Episode 7: Geocentrism and Biblical Cosmology

Episode 7: Geocentrism and Biblical Cosmology

In this episode of Life, the Universe, & Everything Else, Richelle McCullough, Javier Hernandez-Melgar, and Gem Newman discuss how we know that the Earth is not stationary at the centre of the universe, and why the Bible is not a good source of knowledge about cosmology.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: In Which the World Revolves Around Robert Sungenis (Part 1, Part 2) | The Scriptural Basis for a Geocentric Cosmology | What is Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation? | How Do We Understand the Coriolis Force? | Michelson-Morley Experiment (Wikipedia) | Sean Carroll’s Cosmology Primer | Sean Carroll on Geocentrism | Phil Plait on Geocentrism

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Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Correction: On this episode, I made an offhand reference to the fact that a 200C homeopathic dilution of Oscillococcinum is “like diluting a jug of milk in the Milky Way galaxy”. When I listened to the episode after it aired, I realised that I’d made an error. What I had described is actually much closer to the standard 30C homeopathic dilution (it’s about 33C). So what would a 200C dilution look like? Well, it’s impossible to describe a 200C dilution in these terms, because there are insufficient atoms in the universe (by about 320 orders of magnitude, I might add). This is why homeopaths need to use serial dilution to make their potions.

Episode 6: Waging War on Christmas

Episode 6: Waging War on Christmas

In this episode of Life, the Universe, & Everything Else, Scott, Gem, Laura, and Jeff discuss the so-called War on Christmas. Happy Holidays from everyone at Life, the Universe, & Everything Else!

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Keep Christ in Christmas | Jeremiah 10:2–4 | Premier Brad Wall’s Christmas Message | Secular Holiday Alternatives | Leaving Faith Behind

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Yes, being a skeptic is fulfilling. Really!

The following is a guest post from Jeffrey Olsson, former Anglican priest and current president of the Humanist Association of Manitoba. Jeff can be found at the Leave Faith Behind blog, and his book is available on Amazon.

Here, Jeff responds to some criticism that his last post received from David Driedger. Before you read on, I recommend reading Jeff’s previous post, Top Ten Reasons Why Being a Skeptic is Fulfilling, and Mr. Driedger’s response to it, A skeptical rant.

Why should it surprise anyone that a skeptic can be happy and fulfilled, let alone that there would be more than ten reasons why skeptics are happy? Hell, I only chose the top ten reasons because I didn’t want to bore anyone by blathering on with the zillions of others. It should also come as no surprise to anyone that people of any different belief set or culture can be fulfilled and happy, well adjusted and socially connected. After all, Skeptics are real people, not the simple caricature that others would demand we are. We have hopes and dreams, families and friends. All of which are totally common to most of mankind. Why would you find it a surprise that skeptics would talk about this? Why would you call it “unhealthy”?

The blog post was not meant to be prescriptive, and it is not. Skeptics do not operate by edict as you apparently do. We think things through and decide if we disagree or not. The post merely recognizes what modern skeptics all over the world are saying. The top ten blog post was written by a skeptic for skeptics. The only surprise to me was that a liberal Christian popped in for a chat. So let’s chat.

Anyone can criticize the modern skeptical movement, we make mistakes and are open to correction, but I highly suggest any critic attend a conference, seminar or venue where skeptics meet. Sit and listen to the rhetoric, logic, values (hopes and dreams) and you will quickly see that we are indeed a happy group of people. If you lack evidence that skeptics are fulfilled by their endeavor look to the size of the recent national and regional conferences in Europe, Canada, USA and Australia and ask yourself “Why do they return in increasing numbers year after year?” The answer is obvious, “Because it’s fun!” (Can I get a skeptical AMEN!)

Now, let me directly answer a few of your concerns.

You wrote: “Okay I will grant the how we got here but who we are and how to improve our lot, really?”

