Thursday, November 25, 2010

The War on Christmas, 2010

The newest atheism-fueled billboard sponsored by the nation's largest nonbeliever organization, American Atheists, is unlike those that have come before it. Where groups such as UnitedCoR have launched relatively innocuous "Good without God" campaigns, AA is pulling no punches:

From CNN's laziest reporting, iReport
Christmas with a capital FU
Like a lazy, hack Joss Whedon screenplay, this one is purely a shout-out to the fans. A prospective nativity groupie isn't likely to be persuaded from their comfortable manger-o-bullshit by this particular anti-holiday message. The secularist community is sharply divided over how Christmas should be dealt with. Rebecca Watson recently defended what I will call the "steal it" view at Skepticon 3 which suggests atheists should take Christmas by "loving it more". Tom Flynn argued for the contrary quite effectively just weeks ago right here at UI, that Christmas is built on lies, does psychological harm, and is generally racist and classist. AA seems to now favor this view. Bill O'Reilly is going to have a field day with this one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

CBS news (WCIA) Covers ISSA Bus Ads

Lookin' good Bill. 
Much like a certain evil wizard, we just won't go away. Also many would like us to never be named. This, the second TV news spot covering ISSA's efforts to raise the public consciousness is the superior piece. I even like the senseless comments from the unfortunately named Michael Habhab. This is because public dissent of all of our protest and activism activity comes in the form of two groups who deny the other exists.

I first noticed this phenomena during the great chalk controversy of '10, primarily on Reddit. The first group I saw answering the links said, in a nutshell, Why bother? No one cares. Waste of time! At first I suspected that group might be right- but we know how wrong that turned out to be. The second group showed up in no time. This literacy-compromised Michael Habnab featured in the video linked above, should be pleased with the CBS-given title "Bus Rider" as that might be the greatest title he can aspire to in life. In the video he says ""I don't think it should be publicly advertised bashing other peoples beliefs."  Asserting that one can be moral without religion is an intolerable insult, due to the unspoken but implicit premise that the immorality of atheism is sacred dogma not to challenged.

WCIA also pointed out MTD has our back

Cognitively challenged people like Michael Habknob silence the former group as well as prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that what we do here desperately needs to be done. Thank you, Micheal Jibjab.

And thank you Sophia Beausoleil. Read WCIA's write-up of the story here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tom Flynn will dISSAbuse you of your enjoyment of Christmas

Hello all! Fall break is nearly upon us, but don't go home early, because this Thursday, November 18th at 7pm we'll be hosting noted skeptic Tom Flynn. Tom Flynn is a dedicated soldier in the Culture War, devoting his life to stamping out everyone's favorite holiday. Well, not really but Flynn's "The Trouble With Christmas" is based on a book of his by the same name in which he lays out the case against the winter holiday. Aside from his Christmas critiques, Flynn is also the editor of Free Inquiry magazine and the Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism. Perhaps Flynn would find Festivus more felicitous. In any case, we'll be off to Murphy's afterwards to drink some whiskey drinks, to drink some vodka drinks, to drink some lager drinks, and drink some cider drinks.

Meeting Location: Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.
Feeling left out? Let us know. ISSA is dedicated to promoting dialogue and discourse. Want to write a blog post? Give a presentation at a weekly meeting? Email for details.
Upcoming Events:
Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
Duck and cover! It's back to the 50's at Merry Ann's! Come grab some grub and get your coffee on with your ISSA pals. Every Sunday at 11AM. Merry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club.

Blood Drive -- December 6

There is always a great need for blood, so come help out your fellow man by attending this Red Cross blood drive at the Wesley Foundation United Methodist Church on Monday, December 6. The church is located on the corner of Green and Mathews:,-88.208199&sspn=0.161815,0.308647&ie=UTF8&hq=wesley+foundation&hnear=&ll=40.110312,-88.225072&spn=0.001212,0.002411&t=h&z=19&iwloc=A

Your Friend,




ISSA on the Web



Flickr Photostream


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Now Hiring Exorcists!

American Catholic bishops, overwhelmed by the demands of our enlightened citizenry for exorcisms, are currently holding a conference in Baltimore on how to address these needs.

“What they’re trying to do in restoring exorcisms,” said Dr. Appleby, a longtime observer of the bishops, “is to strengthen and enhance what seems to be lost in the church, which is the sense that the church is not like any other institution. It is supernatural, and the key players in that are the hierarchy and the priests who can be given the faculties of exorcism.

“It’s a strategy for saying: ‘We are not the Federal Reserve, and we are not the World Council of Churches. We deal with angels and demons.’"

