Friday, September 30, 2011

Unmarried Christians Get Pregnant More!

It's no surprise that according to a new Gallup poll, 76% of evangelical Christians believe sex outside of marriage is immoral.

But what surprises Christian commentators is that over 80% of young (18-29) evangelical Christians have sex. That's just a bit below the national average (88%). So in spite of all the preaching and moralizing, Christians are demonstrating once again that they are just ordinary humans, subject to the same healthy desires as the rest of us ... and that their religion has very little real effect on their behavior.

But the big surprise is that more of them get pregnant than the general population!

There are two pretty obvious reasons why this might be: ignorance and guilt.

The ignorance part is because evangelical Christian parents teach abstinence rather than real sex education. These poor young adults just don't know how, when or why to use condoms, birth-control pills and other contraception. No surprises there.

But guilt? That's a bit more subtle.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Atheism will Replace Religion, and Why Capitalism Cares

Here's a question that's bugged me for years: why aren't all Christians strong socialists? As Carl Gibson at HuffPost wrote the other day:
Christians would do well to vote for those who actually practice what they preach. While Perry and Paul demand cuts to public programs and health care for the uninsured, President Obama is finding his inner Luke and asking the richest Americans to share their possessions to help lessen the burden of deficit reduction already on the shoulders of working families.
If Jesus demanded a socialistic approach to helping the poor, then why are evangelical Christians almost universally against socialized medicine, unemployment insurance and a decent Social Security system?

Because it's bad for religion, that's why.

Nigel Barber did some fascinating research about atheism. He wanted to know why atheism is so strongly correlated with wealth. Along the way, he discovered the fascinating answer: It's security, not wealth, that drives people to religion.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

No Dinosaurs in Heaven

For my faithful New York readers (and those nearby New York) ... there's an exciting new movie coming out:
No Dinosaurs in Heaven will be screening at NY Academy of Sciences on October 25, 2011 at 7PM, along with a discussion with Dr. Eugenie Scott from the National Center for Science Education and the film's director, Greta Schiller.
You can learn more at the No Dinosaurs in Heaven web site.

If some of you are able to make it, I'd love to read your reviews.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Do It! Sign the Petition to take "Under God" Out of the Pledge!

OK all you dilettantes and dabblers, you casual readers and sideline critics ... it's time to get off your butts and do something important! This will take you less than five minutes – three if you're quick – and it will make a difference.
Sign the White House Petition to remove "Under God" from the Pledge.
If you're a fellow blogger, put this link on your site too! (

The number of signers already blasted past the original goal of 5,000. Can we get 100,000? 500,000? A million atheists standing up for their rights? It could happen! But it depends on you.

You'll have to spend about thirty seconds typing your name and email to create an account on, then wait a few seconds for the

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bad Christian Logic: Even the Smart Ones Do It

Albert Mohler may be one of the most intelligent humans on the planet. If Mohler weren't a Christian literalist, he might also be one of the best scientists or historians alive today. Sadly, his mind has been hijacked by the religion virus, which seems to have rendered him incapable of true logical thinking.

Mohler's most recent article is about Genesis, and asks whether Adam and Eve were literally the ancestors of all humans. He builds up a very powerful chain of logical arguments, based on history, philosophy and Biblical evidence: if Adam and Eve weren't real, then Christianity falls apart. Jesus' sacrifice would have been meaningless. Without Adam and Eve, there would be no original sin, and no need for anyone to accept Jesus as their savior.

To a scientist or historian, this is a beautiful chain of deductions, the sort of stuff that all scholars aspire to:
Adam and Eve --> The Fall --> God's curse --> original sin
  --> Jesus' sacrifice --> redemption --> Christianity
It's a very nice bit of scholarship so far. But ... then Mohler makes a terrible mistake.