What we are: We are an evolved species. An overwhelming accumulation of evidence shows how we got here; right from the big bang through to evolution, (as you seem to agree) but it also shows who we are in the context of what we are. I’ll explain further.

There is no tangible evidence for dualism, so answering who we are must be possible by looking to the empirical evidence that comes from the sciences of neuropsychology, sociology, evolutionary psychology, biology and anthropology, to name a few. There is no need for supernatural claims to answer that question. For example, we already know that various human cultures differ greatly but further evidence shows us there are many common factors that make us who we are, including our all too human abilities/traits such as, moral reasoning, empathy, logic, extraversion/introversion, sociability, disposition and neuroticism, humour, and anger. I assert that “who we are” must be definable in the context of a material existence. To define who humans are using a supernatural framework is to exceed the evidence available at this time. J. Anderson Thomson defined this well when he said “We are risen apes, not fallen angels.” If you doubt science has already defined who we are you need only look to the reams of evidence available at any secular university in the western world.

To improve our lot: Skepticism, and in particular, applied and theoretical scientific skepticism, has done more to improve our lot in this world than any other undertaking known to man, including all religions combined. Next time you have an infectious disease I suggest you drop the pretense and admit that you already know to visit a doctor who practices western medicine. If you car won’t start you already know to have it towed to a shop that uses modern diagnostic tools and methods. (neither rolling the bones nor prayer will make it start). All of this scientific knowledge comes from those giants who stood before us and dared to dream about better ways of doing things and better ways of living.

Here are just a few of the greatest scientific advances that have made it possible to live as long and as well as we now do: The germ theory of disease transmission, disease vector epidemiology, nutrition, potable water, penicillin, x-rays, rocket science, evolution and much more. Studies show that when asked, parents display an overwhelming consensus, and will tell you that they hope their children have a safe healthy and long life. Science has shown it is uniquely qualified to achieve that goal. Therefore hope is a term that now has a secular meaning. For many people, skeptics included, we cannot imagine a better world without science and technology in it. Four centuries of the enlightenment through skeptical inquiry have paid off big time.

You also asked, “How does a willingness to change make anyone better? There is simply no relationship here.” I know many skeptics who have renounced their former dislike/hatred of homosexuals because they now find it possible to doubt the writings of Saint Paul and because of the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows homosexuals are just like the rest of us, and not like criminals and murderers as St. Paul says. I also know many non skeptics who change their diet when evidence is presented showing that they should be getting more of this or that in their diet. Willingness to change ones beliefs (and habits) when presented with contrary evidence is a virtue. Yes, I said it is a virtue. Nowhere in religion have I found an edict that states, “question everything” or “learn and adapt” or “plan, do, check, act”.

With regard to my “laughable” description of a skeptic cheering when the truth is discovered. I remember working with a team of colleagues performing tests on a synchronous governing system for many long nights while we were trying to restore it to service. We were confounded by its inability to control the speed of the machine it was connected to. When we went back to the office we looked at our drawings and each of us developed a hypothesis of why it would not work and then defined the tests we would use determine the fault. When one of my colleagues finally took her turn to run a test she removed and replaced a linkage that transmitted a signal from a compensating dashpot that we later discovered had been installed upside down. The unit immediately began to do its job. Everyone cheered. The only comments made by ALL of those whose hypotheses were proven wrong were, “Mark the lever so we will never have this problem again”, “Update the manuals”. No one else cared that their hypotheses were wrong, they only cared that they now knew the truth. (A one degree difference on the angle of the linkage would upset the whole machine.) We made sure we documented both the symptoms and the solution and moved on to solve other issues with that system.

And so it is with most skeptics who are applying the scientific method in a whole variety of ways. These are people who are trying to make a difference in some way. When someone comes along and finds a solution we all cheer, because we are often working towards a common solution with a group of others.

Please, laugh at that if it pleases you. Go ahead.

Regarding your reference to “strands of Pentecostalism” I consider such a silly statement ill tempered.

