Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Are We Alone?
Via Phil Plait, a glimpse into how far woo can go wrong:
There is a Japanese lunar orbiter named Kaguya that is scheduled to crash into the moon today at about 2:30 pm ET. Scientists hope to learn something about the moon’s composition by observing the debris that is kicked up.
In many traditions, including astrology, the moon represents the feminine. It is the yin, the intuitive, the emotions. Women are connected to the moon by their menstrual cycles while they are fertile, and all beings, including the earth herself, are affected by the pull of the tides.
* * *
Did these scientists talk to the moon? Tell her what they were doing? Ask her permission? Show her respect?
Just . . . wow.
Remember the "California Drones"? The odd, spiky UFOs reported about 18 months ago, purporting to be proof of alien visitation? Here's a bit about it from the Coast to Coast Am show (lots of photos there), which helped launch the whole thing:
Last month (April 2007), my wife and I were on a walk when we noticed a very large, very strange "craft" in the sky. My wife took a picture with her cell phone camera (first photo below). A few days later a friend (and neighbor) lent me his camera and came with me to take photos of this "craft". We found it and took a number of very clear photos. Picture #4 is taken from right below this thing and I must give my friend credit as I was not brave enough to get close enough to take this picture myself!
The craft is almost completely silent and moves very smoothly. It usually moves slowly until it decides to take off. Then it moves VERY quickly and is out of sight in the blink of an eye. MORE THAN ANYTHING I simply want to understand what this is and why it is here?
One of those odd bits of news from one of my favorite parts of the world:
A SHOTTON man is baffled after witnessing SIX UFOs in one night.
Town councillor William Barton saw the strange spectacle in the town’s skies last Friday evening at about 7.44pm.
He rushed to grab his binoculars and called on neighbours to show them the phenomenon.
Coun Barton, of Mill View, said: “They seemed to come from the Ewloe area and float towards Shotton. There were about six of them and they appeared and then vanished for a while.
But here's the fun part:
Coun Barton says the objects appeared to be flying higher than 1,500ft, which means they would have been breaking air traffic regulations.
Well, we can't have *that*. And I love this:
Our old friend Lane Palmer gets it wrong. Again.
[Lane Palmer] So do you believe in aliens? Are there really races of creatures cruising around the friendly skies kidnapping cattle for “farm” aceutical purposes? ?
Well, I’m not sure - and frankly, I’m not sure I care either. But do you know who does care to know? The answer to this might surprise you - but in my experience, the group of folks who need aliens in their worldview are atheists.
More below the fold...
VATICAN CITY - Believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God, the Vatican's chief astronomer said in an interview published Tuesday.
The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.
"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."
Because - I shit you not -
Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom, he said.
If your deity said it was now moral to torture people to death, would you do it?
C'mon. Yes, or no.
Please don't deliberately misunderstand the question.
Hypothetically, this is your deity, Creator of The Universe™, Giver Of All That Is Good™, Destroyer Of Evil™, etc., etc. You truly believe that this deity exists and you have been worshiping it since you were old enough to realize it. You go to It's church, you sing in It's choir, you love It. You pray to It.
Now, this deity makes it plain - through revelation, I suppose - that as faithful followers, you in other words, are to torture unbelievers until they die.
Why wouldn't you do it? Who are you to question the will of your deity? Isn't anything you do at your deity's behest automatically moral?
. . . doesn't mean that the aliens are not out to get you:
A Bosnian man whose home has been hit an incredible five times by meteorites believes he is being targeted by aliens.
* * *
But Mr Lajic, who has had a steel girder reinforced roof put on the house he owns in the northern village of Gornja Lamovite, has an alternative explanation.
He said: "I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials. I don't know what I have done to annoy them but there is no other explanation that makes sense. The chance of being hit by a meteorite is so small that getting hit five times has to be deliberate."
The first meteorite fell on his house in November last year and since then a further four have smashed into his home. The strikes always happen when it is raining heavily, never when there are clear skies.
OK, it's from Ananova, and a quick search didn't turn up any other dependable sources, so take it for what it is worth.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90.
[link] Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" and won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 90.
Thank you, Sir Arthur, for the many happy hours I spent in awe and wonderment, reading your amazing thoughts, words, and ideas. The world is a less-bright place without you in it.
His last message to the world, recorded in his home on his 90th birthday back in December, 2007, appears after the fold.
(For those of you wondering, the title of this blog post is Sir Arthur's epitaph, as quoted in Wired Magazine today.)
This is my review of Vox Day's new book called "The Irrational Atheist". I'd like to make some things perfectly clear before I proceed with this review. I am still, and barring some pretty convincing evidence that I find personally credible, will most likely always be an atheist. What I mean by "atheist", as I have written volumes about in the past, is someone in whom god-belief of any kind is absent.
