Sunday, October 31, 2010

Introducing: Death by Trolley

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Death by Trolley.

Death By Trolley is a blog featuring articles and original cartoons addressing politics, societal institutions, the culture wars, competing belief and value systems, religion and church-state issues, science and pseudoscience, cognitive science, and more.

I, the blogger, am a 28 year old Canadian Occupational Therapy graduate student at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, Canada. I am an agnostic atheist whose political views are progressive, with sympathy for libertarianism.

The blog gets its name from the Trolley Problem, a philosophical thought experiment.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Photo a day – my morning walk

EldoradoWalkMy wife and I went for a walk this morning at El Dorado Park in Long Beach. We walked for an hour on a path that took us on a long loop through several different areas of the park. I was looking for birds but found little of interest. I played with some new techniques and was pleased with the some of the results, like this b&w image.

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Youth pastor Rico Escudero sentenced

RicoEscudero I’ve been waiting for youth pastor Rico Dominic Escudero’s sentencing since his conviction in May. He molested 3 young girls back in 2005 and 2007. His victims were below the age of 13. He was sentenced to 30 years. I assume Escudero is off for a good time in protective custody.

Steven Kubby – A classic libertarian fail

SteveKubby If you’ve hung around California Libertarian politics for long, you know Steven Kubby. His claim to fame was his support of California’s Proposition 215, which legalized medial marijuana. He’s also known for his long time use of marijuana to treat his cancer. While access to medical marijuana is something I support along with a long list of other libertarian causes, Kubby identifies with marijuana as his core value. He is the “marijuana guy” in a field of accountants and school teachers. In the minds of many libertarians, his notoriety makes him an ideal candidate for political office, presumably because he has name recognition.

He ran for Governor of California in 1998 while at the height of his fame for a drug arrest. Few people paid attention. He tried to run for vice-president in the 2000 election under the Libertarian party banner and lost on an internal delegate vote. In the 2008 election he tried for the presidential nomination and lost on another delegate vote. What does a losertairan do after all attempts at attaining political office are thwarted? He runs for city council in South Lake Tahoe. Kubby has little chance of winning.

South Lake Tahoe is on the boring side of the border with Nevada. It’s a city catering to tourists who visit for the skiing, gaming, and to play on beautify Lake Tahoe. It’s a great place to visit, but I would not want to live there (they get snow). Why would a big name like Kubby run in small-time South Lake Tahoe? And why would he do so without making the minimum effort necessary to appeal to voters? He’s not even in the Smart Voter Guide, which is politics 101 for candidates running for office. There is no excuse for this level of ineptness.

Kubby has a blog of sorts with a few articles, a YouTube campaign video (with 345 views), and an interview from a local public access station. He has virtually no visible support from his county’s Libertarian organization, and only a token link at the Libertarian Party of California’s website. Heck, judging for its blog, his county Libertarian organization is a joke. But the worst thing about his effort is his complete lack of understanding about what it takes to run for local office. You can’t run for local office by spouting libertarian ideals. Local politics are local. He’s running for city council the same way he ran for Governor,

His tag line…

Beginning right here in South Lake Tahoe, we will redefine politics in  a revolutionary return to common sense and smaller government. We are  going to take back our power, restore our property rights and force  government to become our servant, not our master.

These classic words are used to scare away voters in election after election. Change everything, revolution, cut, slash, and burn. Blah, Blah, Blah… The message is stale and will not appeal to local voters. He’s out of touch with reality, like most libertarian political candidates, and does not know it, or maybe he in touch but simply runs for office as a hobby. You can never really tell with these guys.

Where do you go when you’ve failed out of a city council election? Run for Water commissioner, or maybe the Dog catcher? Or do you simply wait a few years and run again? The real question is, why do we let Steven Kubby run for a local city council election under the Libertarian banner? It weakens the brand.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

He stole my innocence and destroyed my life

43-year-old William Lynch beat a 65-year-old priest named Rev. Jerold Linder because Lynch said the priest had molested him as a child. Lynch said, “He stole my innocence and destroyed my life.” That may be true, but in keeping with my philosophy that we should judge people by what they do rather that what they say, Lynch comes off as the disturbed aggressor in this story and his actions are inexcusable.

Lynch harbored a fantasy for years of confronting the priest, who also allegedly molested his little brother.

Sung said Lynch attacked the 65-year-old priest after he failed to recognize him at the Jesuits' Sacred Heart retirement home in Los Gatos. The attack occurred in a small room adjoining the lobby.

"They're saying it was pretty close to beating him to death," defense attorney Pat Harris told The Associated Press. "They're essentially saying that he waited all these years and then took out his revenge. It's sort of the ultimate revenge story."

Except that this sordid tail of immature impulse control it not even close to the ultimate revenge story. It’s a disturbed nutball acting out a childish revenge fantasy. Lynch was compensated for his abuse to the tune of $625k. With 12 years to heal he instead chose a path of violence, And in an odd twist, he became the abuser while dropping the mantle of the suffering victim. Who wins here?

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Bishop Lahey awaits trial

The former Roman Catholic Bishop Emeritus of the Dioceses of Antigonish in Nova Scotia had a court date in Ottowa to discuss his pending trial for the possession of Child Pornography. Raymond Lahey did not appear in the proceedings. He was represented by his lawyer, Michael Edelson.

Earlier this month, Edelson cancelled five days in November that had been set aside for Lahey to argue that authorities had violated his Charter rights. Lahey was charged with possession and importation of child pornography last September after his laptop computer was searched and seized when the Roman Catholic priest got off a flight from Britain.

According to court documents, Lahey was flagged by customs authorities when he landed because his passport revealed extensive travel to countries notorious as sources of the illicit material.

