Tuesday

Denying The Holy Spirit


Denying The Holy Spirit


Stephen Fry on 'respecting' religious beliefs

The Greatest Show On Earth

The Greatest Show On Earth


Even with the Catholic church accepting evolution since the 1950's, but as one of god's greatest works. It's staggering that the issue is still to be put to bed.  Richard Dawkins' "Greatest Show on Earth" is one of my favourite books, it arms the reader with overwhelming arguments to back up evolution as fact. It's beautifully written and every example is easily understood, whether scientifically minded or not. I highly recommend it.

As Dawkins says at the beginning of the book, no person with an open mind reading it will finish it still thinking evolution is anything other than beyond all reasonable doubt. In fact beyond all doubt.


Monday

Hell's Angel - Mother Teresa


Hell's Angel - Mother Teresa



During her lifetime Mother Teresa had become synonymous with saintliness. But in 1994, three years before her death, journalist Christopher Hitchens made this provocative film asking if her reputation was deserved.

For an unusual Mother Teresa Portrait. CLICK HERE


Who Wrote the Bible - Antitheist Atheist



Who wrote the bible


Who wrote the bible? Is the bible the word of God? Why is the bible full of contradictions? This documentary explores questions at the heart of the Christian faith in a fair open-minded fashion. It is NOT meant to be inflammatory, instead informative.  

Iran is not the problem. - Antitheist atheist



Iran is not the problem. - Antitheist atheist 



IRAN (is not the problem) is a feature length film responding to the failure of the American mass media to provide the public with relevant and accurate information about the standoff between the US and Iran, as happened before with the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.
We have heard that Iran is a nuclear menace in defiance of the international community, bent on "wiping Israel off the map", supporting terrorism, and unwilling to negotiate. This documentary disputes these claims as they are presented to us and puts them in the context of present and historical US imperialism and hypocrisy with respect to Iran.
It looks at the struggle for democracy inside Iran, the consequences of the current escalation and the potential US and/or Israeli attack, and suggests some alternatives to consider.
This 79 minute documentary features Antonia Juhasz (The Bu$h Agenda), Larry Everest (Oil, Power, and Empire), and other activists and Iranian-Americans. The DVD also contains a 20 minute preview version ideal for meetings. The goal of this movie is to promote dialog and change the debate on Iran, so please consider organizing a screening, big or small, in your area.
Produced by Aaron Newman, an independent film-maker and part of the Scary Cow film co-op in San Francisco. He is an anti-imperialism/pro-democracy activist, founder of the SF Chomsky Book Club, and a member of Hands Off Iran
There are differences of opinion between many of the voices in this film, but all agree that a war would be unjustified.
http://www.iranisnottheproblem.org/about_the_movie


Sunday

Christian Stupidity Playlist


A short collection of Christian educational clips by an organisation calling themselves "Christian Answers" with Larry Wessels and co. If nothing else, they are hilarious.

Wednesday

Bad Science - Ben Goldacre - Antitheist

Click Link To Get Book
Click Link To Get Book

Have you ever wondered how one day the media can assert that alcohol is bad for us and the next unashamedly run a story touting the benefits of daily alcohol consumption? Or how a drug that is pulled off the market for causing heart attacks ever got approved in the first place? How can average readers, who aren’t medical doctors or Ph.D.s in biochemistry, tell what they should be paying attention to and what’s, well, just more bullshit?

Ben Goldacre has made a point of exposing quack doctors and nutritionists, bogus credentialing programs, and biased scientific studies. He has also taken the media to task for its willingness to throw facts and proof out the window. But he’s not here just to tell you what’s wrong. Goldacre is here to teach you how to evaluate placebo effects, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it. You’re about to feel a whole lot better.

Friday

Louis Theroux Meets Ultra Zionists West Bank Parts 1- 4.

Louis Theroux Meets Ultra Zionists West Bank Pts 1- 4.


 This is a great insight to the abhorrent treatment of Palestinians  by people justifying their actions with bronze age myths. Full Youtube version beneath the following 4 parts for the time it remains live. 









Louis Theroux spends time with a small and very committed subculture of ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. He discovers a group of people who consider it their religious and political obligation to populate some of the most sensitive areas of the West Bank, especially those with a spiritual significance dating back to the Bible.

Throughout his journey, Louis gets close to the people most involved with driving the extreme end of the Jewish settler movement - finding them warm, friendly, humorous, and deeply troubling.



BBC - Ultra Zionists - [FULL DOCUMENTARY] from DJ Rubiconski on Vimeo.

The Atheism Tapes - Jonathan Miller - Antitheist Atheist Blog





The Atheism Tapes: Colin McGinn
Jonathan Miller talks to the philosopher Colin McGinn about atheism and anti-Theism. This interview was done for the BBC series Atheism: A rough history of disbelief. 





The Atheism Tapes  - Steven Weinberg
The Atheism Tapes - Jonathan Miller doing reportage Nobel prize-winning American physicist Steven Weinberg 






Atheism Tapes Arthur Miller
In this episode of The Atheism Tapes, BBC's Jonathan Miller talks to playwright Arthur Miller about the mass anti-semitism of pre WW2 America and the shoveling on of religiousity and patriotism in the US today. Author Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005)is likely most famous for his play Death of a Salesman and for having once married Marilyn Monroe.





The Atheism Tapes: Denys Turner
Christian theologian Denys Turner defends the case for God as the answer to the most important questions.






The Atheism Tapes: Richard Dawkins
Biologist Richard Dawkins talks to Jonathan Miller about his implacable opposition to all religion.





FOR THE ORIGINAL SERIES 'BRIEF HISTORY OF DISBELIEF', PLEASE CLICK HERE

Richard Dawkins' letter to his daughter


Richard Dawkins' letter to his daughter from "The Devil's Chaplain" which you can purchase from the link below this heart warming letter.


To my dearest daughter,



Now that you are ten, I want to write to you about something that is important to me. Have you ever wondered how we know the things that we know? How do we know, for instance, that the stars, which look like tiny pinpricks in the sky, are really huge balls of fire like the Sun and very far away? And how do we know that the Earth is a smaller ball whirling round one of those stars, the Sun?
The answer to these questions is ‘evidence’.