I have lately (within the last few years) come to the conclusion that the entire social and political "atheist movement" is a big, fat exercise in futility. Atheists are not, in any way, shape, or form, a "group" in the same sense that Methodists, Shriners, or Republicans are a group. The atheists who blog and organize activist marches and identify themselves as part of this "atheist movement" group are lying to themselves. There is no "atheist group". Rather, a movement has emerged and become politically active lately that has co-opted the perfectly reasonable descriptive word "atheist" and has twisted its meaning into something that I do not agree with, endorse, or really even recognize any longer. Ellen Johnson telling all of us atheists to "Vote your atheism first..." was the last straw for me. I mean, what in the heck does that even mean? I am not a member of your little club, Ellen.
I have my own opinions, political views, and values. I have my own, personal rationale for being a person in whom god-belief is absent (an atheist). I recognize no "atheist leaders" or spokesmen, and I endorse no one who claims to speak for me, or insinuates that they speak for me in any way.
I speak for myself, and myself alone.
I find it troubling that one of the recent trends in the "atheist blogger" community is to label someone who does not seem to toe the party line as an "appeaser" or as a "concern troll". It's complete crap. I didn't sign a fucking "atheist loyalty oath", and my lack of belief in a god isn't dependent on kowtowing to the self-anointed leaders of this misguided abortion of a political movement, whether or not they exist. If after this review someone uses the "no true Scotsman" fallacy on me in this fashion, they can go fuck themselves. With a jagged stick. Sideways. The political and social issues that concern me - personal liberty, civil liberties, honesty, personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, freedom, justice, the American Way, all of that, don't require my allegiance to some new political movement. I was concerned with those things before I started calling myself an atheist, and I still am today. Atheism has nothing at all to do with any of that stuff. (See my first paragraph above.) Nether does "theism" for that matter.
I evaluate the books I read, the beliefs I come across, and the philosophies I examine fully, and with an eye towards the facts. I have a highly-sensitive bullshit meter, honed through 20-plus years of discussion, research, study, debate, and arguments with theists (that is, folks in which god-belief of any kind is present.) So, when you read the review below, keep in mind that I was really, really trying hard to find something that I could latch onto and argue intelligently and forcefully against. I was positive that it had to be there. I had my BS meter cranked up to 11 as I read through the book twice in an attempt to sniff out something that I could use - and the damned thing only went off a couple of times, and only when Day was explicitly talking about God and/or Jesus and his personal belief in the Christian mythology.
Shit. Double shit.
Ah, well. I am ethically and morally bound to review TIA honestly, and that is what I will do - regardless of how much it hurts me to do so. Heh. ;)
So, hang on to your hats and join me below the fold.
Back in 2005, Stephen Darksyde published a fantastic article here at UTI called "Ancestral Magnitudes". It used the metaphor of the "generation", and colorfully described human evolution in terms of our ancestors.
[DarkSyde] If the idea of a flat-earth or the Sun-god is a part of that faith then you either ignore the science and live in willful ignorance-at least in regard to that conflict-and trust to faith, or you adjust your theology. Those really are your only two choices as far as I can see.
What your objection more than likely reveals is that you don't like the idea of being the product of 'random' physics and biochemistry, that you feel there is no room for a Creator in such a scenario. I cannot imagine greater natural evidence for the Brilliance of a Creator than complex process unfolding over billions of years through countless steps in exquisite order spanning the entire Cosmos. The technical skill and artistic vision of such is to be admired in awe, and in that context evolution should be worthy of your devotion, not your disdain.
I encourage you to read the whole thing if you haven't already. It'll blow your mind.
A few days ago, Xavier Onassis from the blog "Doubting Faith" published the same sort of mind-blowingly cool article about our universe, and it puts our place in that universe into stark, unflinching perspective.
[Xavier Onassis] Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that a universe this vast, and this spectacular could not be a random occurrence. Personally, I don't have a problem with it being one big coincidence. But, let's just say it's not.
Do you really think that a hypothetical all-powerful, all-knowing God, responsible for the creation of EVERYTHING in this incredibly vast universe would really give a flying fuck how you voted in the last election? Whether or not a couple of gay guys get married? Whether or not you keep Kosher or go on The Hajj?
Get over yourselves. You're not that fucking important. You need to look at the Big Picture and put things in perspective.
Just excellent. Highly recommended. Great job, Xavier.
*This post previously ran last year. And while some of the personal details mentioned in it have changed - I did indeed keep that promise to tweak my manuscript - the sentiment is the same.
