. Perhaps it wasn't named?

The combination of science (known and speculated) and science fiction made for a really interesting book. If you can get your hands on a copy it is definitely worth it.

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Nonbelieving Literati  

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Exterminator over at No More Hornets has started an informal, atheists reading group, Nonbelieving Literati.

And so I’d like to propose such a group. My idea is that nine or ten of us — if we can get that many to commit — will read a book every month and a half or so. That’s a long enough time that even the slowest readers, or those with the least amount of time, can participate. We’ll take turns making book suggestions. The only stipulation will be that the book not be an atheist diatribe, best-selling or otherwise.

We’ll target a specific day on which to finish. On that date, or shortly thereafter, each of us will publish a post about the chosen book. (In fairness, those of us who finish reading early may write our posts, but not publish them online until everyone has had a chance to complete the reading.) The post will not be a review or a summary. It will be an essayistic ramble on what the book got us thinking about. Whether we liked the book or not, we’ll use it as an entry point to our own thoughts. If enough people are interested, perhaps we can even publish a Carnival of Nonbelieving Literati a week or so after each target date.

I think it's a great idea, so I'm going to be bumping the rest of the books in my reading list to read Julian by Gore Vidal. Well, I'm hoping to finish The Blind Watchmaker this weekend at least since it's coming up on the end of the month and I've only finished one book this month.

It should be fun to read something out of my comfort zone. It's been a long time since I've read a book alongside a group of people and had a chance to discuss it afterwards.

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Dancing Videos  

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For some reason these two videos remind me of each other.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The 65th Skeptic's Circle up at NeuroLogica Blog. Steven Novella takes you through the Museum of Skepticism.

Also, the 71st Carnival of the Godless is up at Aardvarchaeology. Don't miss the articles on:

- the polytheistic antecedents of Christian mythology and imagery
- how do you know God is good
- religious intolerance.

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Odd videos  

Monday, July 23, 2007

In continuation of the whole music video themed posts lately, here are two odd videos by Emiliana Torrini. The second one is especially odd.

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Garbage - Push It  

Friday, July 20, 2007

If you can't tell by now I've been having a video walk through nostalgia. 'Push It' is another one of my favorite videos.

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The Chronicles of George  

I remember coming across George way back in the early 2000's (oh yeah, that's sooo long ago). The site has gone through many incarnations, I'm sure, but I was pleased to find it again. For those of you who haven't ever heard of George I present to you The Chronicles of George.

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If I only had a heart...  

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Your Score: Robot
You are 71% Rational, 14% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 0% Arrogant.

You are the Robot! You are characterized by your rationality. In fact, this is really ALL you are characterized by. Like a cold, heartless machine, you are so logical and unemotional that you scarcely seem human. For instance, you are very humble and don't bother thinking of your own interests, you are very gentle and lack emotion, and you are also very introverted and introspective. You may have noticed that these traits are just as applicable to your laptop as they are to a human being. You are not like the robots they show in the movies. Movie robots are make-believe, because they always get all personable and likeable after being struck by lightning, or they are cold, cruel killing machines. In all reality, though, you are much more boring than all that. Real robots just sit there, doing their stupid jobs, and doing little else. If you get struck by lightning, you won't develop a winning personality and heart of gold. (Robots don't have hearts, silly, and if they did, they would probably be made of steel, not gold.) You also won't be likely to terrorize humanity by becoming an ultra-violent killing machine sent into the past to kill the mother of a child who will lead a rebellion against machines, because that movie was dumb as hell, and because real robots don't kill--they horribly maim at best, and they don't even do that on purpose. Real robots are boringly kind and all too rarely try to kill people. In all my years, my laptop has only attacked me once, and that was only because my brother threw it at me. In short, your personality defect is that you don't really HAVE a personality. You are one of those annoying, super-logical people that never gets upset or flustered. Unless, of course, you short circuit. Or if someone throws a pie at you. Pies sure are delicious.

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Your exact opposite is the Class Clown.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hand-Raiser, the Emo Kid, and the Haughty Intellectual.

(via Pharyngula)

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The Cardigans - My Favourite Game  

And here's another of my favorite videos. I love the car in the video. The ending is a little silly, but the rest is good.

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Tori Amos - God  

"God" has always been one of my favorite videos. I guess it has something to do with rats and shaving.. or maybe it's just the overall imagery.

