Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Christmas-reveling Atheist Hypocrisy?

The charge is sometimes made when it is socially expedient or personally convenient (i.e., gifts are involved) the unchurched go with the Christian flock as fair-weather Christ(mass) fans. In fact some Christians make the claim- sure you tell yourself it's secular, social and mere family-based merrymaking but deep down you know it's about the birth of Christ.

Atheists overwhelming do celebrate Christmas, and I say why not? I’m all for embracing a secular version of popular holy-days. I have the Christmas tree, the Chanukah menorah, and the weird Kwanzaa menorah (I’m not black but I did vote dem and there is great symmetry with the two menorahs). Like you fine atheists, I know that tradition and social context are meaningless and that I can rebrand anything I want on-the-fly. I also celebrate the solstice even though I am in fact not an ignorant pagan from the year 1234 BCE worshipping natures cycles. In my house the Solstice is about lauding the accomplishments of the city sanitation authorities and giving seafood related gifts because that’s what I decided solstice means some years back. Come February we will celebrate Chinese New year even though the idea of it being the year 4707 is absurd to me. Frankly I’m tired of Chinese people telling me how to celebrate.. if I want their new years to be about the 1969 World Series then that is my right.. I’ve already got all the cleats and mitts ready anyway.
This past fall I celebrated Ramadan with my family, even though I am not a Muslim. I leave in the prophet parts as part of the tradition. It was great, we fasted and read from the Koran (just for tradition, not because we believe) and partied like meth addicts at Spring break during the nights.
In the summer we ritually sacrifice an actual human being to the Aztec sun god Huitzilopochtli- don’t get me wrong! We know there isn’t really a sun god who needs his blood replenished with human sacrifice but well, its just been a tradition so long it wouldn’t feel like summer without it. I guess what I’m saying is Merry Christmas atheist pals!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I always knew Pokemon were evil.

Satan takes it quite seriously.

Atheist holiday traditions

Stolen from

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ray Comfort may be sued over Origin of Species defilement

Evidently Ray Comfort quoted UT Professor Stan Guffey's pro-Darwin biography without citation and with disingenuous editing. Presumably the text was too close for Comfort.
Metropulse has the story

Ray Comfort
Christian/Produce enthusiast

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Atheist in NC? Can't hold office

AAF Alum Kayla I. just sent me an article from Asheville's local newspaper "The Citizen Times" discussing how many people think that Cecil Bothwell, politician, shouldn't be able to run for office simply because he has labeled himself an atheist. His opponents make their position very clear. As quoted from the article: "'I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution,” said H.K. Edgerton, a former Asheville NAACP president.'"

Maybe he'll be able to run for office in Hell.

Wait, what was that? The former PRESIDENT of the NAACP, a group fighting for the equal treatment of black people, who are still being politically discriminated agaist, is now discriminating against atheists holding office? That's a real shame. If the same law applied for African Americans, would he find himself saying, "I'm not saying that he is not a good man, but if he's black, he's not eligible to serve in a public office"? I doubt it. Maybe if that were the case he would instead he would try to fight against the legislation. Here's another quote from the article:
Bothwell didn't respond Monday to requests for an interview, but he wrote in an e-mail to the Citizen-Times: “I am not ‘an avowed atheist.'”

He has told the Citizen-Times in the past he believes in the Golden Rule, not a deity.

Bothwell labels himself an atheist on his MySpace page, though he wrote in an online post last week on fellow incoming councilman Gordon Smith's blog, Scrutiny Hooligans, that he prefers the term “post-theist.”

Bothwell added: “I don't ‘deny the being of Almighty God;' I simply consider the question of denial or acceptance irrelevant.

“Could make for a very interesting court case, seems to me.”
And you wonder why people are afraid to label themselves as atheists in today's society.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finals week is soon, but don't be AAFraid!

