Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Blasphemy Day Photos

Here are some more Blasphemy Day pics. The original post with some other photos and video is here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tired? Drink some cAAFeine!

Hello all! Exciting couple of days coming up, hope you can join us for the fun. Our meeting this week, at 7 pm in the Natural History Building, Room 229, will be a discussion of Margaret Downey's speech tomorrow on Tradition, Authority, and Revelation. She will be our first speaker this year, so please join us in Noyes, Room 161 at 7 pm tomorrow (Wednesday)! 

Be sure to join us at Murphy's after our meeting Thursday, and this Saturday there is a free tailgate (free beer/free food) hosted by WPGU 107.1 just east of Assembly Hall on the 31st starting at 12:00 pm, where yours truly is bartending (pouring beer into cups). If you'd like to go, come talk to me (Julia) on Thursday so I can give you a ticket. Costumes are a must, don't let me down.

The t-shirts for the Bar Crawl (second week of November) will be here in about two weeks, but please give us money ASAP if you can! They're only $8! And email back what size you want so we have a good idea of how many to get of each size. The bar crawl will happen November 9th or 10th.

In addition, we're looking for a new Outreach Officer, please email us by Thursday if you're interested. A person in this position is required to attend a one hour officer meeting outside of the regular AAF meetings, to plan and coordinate events with other groups on campus (including Christian ones!) and organize any skeptic/atheist conferences that are coming up. Lastly, they should ideally be able to be an officer next year as well so we can have some old blood. If you'd like more information or have any questions, feel free to email back.

For information about us and what's happening in the atheist world, check out our own personal blog at uiucatheists.blogspot.com, and we hope to see everyone tomorrow with Margaret Downey!

Ciao!

Best interview evar

Taken from Friendly Atheist:



I love how this guy considers discussing his beliefs "offensive" simply because he knows they sound so ridiculous. It seems like he actually believes them too, and is just so embarrassed about it he can't talk about it. The real question is, what makes this so silly to talk about in comparison to other religions? It's just a creation myth like anything else. Or am I wrong?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tensions Around New Atheism and Blasphemy Day

The Center For Inquiry responds to allegations of "fundamentalist atheism," related to the NPR story we shared recently titled "A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists." I will let you read the article at their site, but I wanted to highlight a comment that someone left because I think it really touches on the core of the issue in a succinct and poignant manner.
Have “Atheist Fundamentalists” Taken Over CFI?

#6 Joe (Guest) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 at 6:00pm

No. I didn’t attend any nor will I ever attend an event under a title known for it’s intentional offensiveness. It is why I won’t attend a KKK rally. I don’t have to be present to know that even if the KKK has a right to free speech they are certainly antagonistic based on the words in the title and the implication just the letters KKK hold. So the “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” stuff is irrelevant.

I have spoken with families that are not happy about drawing negative attention to themselves. One family just this past week experienced a situation in school where the oldest son was ganged up on because he said he didn’t believe “in the one true god”. I said, “good for him!” for standing up for his belief/lack thereof in the face of adversity. His mother felt otherwise due to a very real concern for his safety. His father and I had closer to the same reaction, except that he wanted to take this one to the ACLU. She chose to stop that so that the situation wouldn’t make their son a total pariah. Her child was unjustly accused of being antagonistic. CFI appears to be working to make that a just accusation by association. Stop.

These families are trying to deal with a public that is already against them. I don’t think you are fully appreciating the discrimination associated with being considered an enemy rather than being considered a rational alternative. Nevermind the fact that many of us actually have friends and relatives that are still religious and we actually respect these people despite their unfortunate delusion. We could concentrate instead on the aspect of employment discrimination in a largely Christian city/state. I know that I have lost bids due to my name getting known around here as running an atheist kids program (even though it isn’t one). I’ve been accused of attempting to convert children to “atheism”.

We could concentrate on the fact that I am getting calls and hearing stories at the center of children being accosted verbally and physically for being labeled or labeling themselves as atheist. It’s happening enough that several parents have asked me to do a program on how to deal with these situations because the parents are at a loss. Should they make a big stink and risk worse for their child? Or should we teach the kids how to coexist? Are we setting a good example for youth by promoting antagonistic behaviors such as outright blasphemy? How does one reconcile teaching positive conflict resolution and also support overt offensive actions?

One woman in our group expressed disappointment with our kids’ group name change to CFI Kids because it now identifies her child as an atheist. We had a big ordeal over the name change because there were other parents that felt similar. Point is, it’s hard enough to deal with adults that find out you’re an atheist or whatever your flavor of non-belief may be. Children have a harder time. Add on top of that the fact that CFI is supportive of offensive events that fuel the anger of the religious. That makes people emotional rather than rational and increases the chance for ostracization and even violence. At the least it builds barriers where many of us have been working very hard to take them down. It’s hard to start a convincing persuasive argument to get people to come to the center if I am immediately viewed as a hatemonger by association.