Read more: Child pornography case of former bishop resumes in December

I wonder if Canadian customs agents profiled Lahey based on his profession and his extensive travel to countries notorious as sources of illicit material?

Introducing: Walking Away

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Walking Away. Follow Walking Away on Twitter at @capnjammer.

Hello, everyone: my name is Callan Souza, better known online as Cap'n Jammer. I am an atheist writer who used to be a Fundamental, Independent Baptist preacher, missionary, and evangelist. I've seen firsthand what a devotion to religion can do to people, and I've been a part of it, having led hundreds to Christianity and thousands to give their lives entirely over to it. I want to use my knowledge to help people who are trapped in irrational belief systems, who may have never realized that there are viable alternatives to faith, to escape, and also to help my fellow atheists have a better understanding of Christian "logic" and ideas to better dispute and refute them. Come visit Walking Away, where my motto is "I walked away from faith: so can you." I'd very much like to hear from others who have "come out from among them," and would never say no to a guest poster!

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Christian using “the rod” kills his own child

Let’s hope we don’t see too many more of these stories. Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz used the Christian disciplinary method known as “the rod” to discipline their two adopted daughters for mispronouncing a word. One of the three-year-old girls died. Did I mention they were homeschoolers?

Prosecutors allege the two victims were subjected to “hours” of corporal punishment by their parents on successive days last Thursday and Friday with a quarter-inch-wide length of rubber or plastic tubing, which police reportedly recovered from the parents’ bedroom.

Police allege that the younger girl was being disciplined for mis-pronouncing a word during a home-school reading lesson the day before she died.

These Christian humanitarians adopted orphan sisters from Africa only to beat them to death in California. Go visit the Secular News Daily, they did a good job on this one. Or read Lynn Harris at Slate.

I think the surviving daughter needs a good home with an Atheist family. Anyone interested?

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Music Director Norman Keesee arrested

NormanKeesee When I read stories like this where young girls are molested by big fat lecherous Christian men, I get angry. I see a picture of a man who allegedly felt up a young defenseless girl for months. He was only caught out because of a mom’s suspicions. Of course, by now I know to wait before piling on the sarcasm. I need more information before I can build up the bile needed for a good rant. For now it is enough to know that Christian Music Director Norman Keesee was arrested.

According to an incident report from the Greenwood Police Department, a 13-year-old student of Norman Keesee said that he inappropriately touched her breast several times while he was giving her music lessons.

The report said that Keesee would sit beside the girl and reach under her shirt to touch her, and that when the girl would pull away, Keesee would not stop.

Emerald Baptist Church put Keesee on paid administrative leave until the investigation  is complete. Until then, he is not allowed on church property. Pastor Curtis Eidson has this to say on his website.

Wait a little while!

With all the news coverage of the events taking place around our church I wanted to take just a moment and address the situation over our web-site. Our church has agreed to stand by all parties involved in this terrible situation. No one within the church is qualified to pass judgment on guilt or innocence. That should be left to Someone in much higher authority. If due process of the law is carried out we will reach the end of this matter that is causing great concern around the church. Please pray for Emerald as we continue to seek the Lord's guidance, His grace, and His goodness to carry us to the next level….

….Feel free to drop me an email at: I would love to hear from you.

I plan to write Pastor Curtis Eidson a note to congratulate him for addressing the situation on his website and for treating all parties fairly. This is something I do not normally see in these cases. In fact, I would call it rare. But I want to know something else too. Did Keesee go through a background check?

Father Jim Robinson sentenced to 21 years

Former catholic priest Father Richard “Jim” James Robinson was sentenced to 21 years in prison for molesting numerous boys between 1959 to 1983. At 73, it is likely he will spend the rest of his life in prison.  Given the background on he case, Father Jim was a sadistic sexual predator who enjoyed picking his victims. He deserves to die in prison.

"You were, and are, sufficiently devious, manipulative and bold to have got away with heavily risky sexual encounters over a period of 25 years and you were stimulated by the sense of danger. Without question you have carried out these offences in the most persistent and outrageous way that is possible to conceive."

He also told Robinson: "You stopped offending because you were of ill-health, not of remorse or regret."

His attorney, Rachel Brand, tried to paint a different picture.

"During his priestly career, there plainly was another side to this man's character – a positive side.

He was a man of good character when he chose to exercise it."

Really? if a priest molests the children he is trusted to nurture, does anything else he did count on the good side of the scale when his life is measured? No! He was a priest so he could abuse boys. Nothing else he did was genuine or could ever be trusted. His life is a lie.

Introducing: Doubting Eric

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Doubting Eric. Follow Doubting Eric on Twitter @doubtingeric.

My name is Eric.  I was a believer in God for about 20 years, the last 5 years or so of which I considered myself a defender of the faith.  I have since had my eyes opened to a much wider and more beautiful world, and as a result have lost my faith.  But I don't really feel like I lost anything - I think I gained so much more.

No longer do I have to hide from the elegance and wonder of science and reality.  No longer do I have to bury my head in the sand and pretend that Christianity has all the answers.  The naturalistic view of the world makes much more sense to me than the supernatural one did.  Broken are the shackles of belief that my skeptical mind strained against for so long.  Only now do I feel completely free as a person, only now do I feel like I am being honest.  And I love it.

I am sure there are many out there that are questioning their beliefs, and maybe they feel a bit guilty about it.  If that is you, don't feel bad.  It is a sign of a healthy mind to be asking questions and thinking critically.  If you are already a non-believer, I hope you will join me in enjoying the world around us and reveling in the bliss of free thought.  I talk about science, philosophy, and thinking clearly.  But I am the first to say that I am just a layman with an interest in these things - I am by no means an expert.