This has been a hell of a day. Not as bad as some, perhaps, but as far as routine days go, not the sort you want to pop up often in the queue. It started with my mother-in-law being ill. Now, most adults know how a young child (either their own or one they've babysat) can be when sick. Think intestinal bug. Think explosive diarrhea, of the toxic/caustic variety. Poor kid doesn't understand what's going on, or how to best cope with their misbehaving body (if they are capable of that on their own yet). Then picture that not in a toddler, but in a 95-pound woman well into dementia before the effects of dehydration and fever kick in. Took my wife and I two full hours to get her and the bedroom cleaned up.
So, Arecibo needs money. Not a lot of money. More than I have. But not a lot of money, as such things go.
Yes, the National Science Foundation has told the folks who run the Arecibo Observatory that they need to come up with outside funding to the tune of half their annual budget, or they will be shut down. How much is this? $4 million. From the news report:
But among astronomers, Arecibo is an icon of hard science. Its instruments have netted a decades-long string of discoveries about the structure and evolution of the universe. Its high-powered radar has mapped in exquisite detail the surfaces and interiors of neighboring planets.
And it is the only facility on the planet able to track asteroids with enough precision to tell which ones might plow into Earth -- a disaster that could cause as many as a billion deaths and that experts say is preventable with enough warning.
...here's an odd little (er, make that huge) site with a bit of a confused agenda: ALIENSHIFT, Time Travel, Pole Shift, MARS, 2012, UFO, Aliens.
Here's just a little taste:
PLANS WERE FORMULATED TO DEFEND THE EARTH IN CASE OF INVASION. Great difficulty was encountered in maintaining international secrecy. It was decided that an outside group was necessary to coordinate and control international efforts in order to hide the secret from the normal scrutiny of governments by the press. The result was the formation of a secret ruling body which became known as the Bilderberger Group. The group was formed and met for the first time in 1952. They were named after the first publicly known meeting place, the Bilderberg Hotel. That public meeting took place in 1954. They were nicknamed the Bilderbergers. The headquarters of this group is Geneva, Switzerland. The Bilderbergers evolved into a secret world government that now controls everything. The United Nations was then, and is now, an international joke.
I give it a rating of about .6 Timecubes.
We need to stop this immediately! Shooting powerful lasers into the center of the galaxy will surely attract the attention of the mighty Zoidlon overlords!
In all seriousness today's Astronomy pic of the day is pretty darned neat, and so is the tech we're using to learn more about the universe.
In a few days I'll turn 49. Statistically, I've got a couple more decades to go. Realistically, I could drop dead tomorrow from an undiagnosed heart condition, develop cancer or some other terminal disease, or just get hit by a truck. You tend to take this sort of philosophical attitude when your own parents both died before they hit 40.
But that does not define my life - I do not constantly worry or live in fear. I don't panic when I hear that they've found a couple of car bombs in the heart of London, any more than I lose my head over reports of a new strain of bird flu discovered in Indonesia, or that there are weather conditions that favor the development of tornadoes in my area.
Hey earthians, give up on all that bowing down to mythical gods, and do like the Martians do: give a twice daily observance to the Great Infinite Creative Source!
Because now we have a first-hand account of how the Martians live in their huge underground cities:
Martian cities are all underground and are connected together by huge oval metal tubes from 300 to 500 ft in diameter. Each city is built on the floor of a huge metal dome. These domes are sometimes 4 to 5 miles in diameter, and up to 3000 feet high. The cities are laid out like a wheel. The center hub is a very large circular structure which houses the various municipal and civic governmental departments. Underground is a very large atomic power plant for supplying the cities' needs.
All that, and much much more insanity can be found in The Truth About Mars: An Eyewitness Account., which in itself is just one small bit of nuttiness brought to you by the Unarius Academy of Science.
WASHINGTON - For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for “life in the universe.”
Wow. It may not seem like it, but the universe just changed.
No, this doesn’t mean that there is life elsewhere other than our little rock. Let alone intelligent life. But make no mistake - this is something of a milestone.
Welcome 581 c. Welcome to the history books.
(Cross posted to CommunionBlog.)
Allow me to share a small bit of surprising news I got today.
Anyway, I had been keeping track of hits to the site, and they weren't huge but not bad, averaging about a thousand a week. But today I dug a little deeper and saw that over 800 people have actually downloaded the .pdf of the novel. Wow.
That's not saying they actually read it, or if they did, they liked it. (It's OK if they don't like it - something I learned a long time ago.) But just having that many downloads is surprisingly good news to me, and something of a vindication of my goals in creating the website.
Just thought I'd share.