Friday, January 29, 2010

10 Billion Reasons the Bigots are Wrong

Reputed atheist Bill Gates' philanthropic organization has made a record donation of $10 billion toward developing vaccines for the poorest of nations. Good on ya, Bill.

Read more here, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation website.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The best smile is an AAFfable one

Hello everyone! Our next meeting will be tomorrow, January 28th, in our usual location 229 Natural History Building. We will be having a discussion based on an interview between DJ Grothe and Paul Kurtz from the podcast "Point of Inquiry" (which we will listen to during the meeting). There will be a lot of interesting issues regarding the atheist movement to discuss, so join in on the fun! And of course afterwards the usual Murphy's at 8:00. And if I forget by the time we get there remind me that we'll be heading to the basement instead of our usual drinking location.

We also have a lot of events coming up, so keep an eye out:

First off, we have our blood drive on Saturday February 6th, from 11am - 3pm. You can either email Julia (juliamititelu@gmail.com) about a time that works for you or sign yourself up below. We'll be partnering with CRU for this, so the more the merrier (again, shoutout to Steve Elworth and Jennie Malone for the help). The Red Cross has increased our goal (which means we did great last time!), so let's make sure to keep going strong! Click on the link below and sign yourself up for a time, and you'll get a confirmation email:
 

Next, on February 9th there is a HUUUUGE debate going on, with the big question, "Does the Christian God Exist?". On the Christian side will be D'nesh D'Souza, who is very well known (mostly for being loud), and on the atheist side will be John Loftus, who is up and coming, and who will hopefully after this get to be much better known. Feel free to join the facebook event for it.

We are also co-sponsoring a pretty big Haiti fundraiser party, which will be held during our normal meeting time on February 11th at the Hillel (there will even be bands!). Look for more details on that soon.

Happy Wednesday! In case you were wondering, 127 is my favorite number, so it is a special day indeed.

~Franklin

Activity Day! Great success!


Many thanks to everyone who helped create/man the booth, we could not do it without you. We had fun and added a good number of souls to our rolls. No doubt being Christians-adjacent greatly helped our popularity because no one ever picks salvation over awesomeness. Also my prayers to satan were instrumental, I think.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I get it!

It all makes sense now!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

AAF important sign ups!

Happy Sunday! We're sending out the AAF email a tad early this week to ensure participation in some great events coming up. We'll have our own table at Activity Day in the Union, and it would be peachy if you'd like to sign up and come hang out for an hour! It's pretty much Quad Day, but inside the Union from 11 am to 4 pm, so sign up below...
 
 
Also, for the blood drive you can either email me (juliamititelu@gmail.com) about a time that works for you on February 6th, Saturday 11 am to 3 pm, or sign yourself up below. We'll be partnering with CRU for this, so the more the merrier (shoutout to Steve Elworth and Jennie Malone for the help). The Red Cross has increased our goal (which means we did great last time!), so let's make sure to keep going strong!
 
 
Please be sure to include your email and phone number, as they are required to make an appointment! If you're interested in making a double red blood cell donation, please be sure you meet these requirements. Double red blood cell donation times are available at the bottom of the sign up sheet above, just scroll on down!
 
Female: Must be at least 5'5", weigh 175 lbs, and have a hemoglobin of at least 13.3 g/dL
Male: Must be at least 5'5", weigh 150 lbs, and have a hemoglobin of at least 13.3 g/dL
Learn more about double red cell donations and why they're very important here: http://www1.givebloodgivelife.org/donors/types/red-cells/
 
We'll be back on Tuesday evening with more exciting news about this week's meeting, keep truckin'!

The "new" in new atheism is all relative, I suppose.



It's very strange, and oddly depressing, when you hear the same exact arguments used now used more than 50 years ago, yet people still never really hearing them. But more importantly, anyone notice the similarity in voice between this guy and Droopy?


Almost identical.


Found via Pharyngula

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is it fair that public Universities have excused absences for religious holidays?

You've all seen syllabuses that say something like, "there are no excused absences, except for death in the immediate family and religious holidays". I've thought about it a lot, and can't help but come to the conclusion that I don't agree with this practice. It by default favors some religions over others by allowing some individuals to have excused absences while others cannot (and atheists especially).

I understand that the whole point of having a religious holiday off is that, instead of class, you're doing things for your religion instead. It's not like you get two free days to have a blow off day where you can do whatever you want.

This picture pleases me.

Despite all this, however, I still feel like something is not quite right. The fact of the matter is that public schools need to keep religion out of schools. So maybe, instead of only allowing excused absences for religious holidays and immediate deaths in the family (two events which, in my opinion, aren't really comparable), you should just have x number of excused absences, used however you like. That way people can use them however they choose.

Either that, or atheists just need to make up holidays that they can get excused absences for, and ASAP. Maybe we could have a holiday of sorts where we hold a conference (or conferences in multiple places), and bring in local speakers and such to talk about what it means to be an atheist, history, etc. That would be magnificent. Although I bet we'd never be able to agree on the proper way to label it.