Check out and follow me on Twitter at  Let me know what you think.  The grass is so much greener over here.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Somebody listened

I posted on California Libertarian malaise and incompetence this morning, and by this afternoon I received my first press release from a Libertarian candidate. Somebody listened. Go figure.

Tim Hannan, the Libertarian Party Candidate for California’s Attorney General issued a press release reaffirming his support for California's Proposition 19. Hannan says…

"It makes possession of less than one ounce of marijuana an infraction, with a simple fine of $100, so it likely will help decongest the criminal courts and lighten the load on prosecutors and policemen," Hannan says. "But why not just legalize marijuana? Why not pass Proposition 19?"

Hannan cites four practical reasons for passing Proposition 19. "First, imprisonment for marijuana costs about $35,000 per person annually, so legalizing marijuana will significantly reduce the expense of safely running our state's prisons. Second, in addition to reduced incarceration costs, the state would be able to increase its tax revenues by approximately 1.4 billion through increased sales tax. The combined savings and income can go a long way toward balancing California's budget."

Hannan continues, "Third, legalizing marijuana will allow law enforcement to concentrate more on combating hard crime. So like the legalization of alcohol and tobacco, marijuana legalization would significantly reduce violent crime, too. And fourth, legalizing marijuana will also allow for the production of hemp, a venerable product of the cannabis plant. Hemp can be used in clothing, shoes and variety of other products if it weren't banned."

Asked why there's strong opposition to passing Proposition 19, Hannan conjectures, "One reason for our legislators' opposition is the power of the Prison Guards Union. They apply significant lobbying pressure on law makers to keep marijuana illegal. Legalizing marijuana will reduce California's prison population, drastically reducing the union's power and influence."

Hannan concludes, "It's time for a practical change in the law and that's what Proposition 19 does. The initiative process is designed to bypass the State Legislature when the legislators fail in their responsibilities. Proposition 19 offers the voters an opportunity to make necessary and appropriate use of the initiative process. Vote in favor of Proposition 19."

You can find out more at or e-mail his campaign at, or call his office at (707) 578-0903.

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Bishop Long blames the iPhone

Bishiop Eddie Long’s decent into madness took an interesting turn during his last sermon  where he appeared in a muscle shirt and bemoaned the evils of the iPhone (while reading from his iPad). Hypocrite much?

It appears the iphone did him wrong, or at least the availability of this type of technology did.  This of course does not put any of the responsibilities on Bishop Long.

Apparently the iPhone and Facebook should not be used by his congregation. After all if it wasn’t for the iPhone, Long’s pictures posing in a muscle shirt may have never come to be.

It’s easier to blame the devil than to take responsibility for your own actions. It’s this what mainstream Christianity has come to? Throw away your iPhone folks, it makes you do evil things. What rubbish.

California Libertarian fail

I was a big “L” libertarian. I paid my dues, went to meetings, and participated in my small way. But then things got weird. Big “L” libertarians in California are good in theory, but bad in practice. I backed away after a few righteously scary experiences. I stopped paying my dues, stopped reading libertarian websites, and I even stopped blogging about them because it felt like I was picking on the short bus kids.

BuenaParkSignsDuring this election season I kept notes. I wanted to know how effective they would be in trying to reach out to me since I was not participating in this year’s futility, but I’m still registered as a Libertarian voter. In years past there were the obligatory calls for donations, signatures, and canvassing. And occasionally, I would be asked to man the phones. This year – nothing. I don’t know who is running for office, what they stand for, or more importantly, what they need. I have received no mailers, no phone calls. and no requests for aid of any time. Even the normally active old nutters have paid me no attention. I can only assume they are preoccupied with something else.

And it’s silly – I write a blog. I can help. I get more hits in a week than the local libertarian blog gets in a year. And the same holds true for the state parties’ blog. If I write about an issue, it will place high on Google the next day. Do they care? No. Since I’m not aligned with the current power structure, I don’t exist.

I see the old schisms are still active. The Libertarian Party of California does not list my local Orange County chapter as active. I see that Chuck McGlawn is still writing his rants for the local LPOC. At least I can use the Libertarian voter’s guide to help me understand how to vote in this election cycle. No… wait. The LPC does not have a voter guide that I can find. The smaller LPOC has one for voter initiatives, but only hints at a candidate guide in an oddly written post. I also see that Bruce Cohen is stilling calling for reform in the California Libertarian party. New flash Bruce – the reform effort failed and the Tea Party Patriots stole anybody who wanted to help.

What’s wrong with the libertarian party? Everything. The LPC website has a whopping 33 registered members. Internal power struggles and political rifts work to make sure nothing coherent comes from the state level. At the LPOC it’s a one man show. Chuck McGlawn writes most of the content and alienates people with his incessant and pointless rants. People don’t listen to Libertarians because they are irrelevant. They are irrelevant because they are obsessed with the unachievable and come off like true believing nutballs. I thought that the Tea Party would seal their doom this election cycle. It looks like they have. At least Tea Party have a nice voter's guide. Why don’t we?

And one other thing – A voter guide needs more that a yes/no recommendation. This is a sample from the LPOC (I added the bold emphasis).

  • Proposition 19     VOTE YES
    Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed
  • Proposition 20     VOTE YES
    Redistricting of Congressional Districts
  • Proposition 21     VOTE NO
    Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles

I want to know why I should vote yes on 19 (don’t bother to tell me, I know why). When I talk to normal people (non-libertarians), I want to present a cogent argument that does not make people think I’m crazy. That would be a useful voter guide. Telling the 500 libertarians in the OC how to vote is a waste of time without more meaningful content. The least we can do is write position papers (or posts) and then link to them so that our members can pass them on to others. But no – we do it our own special way, and fail.