The defensive position against CFI as a “fundamentalist” or “militant” (or whatever extremist term you prefer) atheist group because we choose to support hateful demonstrations in the name of free speech will keep us from making positive headway with many doubters. We need to be seen as a rational alternative rather than as an enemy.

I didn’t say I would personally stop donating. I was pointing out a very real fact of fund raising that should be considered. I would appreciate it if you represent my statement accurately.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Banana BAFFles Atheists; All Renounce Logic

Fellow AAFers! We've made it past midterm season (at least most of us have), and hope everyone had a great time at Curtis Orchards this Sunday. Our next social event will be a barcrawl, but first we need your help with t-shirts!

Weekly Meeting
This Thursday, we'll be meeting in the Natural History Building, Room 229, from 7 pm to 8 pm, and then we'll wander over to Murphy's. Ben and Ashley will be leading a discussion on the topic of moral atheism, so bring questions regarding ethics/morality/can atheists be good people, etc!

FFRF Conference
The Freedom From Religion Foundation Conference is in Seattle, first weekend of November, and it's the last call to tell Ben that you're interested! So far, we have seven people, and SORF is very generous in reimbursing for hotel and airfare.

Speakers
Margaret Downey on October 28th! Speaking on the topic of Tradition, Authority, and Revelation, come see her at 7 pm in Noyes Lab, Room 161. Formerly the President of the Atheist Alliance International, she's a great speaker and someone you don't want to miss! We're also preparing to have a speaker in the beginning of December, but it's a surprise :).

Blog!
Keep updated with us! www.uiucatheists.blogspot.com

T-Shirts
As mentioned before, we'll be having our very own barcrawl in the beginning of November, but first we're designing t-shirts! (These will actually be around $8-$9 if we can get 50 sold, so great pricing!) We're thinking of making our design about the banana argument (atheist's nightmare), but we'll discuss at this week's meeting. If you have other ideas or designs, please feel free to bring them! And check out the infamous banana argument here if you don't know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfv-Qn1M58I

(Note that this isn't a joke)

See you all Thursday!


Julia "The Reaper" Mititelu

And slightly edited by Franklin "Overlord" Kramer

Curtis Orchards

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"A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists"

More coverage of the tension between "new atheists" and "friendly atheists," or whatever you want to call them. Here is an excerpt.
A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists

Another, Jesus Paints His Nails, shows an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion, applying polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross.

"I wouldn't want this on my wall," says Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues. The Center for Inquiry hosted the art show.

Jordan says the exhibit created a firestorm from offended believers, and he can understand why. But, he says, the controversy over this exhibit goes way beyond Blasphemy Day. It's about the future of the atheist movement — and whether to adopt the "new atheist" approach — a more aggressive, often belittling posture toward religious believers.

Some call it a schism.

"It's really a national debate among people with a secular orientation about how far do we want to go in promoting a secular society through emphasizing the 'new atheism,' " Jordan says. "And some are very much for it, and some are opposed to it on the grounds that they feel this is largely a religious country, and if it's pushed the wrong way, this is going to insult many of the religious people who should be shown respect even if we don't agree with them on all issues."

Jordan believes the new approach will backfire.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Al Franken, my hero <3

OK, this isn't directly related to atheism, so we'll just say this is under the umbrella of "humanism" so I can post it anyway. Actually, I think that Al Franken is an atheist, but I'm not sure and am too lazy to do research on the subject.

Here's the background for those who don't keep up with news (I'd generally fall in that category). Al Franken, senator, was trying to pass an amendment which basically says the government will not do business with contractors that deny their employees the right to sue over sexual assault allegations. Basically, if a contractor allows rape without any sorts of potential consequences, the government shouldn't allow it. Amazingly 30 senators, all republicans, voted against it (luckily the amendment passed regardless). You can see the Daily show for more information about that part.

The video I want to show is Al Franken grilling an attorney representing the contractors for the specific case that brought this issue to court. He does an amazing job and it's chilling to watch:



You go, Al Franken. I can't think how he could have been done any better.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Very Honest Christian

epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails

Atheist Fantasies

The latest episode of Family Guy has Stewie and Brian traipsing through the multiverse. There are several gems, but the first alternate universe they visited stood out for obvious reasons. This universe is more advanced than Stewie and Brian's (and ours?) because Christianity never existed. Here's a snippet of dialogue.
Brian: "Where are we?"

