Posts Tagged god

Texas versus History

Last week the Guardian reported that a Texan board of education wanted to get religion more prominently into the classrooms. Nothing new there, I hear you say (OK, I can’t actually hear you say that, but I’ll presume for the sake of this increasingly tortured intro that you did, and you can always email to correct me later). Except this time it’s not the same old Evolution vs Creationism Intelligent Design debate regarding biology classes and science textbooks – this time the battle lines have been drawn in History.

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Answering The Big Questions – Atheist Groundhog Day

Alex Gibson,  friend of the MSS and board member of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, drops in to offer his thoughts on the same old arguments faced by atheists:

Right, I’ve just finished watching Chloe’s sterling performance for AHS on the BBC’s “The Big Questions” (it’s on iPlayer) and am chewing my own arm in frustration. I am absolutely sick and tired of the sheer amount of time wasted on programmes like this dealing with basic, basic misunderstandings about atheism and weak poorly-reasoned arguments that have been bludgeoned to death about a million times in print and on television. Enough! From now on, if you ever want to discuss religion with me – or just generally – you should take these three points as read. They are done, over, talked to death, and repeating them will make you look like an idiot. Read the rest of this entry »

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Question of the Week: What would you sell your soul for?

For blues musicians Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson (no relation), it was the ability to play the guitar better than any man who came before them.  For Stanley Moon in the 1967 film Bedazzled, it was the love of a waitress in a Wimpy restaurant.  For Keanu Reeves it was the chance to work in a top law firm (not, as perhaps would have been wiser, a degree of acting ability).  And for Homer Simpson, it was a donut.  It seems we all have a price, and the Devil is a pretty shrewd negotiator.

Personally, I’d really test the fella, see how far he could go.  If I could sell my soul for, say, a guarantee that hell would stop being such a crappy place to spend eternity, I think that would be a decent deal.  You know, scatter a few cushions, stick in a pool table, get rid of all that fire and brimstone and gnashing of teeth, and Hades could really be a decent hang-out.  It’s essentially a bit of an eternal fixer-upper.  Plus, I can imagine I’d get some serious respect from the population of Hell for putting an end to their eternal damnation and torture, so that would really start me out on the right foot, socially-speaking.

So, with this in mind, what would you enter into a Faustian pact with the horned-one for?  What would you trade-in your immortal soul for?  And what impact might that have on your day to day life?

Leave your answers, as weird, wacky and wonderful as you like, below the fold.

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Atheism 101: Pascal’s Wager

Here at MSS HQ, we’re always looking for ways to grow and expand the group.  Having guest speakers come down and talk to us is high on our list, as a big name from the world of science and skepticism is always going to draw more of a crowd than the promise of a pint with Marshall.  Wonderful company though he is.

To this end, we’ve been compiling a short-list of people we’d love to invite down to talk to us.  Some have spoken at “Skeptics in the Pub” events around the UK; some are just people we think it would be cool to hear speak about science.  I was researching a guest from this latter category (to whom I shall refer only as John Smith) when I was met by two surprises in quick succession.

The first surprise was reading that John Smith apparently finds Pascal’s Wager to be a compelling argument.  The second surprise was discovering that Marshall, our publicist, resident psychic-basher, and Skepchick-fan has no idea what Pascal’s Wager is.
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Question of the Week: If God existed, what would you ask him?

Buses seem to be an increasingly popular battleground in the conflict between religion and atheism.  First we had Richard Dawkins and the lovely Ariane Sherine’s ‘There’s Probably No God So Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life’ posters, which we heartily endorse here at the MSS (I personally endorse Ariane Sherine, too, but that’s neither here nor there).  Then came the derivative and pretty petty, not to mention offensive to any non-Christian, reply from the Christian Party – ‘Ours is the right God nerr nerr nerr nerr nerrrr nerr’ I think it read.  I may not have that exactly right (there may have been another ‘r’ in the third ‘nerr’).

And now the latest one to catch my eye, as I sat merrily and atheistically eating my lunch the other day (actually, can you atheistically eat lunch?  I suppose I didn’t whisper with my eyes closed before eating):  ‘IF God existed, what would you ask him?’ What struck me most, I think, was the note of doubt somewhat uncharacteristic for a bus that presumably was pro sky-God.  Usually good Christian buses are loud and certain.

As it turned out, the ad was for the slightly creepy Alpha course – a series of  discussion groups sold (even if unofficially) as the Atheist-converter du jour.  Having looked over the course content, it seems to be little more than propaganda (the course has been criticised in the press for its emphasis on the charismatic and attractive facade – the Channel 4 show ‘Revelations’ recently explored the course in depth; it can be viewed online).  Still, it won’t stop your intrepid MSS investigating in person… see Mike and I at the next Skeptics in the Pub for details!

Well it’s question of the week time, so I want to put it to you, seasoned and smart followers of the MSS – If God existed, what would you ask him?  You’re a well-read bunch; he’s supposedly omniscient – pull no punches!

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How to demonstrate ghosts are real in one easy step

Imagine a conversation between two people.  We’ll call them Bill and Frank.

  • Frank claims: “God is real.”
  • Bill claims: “God is real.”
  • But Bill disagrees with Frank’s claim;
  • and Frank disagrees with Bill’s.

The solution to this simple problemette is that Bill and Frank define the word “God” in different ways. Bill, a fundamentalist Christian, worships the abrahamic god Yahweh.  Frank is a pantheist, and worships a spinozan god who might also be called “nature”.  The apparent contradiction in their conversation arises because they both use the word “god” to refer to the object of their worship, even though the concepts they are expressing are not equivalent.

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