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Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious

This group is named for the discussion group on (founded by Peter Kroll) which shows that critical thinkers can (and do) act compassionately, without the need for magical sanction.

The idea for this room is to highlight the genius of the unwieldy name: a place to share and discuss content about issues of atheism/agnosticism/secular humanism from a truly skeptical and non-religious point of view.

It's difficult to label lack of belief (much like "not collecting stamps" doesn't work as a hobby). Names like "brights" are kind of lame, and neither "skeptic" nor "atheist" is comprehensive enough. Maybe AASFSHNR will catch on?
Ken Morley
Are Atheists the New Mormons? - The Daily Beast -
Are Atheists the New Mormons? - The Daily Beast
"Really, though, the American Atheist convention in Salt Lake City is not a clash of opposites. It’s the convergence of unlikely cousins. The convention this week will bring together in Salt Lake City two distinctly American movements, with remarkably similar demographics, that are in the process of emerging into a public sphere that has long considered them suspicious outsiders." - Ken Morley from Bookmarklet
Ken Morley
A sense of scale... (source file:
LOL - Eivind
Five Flood Stories You Didn’t Know About | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches -
Five Flood Stories You Didn’t Know About | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches
"The first known flood story comes from Sumer in the tale of Atra-hasis (19th century, BCE). This story sets the basic elements of the ancient genre: gods try to eradicate humanity, while a flood hero builds a boat to save the animals. A tragicomedy about polytheism starring petty gods who complain like tired parents annoyed by their noisy children. With plans to destroy a boisterous humanity, they are thwarted not once but three times by the flood hero’s personal god and eminent trickster, Enki. With each divine attempt at total genocide, Enki gives the flood hero secret knowledge about which god to appease with a sacrifice. This worked against the first two rounds of disease and drought. However, Enki had to get creative for the third and final attempt. For the deluge, Enki instructs the flood hero to build a boat for family and fauna." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
A well-written article, pleasurable to read, and informative. - Maitani
Eric Logan
Should biotech make life hellish for criminals? -
Should biotech make life hellish for criminals?
Even in my most religious moments, I have never been able to take the idea of hell seriously. Prevailing Christian theology asks us to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing being would do what no human parent could ever do: create tens of billions of flawed and fragile creatures, pluck out a few favourites to shower in transcendent love, and send the rest to an eternity of unrelenting torment. That story has always seemed like an intellectual relic to me, a holdover from barbarism, or worse, a myth meant to coerce belief. But stripped of the religious particulars, I can see the appeal of hell as an instrument of justice, a way of righting wrongs beyond the grave. Especially in unusual circumstances. Take the case of Adolf Hitler. On the afternoon of 29 April 1945, Hitler was stashed deep in his Berlin bunker, watching his Third Reich collapse, when he received word that Benito Mussolini was dead. Hitler was aghast at the news, not because he’d lost yet another ally, but because of... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Catholic Magic | Genealogy of Religion -
"According to early evolutionary anthropologists, magical thinking is supposed to be the province of “primitive” or traditional societies. As some of these societies progressively made their way toward modernity and became “civilized,” magical thinking was supposed to have disappeared. If it did not entirely disappear, then it was supposed to have given way to right proper religion. This is the progressive myth, found in both religious and secular forms, that prevails among civilized folk. The faithful among those folk tell themselves that religion has nothing to do with magic. The positivists among those folk tell themselves that science has replaced, or is inexorably displacing, residuals of magical thinking." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
NeuroLogica Blog » Can Thinking Change Reality -
NeuroLogica Blog » Can Thinking Change Reality
"I love the documentary series, The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke. It’s a follow up to his equally good, Connections (I know, they have their criticisms, but overall they are very good). The former title is a metaphor – when our collective model of reality changes, for us the universe does change. When we believed the earth was motionless at the center of the universe, that was our reality." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"But Burke was not arguing that the nature of the universe actually changed, just our conception of it. Thinking alone cannot directly change external reality. That is magical thinking." - Maitani
"Such thinking, however, lies at the center of much new age spiritual claims. The secret of The Secret is that you can change your world by wishing. Proponents of such ideas are desperate for scientific validation of their basic premise. Such evidence does not exist. In fact over a century of such research shows rather conclusively that there is no such effect in operation in our world to any significant degree." - Maitani
True Detective - Rust talks about Religion
True Detective - Rust talks about Religion
Chris Topher
Note to self: Do not engage Creationists...
