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Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Rational Sabbath, Vol II

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it rational. Six days shalt thou suffer inanity, and do all thy hair-pulling: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the atheists.

Welcome to the second weekly Rational Sabbath! Again, sorry again for the Sunday Sabbath.

How It Works

Why take the Sabbath day off to rest unproductively when I could use that time to do something useful and make a post comprising of about 5-10 of my favorite blog posts or news releases of the week? They are not necessarily about Ray Comfort; however, if I do find a post about Ray Comfort, I will include it here (unless I mention it in some other entry). I will also try making a weekly recommendation of each of the following which I think you would find useful, interesting, and/or entertaining:

* A Blog
* A Video (or series)
* An Audio File (or series/podcast)
* A Website
* A Book

Like last time, let me know your comments or thought on this Rational Sabbath. The response in comments and emails last week were quite favorable, even though this blog had just started.

Here is the second Rational Sabbath:

First, a listing of my top ten articles of the week, counting down to my favorite.

Over the past week, I have read about 550 blog posts (Google Reader is a marvelous device) from about 100 blogs and below are my top ten choices of the week. I marked about 25 articles as candidates before trimming down to 10. If you read something you think more worthy than these entries, please comment with a link or email me. I am interested in both theist and atheist blogs.

10. Fundie homophobes provide your daily dose of comedy by Martin from The Atheist Experience
You've got to love the inanity of anti-human rights, anti-civil rights groups and their websites. You've got to roll around laughing, then, when their foolishness makes front page news. had their filters exposed as replacing gay with homosexual, because the latter is harsher sounding. That's definitely a news source you can trust.

Also covered by The Friendly Atheist.

9. Why I rejected Christianity: Sexuality by Adrian Hayter from The Atheist Blogger
I'm always a sucker for entries about why people believe (or don't believe) what they do (or don't). Adrian Hayter covers both gender and homosexuality and how they are treated by the Church and how he viewed them while religious. It's a nice, personal blog post.

8. Mischaracterizing Atheists by Hermant Mehta from The Friendly Atheist
This was a funny week for Chuck Colson, aka Ray's Soul Twin. He makes the exact same claim that "atheists don't exist." You may remember some of Colson's other greatest hits, such as that gay marriage is just a ruse to destroy Christianity. In this one, though, he pulls out his and Ray's favorite "atheists don't exist" shtick in a very funny way, but then continues it even further into an "agnostics don't exist" shtick.

Also covered by Heathenz.

7. A Picture of Child Abuse by James White from Pros Apologian
This is a Christian Apologetics blog I subscribe to. They usually stick just to theological questions. One day, this pops up in my feed from them and my jaw dropped. James introduces the post by saying he did not even read the article about gay marriages in California and just scrolled down and say a picture of two lesbians, married, with their child. Without knowing anything about the family, he declares it child abuse, and the parents child abusers. He makes the claim in this article that gay parents wanting to adopt (or bear) children are selfish and self-centered. What, then, does that make heterosexual parents? Or single parents? A picture of child abuse should, I don't know, show a picture of child abuse; not a picture of two people looking very much in love holding their child between them. My blood continues to boil...

6. A fundamentalist Christian answers The Atheist Thirteen by Adrian Hayter from The Atheist Blogger
Adrian makes two positions this week. You should remember him from my article covering Ray's "light is invisible" post. In this humorous article, he plays the role of a hypothetical Christian answering The Atheist Thirteen. My favorite part of this is the one-word description of ID: "truth." I find many of the answers spot on.

5. Anonymous wanted a body count total, so he will get one by GoodNewsAtheism from The Teapot Atheist
This has been widely circulating, so I wanted to contribute to it as well. I haven't had time to check the data, but it is an interesting read and list nonetheless. Be sure to read the comments. Christians still don't get it. We don't claim atheism makes you moral; however, Christians claim the religion/belief in God makes you moral, or something along those lines. If that were the case, we shouldn't see such high figures.

Also covered by The Atheist Blogger and Debunking Christianity.

4. Egnor vs PZ Myers by Steven Novella from NeuroLogica
Dr. Novella weighs in on Egnor's latest reply to PZ's latest reply. Egnor has been going back and forth with PZ and Steve for a while now (Steve on the issue of dualism). In this post, though, he analyzes the logic of Egnor's latest reply to PZ. It is an excellent article on the logical nuances and how Egnor was able to slightly shift the claim so as to respond to an entirely different issue altogether. If you liked how he picked it apart in this post, also look at his article Deconstructing the Cranks as it is excellent and goes into further analysis (I chose Egnor over this one as it had more to do with religion).

Also covered by Skeptico.

3. Counfounding stereotypes by Eshu from Bridging Schisms
Eshu has a pleasant post on her recent trip to a church and her encounter with some church regulars. Eshu covers dispelling the "misanthropic god-haters" atheist stereotype by simply interacting with the non-Ray Comfort brand of theists. I highly recommend this one.