Sometimes evidence means actually seeing (or hearing, feeling, smelling) that something is true. Astronauts have traveled far enough from the Earth to see with their own eyes that it is round. Sometimes our eyes need help. The ‘evening star’ looks like a bright twinkle in the sky but with a telescope you can see that it is a beautiful ball – the planet we call Venus. Something that you learn by direct seeing (or hearing or feeling) is called an observation.


Often evidence isn’t just observation on its own, but observation always lies at the back of it. If there’s been a murder, often nobody (except the murderer and the dead person!) actually observed it. But detectives can gather together lots of other observations which may all point towards a particular suspect. If a person’s fingerprints match those found on a dagger, this is evidence that he touched it. It doesn’t prove that he did the murder, but it can help when it’s joined up with lots of other evidence. Sometimes a detective can think about a whole lot of observations and suddenly realize that they all fall into place and make sense if so-and-so did the murder.


Scientists (the specialists in discovering what is true about the world and the universe) often work like detectives. They make a guess (called a hypothesis) about what might be true. They then say to themselves: if that were really true, we ought to see so-and-so. This is called a prediction. For example, if the world is really round, we can predict that a traveler, going on and on in the same direction, should eventually find himself back where he started. When a doctor says that you have measles he doesn’t take one look at you and see measles. His first look gives him a hypothesis that you may have measles. Then he says to himself: if she really has measles, I ought to see__Then he runs through his list of predictions and tests them with his eyes (have you got spots?), his hands (is your forehead hot?), and his ears (does your chest wheeze in a measly way?). Only then does he make his decision and say, ‘I diagnose that the child has measles.’ Sometimes doctors need to do other tests like blood tests or X-rays, which help their eyes, hands and ears to make observations.


The way scientists use evidence to learn about the world is much cleverer and more complicated than I can say in a short letter. But now I want to move on from evidence, which is a good reason for believing something, and warn you against three bad reasons for believing anything. They are called ‘tradition’, ‘authority’, and ‘revelation’.


First, tradition. A few months ago, I went on television to have a discussion with about 50 children. These children were invited because they’d been brought up in lots of different religions. Some had been brought up as Christians, others as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs. The man with the microphone went from child to child, asking them what they believed. What they said shows up exactly what I mean by ‘tradition’. Their beliefs turned out to have no connection with evidence. They just trotted out the beliefs of their parents and grandparents, which, in turn, were not based upon evidence either. They said things like, ‘We Hindus believe so and so.’ ‘We Muslims believe such and such.’ ‘We Christians believe something else.’ Of course, since they all believed different things, they couldn’t all be right. The man with the microphone seemed to think this quite proper, and he didn’t even try to get them to argue out their differences with each other. But that isn’t the point I want to make. I simply want to ask where their beliefs came from. They came from tradition. Tradition means beliefs handed down from grandparent to parent to child, and so on. Or from books handed down through the centuries. Traditional beliefs often start from almost nothing; perhaps somebody just makes them up originally, like the stories about Thor and Zeus. But after they’ve been handed down over some centuries, the mere fact that they are so old makes them seem special. People believe things simply because people have believed the same thing over centuries. That’s tradition.  The trouble with tradition is that, no matter how long ago a story was made up, it is still exactly as true or untrue as the original story was. If you make up a story that isn’t true, handing it down over any number of centuries doesn’t make it any truer!


Most people in England have been baptized into the Church of England, but this is only one of many branches of the Christian religion. There are other branches such as the Russian Orthodox, the Roman Catholic and the Methodist churches. They all believe different things. The Jewish religion and the Muslim religion are a bit more different still; and there are different kinds of Jews and of Muslims. People who believe even slightly different things from each other often go to war over their disagreements. So you might think that they must have some pretty good reasons – evidence – for believing what they believe. But actually their different beliefs are entirely due to different traditions.  Let’s talk about one particular tradition. Roman Catholics believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was so special that she didn’t die but was lifted bodily into Heaven. Other Christian traditions disagree, saying that Mary did die like anybody else. These other religions don’t talk about her much and, unlike Roman Catholics, they don’t call her the ‘Queen of Heaven’. The tradition that Mary’s body was lifted into Heaven is not a very old one. The Bible says nothing about how or when she died; in fact the poor woman is scarcely mentioned in the Bible at all. The belief that her body was lifted into Heaven wasn’t invented until about six centuries after Jesus’s time. At first it was just made up, in the same way as any story like Snow White was made up. But, over the centuries, it grew into a tradition and people started to take it seriously simply because the story had been handed down over so many generations. The older the tradition became, the more people took it seriously. It finally was written down as an official Roman Catholic belief only very recently, in 1950. But the story was no more true in 1950 than it was when it was first invented 600 years after Mary’s death.


I’ll come back to tradition at the end of my letter, and look at it in another way. But first I must deal with the two other bad reasons for believing in anything: authority and revelation.  Authority, as a reason for believing something, means believing it because you are told to believe it by somebody important. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope is the most important person, and people believe he must be right just because he is the Pope. In one branch of the Muslim religion, the important people are old men with beards called Ayatollahs. Lots of young Muslims are prepared to commit murder, purely because the Ayatollahs in a faraway country tell them to.


When I say that it was only in 1950 that Roman Catholics were finally told that they had to believe that Mary’s body shot off to Heaven, what I mean is that in 1950 the Pope told people that they had to believe it. That was it. The Pope said it was true, so it had to be true! Now, probably some of the things that Pope said in his life were true and some were not true. There is no good reason why, just because he was the Pope, you should believe everything he said, any more than you believe everything that lots of other people say. The present Pope has ordered his followers not to limit the number of babies they have. If people follow his authority as slavishly as he would wish, the results could be terrible famines, diseases and wars, caused by overcrowding.