Celebrity Touch Confers 'Magical' Value to Memorabilia - D-brief | -
Celebrity Touch Confers 'Magical' Value to Memorabilia - D-brief |
"King Midas famously turned anything he touched to gold, a fun thought even if it didn’t work out too well for him. We like to say successful (or lucky) people today can metaphorically do the same, but it turns out that celebrities — certain celebrities at least — have a more literal version of the Midas touch. A new study quantifies this “magical thinking” in regards to celebrity memorabilia — and it finds that, the more likeable a celeb, and the more time they spent touching the object, the greater its perceived value." - Eivind from Bookmarklet
Abstract: "Contagion is a form of magical thinking in which people believe that a person’s immaterial qualities or essence can be transferred to an object through physical contact. Here we investigate how a belief in contagion influences the sale of celebrity memorabilia. Using data from three high-profile estate auctions, we find that people’s expectations about the amount of physical... more... - Eivind
Cooties. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Cooties Theory of Value :) - Eivind from Android
Epiphany: The punishment of cutting off the right hand for theft (based on Surah Al-Ma'idah 38) works on more levels than I had previously considered.
Forced use of the left hand? - Pete
For some reason, I had never contemplated the social isolation that results from this in cultures where the left hand is considered unclean. Not being able to eat in company with others, not being able to shake people's hands. Just knowing that people know that you're not able to live "cleanly," even if you don't show it. (This epiphany was brought to me by The Years of Rice and Salt.) - Eivind
It really is the punishment that keeps on punishing. - Eivind
I had no idea that old-fashioned idea of left being "sinister" still existed. - Spidra Webster
The division between left hand tasks and right hand tasks is still very much alive. How "sinister" the left is, varies widely from culture to culture, I'm sure. When I was invited home to some people in Morocco for dinner, they laughed their asses off when I forgot myself and ate with my left (I'm a leftie). Apparently the sheer unexpectedness made it hilarious, but they weren't... more... - Eivind
Inside the world of modern day magicians, witches and evangelical Christians | Neurobonkers | Big Think -
Inside the world of modern day magicians, witches and evangelical Christians | Neurobonkers | Big Think
"In a fascinating interview Stanford University psychological anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann describes meeting modern day "witches", taking a "magic" course, experiencing bizarre (non-drug-induced) hallucinations and generally "hanging out in the magical world". Luhrmann also shares her thoughts on the biomedical model of psychiatry, her experiences spending time with evangelical Christians and the mechanism through which she believes individuals can enable themselves to have imagined conversations with God. She describes an example of a pastor telling her to pour herself a coffee and "a second cup of coffee for God" and how she believes there is a process where religious people learn to believe their thoughts are not "self authored" but rather they are "other authored". The discussion really starts to get interesting at about 17 minutes in:" - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"Luhrmann's books “When God Talks Back” and "Persuasions of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England" investigate how rational people come to believe and indeed experience the absurd." - Maitani
Ken Morley
Atheism Explained - Top Documentary Films -
Atheism Explained - Top Documentary Films
"Why would God be mad for actually doing some research instead of just sitting around and going to church couple of times a week and acting like you really care? But what if Christians are praying to the wrong God and making the real one madder and madder every time they do it?" - Ken Morley from Bookmarklet
Religious Infusion Predicts Intergroup Conflict Around the World - Association for Psychological Science -
Religious Infusion Predicts Intergroup Conflict Around the World - Association for Psychological Science
"The researchers interviewed scholars with expertise in one of 97 countries encompassing about 124 different groups, each of which had the potential to be involved in a certain type of conflict involving a powerful ingroup and a marginalized outgroup, with groups including ethnic minorities, religious ruling classes, and dominant state powers. In general, groups with higher levels of religious infusion were more likely to experience various types of conflict, including prejudice, interpersonal discrimination, individual violence, symbolic aggression (e.g., desecration of holy sites), and collective violence. But religious infusion also interacted with two specific mechanisms — value incompatibility and competition for limited resources — to predict certain types of conflict. Ingroups and outgroups with high religious infusion were prejudiced against — and were more likely to discriminate against — groups that held incompatible values. But the picture was more complex for outgroups... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
Profitable Proof of Heaven | Genealogy of Religion -
Profitable Proof of Heaven | Genealogy of Religion