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Michael Vick Indicted  

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The excerpt below was taken from Trent Stamp's Take, the blog of the President of Charity Navigator. The articles, and especially the indictment, that are linked are graphic and will most likely make you ill as you read them. I'm appalled. I know much worse things happen in the world every day, but to read about it, even in cold, clinical terms, makes it that much more horrific.

NFL quarterback Michael Vick is indicted by federal authorities on charges that he ran an illegal dogfighting ring. The 18-page indictment is gruesome and graphic, and made me sick. In light of the most recent case involving "allegations" of high-profile athletes behaving badly (Duke lacrosse), I hope we can all tread lightly here, but I'm interested to see how the animal rights groups react. I think it's fair to say that dog-fighting is not an issue that has been a high priority for them, whether in terms of policy recommendations or fund-raising endeavors, but I suspect that will change quickly. And while I imagine that the NFL will not suspend Vick until he is convicted (if he is), I will be closely watching to see what kind of pressure the more high-profile groups will bring on the league and its advertisers. Vick, as recently as 6 months ago, was undoubtedly one of the 5 most marketable athletes in the league and is now officially toxic. As we all know in this sector, there are few people more strident and vociferous in their actions[*] than the animal charities and their leadership. Concerning Vick, it has obviously started already.

* I chose not to include the link to PETA from the original quote.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

A new Good Planets is up at The Gypsy's Caravan. The pictures are lovely as always and the cute little merlin towards the end is well worth the visit.

Also, the most recent Carnival of the Godless is up at Friendly Atheist. And On Fire for Reason has finally posted a picture of the mythological crocoduck and the improbability of the argument. Take that Kirk Cameron!

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It must be the poetry. ;)

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Spousal love on a license tag  

Friday, July 13, 2007

While I was driving back from Knoxville this past weekend I saw a license tag that I pondered for quite a while. Hey, it's a long drive and I ran out of podcasts.

The license tag was "LUV WYF 2". In my musings I came up with three things it could mean.

The second thing I thought was maybe his wife has a tag that states, "LUV HSBND" and he was saying he loves his wife too, not two. Hmmm... probably not.

The third thing I thought was that he wanted to get the tag "LUV WYF", but it was taken already and so he stuck a number at the end. Yeah, I've seen "MUFFIN2" and "BIGBOB4", but I doubt anyone would fail to see the misinterpretation of "LUV WYF" with a random number stuck on the end.

But the first thing I thought, and probably the most likely, was that he loves his second wife, obviously as a jab to his first wife. Evil, but a bit funny.

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Transformer toys will warp your child  

Some people are just way to overprotective.

The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood called on the commission to work with the toy industry and media companies to develop a uniform rating system so toys tied to PG-13 movies would not be marketed to children younger than 13. It also asked the FTC to investigate the marketing of PG-13 movies to children.

Yes, Mr. Potato Head Transformers Optimash Prime is going to warp your child.

Although I do kind of see their point about advertising a PG-13 movie on a kid's television network. However, just because a kid gets a toy doesn't mean they have to go see the movie. The toys were around long before the movie. Get them some of the old cartoons if you have no other choice but cave into your children's wishes.

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How skeptical are you?  

You Are Very Skeptical

Your personal motto is: "Prove it."
While some ideas, like life after death, may seem nice...
You aren't going to believe them simply because it feels good.
You let science and facts be your guide... Even if it means you don't share the beliefs of those around you.

(via BigHeathenMike)

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64th Skeptics Circle  

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The 64th Skeptic's Circle is up at the skeptical alchemist and it's a good one. I'm thinking that I really could use some courses at NTU. I especially like the list of Liberal Arts courses.

Ninjas have been all the rage up until the skeptical general reveals how they employ their magic. Still, the costume would be fun.

And who wouldn't want to take a course exploring the psuedoscientific methods of the Ghost Hunters? Wouldn't it be great to have a show where a group of people get the Ghost Hunters out to a fake haunting to see if they can fool them?

Studying pyramidology would be interesting, especially if I got to move around blocks that size. It would even amuse the neighbors.

But no course could be as old or as venerated as the course on astrology. It'd go hand-in-hand with buying a telescope and turning it to the stars. I saw an astrology book in the science section of a bookstore yesterday. It wasn't placed there by accident now, was it?