A real scientist or historian would look for independent evidence for Adam and Eve to prove they existed, and then follow the chain of logic forward to prove the conclusion (that Christianity is true). But Mohler does the reverse! He claims that Christianity is true, and then follows the logic backwards to "prove" that the story of Adam and Eve is true.

It's an embarrassing intellectual error.

He also asserts that all true Christians must reach this same conclusion. Mohler claims that

Monday, September 19, 2011

Atheist Group Rips out Bible Pages to Demonstrate Morality

I usually start my day by scanning the news headlines looking for something good to blog about. Imagine my surprise this morning when I discovered that the Christian Post was ranting about the very same group that invited me as their monthly speaker this coming Thursday!

Bruce Gleason and the Backyard Skeptics of Orange County had a great idea. The Bible is full of immoral laws that no decent modern Christian or Jew would follow. Why not remove them from the Bible? For example:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Danger! Halloween Candy is Cursed by Witches!

Seriously people. Can this be real? The author, Kimberly Daniels, lives in a fairyland world filled with demons, spirits, witches, vampires, and of course Lucifer and God. It's hilarious ... except that it's not a joke.

The really scary part of this is that it's not some random nobody. It was published as a guest blog in Charisma, a serious Christian news site with a large following. Here's what Daniels says about Halloween:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good News: Court Sides with Two Atheist Lawsuits

Life is keeping me busy today, so there's just time for a couple quick links. The first is a story about a Christian teacher who was ordered to remove a huge Christian poster from his math classroom:
Court says teacher has no right to banners referring to God
The court originally ruled in favor of the teacher, but the school district appealed and the District Court in San Francisco reversed the decision. The teacher now has to pay the school's legal fees.

The second story is a follow-up: remember James Corbett, teacher extraordinaire? He made the mistake of treating Christianity like any other topic, open to analysis and criticism in his history classes. He was sued by a Christian student who claimed Corbett had violated his right to religious freedom.

Last month we got the good news that the Appeals Court finally sided with Corbett. The Court ruled that Corbett's lessons in the classroom were not against the law. The ruling was somewhat technical, but still a big victory for education and good teachers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diamond Planets? Why Global Warming Deniers are Dishonest

Why can we say with confidence that global-warming deniers are for the most part dishonest? Because they try to hold honest climate-change researchers to an impossible scientific standard.

Here's a wonderful article that illustrates it perfectly. A couple weeks ago, astrophysicists announced they had discovered a diamond planet! No joke. It was orbiting a pulsar, and the nature of its orbit and its history made it almost certain it was crystal – that is, diamond.

But the astrophysicist went a big step further in the name of science.
Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame. The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been.

How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best 9/11 Quote Ever: Leon Wieseltier at the Kennedy Center

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, is being widely quoted from his amazing speech at 9/11: An Evening of Remembrance and Reflection at the Kennedy Center. The part that everyone likes the best is this:
The obscenities of September 11, 2001 exposed the difference between builders and destroyers. We are builders. Let us agree, on this anniversary, that it is an honor to be an American and it is an honor to be free.
Truly great words. That distinction, between those who create and those who destroy, between those who want to move forward and those who want to drag us down, is the very heart of why 9/11 happened. The Taliban and all terrorists are nothing but vandals who would tear down the great works of others. Their own actions condemn their religion.

But the mainstream media seem to be deliberately ignoring the very best quote from Leon Wieseltier's speech:
We affirm ... that none of our worldviews, with God or without God, should ever become the worldview of the state, and that no sanctity ever attaches to violence.
That is the real heart of 9/11. When sanctity attaches to violence, anything can be justified. And when a state, which has

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Relativity of Wrong: Governor Perry should read Asimov

Some of my Facebook friends and family got into a discussion about Governor Perry's claim that evolution is "just a theory" (alongside global warming) and shouldn't taught in school. Leo James (a bit of nespotic promo: singer/songwriter and world-class juggler) had this to say:
"Rick Perry thinks we shouldn't talk or teach about evolution and climate change since the scientists aren't certain yet. We are not certain of anything, should we just not talk anymore either? Perhaps we shouldn't teach gravity until we find the higgs-boson particle and become sure that we understand the simple forces that make up the universe. ... Remember children, gravity is just a theory."
It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite essays: The Relativity of Wrong by scientist and master of science fiction Isaac Asimov.