"In 2012, Eben Alexander published Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. The credulous, who had been smitten by Colton Burpo’s Heaven Is For Real story in 2010, were of course overjoyed. It’s one thing for a four year old kid from Nebraska to claim heaven is real; it’s quite another for a prestigious neurosurgeon to say the same. [...] For those not familiar with these stories, Burpo’s is that while he was undergoing surgery, he “died” (i.e., his heart briefly stopped beating) and went to heaven. While visiting, he met Jesus (who had blue eyes), John the Baptist, Samson, and his grandpa. Gramps, like everyone else in heaven, was young again and had wings. God was so big he could hold “the whole world in his hands.” This supposedly happened when Colton was four. Seven years later, Colton’s father (an evangelical pastor) and Sarah Palin’s ghostwriter coaxed a best-selling book out of him. On the surface, Alexander’s story seemed to have more heft. On the... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
"We now have some disclosure, but it is not what I expected when I wrote last year. There is, as this Esquire exposé explains, much more (or less) to Alexander’s story. While the author, Luke Dittrich, minces no words by calling Alexander a “prophet,” he minces them by not calling Alexander a liar. Let’s start with some basics. Alexander refuses to release his medical records. Why? It’s... more... - Eivind
Huge profit for returning prophets. I think I'd have added "oh, and God said I was to be in charge while he was away", though :) - Eivind
Okay, that shirt Mo got for Xmas made me laugh out loud in the office :D - Eivind from Bookmarklet
I kind of want one, but I think wearing it would be...unwise. - Eivind
The Reason Stick: The Venn Diagram of Christmas Traditions -
The Reason Stick: The Venn Diagram of Christmas Traditions
"I love Christmas. I love everything about it, apart perhaps from the predictable fundamental Christians bleating on about the so called War on Christmas and their irksome ill-informed insistence that Jesus is the reason for the season." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"White Wine in the Sun" made it into the Venn diagram :) - Eivind
EFO Empty Force FAIL - YouTube -
EFO Empty Force FAIL - YouTube
"Empty force is a term used in martial arts to denote the expression of force without making physical contact. Whether or not this force actually exists is the subject of debate in the martial arts community. People who believe in the empty force claim "Ling Kong Jing, the 'Empty Force,' is the highest martial arts skill in China. This technique claims to harness the power of qi, the "body's vital energy", enabling masters of the art to defend themselves against opponents without making physical contact."[1] Its authenticty and effectiveness are quite controversial and explaining where and when it originated has proven difficult for its current leading master, Paul Dong. According to Paul Dong, "It is hard to trace the origins of the empty force, but we know that Yang Luchuan (1799-1872)—a famous Tai Chi Chuan expert in China's Qing Dynasty who was said to 'draw blood with every step'—had mastered the empty force."[2] The concept of the technique is only one piece of what is supposed... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
The video made me smile :) - Eivind
lulululzzzzzzzzzzz - imabonehead
fucking charlatans - Eddy63
▶ The Crazy Delusional Pastor George - Atheist Experience # - YouTube -
▶ The Crazy Delusional Pastor George - Atheist Experience # - YouTube
Rationally Speaking: The pseudoscience black hole -
Rationally Speaking: The pseudoscience black hole
"As I’ve mentioned on other occasions, my most recent effort in philosophy of science actually concerns what my collaborator Maarten Boudry and I call the philosophy of pseudoscience. During a recent discussion we had with some of the contributors to our book at the recent congress of the European Philosophy of Science Association, Maarten came up with the idea of the pseudoscience black hole. Let me explain." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the... more... - Maitani
Naked girls plow fields for rain | Reuters - speaking of superstition -
Naked girls plow fields for rain | Reuters - speaking of superstition
If it works in India, maybe they should try this on the Arabian peninsula? - Eivind
NeuroLogica Blog » Chopra Shoots at Skepticism and Misses -
"Deepak Chopra apparently has no love for organized skepticism. This is not surprising and his particular brand of spiritual pseudoscience has been a favorite target of skeptical analysis. He is also not the only one who has decided to fight back against the skeptics – if you cannot defend yourself against legitimate criticism, then shoot the messenger." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"In a recent article Chopra renews his attack against what he calls “militant skepticism.” This is a blatant attempt, of course, to portray skeptics as extremist and on the fringe, a strategy that has been used against “militant atheists.” Chopra also uses his article to conflate skepticism with atheism, almost as if he is completely unaware of the internal discourse that has been taking place for decades within the skeptical movement." - Maitani
I wonder how much more money Chopra makes by dressing his bullshit up as science. Can't magic stand on its own feet anymore? - Eivind
That would be by far preferable, imo (but not as profitable, as you already suggested). - Maitani
Jesus was a Hebrew who lived 2000 years ago in the Middle East. He looked a hell of a lot more like this: -
NeuroLogica Blog » Reprogramming Your Junk DNA -