Perhaps you were having a bad day when you wrote your response.

Humanists, Skeptics “Attack” Youth for Christ

Jeff Olsson and I were interviewed yesterday by Michael Gryboski of the Christian Post (the most Christian of posts) for a piece he was writing on the subject of the Youth for Christ recreational centre that is preparing to open in downtown Winnipeg.

The article, entitled “Humanists, Skeptics Criticize New Youth For Christ Rec Center”, has now gone live. This is what Jeff and I had to say:

Youth For Christ will soon be opening up a rec center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which has stirred attacks from residents via the Winnipeg Free Press. Complaints ranged from a preference for a secular facility directed towards helping disadvantaged youth to concerns over it being built via government assistance.

“I agree with the numerous criticisms being leveled at Mayor Sam Katz and Youth For Christ,” said Jeffrey Olsson of the Humanist Association of Manitoba to CP. “This Youth for Christ center is yet another example of government intrusion into private citizens religious lives because they have no other recreation center to use.”

Olsson compared the YFC facility to that of past efforts by Canadian Christian organizations to evangelize aboriginal children, which he said resulted in thousands of disaffected youth.

Meanwhile, Gem Newman of Winnipeg Skeptics said that while he did not oppose YFC establishing their center, he was concerned about the government involvement.

“Instead of providing the youth in the area with a place they can feel comfortable, whatever their religious or philosophical inclination, the mayor has instead effectively given Youth For Christ a megaphone for their religious message,” said Newman.

Notwithstanding the fact that the author decided to characterise legitimate criticism as an “attack”, I think that the article was fairly balanced; certainly more than I expected. Jeff and I were asked to respond to criticisms levelled against the centre in this Winnipeg Free Press article. Although we were only given a few sentences, I don’t think that our positions were misrepresented in any way. All the same, some of our more cogent criticisms were not included in the final article. For that reason, I’ll include the text of the interview here.

Do you agree with the concerns and criticisms published in the Winnipeg paper?

Jeff: I agree with the numerous criticisms being leveled at Mayor Sam Katz and Youth For Christ. I will explain below in detail.

Gem: I do. I’m always wary when a sectarian religious organisation is given government funds, because this results in undue entanglement between the religious goals of the organisation and the (presumably) secular goals of the government. It can result in the appearance of government endorsement of the religious or philosophical perspective of the organisation.

Do you know of any connections the rec center has to the state? That is to say, was it built with tax dollars, jointly operated by city council, etc.?

Jeff: The Youth for Christ center was built with federal and city money … and was partially backed by private donations directly to the religious organization. It is completely controlled by YFC, with no city or federal direction being given for day to day operations.

Gem: To my knowledge, YFC has received [much] of its roughly $13.5 million budget from the government.

During the interview Jeff and I ballparked the amount of government funds that YFC received, but as we were on a very tight schedule I didn’t have the opportunity to look it up until afterward. While it’s tough to get an exact number, it appears that the centre received $3.2 million in federal funds and between $3.2 and $4.2 million in municipal funds, for a total of $6.2–7.2 million. The total cost of the project has been variously quoted as $9.6 million, $11.7 million, and $13.2 million. (Source, source, source. If any readers have access to more precise information on this subject, feel free to leave links in the comments.)

Specific details aside, it seems that the project is majority funded by federal and municipal tax dollars.

Do you believe that groups like Youth for Christ have good intentions? Do you believe they do much good for the communities they serve in?