DaleOgden Dale Ogden is the Libertarian candidate for Governor in California. Based on a first impression of his website, I can’t vote for the guy. He has clown font syndrome. The poor guy, I wonder who did his website? My bet is he gets less than 5,000 votes state wide. He can’t even figure out how to use Twitter. He has 80 followers!

What are his key positions? He wants to roll back spending to 1998 levels (voters read massive state services cutback). He’s an open carry proponent (let’s make CA like TX), and he’s a global warming denier in the greenest of green state (a man with a death wish). His big three:

  • Reduce spending by California state government at least to 1998 levels
  • Reduce state employees' salaries and pensions to private sector levels
  • Reduce or abolish state income taxes & reduce sales taxes

Do any of these speak to California’s voters? No – most voters read them and think the positions are unwise, or worse, destructive. There are so many non-crazy ways to say the same thing, and people will listed to the message.

  • Reduce frivolous government spending
  • Balance the budget and pay down our dept
  • Reduce taxes
  • Cultivate a pro-business environment

But this is why liberations in California always fail. They take the nutball trail. Good luck Dale Ogden. You will need it.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pastor Michael Crippen arrested

MichaelCrippen A tipster sent this one in. You can help too!

Baptist pastor Michael Crippen was charged with downloading child porn from a web site in The Netherlands. His computers allegedly contained at least 100 pornographic images of children. Crippen is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Duenweg in Missouri. The Feds think he is a flight risk.

Crippen was arrested yesterday and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. The government has filed a motion that Crippen be held without bond until his trial. Crippen is a danger to the community, the motion states, because he holds a position of trust that provides access to minor children and his residence is located adjacent to an elementary school. The motion also states that Crippen is a flight risk because he has applied for employment as a pastor in another community and had a job interview scheduled for today.

Crippen has a porn addiction.

The federal affidavit says Crippen told investigators he normally looked at pornography in the morning before going to work at his church. Investigators say they found at least 100 images of child porn on his computers.

At least he’s not molesting the kiddies.

Photo a day - nostalgic trash


I did a double take yesterday afternoon while sitting on a freeway onramp in North Long Beach. The upward slope along the side of the onramp as it climbed toward the freeway was long and ugly. The plants populating the slope were mostly dried out dead weeds. The weeds were decorated with trash of every description. I was thinking about the trash and could not come up with a reason why there was so much of it. It’s pervasive. Every onramp is the same. Trash festoons everything. I tend to project my own habits Freewaytrashonto other people. I don’t litter so I expect the same from other people. I go out of my way to throw my trash away properly. It’s a habit reinforced by a wife who gives me a look if I even think about chucking an applecore out the window. So where does it all come from? All you need to do is look down when waiting to enter a freeway. The stuff piled up in the gutters is amazing.

As I neared the end of the onramp, I noticed a coke bottle. I was instantly taken back 30 years to a time before plastic bottles. I can remember when the humble coke bottle littered every conceivable public and private space. There used to be broken glass everywhere. I don’t think I’ve seen a discarded coke bottle since the early 80s. The world changed again and I did not notice. How odd.

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Introducing: Tarentola Mauritanica

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Tarentola Mauritanica. Follow Wazaghun on Twitter @waxaghun.
Hello everybody.
I call myself Wazaghun which is Arabic and stands for the male Tarentola Mauritanica. For those who do not know what that is... Wikipedia is a good source :-D
I am a German Arab half-blood exmuslim who has decided already years ago to live without superstitious beliefs. In other words i am more or less the worst kind of person for all those that used to claim friendship with me. One of the reasons why my real name is not public. I already had my fair share of threats and even more than just threats.
Anyway, i decided to create a blog to write about religion(s), reason and the bitter fight in the public courtroom of opinion. I despise the bad influence of religion, not only but mostly because i was and partially still am so deeply affected by it. And when it comes to political influence this is something that affects us all. Educational problems (biology, evolution etc.), social problems (separation of ones people from the rest of the community in a country, immigration problems) and problems of morality (anti-gay agendas, fighting sexual education) are my core fields of interest and engagement.
I've spent years debating religious zealots including extremists and i though it would be some relief if i started writing in a blog instead of standing in the front line all day long, especially since the debates are risky and have a tendency to repeat long known nonsense all the time.
Perhaps one small addition (that i will probably post about soon):
I do prefer not to call myself atheist. And frankly i do not see much sense in anyone calling himself atheist. 
Technically i might qualify for the atheists definition of the term, but i prefer to simply say that i do not believe in any of the already used definitions for the term God, nor in any supernatural "something" no matter how abstract and senseless it might be defined.
Looking forward to meet you folks (blog, twitter, facebook or somewhere else)
Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.
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Introducing: Left Hemispheres

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Left Hemispheres. Follow them on Twitter @lefthemispheres

Hi.  My name is Steve and I am one of the contributors at Left Hemispheres.

The blog was started on a whim one Monday morning in August 2010 by a small group of atheist friends and like-minded individuals.  The constant exchange of blog/site links and our own ranting just seemed to be going to waste.  Why not subject the Internet to these ideas and arguments?   

Left Hemispheres is an atheist blog with progressive tendencies.  Our weekly posts include the Sunday Morning Hate where we spotlight the hateful words of supposedly righteous people, Monday Morning Stupid Quotes which is self-explanatory, Mid-Week Rants where we post videos critical of religion and politics, and the Friday Link Dump which is a place to post various links to all kinds of subjects we have read during the week.  

All the contributors come from various backgrounds and we post our own essays as much as possible.  There is no schedule for these as we all have day jobs, families, other responsibilities and we try and take our time developing them.  While our posts make every attempt at being logical, rational, well-thought-out arguments and critiques, we do try and inject humor into it when possible.  Check us out. Leave feedback.  Argue.  Whatever.  We have no problem with our ideas being challenged and we may even admit a logical fault or two if you can point out where we went wrong.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Introducing Why God Isn’t Necessary

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Why God Isn’t Necessary.