Hello AAFers! I hope that exams and studying for finals are going well. We were originally going to have a small group discussion with Cru this week, but unfortunately, it has gotten moved back. Instead of doing something else we figured you guys could use a break from intellectual thinking, and as such have canceled the meeting. But because we know you need a break anyways, we are going to still meet up at Murphy's at 8:00 (12/10).

This will be the last "meeting" of the semester, so please stop by! If I don't see you there, have a great break, and I look forward to seeing you all next semester! We already have many exciting things planned, and I am really looking forward to it. Adios!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Maybe God Isn't Invisible

RT @edyong209: HA! Seen on forum: "If god made us in his own image, why aren't we invisible?" /via @KateClancy

The problem with atheist debating

So, I'm bored at work today and, instead of working on my advertising final(s), I start checking out Pharyngula. I go back a couple pages and see a post talking about a creationist vs. evolution debate between Michael Shermer and Donald Prothero. Pizza tells us that, as usual, the creationists claim they won, but later he says a tidbit I find rather interesting and have often thought:

As usual, our side is all about the evidence. Their side is all about rhetoric and appeals to biases. Guess which side fares best in the debate format? It's even true in their books: note that Meyer's book is subtitled, DNA and the Evidence of Intelligent Design, and he couldn't gasp out any evidence at all for their theory, which they cannot even state.

I'm not sure what the answer to his question is (concerning which side fares better). I think he's implying that the secular side does, but I have serious doubts. I have always wondered why every single "Does God exist?" debate doesn't end with the atheist side dominating over the other. After all, there is little decent evidence for the existence to God, and just about everything that a theist can bring up has relatively easy and well documented responses. So why can't we easily win debates? And debating a creationist should be significantly easier than debating over the existence of God. Any "evidence" a creationist brings up should be and can be easily disputed. So what are they doing that we aren't?

I think that this is the problem we're faced with: Using evidence in a debate isn't as effective in moving a crowd to agree with you as charisma is. Having a scientist come up and blather on about the evolution of a mitochondria might prove the point, but the sad thing is that audiences are also largely influenced by the debaters' charisma as well, even if some people just end up talking about cosmic broccoli.

So, what's the solution? Should we dumb down our argument to appeal to the common folk? Make ourselves more entertaining? I think that we have to find debaters that are likable and connectible to the common audience, regardless of belief. Dan Barker does a good job with this, but unfortunately it seems that most people agree that his debating skills are not on par with his intelligence.

And while I love Hitchens and Dawkins, they aren't exactly the kind of people that I would desire to just have a casual conversation/some tea with. They just aren't very friendly.

I might have seen him smile once. Maybe.

So, are there atheists out there that have the charisma and the debating skills (which are seeming more and more to be intertwined?). Maybe our best option is to be more ridiculing; after all, we do think that their opinions are ridiculous, especially if we're talking about creationism. Isn't it silly to believe that people existed at the same time as dinosaurs? That everything we know about ancient history is simply wrong? That for some reason evolution works but only while things are really small (micro vs. macro evolution)? Maybe our best option is to make sure we get across how ridiculous the assertions people are making really are (in addition to why they are, of course). Maybe. Unless you have any better ideas.

Today is the Interfaith Potluck. Ed made banana bread.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Look, we're famous!

We just yesterday got an article in the DI for the blood drive we hosted. Here's the article, available here:

Blood drive combats low donation rate

The Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers registered student organization sponsored a blood drive Wednesday at the YMCA located on S. Wright Street.

The RSO sponsors a blood drive every February, but it has held a blood drive in December before, said Julia Mititelu, organizer of the blood drive and senior in LAS. She added that a primary reason for the timing of this specific blood drive was also because the stock of blood available is lowest during the month of December.

“We found it kind of ironic that the reason people don’t donate during the holiday season is because of the holidays,” she added. “You wouldn’t expect that with Christmas and Hanukkah coming up.”

Sarah Johnson, Red Cross representative, said there are many reasons behind the shortage in the blood supply. Among them is the flu season leaving many possible donors ineligible.