Jeff: Of course YFC has good intentions. The central premise of their mission is that by bringing christ into the lives of youth, they will help to mentor and apostle youth and help them, to become better members of society. There is simply no evidence that this is true. There is evidence that drawing children further away from their parents, and removing them for their traditional cultural beliefs does damage as it divides the house hold on religious lines. Canadians have plenty of experience with this after the tragic residential schools program that forced 150,000 aboriginal youth into christian residential schools. This resulted in thousands of disaffected citizens, thousands of broken homes and a federal class action law suit against the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and United churches, and the federal government costing taxpayers billions of dollars. The law suit was won and payments are currently being made to tens of thousands of former students. Point Douglas residents have politely raised this issue at public hearings for the YFC center, only to be dismissed. Government intrusion into the religious lives of Canadians is just not unacceptable. This Youth for Christ center is yet another example of government intrusion into private citizens religious lives because they have no other recreation center to use. They could have built and funded a small recreation center and everyone would have been ecstatic.

Gem: The youth in this area are at serious risk. While I find the idea of preaching to those who are vulnerable in this way to be distasteful, I recognise the rights of a religious institution to attempt to sway those to whom it gives aid toward its philosophical perspective. What I find most troubling, however, is that the government is effectively amplifying Youth for Christ’s message. If the government had spent its [money] to build its own recreational centre, youth in the area would have two places they could go: a small sectarian centre and a large secular one. Instead, they have only a large sectarian centre, funded mostly by the government. Instead of providing the youth in the area with a place they can feel comfortable, whatever their religious or philosophical inclination, the mayor has instead effectively given Youth for Christ a megaphone for their religious message.

Jeff: A bit of history: Until YFC arrived, there was no recreation complex in Point Douglas, the poorest area of Winnipeg and this YFC center was put forth as an alternative by our Mayor, Sam Katz and federal officials. Area residents had asked government for funding for a small a recreation/sports centre with paid staff and they instead got the YFC center. Community leaders had also asked for more money for youth programs to be directed to aboriginal youth and monies for those programs are being diverted for the YFC center. The youth drop in centers I refer to were not religious in nature, anyone would feel comfortable there.

A large number of the residents in this area are aboriginal and follow traditional aboriginal teachings rather than Christianity. Winnipeg has a population of 675,000 people of which 72,000 are aboriginal. Point Douglas has the highest percentage of aboriginal people in all of Winnipeg and is one of the largest urban gatherings of aboriginal people in North America. Aboriginal religious leaders for the areas are very concerned that this center will have an undue religious influence on their youth, leading them away from traditional beliefs. Parents are worried that YFC’s large multimedia stage will be used to send an overtly Christian message to any child who would attend a function at the center.

Meanwhile funding for aboriginal youth drop in centers has been dropped to at least two small organizations since the announcement for the new YFC center was made causing the, to close. Concerns have also been raised at other YFC locations in Winnipeg because the organization evangelizes aggressively, stopping sports events for a paid volunteer to lead “prayer time” and deliver a Christian message. Some youth who are not christian are pressured to participate in the ritual or be ostracized, where they have to leave while the message is being delivered. There is no simple way to opt out of the religious instruction. As president of the Humanist Association of Manitoba I have heard these complaints personally and I take such matters very seriously, especially when tax dollars are being used as a basis for funding.

Finally, there is the issue of tax dollars being used to Fund an evangelistic religious organization. This is a concern from a civil liberties perspective. Canada, is by definition multicultural we are not a “melting pot” as you are in the US.

Gem: I’m glad that the youth in the area have some place to go, but I think that government money is best spent on secular approaches to problems to avoid undue entanglement between religion and government. When I donate money to a charitable organisation, I want to know that it is going toward helping people in empirically demonstrable ways, rather than toward indoctrination. Canada already has a troubled history when it comes to religiously motivated mistreatment of aboriginal youth, and I’d hate to think that we haven’t learned from our mistakes.

So, what do you think? Were Jeff and I totally off base? We’re interested in hearing your thoughts about the article, what we had to say, and about the youth centre itself.

Edit: I amended the second paragraph above to include the title of the CP article, as several commenters had assumed (because of the title of this post) that the title of the CP article was “Humanists, Skeptics Attack New Youth For Christ Rec Center”. I used the word “attack” in scare quotes here because it had been used in the CP article to describe legitimate criticism of the youth centre. Sorry for the confusion!