Stewie: "This is Quahog Brian, same year, same time. But in this universe Christianity never existed, which means the dark ages of scientific repression never occurred and thus humanity is a thousand years more advanced. Ergo, muscular genetically perfect pigs."
It's too bad they didn't explore the universe more. Also interesting to see that the non-religious universe is just as sexist as our own.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Did God sabotage the Large Hardon Collider?

Well hey everybody, look at this big dumb article:

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009/10/13/did-god-stop-cern-from-discovering-the-god-particle/



This is really silly. Reuters takes what appears to have been a joke and turns it into a story about the theological implications of unforeseen engineering problems with the LHC. When it was being built, people were speculating that it could create a black hole that would destroy the planet. I suppose their concerns had some merit. The LHC has created a black hole into which all intelligence disappears. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Your religious AAFfiliation is wrong.

Happy Autumn, fellow skeptics! It's that time of the year again, midterm season wrapping up, winter coats and Ugg boots come out, and our cozy weekly trips to the Natural History Building and Murphy's become more and more important! Activities, trips, speakers, bar crawls, let's see what we have planned!

Meeting: Thursday, October 15th, 7 pm Natural History Building Room 229
Discussion on religious arguments led by your officers and YOU. Play devil's advocate, play a Christian, play the atheist, learn the arguments, the reactions, etc. PREPARE!

Curtis Orchards: Sunday, October 18th 1 pm
Perfect autumn weather, pick out a pumpkin and enjoy kettle corn and apple doughnuts! We'll try to get there around 1 pm, so drivers and drivees will be meeting at the Union at 12:30. If you are planning to come make sure to say so on the facebook group, and if you can drive and haven't offered yet email us, just in case. All the drivers will get a confirmation email via the facebook group.

Speaker: Margaret Downey Wednesday, October 28th 7 pm, Siebel Center Room 1404
Join Margaret Downey as our first speaker this year! She'll be speaking on the topics of "Tradition, Authority, and Revelation." Ask questions, meet her after the speech, and take an AAF picture!

Atheists on the Interwebs?
Don't forget we have a blog! Make us feel validated in our constant updating and visit us! http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com/
If you follow us we'll feel extra special :)



Wanna fit in?
Grab a t-shirt from Franklin before it's too late! If you've emailed Franklin for a t-shirt in the past make sure to bring money, and if you still want one just email back with a size and type (Hell or God) and he'll bring it to the next meeting. Also, bar crawl coming up in November, please get ready with some ideas for this Thursday's meeting for t-shirts.


Hope to see everyone this Thursday for a very interactive meeting, and if you absolutely can't make it, refresh after midterms at Curtis Orchards this Sunday (instead of church...).

-AAF

Pizza Myers strikes back

Here's the newest episode of "Mr. Deity", which features our good friend PZ Myers. At one point it sounds like Mr. Deity actually calls him Pizza Myers, and I got really excited thinking that our member Mat started something awesome.

Monday, October 12, 2009

61 AAFidavits of Soul Ownership.

A little late, but here is last week's email:



Meeting!
This week's meeting will be held in...Natural History Building Room 229 at 7 pm, Thursday, October 8th! Surprise! This meeting we hope to spark some in depth conversation after watching a rather controversial video about Islam. So prepare your dialogue!

Social Events: Because you can always get to know us better...
Curtis Orchards is still on for October 22nd; please email Ashley at ashleemarees@gmail.com if you can provide a ride. It will be a lovely fall Sunday, and we hope to be on our way to eating apple doughnuts and picking pumpkins by 1 pm. If you can't be there till later, feel free to meet us there!
We're also planning a barcrawl for sometime in the first couple of weeks of November, so get ready with some t-shirt ideas.

Events
Remember, the FFRF Conference is coming up the first weekend of November. Please email Benjamin at bschaap@illinois.edu if you're interested in going! It's in Seattle, and SORF is usually generous with funding, so it won't break the bank. For more info, visit: http://ffrf.org/events/

Also, mark your calendars for our first guest speaker of the year, former president of Atheist Alliance International, Margaret Downey! She will be coming in the 28th of October, and speaking at 7 pm, tentatively located at Seibel Center 1404.

See you all this Thursday! As always, join us at Murphy's (the EXPANDED version), on 6th and Green if you absolutely cannot join us for the meeting. We usually hike there by 8:15 p.m.

-AAF

Sunday, October 11, 2009

God the Separator

A scholar has recently argued that God is not the creator in an ex-nihilo sense (created the universe from nothing) but more of a separator, where the universe already existed but he/she/it separated it into the heavens and the earth. I guess that means the universe is more like a mashup. I hope God doesn't get sued for copyright infringement.
God is not the Creator, claims academic

Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis "in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" is not a true translation of the Hebrew.

She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world -- and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.
I wonder if this means that the Offspring's "Come Out and Play (Keep 'Em Separated" is a religious song... Those geniacs were ahead of their time.