Of course, even in science, sometimes we haven’t seen the evidence ourselves and we have to take somebody else’s word for it. I haven’t with my own eyes, seen the evidence that light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Instead, I believe books that tell me the speed of light. This looks like ‘authority’. But actually it is much better than authority because the people who wrote the books have seen the evidence and anyone is free to look carefully at the evidence whenever they want. That is very comforting. But not even the priests claim that there is any evidence for their story about Mary’s body zooming off to Heaven.


The third kind of bad reason for believing anything is called ‘revelation’. If you had asked the Pope in 1950 how he knew that Mary’s body disappeared into Heaven, he would probably have said that it had been ‘revealed’ to him. He shut himself in his room and prayed for guidance. He thought and thought, all by himself, and he became more and more sure inside himself. When religious people just have a feeling inside themselves that something must be true, even though there is no evidence that it is true, they call their feeling ‘revelation’. It isn’t only popes who claim to have revelations. Lots of religious people do. It is one of their main reasons for believing the things that they do believe. But is it a good reason?  Suppose I told you that your dog was dead. You’d be very upset, and you’d probably say, ‘Are you sure? How do you know? How did it happen?’ Now suppose I answered: ‘I don’t actually know that Pepe is dead. I have no evidence. I just have this funny feeling deep inside me that he is dead.’ You’d be pretty cross with me for scaring you, because you’d know that an inside ‘feeling’ on its own is not a good reason for believing that a whippet is dead. You need evidence. We all have inside feelings from time to time, and sometimes they turn out to be right and sometimes they don’t. Anyway, different people have opposite feelings, so how are we to decide whose feeling is right? The only way to be sure that a dog is dead is to see him dead, or hear that his heart has stopped; or be told by somebody who has seen or heard some real evidence that he is dead.


People sometimes say that you must believe in feelings deep inside, otherwise you’d never be confident of things like ‘My wife loves me’.
But this is a bad argument. There can be plenty of evidence that somebody loves you. All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little tidbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn’t purely inside feeling, like the feeling that priests call revelation. There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favors and kindnesses; this is all real evidence.  Sometimes people have a strong inside feeling that somebody loves them when it is not based upon any evidence, and then they are likely to be completely wrong. There are people with a strong inside feeling that a famous film star loves them, when really the film star hasn’t even met them. People like that are ill in their minds. Inside feelings must be backed up by evidence, otherwise you just can’t trust them.


Inside feelings are valuable in science too, but only for giving you ideas that you later test by looking for evidence. A scientist can have a ‘hunch’ about an idea that just ‘feels’ right. In itself, this is not a good reason for believing something. But it can be a good reason for spending some time doing a particular experiment, or looking in a particular way for evidence. Scientists use inside feelings all the time to get ideas. But they are not worth anything until they are supported by evidence.


I promised that I’d come back to tradition, and look at it in another way. I want to try to explain why tradition is so important to us. All animals are built (by the process called evolution) to survive in the normal place in which their kind live. Lions are built to be good at surviving on the plains of Africa. Crayfish are built to be good at surviving in fresh water, while lobsters are built to be good at surviving in the salt sea. People are animals too, and we are built to be good at surviving in a world full of other people. Most of us don’t hunt for our own food like lions or lobsters, we buy it from other people who have bought it from yet other people. We ‘swim’ through a ‘sea of people’. Just as a fish needs gills to survive in water, people need brains that make them able to deal with other people. Just as the sea is full of salt water, the sea of people is full of difficult things to learn. Like language.


You speak English but your friend speaks German. You each speak the language that fits you to ‘swim about’ in your own separate ‘people sea’. Language is passed down by tradition. There is no other way. In England, Pepe is a dog. In Germany he is ein Hund. Neither of these words is more correct, or more truer than the other. Both are simply handed down. In order to be good at ‘swimming about in their people sea’, children have to learn the language of their own country, and lots of other things about their own people; and this means that they have to absorb, like blotting paper, an enormous amount of traditional information. (Remember that traditional information just means things that are handed down from grandparents to parents to children.) The child’s brain has to be a sucker for traditional information. And the child can’t be expected to sort out good and useful traditional information, like the words of a language, from bad or silly traditional information, like believing in witches and devils and ever-living virgins.


It’s a pity, but it can’t help being the case, that because children have to be suckers for traditional information, they are likely to believe anything the grown-ups tell them, whether true or false, right or wrong. Lots of what grown-ups tell them is true and based on evidence or at least sensible. But if some of it is false, silly or even wicked, there is nothing to stop the children believing that too. Now, when the children grow up, what do they do? Well, of course, they tell it to the next generation of children. So, once something gets itself strongly believed  (even if its completely untrue and there never was any reason to believe it in the first place) it can go on forever.
Could this be what happened with religions? Belief that there is a god or gods, belief in Heaven, belief that Mary never died, belief that Jesus never had a human father, belief that prayers are answered, belief that wine turns into blood – not one of these beliefs is backed up by any good evidence. Yet millions of people believe them. Perhaps this is because they were told to believe them when they were young enough to believe anything.


Millions of other people believe quite different things, because they were told different things when they were children. Muslim children are told different things from Christian children, and both grow up utterly convinced that they are right and the others are wrong. Even within Christians, Roman Catholics believe different things from Church of England people or Episcopalians, Shakers or Quakers, Mormons or Holy Rollers, and all are utterly convinced that they are right and the others are wrong. They believe different things for exactly the same kind of reason as you speak English and someone speaks German.


Both languages are, in their own country, the right language to speak. But it can’t be true that different religions are right in their own countries, because different religions claim that opposite things are true. Mary can’t be alive in the Catholic Republic but dead in Protestant Northern Ireland.


What can we do about all this? It is not easy for you to do anything, because you are only ten. But you could try this. Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself: ‘Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority or revelation?’ And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.


Your loving,


Daddy

Reproduced with permission from the book below:





Clay Shirky: Why SOPA is a bad idea





We already have copyright laws that arm righteous copyright owners well enough to track down and sue violators. They have already been used to track down and sue violators and shut down sites that cater to them. Just today, MegaUpload was shut down by authorities in spite of their compliance in having a system to remove copyrighted materials. If we're shutting down sites with legal uses just for providing a service that's abused for illegal uses, we've already gone too far.