2. Does God Exist? Does God Matter? by Austin Cline from's Agnosticism / Atheism
I have been planning an article entitled "Theist in Practice; Deist in Defense." It would cover how theists often simply take the position of defending or even challenging us on the existence of some god instead of addressing their theistic views. This article does the job nicely, and also covers the aspect of "does god matter"? It is very much my view that no, it doesn't.

1. On the Morality of: Forgiveness by Ebonmuse from Daylight Atheism
Moving up from second last week is Ebonmuse with yet another enjoyable, interesting article. This entry explores the morality of the religious idea of being forgiven your "crimes" (not necessarily legal) against one person by another person, a non-action, or a deity. It also covers the idea central to Christianity: punishing one person for the crimes of another.

"At the heart of Christianity lies the same ancient superstition: that one person's guilt can be transferred to another and then absolved by punishing that other."


Daylight Atheism -- Main Contributor: Ebonmuse

This blog has had three spots in the two Rational Sabbaths we have had and rightly so. I find all of the articles not only very interesting, but very pleasant to read as they are very well written. The subjects written on are vast and there are several series.

The site is split up into several categories:
The categories span several subjects, such as science, essays, law, and atheism. Be sure to check out their must-read posts:
Though, be warned: all of the entries are very good and you could easily spend your entire evening in there reading. My favorite posts can usually be found in The Library.


Thunderf00t's Youtube Channel

If you have not watched the videos of this channel yet, you have really missed out. My first experience with his channel was with his most popular series Why do people laugh at creationists? In this 24-video-series, he takes a look at creationists and creationist arguments, and then systematically dismantle them and the utter idiocy in which they are rooted. He covers popular video creationist Kent Hovind to popular Youtube creationist VenomFangX (who has stated that the Grand Canyon was formed in 5 minutes) .

Thunderf00t's videos are all very well produced, complete with images and graphs, and a very humorous voice over. He covers such gems as the Ice Shield and those who attempt to disprove evolution, the big bang, and "millions of years," often attempted by fraudsters and scientific illiterates.


Fundies Say the Darndest Things

I decided to lighten the more serious tone with a recommendation of an irreverent site. It is an amusing collection of things theists and fundamentalists ("fundies") say and post on the Internet. It comes from all sources, including Youtube, forum posts, blogs, random websites, etc.

I recommend beginning with the Top 100 page. I enjoyed all on that page, but one of my favorites from the Top 100 was:

One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn't possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it. [emphasis added]


Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology by Thomas Paine

I decided I didn't want to do such books which are obvious recommendations, but for this week I had to go against that and recommend Age of Reason. This is an essential for any atheist or Christian. This comes up now because I decided to read it again this week and it's just as good as ever.

In it, Paine argues against the validity of the Bible using reason and also the Bible itself. He makes interesting arguments. In the first part of the book (there are two parts), he begins with a rejection of the Bible based on the idea that no supreme being would ever communicate to humans using a book. Why? Not only because it is vulnerable to tampering, but also because it inevitably must be translated. Not only that, languages naturally change over time and with that, the meaning changes over time as well.

The second part of the books opens with a rejection of the Bible based on not having any credibility due to anonymous authors. He does this using only the Bible itself. Using textual criticism, he shows that Moses wasn't the author of the books attributed to him, Joshua was the author of the books attributed to him, and so on.

Not only is the content of it fantastic, but it comes from the great writer Thomas Paine. Paine is one of my personal heroes and I absolutely love everything he wrote. Adams once said that if it weren't for the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.

One of the several quotes hanging on the walls of my office comes from the Age of Reason:

It is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

This book is a necessity.


This concludes the second weekly Rational Sabbath. Please let me know your thoughts and comments. The blog has launched recently, so I don't expect much response yet. The next post, the focus will return to Ray Comfort and DisComforting Ignorance (and Ray's ridiculous blog post about worshiping evolution).

I hope you have enjoyed your day of rest from Ray Comfort's inanity on this day, the Rational Sabbath.


Pvblivs said...

     I rather like the "Why do people laugh at creationists" series. However, it just doesn't seem sporting to keep going after Venomfangx. There are fundamentalists on YouTube actually capable of coherent thought (even though I disagree with them on the bible.) Venomfangx looks like a charicature set up for the purpose of knocking down. (I'm not entirely sure he's real.)

DisComforting Ignorance said...

It reminds me of the famous April Fools prank PZ and them did on Michael Egnor. They made a post pretending to be him about he's just been pretending to be an ID advocate to mock and satirize them. The sad thing about it was that Egnor was no joke.

I don't think VenomFangX is either.

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There is definitely a question about whether to go after those with the "best arguments" or "coherent thought," or to go after the most popular. For whatever reason, they seem to be mutually exclusive as the most popular are usually the most idiotic (VenomFangX, Pat Robertson...)

I think it is a good thing, though, that he keeps engaging VenomFangX. It seems he has drawn a lot of attention from VenomFangX. If he can get such mentions by VenomFangX, it could be that he gets some of his viewers to come over and have look as well.

On his authenticity, though, statements like "Satan's Islam" and disabling comments to prevent Satan from getting in is some pretty genuine lunacy, I believe. He seems to implement censorship and evasion techniques in the same manner the ID crowd does, so he does share that trait.