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Tagged! (8 things about me)  

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I was tagged by mamacita chilena. I've seen the meme around, but I've been lazy and there's nothing like being tagged personally. :)

1. Post the rules, then list eight things about yourself.

2. At the end of the post, tag and link to eight other people.

3. Leave a comment at those sites, letting them know they've been tagged, and asking them to come read the post so they know what to do.

Three years ago I dyed my hair a dark reddish brown. When I was done and had dried my hair I cried. It wasn't that it looked bad, but when I looked in the mirror it didn't look like me. At that moment I regretted it, but then I got used to it and actually liked my hair being brown. Three years later and my hair has grown out to its natural color. I like it. It's blonder than I thought it would be after the torture of years of dying. I don't think I'll dye it again.

When I was a kid people used to tell me I was weird and I'd thank them. I was a weird kid.

I was deeply religious as a child and wanted to be a missionary when I grew up. I applied for and received a scholarship to a Bible college, but I was only 17 when I started college. My parents wouldn't let me go away, so I went to a local university in town with the intent to transfer my sophomore year. I never transferred and thankfully never became a missionary. I wonder if they regret that choice.

I love games, not just video games but board games and card games. Strategy or tactics games are my favorite. My mom loves games too. She still stays up all night playing video games. Once when she was visiting we got into a fight because she wanted to play a video game rather than do something with me.

I changed schools a lot when I was growing up. The longest I was ever at the same school was 3 1/2 years (yes, I changed mid-year a couple of times). I don't know anyone from high school and I only have one friend still from college. I miss having a good friend that lives nearby.

I don't drink coffee much other than the occasional mocha, but I love tea. I can drink tea hot or cold, unsweetened, or with sugar and milk. The only tea I don't really like is green tea. I've had green teas that I've liked, but that's rare. It tastes fishy to me most of the time.

My parents never told me about Santa Claus when I was a child because they thought that'd be lying to me. There also wasn't an easter bunny or tooth fairy, so I never believed in any other fairy tales (unless you count religion). Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on something, but it did give me a pretty unique childhood. I probably ruined the beliefs of every other child I knew growing up though.

I prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate most of the time.

And I tag encephalophone, venjanz, PBS, Vistaluna, Sylvene, aprilbapryll, glomgold, and carli. At least I don't think any of you have done the meme yet.

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From Knoxville  

Friday, July 06, 2007

Well, it was a long drive. I made it about 7 hours (by about 12:30) to Kentucky and stopped there for the night. The hotel was OK, but that was fine. I was up within 4 hours to start out again for another 5. I got in around 11:30 (1 hour for the time change). And I was exhausted. I'd had about 5 sodas that morning and I realized as I was unloading the car I was a little shaky.

The day went well, but I was in bed early with a migraine. I don't know what happened, but it's the worst one I've ever had. I haven't had a real migraine in several years. Maybe it was a combination of caffeine and fatigue. I've had headaches for the few days since then too, but they've been pretty mild.

We've played a few board games and last night we staged a WoW Onyxia card game raid. Achillean beat us soundly as Onyxia. (Game terms - for those who haven't played World of Warcraft, sorry.)

Tonight I think we're going to try to play another raid if we have time. Tomorrow people start leaving and then Sunday I'm back on the road again. I hope it's easier to drive during the day.

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Away again  

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Well, I'm away again for a few days to visit Jantis and Winterfluer. Kraven and his wife, who I haven't met before, and their three children (also haven't met) will be there as well as Keric, his wife, and their two children. And also Achillean arrived yesterday. It's like a mini Bristlebane reunion. And, of course, we can't forget Trevor and Lydia, who I'm excited to see.

I'll be leaving after work tonight on a road trip to Knoxville, TN and I won't be back until Sunday, probably late. I'm taking a laptop with me, but that doesn't mean that I'll be posting, so it may be quiet here for a few days.

I've loaded up my iPod with podcasts and music and my packing preparation has gone far overboard, but better prepared than not. I don't have to worry about fitting everything in a suitcase small enough to carry on an airplane, so why not?

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July in the states and a wonderful weekend for those of you outside the US.

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Two articles  

Monday, July 02, 2007

Floods are judgment on society, say bishops

While those who have been affected by the storms are innocent victims, the bishops argue controversially that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation's decision to ignore biblical teaching.

The Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, argued that the floods are not just a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgment on society's moral decadence.