If we were to apply these concepts to crimes outside the internet, we would be permanently shutting down public roadways because they're used for transporting bootleg merchandise. We'd shut down all couriers for transporting without inspecting to verify authenticity and ownership. We'd evict countless legitimate businesses and demolish whole buildings, because a couple of tenants had been secretly using the space they rented for selling, storing, or packaging bootleg merchandise. If the bootleggers or customers leased cars or carried merchandise on a bus, train, boat, or airplane; the transit services would be shut down. (Lexi)



Thursday

Karl Marx - In our time discussion with Bragg and Grayling. plus others.



Karl Marx - In our time a Radio 4 discussion with Melvin Bragg and A C Grayling the humanist to mention only two.





Marx developed the theories upon which modern communism is based and is considered the founding father of economic history and sociology.


Marx set down his ideas in The Communist Manifesto(1848) and Das Kapital ((3 vol., 1861, 1885, 1894) arguing that economic relations determined all other features of a society, including its ideas.


He also outlined the goal of Marxism - the creation of social and economic utopia by the revolution of the proletariat which would "centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state."


All class boundaries would be destroyed and each individual would find personal fulfilment, having no need for the bourgeois institutions of religion or family. Marx himself was an atheist, coining the phrase, "Religion is the opium of the people"


Marx continued to express views about class struggle and bourgeois oppression throughout his life, despite being exiled from his homeland and coping with both his own illness and the death of his children.


Most modern socialist theories are drawn from his work but Karl Marx has had a wider influence touching on many areas of human thought and life such as politics, economics, philosophy, and literature.

Wednesday

Crusades Crescent and the Cross - Antitheist atheist

Crusades Crescent and the Cross


Crusades Crescent and the Cross part 2
Excellent documentary and sadly it seems history is repeating itself. A two part film with much information highlighting the horrors and injustices of religion, perhaps more accurately, men with religion.

Ten years after the start of the war crimes by the west, they now openly discuss the "wars" as the crusades.  Another short clip by Sam Richards highlights this.





To see the complete lecture and more material with Sam Richards CLICK HERE.

Debating Atheists - Including Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Playlist for Ukantitheist Antitheist Atheist Comedy


Playlist for Ukantitheist Antitheist Atheist Comedy




Playlist from Ukantitheist antitheist atheist comedy. A great selection of videos. A channel well worth subscribing to.

http://www.youtube.com/user/UKantitheist1 


Bill Maher Show- God - Bob Odenkirk.

Sunday

ARREST THE POPE FOR CATHOLIC CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN




ARREST THE POPE FOR CATHOLIC CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN





Guests:
Geoffrey Robertson - Australian human rights lawyer.
Paul Kelly - Australian catholic and editor of right-wing newspaper.
Ratih Hardjono - Indonesian journalist.
Lenore Skenazy - Attractive New York columnist.
Tariq Ali - British-Pakistani novelist and commentator.


Discuss holding the Pope to account for Catholic child abuse, issues such as international law and the need to extend its remit. Geoffrey Robertson an Australian human rights lawyer suggests the Vatican is little more than a palace and not a real state.


Presently the cases are tried by canon law and it has no DNA evidence or proper investigative techniques.  The Pope is responsible for moving guilty priests to other areas where they continue to abuse and rape children, this at the very least makes the Pope an accessory to these crimes. Crimes which are described as endemic across the globe.


It's time for action and a time for something to be done about this travesty of justice. We have a campaign to have the Pope arrested and investigated by a legal system every other guilty party is subjected to.


https://www.facebook.com/Arrestthepopeandtaxreligiion


http://www.antitheists.co.uk





We will be drawing attention to this issue ourselves through direct action. Also to highlight the issue of tax exempt status.

The message and aims through direct action are simple "ARREST THE POPE AND TAX RELIGION." The message will be promoted through audacious acts by individual protesters acting alone or with one or two friends.

We are not promoting that any member should endanger their lives or put themselves in a situation liable to criminal prosecution. That said the protests suggested do carry an element of risk as well as the distinct danger of a minor charge of trespass and or reckless behaviour.

The scaling of a prominent building and hanging from it a linen banner stating something simple such as "ARREST THE POPE AND TAX RELIGION" will ensure passers by and media are aware of the campaign's aims.

I personally favour church roof tops for obvious reasons as well as local IRS / tax offices and or as fathers for justice did cranes. The crane does offer the activist less danger if mindful of winds and securing yourself to the structure. Note winds in excess of 60 mph prohibit most drivers from working, this would seem a good gauge to use for all protests where height is a pertinent factor.

Once in place with banner(s) displayed and a fully charged mobile phone in pocket, contact the local press and local TV news channels and explain you need their help to broadcast the message and will not be coming down until this is done. This will have two effects, they will feel flattered (maybe) to be named and implicated and will want to cover a newsworthy story, same applies to the press. This could also help in securing an interview with the local media and furthering the goals of the campaign.

It would be wise to be fully aware of the taxation regulations relevant to your area prior to fixing yourself in place and the complications with the arrest of a head of state. This knowledge will also help in knowing the subject inside out for when you are interviewed, upon Your descent.

We must stress any action taken by any member is wholly at the members own risk and we are not promoting any person to break the law or endanger themselves or others.

The more audacious any action is, the more newsworthy it will be and the more likely you are to secure media coverage. These small individual campaigns will start small and will be difficult to attract media attention at the beginning (maybe) this will with time only become easier as the stunts pulled off become more inventive and audacious.

This forum is for the discussion of any planned event, without the need to name your location for obvious reasons. Also for media coverage to be collated for our records and for passing to larger more mainstream channels to encourage exposure by them too.

Be safe and careful. Check your local laws and above all have fun. When and if you are arrested or questioned by the police, remember it is advisable to have a solicitor/lawyer present to assist your interview. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO FOREGO THIS OPTION WITH THE IDEA YOU WILL BE RELEASED EARLIER. You will not and any decent solicitor will ensure you do not incriminate yourself at interview.