As an atheist, one is often challenged by the theists to prove there is no God.

It’s a question cleverly designed to elicit the only possible response, which is “No, I can’t”.

All intelligent people realize that you cannot disprove a negative. There is no known way for me to prove that fairies or unicorns don’t exist either.

However, the now famous “flying spaghetti monster” argument, is too easily dismissed by the theists who desperately cling to the “You can’t prove God doesn't exist” line.
So, I thought about the problem another way.

Theists are clearly choosing to believe in a God, and not flying spaghetti monsters (in the main). This implies that they’ve made some sort of discriminating decision in favor of their silent and invisible God.

They have in fact decided it is necessary for their God to exist and be a part of their lives.

So rather than try and argue whether God does or doesn’t exist, I have decided to attempt to prove that a decision to have a God in your life is simply of no benefit, and hence completely unnecessary. As unnecessary as believing in a flying spaghetti monster or fairies.

My blog "Why God is not necessary" is my comprehensive argument of this position. I'd like as many atheists and theists as possible to post comments here to fully debate my proposition in order that it can ultimately be forged into a credible platform for intelligent reasoning against the spreading of belief in mythical Middle Eastern fairy tales.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Blogroll Update: New members

Four new bloggers have joined the Atheist Blogroll.

  1. Why God Isn’t Necessary
  2. Until the end of time
  3. Brazil Brat 2 blog
  4. Tarentola Mauritanica – Wazaghum
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Atheist Blogroll, now with 1301 members

The Atheist Blogroll achieved a new milestone. We have 1,301 members. You can see the full this here.

Thanks for supporting the Atheist Blogroll.

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Photo a day: Freeway art


I’m back to taking my camera with me everyplace I go. I’m going to start back in on my urban ugly projects. Today’s shot is about what I call the abstract freeway art made by the removal of roadside graffiti. I started shooting this a few months ago with mixed results. Now that my camera is fixed and its owner is motivated, I have a much better chance of catching these images as I drive by. With my camera set to 7 frames a second, I shot 4 of these images in the same time I would normally have shot one. Two were usable. I need to work on the technique.

I like the way the painted sections overlap with slightly different shades of paint and are further offset from the dark background of the bridge column. The pattern reminds me of many different modern art painting I’ve seen over the years. It is reminiscent of Harry Gruenert or maybe even Barnett Newman. I find the endless variations fascinating.

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Introducing Reasonable Doubt

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Reasonable Doubt.

There is more truth in a single Pink Floyd song than in all of the world’s ‘sacred’ scriptures combined!

This is not going to be your typical Atheist/Agnostic blog. I will be talking a lot about that and doing my fair share of railing against religion, in all it’s forms.

But this blog will also talk about Life, Love, Laughter and Hope. I will show you how one can still live a moral life without a belief in God. I will show you how one can still be full of hope and life without a need for ancient belief systems.

In addition to putting my thoughts and ideas out there, I also want people to know who I am. I feel that every human being has an inner desire to shout from the rooftops who we are as people. The cavemen did it with handprints, and I’m doing it here with my writing. It’s my attempt at saying, “Hey, I’m here, I’m a person too, regardless of my lack of belief and I matter too. I’m a good person too!”

I will not mince words with this blog though. There will be the occasional use of foul language when I feel it appropriate. No one should be offended by what merely represents vibrations of vocal chords. They are just words! Sometimes they are needed!

This blog is much more personal than some of the others I have done in the past. It will be about much more than just ideas, although it will be about that too. It will be about the man behind the ideas. We all know what Richard Dawkins thinks for example, but how many people know much about him as a person? Some may think this not important but I think it is terribly important to be able to put a human face onto our ideas so that others will come to realize that we are people too.

I have ideas and thoughts but I am much more than that. I am also a father, son, lover, fiancé and friend.

I hope that all of this comes out in this blog!


Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Youth Pastor Brandon Bradley arrested

BrandonBradley And he seemed like such a nice guy…

Deputies arrested 26-year-old Brandon Christopher Bradley, of 635 Bessemer Circle, Friday morning.

He is charged with seven counts of statutory rape, five counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor, one count of sexual offense, and one count of crimes against nature.

He is alleged to have forced two 14-year-old girls to perform sex acts with him. I cannot tell he he did this as part of some odd group sex thing or as individual encounters. Either way, I’m calling pastor Brandon Bradley is my front runner for freak of the week.

He’s in jail on nearly half a million dollars bail.

Another Baptist youth pastor bites the dust

There are so many Baptist youth pastors arrested each year that I miss a few cases. 24-year-old Jacob Condor made it all the way through being convicted before I noticed him. Now he’s a convicted sex offender waiting for trail in four other cases.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports the jury recommended a one-year sentence for 24-year-old Jacob Conder, a former minister at Wing Avenue Baptist Church and a former deputy constable in Daviess County. He also will be required to register as a sex offender.

His victim was a 15-year-old girl.

I wonder if he is a youth pastor by way of formal education or a youth pastor by way of a relative getting him a job. Not that it matters.

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Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll,

Hi!  I'm Damon Spaun, and I run the blog  My site is all about using humor to illustrate the absurdities of the Bible, Christianity, and God Himself.  The reason I do this is because humor is ultimately what it took for me to walk away from my beliefs.  Despite all the struggles I went through and all the arguments against faith I ever studied, I could never let go of my hardcore fundamentalist trust in Scripture.  It wasn't until I was able to laugh at the Bible that I was finally willing to abandon my faith.