OK, tell me this: If flooding is due to changes that are wrong, why was there flooding before those changes? If humans are always doing something wrong and always getting punished per the bishop, what does it matter? Never in our human history have we not had natural catastrophes. So does it really matter whether we accept alternate lifestyles? I'm sure we'll be punished for having pets or something else as ridiculous instead.

The new age of ignorance

Given that science informs so much of our culture, and so many of us have such patchy knowledge, it is surprising that such embarrassments are not routine. It's half a century since CP Snow put forward the idea of the 'Two Cultures', the intractable divide between the sciences and the humanities, first in an article in the New Statesman, then in a lecture series at Cambridge and finally in a book. Back then, Snow, who was both a novelist and a physicist, used to employ a test at dinner parties to demonstrate his argument.

'A good many times,' he suggested, 'I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice, I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold; it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: have you ever read a work of Shakespeare's?'

It doesn't sound so new, but it does embarrass me to realize there are many concepts I should know well that I couldn't explain properly.

(via onegoodmove)

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On the origins of circuits  

Damn Interesting has an article up about an experiment using electronic circuits that simulate evolution. For a brief bit I studied AI in college, the kind that evolves code over time, not positronic brains or robots. Sometimes I wish I would have gone to graduate school and done something like this rather than enter corporate America as a developer. I loved working with circuits (programmatically, not the actual hardware).

He cooked up a batch of primordial data-soup by generating fifty random blobs of ones and zeros. One by one his computer loaded these digital genomes into the FPGA chip, played the two distinct audio tones, and rated each genome's fitness according to how closely its output satisfied pre-set criteria. Unsurprisingly, none of the initial randomized configuration programs came anywhere close. Even the top performers were so profoundly inadequate that the computer had to choose its favorites based on tiny nuances. The genetic algorithm eliminated the worst of the bunch, and the best were allowed to mingle their virtual DNA by swapping fragments of source code with their partners. Occasional mutations were introduced into the fruit of their digital loins when the control program randomly changed a one or a zero here and there.

The results are very interesting. The FPGA evolved as organically as you'd expect biological life to evolve. By organically, of course I mean as naturally or as randomly without design.

Finally, after just over 4,000 generations, test system settled upon the best program. When Dr. Thompson played the 1kHz tone, the microchip unfailingly reacted by decreasing its power output to zero volts. When he played the 10kHz tone, the output jumped up to five volts. He pushed the chip even farther by requiring it to react to vocal "stop" and "go" commands, a task it met with a few hundred more generations of evolution. As predicted, the principle of natural selection could successfully produce specialized circuits using a fraction of the resources a human would have required. And no one had the foggiest notion how it worked.

A typical Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chipA pair of typical Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chipsDr. Thompson peered inside his perfect offspring to gain insight into its methods, but what he found inside was baffling. The plucky chip was utilizing only thirty-seven of its one hundred logic gates, and most of them were arranged in a curious collection of feedback loops. Five individual logic cells were functionally disconnected from the rest– with no pathways that would allow them to influence the output– yet when the researcher disabled any one of them the chip lost its ability to discriminate the tones. Furthermore, the final program did not work reliably when it was loaded onto other FPGAs of the same type.

(via Pharyngula)

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Reading List for July  

I didn't read a lot last month again, just two books. But I have to temper that with the fact that I read a lot of long books. When a book is 600 pages plus it's going to take a while. Especially when it's tough to find more than 30 minutes at a time to read. It's easier to read fiction that way. I lose the idea of the non-fiction books when I read them in too many chunks.

Read in June
The Planets - Edited by Byron Preiss
American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Currently Reading
The Blind Watchmaker - Richard Dawkins
The End of Faith - Sam Harris
War of Flowers - Tad Williams

Coming Up Next
Lost Languages - Andrew Robinson
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
Darwin's Ghost - Steve Jones
Seasons - Robert Frost
A History of the End of the World - Jonathan Kirsch
Spirit Gate - Kate Elliott
Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea - Carl Zimmer
Dark Tower - Stephen King
the Lucifer Effect - Philip Zimbardo
The Android's Dream - John Scalzi

And reviews for the books I've read are coming.

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Atheism is not a civil rights issue? Really?  

Sunday, July 01, 2007

For my Blog Against Theocracy post I am going to point out six cases of discrimination against non-theists. I'm posting this in advance because I'm going to be out of town next week and I won't have much of a chance to post this weekend.