Via Jtzl via Reddit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dawkins on Bill O'Reilly

I guess it should be, "i before e, except after c, atheism, and Bill O'Reilly".



Actually, I really liked this interview. O'Reilly seemed, overall, a lot more palatable than usual (which of course isn't saying too much). I almost felt like he was showing some respect (!?!?).

By the end though, when they were discussing why creation from a higher power shouldn't be taught in the classrooms, and O'Reily was saying that it should just be "presented", not be told it's the truth, Dawkins should have pointed out that the purpose of a science class is to teach what we know based on evidence; it is irrelevant how many people believe in God, or even whether or not the claim is true; what is important is that we must teach what there is evidence for, and, at this point at least, there is no evidence for any sort of creation based on a higher power. If Dawkins just said that at the end I would have felt a lot better (he kind of did at his final word, but not really).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No Homo

Atheists are often the target of intolerance, so one would think that exposure to this prejudice would make one more sensitive to the challenges faced by other minorities. Well, apparently not so for this fellow:


Meet Charlie Check'm, the atheist homophobic rapper. This is the actual "artwork" for his upcoming album, Straight Pride. Featuring songs like "Brainwashed," "Christian and a Homo," "No Gay Marriage," "Heterosexual," and "Dyke Chick," this one is sure to be a chart-topper. It's certainly not a bottom.

Check'm out on Myspace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ask AAF a Question!

I have recently gotten an email from AAF member David F. regarding a moral issue he was facing, and decided to share it with all of you in case you have similar issues. If you ever are having an issue and need guidance, feel free to send us an email (if you don't know our email look on the facebook group) and I'll post it here along with my guidance. Here is the problem David was facing:

A strange man was distributing a book for free the other day which I later found out to be The New Testament. I don't really know what to do now. So I seek moral guidance from AAF: is it OK to throw it out, given that it gets recycled? Would I make God cry?

Best Regards,
David F


Well, David, that is a very tough situation. I will tell you a true story from my life so that it may inspire you: I once had to write something down, but, alas, there was no paper nearby! I frantically searched and searched, and after many seconds finally found one of those New Testament books of which you refer to. I joyously tore the first page out of it (which, if you are wondering, is mostly blank), and wrote what I needed to on it. So, my young lad, my advice is, don't throw it away! After all, you never know when you may need scrap paper.

Oh, and to answer your final question, it wouldn't make God cry, since God obviously lacks tear ducts.



If anyone else has any other suggestions for David, feel free to leave comments. And if you find yourselves needing guidance, send us an email! We're happy to help out; that's what we're here for (along with a bunch of other things, of course).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Looks like someone figured it out


Well, I suppose this ad could be for a bank, but I kind of assumed it was for a church.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Richard Dawkins on the Colbert Report

Dawkins went on Colbert recently in support of his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth. Via Reddit.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Richard Dawkins
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Blasphemy Day success!





I'm glad to report that Blasphemy Day went extremely well! Our Blasphemy Board became almost completely filled with post-it notes of blasphemy; one of my personal favourites (for some reason my firefox spell-checks in British) is, "Jimmy Johns sucks"; at U of I that is definitely a blasphemous phrase.

We also had a "Bowl of Blasphemy" that had a bunch of different phrases that me, Julia, and Bob came up with. We passed those out for free, and most people, of all faiths, thought they were pretty funny. I'm pretty sure we passed out around 100 of them throughout the day. A couple of my favourites:

"Darwin's beard was better than Jesus'"
"Jesus flunked fourth grade"
"The Holy Ghost listens to soft rock"
"God created Hell after listening to a Nickelback CD"
"Zeus threw thunderbolts like a sissy"
"Scientology"

I could go on. The copywriter in me was quite pleased.

And, lastly, we shamelessly stole from the Secular Student Society in Texas and decided to sell cookies for the price of your soul. In addition to the normal contract, we also had an alternate one that offered an additional cookie if you offered the soul of your friend as well. I'm proud to announce that we have received a total of... *drum roll*... 61 souls! We could have gone on but unfortunately ran out of contracts. Some interesting factoids of what souls were being sold:

We have received the souls of many famous people, including:
- Richard Nixon
- Chris Brown
- George Bush
- Chancellor Herman (too soon?)
- Glenn Beck
- Bob Hope
- "Kany" West

Some other random facts:
- Someone named Max decided to sell both his soul and his brother's
- Someone sold their soul twice (don't worry, I only counted it once for the total)
- George Bush was actually pretty popular; more than one person offered his soul (did they really think he still has one?)
- One person who sold George Bush's soul signed their name as "Linda Bush" (I think they got her confused with Laura Bush? Poor Linda...)

Thanks to everyone who showed up for making Blasphemy Day such a success! I hope all of our future events go as well as this one did.