The police are not complete idiots but generally without a decent interview, they normally are at a loss to secure a hearing with the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service UK or your country's equivalent)

I'm not 100% certain but think the UK covers trespass under civil law which is not a thing to worry about at all.

Reckless behaviour is different and it would be wise to be able to prove all the precautionary measures taken to ensure yours and other's safety in the performance of any stunt.

The last few paragraphs though sounding a little serious are just worst case scenarios and they needed pointing out. Hope you will be inventive and hope very much you secure maximum media coverage from EACH of your demos.



Thursday

Christian Invaders. (Antitheists for justice)

Christian Invaders. (Antitheists for justice)




Brilliant trailer for a yet to be seen full lecture. Sam did a brilliant Ted Talk on empathy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUEGHdQO7WA.
Also worth seeing is the excellent documentary by John Pilger "The War you Don't See."
Also recommended is the "Power of Nightmares" http://antitheistsopposingreligion.blogspot.com/2011/05/antitheists-power-of-nightmares-adam.html
An excellent 3 part series detailing how both Jihadist Islamists are as deluded as Neo-Con Christians and how both shape the world we live in today.

Wednesday

Agnostic Atheism is Dead


ARREST THE POPE AND TAX RELIGION


The message and aims through direct action are simple "ARREST THE POPE AND TAX RELIGION." The message will be promoted through audacious acts by individual protesters acting alone or with one or two friends.


We are not promoting that any member should endanger their lives or put themselves in a situation liable to criminal prosecution. That said the protests suggested do carry an element of risk as well as the distinct danger of a minor charge of trespass and or reckless behaviour.


The scaling of a prominent building and hanging from it a linen banner stating something simple such as "ARREST THE POPE AND TAX RELIGION" will ensure passers by and media are aware of the campaign's aims.


I personally favour church roof tops for obvious reasons as well as local IRS / tax offices and or as fathers for justice did cranes. The crane does offer the activist less danger if mindful of winds and securing yourself to the structure. Note winds in excess of 60 mph prohibit most drivers from working, this would seem a good gauge to use for all protests where height is a pertinent factor.


Once in place with banner(s) displayed and a fully charged mobile phone in pocket, contact the local press and local TV news channels and explain you need their help to broadcast the message and will not be coming down until this is done. This will have two effects, they will feel flattered (maybe) to be named and implicated and will want to cover a newsworthy story, same applies to the press. This could also help in securing an interview with the local media and furthering the goals of the campaign.


It would be wise to be fully aware of the taxation regulations relevant to your area prior to fixing yourself in place and the complications with the arrest of a head of state. This knowledge will also help in knowing the subject inside out for when you are interviewed, upon Your descent.


We must stress any action taken by any member is wholly at the members own risk and we are not promoting any person to break the law or endanger themselves or others.


The more audacious any action is, the more newsworthy it will be and the more likely you are to secure media coverage. These small individual campaigns will start small and will be difficult to attract media attention at the beginning (maybe) this will with time only become easier as the stunts pulled off become more inventive and audacious.


This forum is for the discussion of any planned event, without the need to name your location for obvious reasons. Also for media coverage to be collated for our records and for passing to larger more mainstream channels to encourage exposure by them too.


Be safe and careful. Check your local laws and above all have fun. When and if you are arrested or questioned by the police, remember it is advisable to have a solicitor/lawyer present to assist your interview. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO FOREGO THIS OPTION WITH THE IDEA YOU WILL BE RELEASED EARLIER. You will not and any decent solicitor will ensure you do not incriminate yourself at interview.


The police are not complete idiots but generally without a decent interview, they normally are at a loss to secure a hearing with the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service UK or your country's equivalent)


I'm not 100% certain but think the UK covers trespass under civil law which is not a thing to worry about at all.


Reckless behaviour is different and it would be wise to be able to prove all the precautionary measures taken to ensure yours and other's safety in the performance of any stunt.


The last few paragraphs though sounding a little serious are just worst case scenarios and they needed pointing out. Hope you will be inventive and hope very much you secure maximum media coverage from EACH of your demos. Arrest the Pope and Tax Religion (direct action)
https://www.facebook.com/Arrestthepopeandtaxreligiion

Tuesday

US Church and State Separation

Curiosity - Did God Create the Universe


Stephen Hawking unfolds his personal, compelling vision of the biggest question of all: Who or what created the universe in which we live? The groundbreaking series Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking combined cutting-edge CG with Hawking's witty, distinctive and incisive worldview. Now, we take the journey a step further, as physics and cosmology become tools to answer questions that philosophers have struggled with for thousands of years.


Sunday

Life The Universe and Douglas Adams

Life The Universe and Douglas Adams





A celebration of Douglas Adams, the genius behind The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who died in May 2001, aged just 49.

First heard on radio in 1978, Hitch-Hiker turned Adams and his intergalactic cast of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the Robot into a worldwide cult, the books selling in their millions and enthralling fans from every continent.

But Adams was as full of contradictions as the galaxies he created in Hitch-Hiker - a writer who found writing torture, a techie who was ill at ease with the modern world, a sci-fi fanatic who adored PG Wodehouse, and a giant of a man who forgot the extent of his own body and would shut his own legs in the car door.

With excerpts from the TV version of Hitch-Hiker and contributions from his many friends including Stephen Fry, Terry Jones, Clive Anderson and Griff Rhys Jones, this documentary explores Life, the Universe and Douglas Adams and finds that the answer is more than 42. (BBC)

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Reverend Death - Reverend George Exoo


'I make it look like they died in their sleep'

Reverend George Exoo is a leading figure in the right-to-die movement. He says he has helped 102 people to commit suicide. But, reports Jon Ronson, most of his clients were not terminally ill, just depressed and in need of psychiatric help







In January 2002 it was reported on the Irish news that a woman's body had been found in a rented house in Donnybrook, Dublin. Her name was Rosemary Toole and, police said, she had been suffering from depression. Her suicide would probably have gone unreported were it not for the fact that she'd been spotted at Dublin airport a day earlier, picking up two jolly-seeming Americans at arrivals. The three of them were then seen drinking Jack Daniels and coke at the Atlantic Coast Hotel in County Mayo. At one point - other drinkers later testified to the police - Toole stood up to go to the toilet and did a jig at the table. The next day she was dead and that night the two mysterious Americans, one wearing a dog collar, left Dublin.