This post is largely in response to Matthew C. Nisbet's post Atheism is not a Civil Rights Issue. In effect Nisbet is stating that if someone is beaten, dismissed from his job, wrongly accused of a felony, and ordered by the court to attend church, simply because that person is a non-theist that's not a civil rights issue.

I like PZ Myer's response to him in “Polarizing” is a dirty word, so atheists should surrender.

However, far from being the paramount focus of modern atheism, atheists have treated civil rights violations simply on a case-by-case basis. It's there, all right, but we don't have a simple, sweeping case of legal discrimination that has to be dealt with; we aren't denied the right to vote, we aren't told to sit at the back of the bus, there aren't many laws that overtly discriminate against non-believers, and the main legal issue we have to deal with are pervasive attempts (some successful) to get the government to endorse religious belief. We know all this; nobody has complained that atheists are oppressed anywhere near as badly as minorities or women. No one is demanding legal redress in the form of something analogous to the Civil Rights Act or universal suffrage. So really, Nisbet's argument begins with a lie, a false claim that we are making a big deal out of one view of the issue … which greatly simplifies his job of dismissing it.

In reality many people don't see atheists as being discriminated against because they are perceived as a class of educated, white males. It's a fallacy, but it's the perception.

Most of the cases listed below are governmental, but a few are not. Still, it shows that religious bigotry is still a force within America. All of these cases come from the comments section of Nisbet's article.

1. Religion in America: Atheists claim discrimination

The problem arose, says Universist Movement founder Ford Vox, when he met with Anderson to discuss holding a gathering at Cool Beans. After she asked what the group believed in, he claims, Anderson said she was not comfortable with it meeting in her cafe because she is Christian.

2. Discrimination Against Atheists

n 2001, for instance, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld an order giving a mother custody partly because she took the child to church more often than the father did, thus providing a better "future religious example." In 2000, it ordered a father to take the child to church each week, as a Mississippi court ordered in 2000, reasoning that "it is certainly to the best interests of [the child] to receive regular and systematic spiritual training."

3. Smalkowski Found Not Guilty on All Counts

Outside of his front fence, the principal struck Chuck, who blocked the blow. Both men fell to the ground and Buckley sustained minor injuries, the provable origins of which were strikingly contrary to his under oath trial testimony. Buckley then took out misdemeanor criminal assault charges against Chuck. After Smalkowski rejected the offer to drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state, the charges were raised to a felony.

4. Army EO [Equal Opportunity] Reps: “Discrimination Against Atheists OK”

Now the Army National Guard is telling its unit level Equal Opportunity representatives that it is OK to discriminate against atheists. They are using my formal EO complaint as a training scenario in which a Lieutenant files a formal EO complaint against a general officer for claiming that there are no atheists in foxholes. The Sergeant Major who conducted the EO training for Ohio’s unit level EO reps told them that “since atheism is not a religion, atheists are not protected by the regulation and it is acceptable for officers and chaplains to disparage their own soldiers”.

5. Luken v. Brigano

On April 23, 2002, appellant filed a complaint against Brigano and Wilkinson, claiming that the ODRC grooming policy violated his right of conscience as guaranteed by Section 7, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, and requesting that the court enjoin appellees from taking any disciplinary action against him. Appellees moved for summary judgment on October 23, 2002, and the trial court granted the motion on December 17, 2002. In its decision, the trial court stated, "Reasonable minds could certainly conclude that Mr. Lukens' beliefs regarding his hair are sincerely held. There can be no issue, however, that they are not in deference to or the mandate of a higher being."

6. Mirecki Affair

Sen. Kay O'Connor (R-Olathe) was reported by the Daily Kansan as saying whoever beat him should be "prosecuted to the fullest." "If they try to cover themselves under the mantle of being Christian or being Christian people, sorry Charlie," she said. "They're just thugs."

This was a change from her somewhat sinister comments prior to the beating: "I'm surprised that something more severe isn't happening to this teacher who obviously has a hatred for Christians."

Editorial writer Phillip Brownlee from the Wichita Eagle even suggested, prior to the beating, that Dr. Mirecki be physically assaulted:

But KU officials - though not state lawmakers - still need to get tough on Mirecki. A chairman of a religion department shouldn't be hostile to conservative Christianity. How about making Mirecki go through a paddling line at one of KU's fraternities?

For more information about supporting the separation of church and state visit First Freedom First.

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