I post all kinds of funny stuff:  sample chapters from a book I wrote spoofing Genesis, videos of parody worship songs, and various insanities I encountered during my days deep in Christianity and my studies of it.  So, if you're interested, come and see the absurdities of the Bible revealed in all their glory!

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Death threats and Christian love

H.Walker I get them, other bloggers I know get them, and apparently pastors who speak out against Bishop Eddie Long get them. Death threats thrive in a place were two camps see one issue differently. I expect them when I write about Islam or some nutball pastor. I don’t expect them when it’s two pastors going at each other. Prophet H. Walker (no ego here) claims that he received death threats after announcing a rally against Bishop Long.

Walker told Fox Carolina he is planning a rally in Atlanta this Sunday at the Georgia State Capitol at 2 p.m. He said he has received threatening e-mails,even some with pornographic images that had his picture on them, but the threats aren't going to stop his rally.

There is a saying that applies here. It’s sage advice from the internet generation. Pics or it did not happen. I don’t believe either of these holy men. Let’s see the proof Prophet H. Walker. Without it, you claims have not more basis in fact than Long’s denials.

And what is up with the reporter? Did he or she just take the word of Prophet H. Walker? How does that work? Did you believe him because he is a prophet?

Blogroll Update – New members

We have five shiny news members of the Atheist Blogroll. Enjoy.

  1. Left Hemispheres
  2. The happy atheist
  3. Pj Corona
  4. Reasonable Doubt
  5. The Bad Secretary
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Monday, October 25, 2010

On learning


I’ve been a photographer for a long time. I picked it up in high school way back in the late 70s, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. I’ve worked as a professional, won photo contests, and shot tens of thousands of photos all over the world. I chose to work in a non-photography profession more suited to by natural skills (and my lack of color vision). I consider myself an advanced amateur when it comes to photography today. I normally teach my friends how to take photos. Last weekend I became a photography student for three days. I attended the Morro Bay Photography Expo to hear from expert nature photographers on how they approach their work. It was meant as an enjoyable weekend getaway for my wife and I. It turned into some serious classroom time for me, and interesting experiences for us. This is a review of sorts. I say “of sorts” because I do not consider myself a nature photographer, so I was not the target audience of the expo. I like birds well enough, but I lack the gear to do it right. A good 500mm lens costs $8k. The most expensive lens in my bag is a $2k 18-35 wide angle zoom that I use for shooting graffiti. I was out gunned. I was also among the youngest attendees. At almost 50, this came a quite a shock, but it was not the only shock.

Actually, among the many things that I do which annoys the hell out of my friends, is count people when I’m in a room. I captured the demographics for each class on paper as part of my notes. What I found was interesting. I attended four different classes with just over 240 people. Some were counted twice because they attended the same course track. I attended with one black man, one Asian woman, one Persian man (he told me), and one Hispanic man. I identified 13 people who were my age or younger. Almost everyone else was 15 years older than me, and some where much older.

MorroBayStacks The racial makeup of the seminar was very close to the visible racial makeup of the people I met in Morro Bay. While out and about, I saw two black men, one surfing and one on a date. One Asian man and two Asian women who were shopping, and a dozen Hispanics (who were all working in restaurants). Everyone else was white and old. It started to bother me after my wife and I were turned away at an empty local restaurant called Shawn's on Main Street. We arrive to find all the tables open with the exception of one group of 4. It was about 5:45. We asked for a table. The woman who greeted us looked us up and down before speaking. She told us we could not be seated because they were booked solid. She suggested we come back for the late seating. It felt like we were profiled. I’m a big white guy (always mistaken for a German when in Europe), while my wife is a Filipina. We experienced some racial discrimination 30 odd years ago when we were first married, but nothing recently. We laughed it off at the time. Perhaps the restaurant was full, who knew? When we drove by after eating at another restaurant, the place was half full with nobody waiting for a table. It was around 7:00 pm.

I checked Wikipedia, Morro Bay is 89% white. My guess, given our treatment at the restaurant and other examples of hostility we experienced, is that Morro Bay is still coming to grips with racial issues and in particular, multi-racial marriages. It was like stepping back in time.

I felt none of this at the photo expo. The lights were dimmed in most sessions while I watched example after example of photography at a level well beyond my skills. The most fundamental thing I learned was to stop shooting like I was still using film. Everything I do is geared around MorroBaycliffgetting “the shot”. Everything these guys did was about mastering a technique and then ripping 7 frames per second. The best example I can point to is the seagull shot shown above. I framed the shot like I wanted it and waited. The bird went through a call sequence every minute or so, when it started it’s call, I pressed the shutter. 20 shots later I had a shot with the bird’s tongue out. OK – it not much a a nature photo, but with a 200mm a seagull was the best thing I could come up with as a full frame subject.

I learned how to stitch photos together to make a panorama. I learned how to bracket for HDR. I learned how to meter, how to manage auto focus, and how to sharpen my picture correctly in post production.  I also I learned how to read the graphic representation of the dynamic range of each photo, which I had ignored before because it did not relate to my experience with film. And most importantly, I learned to end my practice of stopping down a half stop to bump up the color saturation (an old slide film habit). What I did not learn was anything related to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, or any other photography based web 2.0 application. Nobody in attendance understood that technology at all, It was like listening to my parent’s generation discuss Facebook… totally hilarious.

I started taking more photos immediately. I shot almost 500 photos the next time I went out for a photowalk. My take was 8 usable photos. The rest were trash. I would have normally shot 75 photos with an average take of 4 usable photos. It’s an improvement, but my post shooting workflow became instantly more tedious. I’ve been a fool with regard to workflow, Lightroom is way better than anything else I’ve ever used. So I changed to that too.

The Morro Bay Photography expo is worth the meager cost. Give it a try next year.