The Irish police released the names of their suspects. They were seeking the arrest and extradition of the Reverend George Exoo and his partner Thomas McGurrin, of Beckley, West Virginia, for the crime of assisting a suicide, which, under Irish law, carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

I telephoned Exoo to ask if I could follow him around. I imagined myself as being pro-assisted suicide, although I didn't know much about the ins and outs. But it seemed only fair to let someone kill themselves and have a reverend at their side if that is what they wanted. The Irish prosecutors struck me as draconian and anachronistic. I wasn't alone in believing this: radio phone-in shows across Ireland were ablaze with callers supporting Toole's right to kill herself with a reverend at her side.

And so, at dawn on a Monday in 2003, Exoo and I set off in his clapped-out old Mercedes towards Baltimore (a five-hour drive) to visit a new prospective client, Pam Acre, who said she had been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome since the 70s and was considering killing herself later in the year. Exoo was paying for the petrol even though he was broke. He said he asked for donations from his clients but often didn't get them, but he didn't care because this was his calling.

"I've never done anything as important as this in my ministry," he told me en route. "I think it's the reason I was placed on this planet. I'm a midwife to the dying, for those who want to hasten their deaths."

Exoo was cheerful, quite giggly, a gay, liberal, libertarian Unitarian preacher, cultured, funny, charming. He said he often carried around a large, gas-filled inflatable alligator to his "exits" in case the police stopped him on the way. He often used gas as a suicide method. With the alligator, he could pretend he was a children's party entertainer. But lately he had begun phasing the alligator out.

"It made me feel conspicuous," he said. "Part of the thing is that I want to not be noticed. I'm always careful and I always work quietly, like the Lone Ranger. I do so generally at night and for the most part I make it look like they just died in their sleep. I'll prop a book up on their lap so it looks like they just expired. But if I'm carrying a big alligator people are going to notice me."

"Plus," I said, "surely the last thing your clients would want to see in the minutes before death is a large inflatable alligator coming through the door."

"Exactly," said Exoo.

So that was why he no longer kept an alligator in the boot of his car.

There was something Laurel and Hardy-ish about Exoo. Earlier he had demonstrated the gas method for me by attaching a hose to the end of a gas tank, but he did something wrong in the preparation and the gas tank practically exploded, shooting the hose across the room and whiplashing his stomach. We all shrieked.

"Does this happen when you're helping people?" I asked, aghast.

"This has never happened before," Exoo replied, a bit sheepishly.

Acre lived in a decrepit old country cottage in the outskirts of Baltimore. She looked as crumbling as her house. She was 59 but she acted 30 years older. She let us in. We all sat on her sofa.

"Tell me about your illness," Exoo asked her.

"This is a difficult disease to cope with," Acre replied, "because they run all the tests and they come back negative. Then they decide that ..."

"It's all in your head," said George.

"Right," said Pam.

They smiled at each other.

"They start wanting you to go to psychiatrists," said Acre. "But of course that's totally useless."

"Sure," said Exoo, softly. "Sure."

Exoo wasn't, I noticed to my surprise, saying anything to Acre that might possibly dissuade her from committing suicide. Instead they talked about the "mechanics of the dying" (what pills and gas and apparatus Acre would need) and she seemed delighted to have someone there who didn't question her symptoms or intentions at all. Then she turned to me.

"I've learned what I can from this," she said, indicating her skinny, frail body. "I don't judge much of anybody for anything. Because until you walk in somebody else's shoes you do not know."

Exoo told me he drifted into assisting suicides in the early 90s when he was a Unitarian minister in Pittsburgh. Unitarianism is a middle-class, liberal religion and Pittsburgh is a tough, working-class town, so he didn't have many parishioners. He would look at his tiny congregation and wonder if he was wasting his life.

One day a parishioner approached him and said, "My husband has got ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neurone disease] and your name has been given to me as someone who might help."

"It was that vague," Exoo said. "But I knew what she meant. Two weeks later he said to his wife, 'It's time. Call George Exoo.'"

That's how Exoo found his calling. He says he has gone on to assist 102 people, including Acre, who killed herself, with Exoo at her side, a few months after our visit.

In early 2004, Irish police formally instigated extradition proceedings against Exoo. They asked the FBI to arrest him. Exoo telephoned me. Could I come to Seattle? He had something he wanted to tell me. It was all quite cloak and dagger. I met him in the lobby of a Seattle airport hotel. There was a slightly weird smile on his face.

"What is it?" I asked him.

"I've ordered a magic potion because I certainly don't intend to travel to Dublin," he replied. "So I may be the first right-to-die martyr."

There was a silence. Exoo gave me a big, profound look. I didn't know what to say. It was a bit of an awkward moment.

"Other than that," I said, "how are you?"

"Fine," he said. "So, anyway, maybe I should call you over to Beckley for the big event."

I narrowed my eyes. He wanted to kill himself and he wanted me on hand to chronicle it.

"I don't want to," I said.

He looked a bit disappointed.

Exoo was in Seattle for a private meeting of international right-to-die activists. The biggest names in the movement were here, such as Derek Humphry, a former British Sunday Times journalist who wrote a bestselling memoir, Jean's Way, about helping his terminally ill wife commit suicide in 1975. Jean's Way pretty much began the movement: a network of right-to-die groups inspired by it sprang up across the world in the late 70s. These activists meet once a year in an anonymous hotel somewhere to discuss advances in suicide technologies.

"It's very hush-hush," Exoo said. "I'm surprised they're letting you in."