Asimov's thesis is that there are degrees of knowledge, from a raw theory with

Thursday, September 8, 2011

US Air Force Nuke Launchers' Training Included Christian Ethics Class

Conservative Christians are howling because the United States Air Force dropped an ethics class ("Just War Theory") that included material from the Bible. And as usual, these complainers are trying to gloss over the real facts. Texas Senator John Cornyn wrote in a letter to the Air Force:
“Suspending a course like this because of references to religious texts misrepresents the First Amendment. Although our Founding Fathers rightly included language in the Constitution that precludes the federal government from establishing an official religion, this language does not, as some have argued, protect them from exposure to religious references."
Religious references? Wait a second, Senator. This class was taught by Christian clergy for the last twenty years! And it used text from the Old and New Testaments. You call that "exposure to religious references"? I call it forcing Christianity on our Air Force personnel at government expense.

When it comes to having your finger on "the button" to launch nuclear weapons,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bachmann, Romney and Cain: Religious Rights Trump Gay Rights

What do you do when two groups' civil rights come into direct conflict?

Three of the front-running Republican presidential candidates (Bachmann, Romney and Cain) say that religious rights trump gay rights when the government is giving out our tax dollars. And a fourth, Texas Governor Perry, almost certainly would have said the same thing if he'd been able to stay for the debate (he had to return to Texas because of the wildfires).

This shows a stunning misunderstanding of the United States Constitution and the very meaning of civil rights.

The question they were responding to was about gay couples adopting children. Many of the adoption agencies in this country are run by Christian churches, particularly the Catholic Church. And these same agencies get a lot of funding from the federal government. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Catholic adoption agencies don't want to let same-sex couples adopt children. The Catholic Church claims it violates their right to religious freedom.

Many Americans don't realize that outside of employment and housing, it's perfectly legal for an ordinary citizen to discriminate against anyone for any reason. If I were a racist, it would be perfectly legal for me to

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gay Student Ousted from Christian Choir

In an article subtitled "Standing Firm," a Christian "Good News" site tells the rather sad story of a young gay man who was ousted from Psalms 100, a Christian Choir at the University of North Carolina whose mission is "to spread the joy of the Lord through song." You can probably tell that the article was a bit slanted by the subtitle "Standing Firm."

Most of the students and faculty are properly outraged at this Christian group that professes God's love but rejects one of their own because God chose (or so they believe) to make the man gay. It's discriminatory and appears to violate the University's anti-discrimination policy.

But they're missing the point.

The real problem is religion itself. As long as we have religions that teach mythology as fact, morality is absolute and only from God, and feelings and faith are more important than rational thinking, then we're going to have this sort of bigotry. It's not that they're misinterpreting the Bible: their whole way of thinking is wrong.

Christians, Jews and Muslims are taught from an early age to accept authority without question, to ignore obvious contradictions and hypocrisy, and to value faith over rational thought. They're taught that their holy books, which contain thousands of contradictions, errors of fact, and clearly immoral lessons, are actually

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Florida Strippers: Get Ready for the Republicans!

Florida's strippers, exotic dancers and the rest of the crowd in the adult-entertainment industry are getting excited – the Republican National Convention is coming to town!

It seems that America's conservatives (who like to claim the moral high ground) like a good sex show as much as their Democratic opponents. But Republicans have more money! Unlike their Democratic counterparts, the Republicans can actually afford a good lap dance ... or more.

The strip clubs are expecting a huge surge in attendance and have created special private rooms and private entrances for their conservative guests, who have to fly under the radar when