This isn’t my story—I don’t really have a deconversion story. The following is a guest post from Tim Herd, a fellow software developer and member of the Winnipeg Skeptics. Tim, an avid redditor, can be found online at The Flagcarrier. This entry is cross-posted from his blog.

“It is they who see this charade for what it is and join in the pageantry who are to blame.”

—Wiegraf Folles

Today I attended the monthly “Drinking Skeptically” meeting from our local skeptics association. I’ve been skipping it, but I thought I’d go tonight on account of it would help with my being-antisocial problem.

At one point, the topic of Christian upbringings came up. It seems that most of our members were either raised secularly, or given some meaningless wishy-washy version of Christianity that might as well not have been. Maybe not atheism per se, but secularism was the default for them. But not for me. After going through my story a bit, I’ve realized that I would really like a canonical record I can point people to, so I don’t have to keep telling the story and accidentally changing it every time. So, here goes.

First, my background. I was raised, as far as faith is concerned, by a Mennonite mother and a homebrew-protestant father. For those of you unaware, Mennonites are an anabaptist branch of protestantism. Due to 500 years of living in reclusive colonies, they are also effectively their own cultural group. Imagine Ukranians, that speak German, and are devoutly religious, but not in your face about it at all. That is Mennonites. They have a fairly agreeable doctrine, it’s very traditional but not conservative so to speak. They are also pretty progressive. They have great social services they provide, and in general with them it is always help first, proselytize second. All things considered, they are generally a fairly good version of christianity. Obviously though, I still have some disagreements.

My stepdad’s homegrown protestantism, on the other hand, was different. It was a very serious thing, for one. He was of a fundamentalist mindset, but in a very different way. Where most fundamentalists in the States, for instance, look at the physical descriptions in the Bible as literal truth, my stepdad never did. The earth was probably billions of years old, but who cares. If the scientists tell us evolution happened, then God did it. But the moral precepts in the Bible were taken extremely literally. These are the rules. You have to follow them. You have to like them. If you don’t, Hell.

Growing up, I took my “faith” extremely seriously (up until my story here begins, anyway). After all, one wrong move and I’m burning in Hell forever, and that’s a long time. This fucked me up royally. I never had youthful indiscretions. To do that would be a sin. You always hear about the “straight edge” kids. The kids at church private schools who look all prim and proper, and then go lesbian experiment with their first-cousins, drink at 14, sell cocaine, sleep with their youth pastor (all true stories of people I personally know, btw). I was never like that. I never drank. I never smoked. I never even SAW a drug. I never kissed a girl, because what if she’s not religious enough. I never shoplifted. I never lied. I never disobeyed my parents, in any significant way. Because to do that, would be hell.

A lot of people have a strong emotional connection to their religion. I never did. To me, it was quite simple, cut and dry. This book is true. It says I have to do X. Therefore, I’m doing X. No emotional connection required. Part of this was my natural tendencies; I am a computer programmer, and prone to both literal, and critical/rational thinking. But part of this was my parents. You see, my stepdad also took religion very seriously. To him, an emotional connection to religion was evil. After all, if you’re having an emotional connection to, say, the church hymn, you’re gratifying yourself instead of worshipping Jesus. We actually switched churches, three times, and finally ended up no longer attending, because the congregations treated it too much like a social outing, and not enough like the very real threat of hellfire it was.

Because this was a very serious thing to me, I read the entire Bible, cover to cover. Not cherry-picking verses like they like to do, but like an actual book, starting at the front and ending at the back. Unlike almost every other theist-turned-skeptic I know, I was not shocked by the Bible’s insanity. To me, that made no sense. The Bible DEFINED sane, so if I didn’t agree with it, I was wrong. But this had an important effect on me nonetheless.