The delegates sat around a table in a conference room. Exoo began by announcing his intention to martyr himself rather than face extradition. Then he scanned the room. I think he was expecting an outpouring of shock and sympathy but in fact people seemed much more interested in what method he was intending to use.

"My curiosity is why would you go with a drug approach?" one delegate asked him, and then the others leaned forward, paying attention.

Exoo's reply was that, when one uses gas, the person killing themselves often tries to involuntarily remove the apparatus once they're unconscious, and he has to hold their hands down, and he "didn't want to involve anyone else in my passing".

He then changed the subject, saying that Toole in Dublin had promised to send him a message from beyond the grave. The message would somehow take the form of roses. And she fulfilled the promise the day after she died.

"What happened was Thomas [Exoo's partner] and I flew out the next morning to Amsterdam," he said, "and a man brushed by us on the street. He had roses flung over his shoulder. I've never seen anybody with so many roses. There must have been 10 dozen roses! And Thomas said, 'There she is! There she is!'"

There was a silence. Then Dr Pieter Admiraal, a pioneering Dutch advocate of euthanasia, coughed grumpily and said, "Oh, dear George. To meet somebody with roses in the Netherlands is not so extreme because we are growing them to export to the whole world."

There was laughter from the others.

"And now you are in trouble," Admiraal added. "Maybe God can help you."

"Maybe so," snapped Exoo.

That evening I approached Admiraal for an interview. We talked for a while about Exoo's idealism.

"He's too good for this world," Admiraal said. Then he added, "I've been observing him for a long time, and I've asked our psychiatrists to observe him ..."

He paused. He was obviously weighing up whether to tell me whatever was on his mind.

"He is," he finally said, "in my opinion, enjoying the death of another person. And that's dangerous. I have the strong impression that he wants to be there and see something dying. Well, he cannot help that. It's his character. It's a kind of phobia to enjoy death. And that's why he says, 'I will commit suicide.' Because he will want to die at that moment."

(Later, Admiraal clarified this. He said he didn't mean Exoo derived psychopathic pleasure from being around death. Instead, he thought Exoo was too in love with the afterlife. He believed in it too much and the pleasure he got was from clapping and cheering his clients to this better place.)

I didn't know what to think. I hoped Admiraal was being overdramatic because I had considered myself pro-assisted suicide, and once your mind is set on something it can be hard to do a 180-degree turn. Still, my own doubts had been creeping in. For instance, I'd noticed that very few of Exoo's clients were terminally ill. Most were depressed or suffering from psychosomatic diseases. When I asked him about his client list he said, "Many of my colleagues will avoid such persons like the plague but I feel a very strong identity with the story of the good samaritan. I stop while others walk by and ignore their pleas."

How, I wondered, did Exoo and his clients find each other?

After the conference, I visited Humphry, father of the modern right-to-die movement. He is from Wiltshire but now lives in Oregon.

"Once or twice a week," Humphry explained, "I get very strange people on the telephone who are anxious to commit suicide because of their depression or sad lives. When they get your number they want to talk and talk. And they call again and again. And they also call all the other right-to-die groups."

Humphry said that the mainstream right-to-die groups will tell them, "'We can't help you. It's not within our parameters because you aren't terminally ill.' But they pursue you. They call and call. And eventually someone will say, 'George Exoo will probably help you.' And that gets them off the phone and on to George."

"Isn't that terrible?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," said Humphry.

Three years passed. Even though the Irish government was pressing the FBI to arrest Exoo, they didn't. Meanwhile he was travelling around America helping non-terminally ill people die.

In the spring of 2007 a package arrived. It was a video. I went into my office, closed the door, put it into the VCR and pressed play. Exoo's messy office blurred fuzzily on to the screen. Then he skulked into shot from behind the camera, looking as if he had been awake for days.

He said, "Now, what I'm going to do is call my friend Shirley who is out in a western state in a motel."

And he picked up the phone and dialled and it became obvious what was going to happen. A woman called Shirley was sitting in a motel room in Arizona waiting for his call. She had a bottle of poison in front of her and he was going to guide her through her suicide.

He said, "Hey, Shirley. This is George. The hour has come that we've been planning."

He hadn't bugged the phone so I could only hear his end of the conversation.

"I know you're nervous," Exoo said. "You've never done this before. But that's all right. We're going to get through this. It's time for you to" - he sighed - "drink the potion that's in front of you. It's bitter and horrible tasting so it's important that you chugalug it right down. I ask you to raise that glass and I want you to know how honoured I am to be with you at this moment."

There was a silence of perhaps 10 seconds. Then Exoo's voice hardened: "I know it's bitter. Just keep drinking. Put your finger over your nose and get it all down."

He was talking to Shirley like someone would talk to a child who had disobeyed him. Then he began to chant a Buddhist chant: "Gate, Gate, Parasamgate ... "

(Gone. Gone. Gone completely beyond.)

After five minutes he said, "Shirley? Can you hear me?"

Then he looked into his camera. He said, "I think I heard the phone drop. Which would mean she is probably now gone."

He shrugged slightly. "And that's it. That's the way it's done."

He leaned over and turned off the camera.

Exoo's irritable attitude towards Shirley was startling but it wasn't totally unexpected. He had, he told me, behaved in a similar manner towards Acre. She too had prevaricated, and he told her he wasn't leaving town until he had "finished" guiding her through her suicide. I'm sure Exoo wasn't encouraging reluctant clients to kill themselves - I'm sure the choice was always theirs - but he did seem to speak impatiently at them during apparent moments of hesitation.

In May 2007 Exoo began teaching a friend, Susan (not her real name), the ropes. He said he needed an assistant in case he was arrested or killed himself. We arranged to meet at Susan's house in North Carolina. I arrived before Exoo. Susan lived alone, a middle-aged lady with a collection of plastic lizards. While we waited I asked her how they met.

"I was bitten by a brown recluse spider in 1993," she replied. "It was so painful I wanted to die."

She said she called the official right-to-die groups, "but they wouldn't help me."

"Because you weren't terminally ill?"