“Often, people that do come in to donate with us aren’t even eligible because they are too sick,” she added. “There are many factors that come to play that end up making this season especially difficult to receive blood donations.”

Johnson said that to combat this difficult season, the Red Cross attempts to book as many blood drives as possible. She said the Red Cross divides the employees into two teams, red and white, to encourage competition and schedule as many blood donations as possible.

The blood drive was relatively successful on Wednesday, said Franklin Kramer, president of Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers and senior in Media. He said compared to what was expected around finals week, the turnout for the drive was especially good, even busy.

Mititelu said on Wednesday that the group had 24 walk-ins, 18 of whom ended up donating.

Kramer said the members of the organization encouraged members of other interfaith groups to participate, volunteer and donate blood.

“We’ve been trying to up the interfaith thing with groups on campus,” he added. “We’ve been trying to push this as an interfaith event with students from all different faiths coming to sign up and volunteer.”

Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers has co-sponsored a blood drive before with RSO Campus Crusade for Christ, which was successful, Kramer said.

Kramer said that he was looking forward to seeing more donors when the group sponsors a drive again in February. And while group members said they were happy with the turnout this month, they are still looking for more support in the near future.

“The more the merrier,” Kramer said.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pro Tip: Staring into the sun can damage your eyes

It seems that Catholics in Ireland are throwing off the yoke of common sense and looking at the sun in order to catch a glimpse of their goddess, the Virgin Mary.

I wish I was making this up.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I <3 Sarah Palin and her new autobiogrAAFy!

Hope everyone had a great break, and that everyone is ready to kick it into high gear for these next few weeks. Saying that, we all know that everyone is going to be very, very busy these next few weeks, so we'll be pretty lax and hope to provide some outings. This week's meeting is (surprise) in Room 229 of the Natural History Building at 7 pm, and along with short announcements we will have our second speaker of the semester!
David Ramsay Steele is graciously visiting us and discussing the question of the "Rise of Christianity", so please bring questions, and leave some of the homework behind to engage him. If you can't make this (shame!), we'll still be at Murphy's.
Along with all the studying that will be going on, we know that everyone needs a well deserved break, and thus: PARTY PARTY PARTY. Coming up this Saturday (December 5th), our very own Jordan has offered to host a Holiday Sweater party. His address is 404 West Elm Street, Urbana, and we will be starting around 9:30. If you need directions, refer to the bottom of the email. Naturally, in these hard economic times we will be selling cups at $4 for kegs and hard alcohol, but please feel free to BYOB (and then share).
One more (last) post about our charitable events going on this December, which is a hard month for the Red Cross, we are still holding our Blood Drive this Wednesday at the YMCA. If you would like to make an appointment, or just walk in, please feel free to do so. To schedule, email We will be at the YMCA at 1001 South Wright Street, from 11 am to 3 pm. If you cannot donate blood, we are also still in need of volunteers that do minimal tasks for only 2 hours or less, which include handing out snacks, greeting, or merely helping people that have donated sit down to rest. This is our second AAF Blood Drive and our first solo (our first was in conjunction with CRU), so please take the time to stop by, donate, and help.
Off the soapbox, I hope everyone gets all their papers, homework, projects, exams, and finals done, and done well! Take the time with us this Thursday or Saturday to hang out, have a drink, or get in on some mellow conversation, and dance the night away.
Good luck, and thank you all for making AAF have one of its best semesters yet!

Directions for party:
Get on Green St. heading east in the direction of ISR from the Union. Go past ISR, and past Lincoln Ave. all the way down to Birch. Make a left on Birch, and then a left on Elm. Our house is one in from the corner.

If you get off the bus at Springfield and Birch, just make a right on Birch and then a right on Elm.

Buses that get you near here:
13N Silver (Stop at Springfield and Birch)
10E Gold "
50E Green (Stop at Green and Birch)
5E Green "