Remember Mennonites? The specific part of the specific city I live in has one of the highest concentration of Mennonites in the world. There were 12 Mennonite churches within walking distance of my house. A large number of my peers at school were Mennonite. And some of them were really religious. As I started to get close to some of them, I noticed something. None of them were nearly as serious about it as I was. And, well, I considered myself to be doing just the bare minimum to get by. Some of the more openly pious ones (reminiscent of that story about the pharisees praying outside) would not even associate with me, because I “wasn’t religious enough”; I didn’t attend their youth groups with them. To me, their youth groups were nothing but an excuse to socialize, while simultaneously being arrogant and holier-than-thou because they filled their weekly church quota. I would talk to some of these more pious peers, and find out that their Biblical literacy was pathetic. Some didn’t even own a Bible. None of them knew what it said. They all violated the commandments within the Bible daily, and they didn’t even think this was a big deal. In my indoctrinated mind, not taking the Bible seriously was like condemning yourself to Hell with no chance of being saved. And that all these people, including the “most religious” friends I had, acting like it was no big deal? The dissonance was disturbing.

For a while, I could convince myself that those people were just “not true Christians”. The persecution complex that the Bible advocates played well. Obviously, in a church of say 1000 people, there may only be 20 “true Christians”. This was, after all, the rhetoric that my parents preached in our “homechurching” every Sunday, so it made perfect sense. While this is complete bullshit, I believed it right around age 15-17, at the perfect time to ensure I would be socially retarded forever and alienate all the people who could otherwise still be my friends. But I couldn’t believe this forever. Two main things contributed to this.

The first thing was that I sung in the church choir. At the time, we attended a small community church, populated mostly by the elderly. So, the church choir was made up of two main groups of people: The Elderly, and The Preacher’s Family. I assumed, naievely, that the pastor’s family would be of higher theological calibre than other church attendees. But what I saw contradicted this. The preacher and his family, as far as I could tell, sung in the choir simply because, well, that was expected. Where my stepdad had me convinced that I needed to sing to prove that I loved Jesus, the preacher’s family was singing because “what would they think if they saw the preacher’s family not in the choir?”. The internal politics of church life, the putting up images, the constant judging everyone elses’ piety. This was all so strongly distasteful to me that I started to doubt my faith. After all, as far as I knew, the consequences of infidelity was Hell. And the preacher’s family of all people didn’t even take this seriously. Maybe I shouldn’t either.

The second thing that happened, not to get too stereotypical, was science. I took science classes. In biology, I learned about evolution. Natural selection. Common ancestors. I learned that a literal creation was unnecessary. I had never been anti-science. I always acknowledged evolution as being at least somewhat meritous, because why else would they all believe it. But seeing just how thoroughly worked out the science was was a bit of a shock. In physics, I learned about the beauty and simplicity of the laws that governed the world. Before taking gr 11/12 physics, I fully believed that God can and did invoke miracles on a regular basis. After learning the science, I realized that miracles were impossible.

And so, having had my previous worldview shaken thoroughly, I started investigating. I looked up Christian apologetics and tried to convert my long time atheist best friend. But looking up the best arguments that Christians had come up with, having 2000 years to prepare, I found them laughable. Filled with fallacy and appeals to ignorance. This is the best they can come up with, I thought. It was pathetic.

At this point, I was prepared to stop calling myself a Christian. I read over the Mennonite Confession of Faith, and realized that I didn’t agree with any of it. I looked at the “Christians” I knew and saw them as mindless sheep, brainlessly parroting whatever snappy catchphrase they had heard the previous Sunday. I looked at my parents and it occurred to me just how many things they did, that maybe they shouldn’t’ve, but that were justified by their faith. I realized that it would simply be dishonest to call myself a Christian. Instead, I latched onto the concept of Deism. There is a God, but he is clearly not the Christian one, and he is clearly not fucking with the universe. Ever. At this point I was just turning 18

Although I didn’t really believe anyone was listening, at this point I started praying, every night, for the truth. “I don’t know what to believe, God, but I know that what I was taught growing up is a lie. I’m afraid of what I might find out, but I have to know the truth. Please, if you’re out there, show me a sign”. This, every night, for a year. No sign.