Disagree with me on things? Agree with me 100%? I'm pretty split, so feel free to leave comments.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

John Loftus, coming to debate at U of I!

Hello everyone! Hope you all had an excellent break. On February 9th at Foellinger Auditorium, 7:00PM, there is going to be a debate at U of I between Dinesh D'Souza and John W. Loftus (feel free to come! We have quite a few seats to fill), and since Loftus is not too well known, I figured I'd give you some background on him.

In a lot of ways, Loftus' story seems similar to Dan Barker's: Former preacher turned atheist, wrote a book, "Why I Became an Atheist". Although I have yet to read it, reviews seem to be very positive, and indicate that the book goes into more detail than Barker's on debunking Christianity, and has been given a lot of praise as being quite effective, even in comparison to other, more popular books out there.

What a warm, colorful, happy cover.
Really makes us atheists look like positive people.


One of the things he says in his book is that most people (including him) become Christians long before they rationally or intelligibly evaluate or understand it. At this point, these people put on "God Glasses", where they see everything through the lens of a Christian, and with that comes confirmation bias (read Christian books, listen to Christian scholars, etc.). In order to take off the glasses, there needs to be some catalystto make you think about it outside of your God vision. Once Loftus took off those glasses (thanks to literature sent to him from his cousin), he started seeing the good old contradictions (read: age of earth, evolution, etc.), and the movement from Christianity to atheism began.

Of course, I'm sure a Christian would respond by saying that atheists are no different; we just have "atheist", or even "science" glasses, which, of course, is B.S. But that would be their response regardless.

Loftus does have some debating experience, but, unlike Barker, has yet to debate any of the "Christian big dogs", a category in which Dinesh D'Souza would be in. Loftus does seem to be doing his research, looking at debaters' websites such as William Lane Craig, who he admits has good scientific knowledge, but is still looking at everything through his "God glasses". It is important to admit that, because from there you can analyze further and find what obviously isn't working with Craig's scientific knowledge.

Example of Christian Big Dog.
Might be photoshopped by me.


I see Loftus' lack of debating big Christians as a good thing; debating at U of I with a big Christian will be a great chance for him to move up in the debating world. And, while I haven't personally seen him debate, we at the U of I get the chance to add someone new to the atheist debating pool. And, as I have previously stated, I think we could use some fresh people in it. And from what I've heard about his debating style, he might live up to my expectations. It is quite exciting. Hope to see you there!

"The Meaning of Life is that it Stops" --Franz KAAFka (Welcome Back AAF!)

Welcome back fellow skeptics! Hope your winter break was awesome and that you're ready for some great speakers and Murphy's nights. We'll be meeting at our usual time, this Thursday at 7 pm, and, unless you receive another email sometime before then, assume it will be at the Natural History Building Room 229 (we're having slight issues with getting the room, but we think it will work out). For the meeting, leaders from Interfaith In Action will be coming to discuss why interfaith is important, particularly for atheists. Afterwards, we'll celebrate Syllabus Week at Murphy's around 8:00. And expect some individuals from C-U Freethinkers, the local atheist group, to be at Murphy's too! We have a lot of things coming up this semester, so take note:

January 26th: Activity Day at the Union from 11 am to 4 pm (sign up sheet will be coming at the meeting if you'd like to represent AAF; it's basically Quad Day inside)

February 6th: AAF and Red Cross Blood Drive, 11 am to 3 pm at the Wesley Foundation (tall Church on Green and Gregory); sign up sheet will be going around during the meeting, but email also works. Also, if you donated last time, it has been long enough so you can safely donate again, so it would be great to see everyone twice. Last semester, we got in the Daily Illini front page!

February 9th: DEBATE! Dinesh D'Souza and John W. Loftus, "Does the God of Christianity Exist?" at Foellinger, 7:30 pm

March 12th: Hemant Mehta coming to speak at UIUC, location TBA.

Upcoming this semester will also be a discussion panel with CRU, a bar crawl, and other great social events.

See you all on Thursday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pat Robertson: Haiti 'Cursed' By 'Pact To The Devil' (VIDEO)

Via Huffington Post.

"Televangelist Pat Robertson said Wednesday that earthquake-ravaged Haiti has been "cursed" by a "pact to the devil.""

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vatican Denounces Avatar Film in Desperate Bid for Relevance

The Pope is displeased Cameron's lazy, hack fiction writing is so indistinct from traditional Christian hack fiction writing featured in a work known to adherents as "The Bible". Morning Journal has the story, read more here.





James Cameron's Avatar

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ireland Passes Blasphemy Law- Ireland's Atheists Immediately Rip on God(s)


Using 25 fun, classic, provocative, or thoughtful pieces of blasphemy. Where is Bono when you need him? Fight the Power, Irish heathens!
Read all 25 here. Some highlights:

[The Bible] is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… -Mark Twain, Letters from Earth

Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.

I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists. -Bjork, 1995

You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel. -PZ Meyers, on his desecration of a communion wafer.