Yes, the Catholic Church deals with angels and demons. Don't count on them to help counter the epidemic of AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases in Africa, or the dismal rates of poverty rampant throughout the developing and under-developed world, or the sexual abuse spreading through their own institution. They are too busy, behind closed doors, discussing solutions to the real issues, like whether Homer Simpson is Catholic, or on how to dispel ghosts from your body.

This story could be neglected as another one of the Vatican's banal activities, if there were no victims. But unfortunately, the Catholic Church always takes victims. In this case, the victims are vulnerable patients suffering from psychiatric or other medical conditions. Doctors may now have the option to rule out medical causes, even when it's apparent that something is wrong.

"A person who claims to be possessed must be evaluated by doctors to rule out a mental or physical illness, according to Vatican guidelines issued in 1999, which superseded the previous guidelines, issued in 1614."

What sort of qualified, educated medical professional would rule out a medical condition when a person "speaks in tongues, reacts to holy water, or anything holy, displays abnormal levels of strength, suffers from severe sleeplessness, lack of appetite and cutting, scratching and biting the skin"? If there is no medical hypothesis to some of these cases, shouldn't one be worked on, with stellar medical science and technology? Not anymore - psychiatric care can finally be undermined, now that the possibility of the Devil exists. Not in mainstream, educated America of course - but in rural, Bible-belt, ignorant America.

The Catholic Church is truly on it's way to becoming the laughingstock of the developed world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Video: Ethics Discussion with Academic Super Stars

Steven Pinker - Sam Harris - Peter Singer - Lawrence Krauss - Patricia Churchland - Simon Blackburn  moderated by Roger Bingham 
Continuing our focus on morality, I present this scienceNetwork-produced video of some of the greatest contemporary minds from psychology and philosophy chiming in on what science tells us or can ever tell us about morality. Roger Bingham is the moderator, who also moderated the Beyond Belief conferences and did a tremendous job. 

Run time is 42 minutes.

Relevant: Russel's Teapot.

That'd be a good name for a coffee joint if I ever own one I might go with Russel's Teapot. I dedicate this post to Prof. Helga Varden, who is easily among the most tolerable of all the philosophy people I have met.

Thanks Helga, and Sarah.

Monday, November 8, 2010

With devotion's vISSAge and pious action we do sugar o'er the devil himself. -Shakespeare

Aloha atheists, agnostics, freethinkers! I hope you are all well. This Thursday, November 11th at 7pm we are honored to welcome Prof. Helga Varden. Varden has a PhD in philosophy and teaches right here at the University of Illinois. In the spirit of our on-going bus ad campaign, she'll be talking about whether one can be Good without God and arguments about ethics. And then we'll be off to Murphy's Pub in order to immediately forget anything she teaches us about morality. And perhaps we'll quiz each other on GRE words.   

Meeting Location: Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.

 Bar Crawl time at last!
This is one of our premier social events. We'll meet at Murphy's at 9pm on Tuesday, November 9th, and will be making our way to these other fine establishments:

10:00 - Legends
11:00 - Firehaus
12:00 - Clybourne's
01:00 - Joe's

Ever get that not-so-fresh feeling? From our blog? Think you can do better or just want to provide a rebuttal? Don't just write a snarky comment, write a snarky comment and your very own ISSA blog entry! Make your voice heard. Email for details.
Upcoming Events:
Tom Flynn and The Trouble with Christmas -- November 18
Tom Flynn is the editor of Free Inquiry magazine: America's most important journal of secular humanism. Flynn is also Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism. And next Thursday, November 18th, Mr. Flynn comes to criticize everyone's favorite winter holiday and offer his rollicking rationale for why secular humanists should just sit the merriment out. Then I'm going to ask him if it's cool to still celebrate Kwanzaa.
Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
Has 50's nostalgia jumped the shark? Not at Merry Ann's! Come grab some grub and get your coffee on with your ISSA pals. Every Sunday at 11AMMerry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club.

Skepticon III -- November 19-21
Skepticon is looking to become the Midwest's largest freethought convention. It's also free. With exciting speakers like Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson, The Amazing James Randi and others, you can't afford not to go. Did we mention that it's FREE!? Score! Register here to join us and put your name on the roster here:
We hope to see you tomorrow night, and Thursday of course.


ISSA on the Web

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Billions and Billions

Today is Carl Sagan Day. Carl Sagan was a great scientist who helped bring the wonders of our universe, free of theology, to a wider audience. He promoted SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and was a well-known non-believer. Sagan was perhaps most well-known for his award-winning TV show Cosmos.

Enjoy this Youtube video, but a small tribute to a great life.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Islam: A Religion of Violence

A delusion that persists in the Western world today is that criticism of Islam is intolerant, bigoted, and possibly racist in its essential connotation and should be avoided for a more tolerant and open-minded approach. This wave of overly political correctness may be a result of the persistent victimization of Muslims at the hands of ignorant hate-mongers who target individuals rather than ideologies. The misguided compensation for this has been guilt-driven platitudes that applaud the apparent diversity that Islam brings to the tapestry of American multiculturalism .