Watching the decline of the Catholic church

MorroBayVirginMary I spent last weekend in Morro Bay attending a photography expo. I had spare time so I walked around the city looking for something interesting to shoot. Saint Timothy’s Catholic Church is near the community center. I wandered over for a look and found a problem. My initial impression was that the church was abandoned. The only part of the church that looked healthy was their statue of the Virgin Mary. They managed to keep her in fresh flowers. Everything else looked  run down. The parking lot’s blacktop was worn, cracked, and needed to be mowed. The plants and grass were ill kept and near death. the parsonage looked old and worn, heck, even the sign in front of the church looked pathetic. I tried to go inside but found the doors locked. I need an appointment to see the sanctuary.

I’ve started to notice a pattern, little catholic churches are dying. I make a point of visiting catholic churches in every city I visit. I’ve see the pattern in other cities too. It’s like the church is dying from its extremities inward. With small denomination churches suffering the most decay. Has anyone else noticed this?

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Blogroll Update – New members

Happy Monday to the Atheist Blogroll. We have new members.

  1. Extro's Blog
  2. The Godless Paladin
  3. Bible Spoof!
  4. Free Thoughts
  5. The Lessons of Evolution
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Youth Pastor Thomas Elliott arrested

ThomasElliott Baptist youth pastor Thomas Lee Elliott was arrested while trying to solicit a child for sex. Unfortunately, he was soliciting a cop posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Sluder said Elliott wanted to meet, and a rendezvous was arranged for a Greensboro parking lot Thursday. Elliott was arrested when he arrived, Sluder said.

Elliott, who Sluder said is a part-time youth minister at Autryville Baptist Church, is in the Guilford County Jail. Bail was set at $25,000. Elliott was to make his first appearance in court Friday afternoon.

Another week, another Baptist pastor busted for sexual crimes. 2010 has yielded a bumper crop of pedophile pastors.

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I made an HDR photo


I’ve been frustrated by a combination of factors when it comes to HDR photography. My camera is one big reason. It was setup incorrectly, which made some of the techniques I needed to access next to impossible to use. Unfortunately, it was a self-inflicted wound. I am color blind and lack of color vision is hard to overcome in HDR photography. And finally, I simply did not understanding the technical process well enough to use it. I was doing everything wrong and my photos were all but unusable.

I drove up to Morro Bay last Thursday after my wife booked me into the Morro Bay Photography Expo as a mini-break to escape my incredibly stressful real life job managing technical projects. I focused on learning HDR from some of the best nature photographers in the genre. After 20 “ah ha” moments and a brief technical session with a master photographer (he fixed my camera). I was able to take a three shot sequence with my D300 and the bracketing burst technique and then put together an HDR photo that was passable. I can now do it in my sleep.

My main reason for learning HDR was to produce realistic photo’s with details at both ends of the dynamic range. The picture shown here is simply your run of the mill HDR over processed image and is not my intended outcome. However, the image is a small victory for me as every previous attempt at HDR produced nothing even remotely useable.

I’ll follow up with a review of the Expo later. It was an interesting mix of geriatric white photographers, immensely talented nature photographers, and well… me.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blogroll Update – new members

Hello Atheist Blogroll. We have five new members.

  1. Doubting Eric
  2. Universal Temple of Common Sense
  3. Ask The Snide Atheist
  4. doctor zorro
  5. The Coffee Shack (Blogtalkradio)

Five a day – at this rate I will catch up in a week or so.

Want to joins? Info is located here.

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Pastor Aswad Ayinde found guilty

I am taking liberties with the word “pastor" in this case. Aswad Ayinde. aka Charles McGill, is the self-proclaimed profit of his own church and his family are its members. He is accused of raping five of his daughters and impregnating three. HIs abuse, mental, physical, and sexual, spans decades. His religious delusion put him and his bloodline as the only survivors of a pending divine apocalypse. He was convicted and faces 40 years. Make no mistake here, this man is monster.

Ayinde, whose original name is Charles McGill, faces 40 years when sentenced and more than 100 years if convicted of all charges of raping and impregnating four other daughters that he faces in upcoming trials.

"We definitely found the daughter's testimony credible," said juror Suzanne Miller to The Record, as she left the courthouse with fellow jurors. "We all agreed. It was a unanimous decision."

Instead of a prophet, Ayinde was an abusive bully who beat his family into submission.

Ayinde allegedly beat his children in to submission incessantly with objects like wooden boards. According to police reports, he even used steel-toed boots to kick them. The children, who were home-schooled, never attempted to escape or alert anyone of their nightmarish situation. Ex-wife Beverly Ayinde, who has nine children with the offender, claims she would have been beaten if she even uttered the word "pedophile." Yet the woman never turned her demented spouse into authorities either.

In an odd twist,  Aswad Ayinde was also the director of the Fugees’ Killing me softly video. I”ll never be able to watch it again without thinking of this religious nutball.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blogroll update – News and more

Hi Atheist Blogroll members! I put the blogroll on hold until I can figure out what to do with the member list. For now, I plan to maintain it here. I will move it to our own service when it’s ready.

I’m in talks to merge the blogroll with Atheist Nexus. It offers the benefit of additional help, and offers the blogroll new members. Until then, I am looking for people to contribute at the Atheist Blogroll Resource blog. I need to check links, add twitter links, and build out the service some. If interested, drop me an email.

I will be adding new members each day until I catch up. I ask that current members check their listing to make sure you came across in the copy. Also, check that your link works.