"Every now and then I come across a stunning example of pseudoscience, an exemplar, almost raising pseudoscience to an art form. Some pieces of scientific nonsense read almost like poetry. Such examples make me wonder what is going on in the mind of the pseudoscientist – to me, the most fascinating question. One example I recently came across is the idea that we can reprogram our DNA through words alone. Just about every red-flag of pseudoscience if flying high with this one. Here is the theory in a nutshell:" - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"Only 10% of our DNA is being used for building proteins. It is this subset of DNA that is of interest to western researchers and is being examined and categorized. The other 90% are considered “junk DNA.” The Russian researchers, however, convinced that nature was not dumb, joined linguists and geneticists in a venture to explore those 90% of “junk DNA.” Their results, findings and... more... - Maitani
Philosophy Monkey: Tim Minchin's Nine Life Lessons -
Philosophy Monkey: Tim Minchin's Nine Life Lessons
"Although C.P. Snow famously decried the divergence of the two cultures (the sciences and the humanities), we have seen over the years many public intellectuals trying to bridge that gap by writing eloquently and engagingly about the importance, method and discoveries of science. Usually, these thinkers are scientists (such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker) who have mastered the ability to engagingly communicate the importance, underlying structure, method and discoveries of science, as well as their love for it. It's not as common, however, to have someone from the arts and humanities do the same, and to be as engaging, thought-provoking and funny as Tim Minchin, who was recently awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Western Australia, and who decided to share a few life tips worth listening to:" - Maitani from Bookmarklet
Tinfoil 2.0
‘Christianity was a hoax’ and scholar claims he has the proof
It is no secret that the biography of Jesus according to the NT has been constructed and can't have much in common with the life of the alleged historical person. But I doubt Atwill can provide evidence for his extravagant claims. Plus, can what he describes as the schemings of the Caesars be in accordance with the ways of thinking of that time? - To me, this is another impulse to read more on the historical roots of Christianity. - Maitani
It would be so much fun if this was the real story, but it sounds unlikely to me. - Eivind
I agree Eivind. I suspect the only way we'll ever know the truth behind the myths is if some ancient drafts that were supposed to get destroyed are uncovered. - Tinfoil 2.0
Eric Logan
Pascal’s Wager: Expanded Edition -
Pascal’s Wager: Expanded Edition
Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect -
Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect
Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect
Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect
"On May 31, 1578, local vineyard workers discovered that a hollow along Rome’s Via Salaria, a road traversing the boot of Italy, led to a catacomb. The subterranean chamber proved to be full of countless skeletal remains, presumably dating back to the first three centuries following Christianity’s emergence, when thousands were persecuted for practicing the still-outlawed religion. An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 souls—mostly Christians but including some pagans and Jews—found a final resting place in the sprawling Roman catacombs. For hundreds of skeletons, however, that resting place would prove anything but final. The Catholic Church quickly learned of the discovery and believed it was a godsend, since many of the skeletons must have belonged to early Christian martyrs. In Northern Europe—especially in Germany, where anti-Catholic sentiment was most fervent—Catholic churches had suffered from plunderers and vandals during the Protestant Revolution over the past several decades.... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
"Communities believed that their patron skeleton protected them from harm, and credited it for any seeming miracle or positive event that occurred after it was installed. Churches kept “miracle books,” which acted as ledgers for archiving the patron’s good deeds. Shortly after Saint Felix arrived at Gars am Inn, for example, records indicate that a fire broke out in the German town.... more... - Eivind
Eric Logan
Cops: Jehovah's Witnesses Faced Bullet Barrage | The Smoking Gun -
Cops: Jehovah's Witnesses Faced Bullet Barrage | The Smoking Gun
Cops: Jehovah's Witnesses Faced Bullet Barrage | The Smoking Gun
Baldwin, seen in the above mug shot, admitted firing 19 rounds “just behind” the car carrying the three Jehovah’s Witnesses. Baldwin added that he “was just letting them know he had a gun and was trying to get them off his property. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Yeah, because that's the most sane way to go about it... - Heather
Good one, Heather. - MRW_8
3quarksdaily: The New Dark Ages, Part I: From Religion to Ethnic Nationalism and Back Again -
3quarksdaily: The New Dark Ages, Part I: From Religion to Ethnic Nationalism and Back Again
"European Historians have long eschewed the term "Dark Ages." Few of them still use it, and many of them shiver when they encounter it in popular culture. Scholars rightly point out that the term, popularly understood as connoting a time of death, ignorance, stasis, and low quality of life, is prejudiced and misleading." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"In this essay I am taking the liberty of modifying the tem "Dark Ages" and applying to a modern as well as a historical context. I use it to refer to a general culture of fundamentalism permeating societies, old and new. By "Dark Age" I mean to describe any large scale effort to dim human understanding by submerging it under a blanket of fundamentalist dogma. And far from Europe of 1,500 years ago, my main purpose is to talk about far more recent matters around the world." - Maitani
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