"Yeah, they rejected me," she said. "But then somebody said, 'You might want to call George.' Kind of like under the counter."

Susan said she would have killed herself with Exoo's help - he was perfectly willing - but she couldn't find anyone to look after her pet snake. Eventually, they got talking. If she wasn't going to be his client, perhaps she should be his assistant.

Then Exoo arrived. He had a second job now, buying up houses that had been seized by the banks, and then selling them on for a quick profit, although he hadn't managed to sell any yet. It was oddly nice to see him. We joked about how he could provide his clients with the full service: he could sell them a house and when the banks foreclosed he could help them kill themselves. For all the ambiguities, he was fun to be around. And he was a strange mix, often going to the ends of the Earth to help people in distress, but also getting cross with them if they seemed hesitant about killing themselves.

I said to him, "In the Arizona tape, Shirley said, 'It's bitter,' and you snapped, 'Drink it!'

"Absolutely," he replied. "Because I'd been through that argument with her before."

"She'd tasted it before?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. He was getting annoyed with me. "I'd been with her twice before in person. What kind of bull twaddle is that? If you're serious you're going to drink it and not whine about it!"

"But this was somebody who didn't know whether to kill themselves," I said.

"Just drink it," he said. "Three or four swallows and you're going to go to sleep. Permanently. In 10 minutes you'll be off this planet. Yes, I was probably pressing her to some extent. But I was pressing her to make up her mind one way or another because I can't go flying across the country week after week and have nothing come of it. I want her to either go on and live her life, or check out. But it's her choice. It's not mine."

We went for lunch. Susan had told me that morning that her multiple chemical sensitivities (triggered by the 1993 spider bite) were so severe there was only one local restaurant she could eat in where the atmosphere did not set off her symptoms. But we ate in another restaurant - an all-you-can-eat buffet - and she was fine. She ate all she could. I began to see Susan as living proof that Exoo really shouldn't help people like Susan kill themselves.

After lunch I told him about the view - held by some psychologists who had observed him - that he was out of his depth and it was a slippery slope and he should stop.

"And what's the slippery slope I'm on?" he asked sharply.

"Not being able to stop helping people because you see it as your calling and you like to be there at the moment of death because you get something out of it. And you may consequently be encouraging them towards suicide."

"Bullshit," he said. "It just hasn't happened. Otherwise these people wouldn't be hanging on for years and years and years."

And that part seemed to be true: he claimed to have clients who had been prevaricating for years.

Exoo drove off to do some real estate business and I was left alone with Susan. We sat on her porch. And she said something extraordinary. She said that unbeknown to Exoo she had set up her own suicide business and was willing to help practically anyone if the price was right.

"I see this as a business," she said. "George sees it as a calling. There's a big difference there. For me it's no cash, no help." She said her price was approximately $7,000.

"You're bound to get it wrong, aren't you?" I said. "And help someone who shouldn't be helped."

Susan shrugged. "Probably, at some point, yes," she said.

She said Exoo's worst crime was his financial imprudence: that he'll help people who can't afford to pay.

"George will get to a point where he'll run out of money," she said. "He won't scale down the expensive cuts of meats every night. He would rather kill himself than economise."

"He seems quite keen on killing himself," I said.

"I think he'll do it soon," said Susan. "And that's why I've been pressing him to give me a list of his current clients."

A few weeks passed. Then I got an early morning call from Susan. She said the FBI had just arrested Exoo. His partner McGurrin had woken up to find Exoo and two men standing there. They said, "We're putting George in prison until we can take him to Ireland."

A few weeks after that (I later learned) Susan flew to New Zealand to help a depressed, non-terminally ill woman she had met on the internet commit suicide. The woman had previously asked a mainstream right-to-die group called Dignity NZ to help her, but they had refused.

"I was of the impression that she needed assistance in living rather than advice on how to end her life," Dignity NZ's founder, Lesley Martin, later explained to me in an email. She added, "I imagine you are developing a good understanding of what an absolute mess the euthanasia underground is. Unfortunately, there are 'gung-ho' individuals involved [she meant Susan] who, in my opinion, treat the matter of assisting someone to die as an exciting relief from the boredom of their own lives and do so completely ill-equipped and dismissive of the responsibility we have of ensuring that people who need mental health assistance receive it, while still working towards humane legislation that addresses the real issues."

I visited Susan and asked her what had been wrong with the New Zealand woman. "She had some sort of breathing disorder," she said, "and the doctors there wouldn't give her the medication that she needed. I happened to take the same medication. I gave her a little bit of mine and she was fine."

"But you helped her commit suicide, even though you helped her breathe better?" I asked.

"Yeah," said Susan. "Isn't that ironic?"

"You shouldn't do it," I said.

"Somebody's got to pay the bills so you can have some water in that glass you're drinking," she said.

I had agreed to protect Susan's identity before I knew she was going around the world helping people die for money.

On October 25 2007 a federal judge in Charleston, West Virginia, freed Exoo. He decreed that because assisted suicide is not a crime in 25 of the 50 states, he couldn't allow the Irish prosecutor to try him in Dublin.

I visited Exoo one last time. I thought there wouldn't be any more twists and turns in this story about the messy assisted suicide underground, but he offered one.

"You know I provided you with a tape?" He meant the Shirley/Arizona telephone tape. "That was not a real deathing. I was talking to a dial tone."

I looked at him askance.

"You're a very good actor," I said.

"I wanted to give you an example of how I would work with somebody," he shrugged. "And she was the only possibility."

He explained that Shirley was a real person, and he really had visited her on many occasions, and that she really had prevaricated. All that was true.

"She really is now dead," he added, sounding quite triumphant. He said she killed herself in Kingman, Arizona, while he was in prison. (The Kingman police later confirmed this.)

I think Exoo was stupid to fake that tape and that someone who helps people decide whether or not to kill themselves shouldn't play weird games like that. The things I liked most about Exoo when I first met him six years ago - his libertarian, maverick qualities - are actually the things that are most worrying about him.
(Guardian Newspaper)

Blog Archive