New members:

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Hitch 22

Hitch-22-Book I started Christopher Hitchens’ memoir Hitch 22 over a month ago. My normal book-a-week pace came to a grinding halt when I realized that I was not worthy to the task of reading it. His  is clearly above mine. His literary references are unfamiliar, and for the most part, the people he mentions are only marginally known to me. And, he’s much smarter than me. I compare the experience to my recent stint as a graduate student trying desperately to understand a required text by doing secondary reading, looking up unfamiliar words, and reading history for context and background information. I did the same with Hitch 22. I read it on a Kindle while sitting at a computer with a notebook. It was active reading. I looked up each new word (114 in total), and each book, person, or event mentioned. It was tough going, but never a slog. I created a “HitchDeck” in my iPhone’s flashcard application to help me keep track of the new words.

A good book teaches us about ourselves. Hitch 22 taught me that I may have wasted my life. When I look back at the choices I’ve made, the jobs I’ve held, and my general lack of interest in all things beyond reading science fiction and my own small little satisfying world, there is simply no comparison to the life he writes about. I don’t feel less of a man for it, no, instead I admire the difference. Hitchens was working for the cause of socialism at an age when I was fixing aircraft and had no understanding of the concept of socialism beyond what I had learned in a high school civics class. He was traveling the world at an age when I was biking to work to save a few pennies. He attended some of the best schools in the world while I barely graduated from high school and had no ambition for higher education. It’s all relative, my awaking happen at age 35, I’ve been playing catch up ever since.

I will be surprised If you can read Hitch 22 without examining your own life. That’s what makes it different and what also makes it unique. I don’t normally think this deeply when I read, and I honestly enjoyed doing so. I also enjoyed examining his life, while at the same time, examining my own. But I most enjoyed examining his thinking and his development as a thinker, which is truly different than the average Joe, and I’m willing to bet, it’s different than many of his peers.

If you are looking for insight into Hitchens’ atheism, you may find some stories that will enlighten, but you will find far more for which you will marvel. His atheism is lifelong and infuses his life and experiences. It is easy to see the link between his hatred of the totalitarian state and the absolute power of religion. They are two side of the same coin and rise repeatedly as themes throughout the book, often linked as in the case of Saddam Hussein and his late move toward fanatical Islam.

Watching his development as a thinker is inspiring. He learns by doing. Iraq is a good example. He went early and often. If he wanted to know what was really going on, he reached out to friends or jumped on a plane and then border hopped into the heart of the story. How many people have the drive to do this? I would venture a guess that few people who are not paid reporters on assignment take the risk just see see what is happening on the for themselves. His notebooks served to document his experiences and synthesize his thinking during his excursions. He is a reality driven thinker who digs for facts by personally experiencing important events and that sets him apart from most of his peers.

His gradual move from the political left to the neoconservative right was the real story. We started by leaning about his political thinking and his alignment with the socialist left. Chapter after chapter builds toward a war driven drift toward the right, based on self-analysis and the examination of friendships with influential thinkers on the left. How many of us are rational enough to look closely at what we believe and then walk in the other direction when the facts lead us there? I would like to think I am, although besides my move to atheism I have no proof. I realized that I had not been critical enough in my political efforts. That my focusing on the corruption of Republican politics by the religious right, I had closed my mind to the illogical positions of the political left. I listen while the left blamed the terrorism of 9/11 not on Islam but instead on the policies of America, and that we had somehow asked for the attack by way of our policies. I knew this to be wrong at the time, but did nothing to challenge it, nor did it enter into my thinking. In the end, I can honestly say that I took notes while reading Hitch 22 and took note of my own failings too. I will not let this go again. Few books touch me in his way. Most simply skim across my mind leaving a few seeds behind. Hitch 22 planted a garden.

What is missing is the deeply personal – his relationships with his own family are skipped over in such a way that the reader is left with the impression that they played no role in his life at all. We learn very little about his family life, his loves, wives, or children. There is no behind the scenes look at Hitches-the-romantic unless we count a brief foray into sex at single gender British boarding schools. We get no insight into how his profession affected his family or how his family played affected his professional life. With his days numbered, my guess is this task will fall to his biographer. I dare say he rates a good one. We also are allowed to see very little of his writing technique. Besides a brief description of his hard working  and hard drinking routine, and his pride in never missing a deadline, we do not see how he manages this besides simply understanding that he writes 1000 printable words a day.

There is a chapter near the end where we learn about Hitchens’ impact on the life of a young American soldier and the soldier’s family. The story is a poignant reminder of the power of writing. I won’t spoil it here, you must read it for yourself. I will say that what we write can be important to other people. In fact, it can be life altering. I’ve experienced this through interactions with people on my blog, and for Hitches it was apparently a defining moment.

I spoke with my dear friend Rich today. We exchanged opinions on Hitch 22, he was brought to tears by the soldiers story, while I was merely choked up and had some dust in my eye. When is the last time a non-fiction book made you cry?

Buy the book. Read it.

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Pastor Robert Lee McQueen sentenced

Pastor Robert Lee McQueen was sentenced to 14 years in prison for selling heroin. He was a Baptist.

McQueen - once a pastor at Burning Bush Missionary Baptist Church and the owner of McQ Bail Bonds - was first charged in October 2008 following an investigation by Fayetteville police.

McQueen and two co-defendants were arrested after police searched McQueen's property and found drugs, paraphernalia and money previously marked and used in drug buys by officers.

Well, a pastor must pay the bills right?

Heroin is pretty friggen evil on the scale of drug abuse. I don’t think it’s as bad as crack or speed, but it completely destroys the lives of the people who become addicted. How does the message of Christ reconcile with that?

Drinking while watching O’Donnell’s idiocy

Christine O’Donnell does not even understand (or even know) that the First Amendment to the Constitution does not contain the Establishment Clause. She repeatedly questions this toward the end of the debate.

Christine O’Donnell at about 7:10, “…you’re telling me that the Separation of Church and state is found in the first amendment”

For the record. The Macallan Fine Oak 17 is an outstand pour. I needed something to relax after a long hard day at work.