Friday, November 21, 2008

Rational Moms

Just a link for my few readers who are parents. Rational Moms is exactly what it sounds like. Moms talking about rational thought and how it relates to parenting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sometimes, life is just awesome.

Proof of God's Benevolence:
No one had anything sharp or explosive.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why atheists are mean and depressed.

Hold on, stick with me for a second.

I just got done reading this article on Slate and I thought it made some pretty good points. I don't know how mean and depressed I actually am, but they do quote some hard numbers and show some scientific results that indicate that atheists are more likely to be unhappy than the religious.

The religious like to say that this is because atheists have a god-shaped hole in our lives. Turns out, it's just because we don't go to church. We don't get that community that the religious have. The way to fix this, of course, is to find a community.

I might suggest a book club.

Personally, though, I think I'm doing just fine without a community. Though I've never given blood (mostly because I really dislike not having all my blood), I give to charities and the homeless whenever I can - which is pretty frequently. I might get lonely every now and again, but that has more to do with being a shy, single guy than it does with being an atheist. I'm not depressed. I'm not angry.

I might be mean. I don't know. Am I mean?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Not Good Enough

I'm happy with the results of the presidential election last night. America showed that most of us have moved past the bigotry of earlier generations against black people in our society.

We did, however, strongly affirm that we have not moved past all bigotry. In California, Proposition 8, an initiative to ban gay marriage in the state once again, passed by about 4%. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization known for beginning the movement to add the phrase "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Mormon Church both donated millions of dollars to the campaign to once again breach the wall of separation between church and state and violate the rights of a reviled class of citizens.

In Arizona, Proposition 102 passed by 13%. Proposition 102 adds to Arizona's state constitution a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. This follows a 2006 initiative, which was defeated, seeking to outlaw both marriage and civil unions for same sex couples. Apparently, my state believes in the separate but equal principle. I've read history, so I do not. Gay marriage was already illegal in Arizona, the fear was that the law could be challenged and struck down as unconstitutional by the courts. This was a preemptive movement to stop that from happening. It succeeded and set back the next great civil rights movement by years.

Amendment 2 in Florida passed with a 62% approval, two percent more than needed to clear the margin required to amend the state's constitution.

In Arkansas, a Initiative Act 1 was passed preventing unwed couples from adopting children. Same sex couples are unable to wed in Arkansas, but in this particular state they decided to alienate unwed straight couples as well. Regardless, the intent was to prevent gay couples from raising children. They have the gall to claim that it is about the welfare of the children, not the rights of adults. Nevermind that no study has ever indicated that being raised by a same sex couple is in any way harmful or inferior to a "traditional" childhood.

Gay marriage isn't like abortion. There is no argument to be made for banning it except on a religious basis. There can be no discussion that does not appeal to religion or tradition. Every one of these examples is a violation of your rights. Whether you are gay or straight, religious or not, you have an interest in maintaining a clear line of separation between church and state.

Last night was a good night. However, our nation is still not delivering on its promises. The next four to eight years might make our work easier, but do not let yourself be fooled into thinking that we don't still have a great deal of work to do.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Razor's Edge

Our planet orbits in what is called the Goldilocks Zone. It's called that because scientists have weird senses of humor. The idea is that the planet is not too hot and not too cold, but just right. The determining factor is whether the planet can have liquid water. From what we know, that is the primary requirement for life. No liquid water, no life.

Our planet also happens to have one moon to help stabilize its orbit, normalizing the climate to some degree. We have an asteroid belt that serves to shield us from many incoming, potentially damagings Rock Of Death From Outer Space.

There are a number of other factors that make our planet particularly suited to life. Some theists see this and say, "It can't be a coincidence that we just happen to show up on the one planet that has all this. We are balanced perfectly on the edge of a razor."

Well, no, not exactly.

This argument supposes that we were somehow destined for Earth, that life couldn't have appeared on another planet if it was equally suited. The argument seems to say that, were Mars equally suited to the genesis of life, it still would not have appeared there.

The entire suggestion puts the cart before the horse. It's like arguing that the shape of the Colorado River is proof of the existence of God, because it happens to fit perfectly into the Grand Canyon. If either the Grand Canyon or the Colorado River had a different shape, there would be constant flooding all through Northern Arizona. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the mechanics behind the operation of water.

Life, with evolution and natural selection, is very much like water. It seeks a niche and continues to work at that niche until it dries up. If it doesn't dry up, it creates the Grand Canyon.

It's not a coincidence that the Colorado River happens to fit perfectly into the Grand Canyon, but nor is it proof of design. That's just how it works.

Also bear in mind that our planet has only been able to support life some of the time. It also isn't a coincidence that we happened to show up in that time. Nor is it proof of design.