When I started university, I got exposed to other viewpoints. In engineering, pretty much everyone was default-atheist. And in computer engineering, everyone was very smart, and thoughtful. Many deep philosophical discussions were had. I saw firsthand just how ridiculous the campus religious groups were, meanwhile I found out that all these godless heathens were actually pretty cool guys. Ehty killed aliens and wasn’t afraid of anything. At this point, I had a bit of a philosophical realization. A universe in which a god exists, but does not interact in any way, shape or form (ie a Deist universe) is indistinguishable from an atheistic universe. They are the same thing. And so once again, I ‘converted’ simply by deciding to be honest about myself. I was an atheist.

Around this time, I had also discovered the atheist haunts on the internet. Places like r/atheism. People like Dawkins and Dennett, Harris and Hitchens. Wikipedia articles on philosophical beliefs. The books Gödel, Escher, Bach and I Am A Strange Loop, which had a very strange, almost spiritual effect on me. I learned about computation theory, AI, theories of mind, all of which served to demystify. To fill some of the gaps that God was hiding in.

All of these resources, combined, had a strong effect on me. But the ONE thing that really gave me that ‘deconversion’ moment was this video, The Instruction Manual For Life. When I saw that piece, I cried. (Ed. note: I just watched it again. I cried again. The last time I cried was in January, upon watching the end of MGS4). It was like the author had lived my life. He verbalized all of my exeriences, all of my thoughts, my fears. In eight minutes of animation. I immediately watched all the other videos uploaded by the two authors of the video, and forevermore it stuck with me.

Now, I am an atheist. I am also a strong skeptic, something much closer to my fundamental nature. I apply my critical thinking across the board. I like to say that my skepticism is axiomatic to my personality, and my atheism is derived from that. In a certain academic sense, this is true. But in a stronger, more emotional, more personal sense, there is more to it. I have personally seen the damage that religion can do. I have never suffered physically due to religion. There are kids who are beaten in the name of God. There are kids who are homeless because their pious parents cannot abide a homosexual in their houses. Hell, think of all the people who are not alive today, thanks to religion. But one thing I have experienced is the thought-supressing effects of faith. My whole life, I was taught to believe a certain thing. To expect a certain thing from the universe. To work towards a certain goal. And then one day I realized I had been lied to, systematically.

Religions both allows and encourages restricting the thoughts of yourself and others. And I can think of nothing more abhorrent. There were times when I personally questioned my own sanity. Everyone else believes this, yet it is so obviously wrong. How can they all be so blind? What if I’m the one who’s wrong. But that’s impossible, see right here this can’t be. But they all say it is. How could I possibly be right here.

And so this is why I am now, finally, at age 21, an anti-theist. Nobody should be forced to think a certain thing. Nobody should be forced to question their own sanity as a result. It is as simple as that.

Thanks for sharing your story, Tim.

Judgement Day, in Winnipeg!

It’s coming! Run for your lives!

If you didn’t know, there is a group called Family Radio that have been putting billboards up all over the world touting May 21st 2011 as Judgement Day; the day Christ will return to Earth, bring forth the Rapture and save the believers. And then 5 months later on Oct 21, 2011, the end of the world will come.   

A lot has already been written about them, and in fact the Ask and Atheist radio show has put up the website “We Can’t Know“, in response to Family Radio’s “We Can Know“, website, so I won’t address their claims in this post, other than to say I am skeptical that Jesus is coming back on May 21, after he didn’t come back all of  these other predicted times as well.

I was very excited to see a billboard of theirs right here in Winnipeg! On the corner of Pembina and Grant, facing south, is this billboard.

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Pretty isn’t it? Go on down, take a look at it, take your picture in front of it, and prepare for the end! The Bible guarantees it, and the Bible has shown itselft to be a reliable document after all…