It is a fact, of course, that Muslims are persecuted for their identity – A recent report by the Gallup Center for Islamic Studies found that “more than 4 in 10 Americans admit to feeling at least a little prejudice towards Muslims”. This trend needs to be combated. However, to imply that ‘Islamophobia’ is a purely irrational fear is not a very honest contention. Islam, to its core, is something that modern society would rather revile than embrace, and it’s no surprise that the natural reaction to this violent ideology has been one of habitual fear and hatred towards the people who claim to profess a belief in the same religious groundwork. The recognition of the demographic of moderate Muslims should be one that exposes Islam as the treacherous religion that it is, and that applauds followers who have abandoned it's wicked teachings for the more secularist, ethical values that are infused within modern society.

It is indisputable that Islam, like every monotheistic religion to date, is a religion rampant with violence and moral depravities. The peaceful verses of the Q’uran or Hadith are consistently outnumbered by barbaric stories sanctioning rape, murder and other atrocious crimes. Countries following Islamic/Sharia law are stuck in the Stone-Age while the rest of the world progresses forward. Indeed, in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, the proud promulgations of the word of Allah are used to subjugate women by stoning them for adultery, slaughtering infidels for apostasy, and restraining society to regressive socio-economic laws that prohibit free thought and expression. The victims are always the weak and helpless – and one such case is that of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been under the sentence of death by stoning under Iranian Sharia law since 2007. Her execution still remains imminent as global protests surge against this impending move by the Iranian government.

But watch any debate on violence in Islam, and the diatribe automatically turns to the interpretation and the contextualization of the violent verses contained within the Islamic holy books. Apparently, the terrorists and Muslim extremists just read these with the wrong perspective in mind, otherwise they would be peaceful, law-abiding Samaritans. Apologetic hogwash. Who is to decide on the right context or interpretation? The extremists consider moderates just as un-Islamic as the other way around. And how, exactly, do you take verses celebrating the holy pillage of villages, murder of innocents, and the rape and brutalization of women out of context? Claiming that this was merely due to the moral attitudes at the time must be downright insulting to Allah, who is claimed to be Al'aleem, the All-Knowing.

Let us shed our notions of politeness and be honest - Islam is NOT a religion of peace. This admission is crucial to winning any war on Islamic terrorism. The right path isn't bigotry, but neither is it denial.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

ISSA Bus Ads Featured on NBC News

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dalai Lama tweets You Can be Good without God

The Dalai Lama, seen here explaining that he was re-born to rock
His Holiness the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, He Who Must Constantly be Named by c-list celebs, tweeted today (peace be upon twitter) that morality is not contingent on magic:

I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.

This is a significant departure from the previous 13 incarnations known for maintaining a slave class on the basis of their lack of spiritual wealth and occasionally murdering rival sects. The current ghost-flesh symbiote has spent the majority of his life in the West and is western-educated. It is hardly a surprise his views are somewhat more progressive than his hand-chopping predecessors, even though they obviously share an immortal soul which is periodically recycled like a gossamer Pepsi can.

Voting: PartISSAnship made proper.

Greetings secular samaritans! This Thursday, November 4th at 7pm we're very pleased to have as our guest members of the campus Muslim Student Association. They will tell us a bit about the MSA and perhaps Islam then we will split into groups and get to know each other better. Got questions about Islam or UI muslims? Bring 'em! Snacks will be provided. Afterward, it's off to  Murphy's for libations and conversations.  

As always, we'll be in Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.

Upcoming Events:
First ISSA Pub crawl of the year
We will meet at Murphy's at 9pm on Tuesday, November 9th. Join us for one of the most perenially popular social events of the year! Bar list is TBA.
Tom Flynn and The Trouble with Christmas
Journalist, novelist, entertainer, freethought historian and all-around secular badass Tom Flynn is the editor of Free Inquiry magazine and Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism. Mr. Flynn has graciously agreed to address ISSA on Thursday, November 18th, and will be offering a secular critique of the holiday, which is sure to be amusing and insightful.
Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
The best '50's diner in town is more authentic than ever since Ed complained enough to get digital watches barred from the waitress staff. Come for brunch, coffee, and camaraderie at our favorite little diner, Merry Ann's. Every Sunday at 11AM. Merry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club.
Skepticon III -- November 19-21
Skepticon is the the midwest's ONLY major secularist convention and is on track to be the largest in the country! This year's Skepticon will feature luminaries such as Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson, The Amazing James Randi and others. What would you pay for all this? Try FREE.  Register here to join us and put your name on the roster here:
See you Thursday boys and girls!






ISSA on the Web



Flickr Photostream