Ava Wilson
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  • Greenville, PA
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Ava Wilson's Discussions

Why I don't like "The National Atheist Party"

Started this discussion. Last reply by Josh Apr 30, 2012. 12 Replies

I've had it out with these guys before, but I just really had to express this view:I will never, ever, ever join a political party called "The National ATHEIST Party"I think that naming a political…Continue

GOP-OKEMON! Herman Cain's slip up

Started this discussion. Last reply by Ava Wilson Aug 13, 2011. 3 Replies


Why are Christians conservative?

Started this discussion. Last reply by AgeOfAtheists14 Oct 13, 2011. 38 Replies

Relevant articles: …Continue

Tags: christianity, bible, conservative, christians, secularism

RD Foundation

James Shapiro goes after natural selection again (twice) on HuffPo - Jerry Coyne - Why Evolution Is True

I hate to give attention to my Chicago colleague James Shapiro’s bizarre ideas about evolution, which he publishes weekly on HuffPo rather than in peer-reviewed journals. His Big Idea is that natural selection has not only been overemphasized in evolution, but appears to play very little role at all.  Even though he’s spreading nonsense in a widely-read place, I don’t go after him very often, for he just uses my criticisms as the basis of yet another abstruse and incoherent post. Like the creationists whose ideas he appropriates, he resembles those toy rubber clowns that are impossible to knock down.  But once again, and for the last time, I wade into the fray. . .

In his post of August 12, “Does natural selection really explain what makes evolution succeed?” (the answer, of course, is “no”), Shapiro simply recycles some discredited arguments used by creationists against evolution. The upshot, which we’ve heard for decades, is the discredited idea that natural selection is not a creative process. I quote:

“Darwin modeled natural selection on artificial selection by humans. He ignored the inconvenient fact that human selection for altered traits has never generated a truly new organismal feature (e.g., a limb or an organ) or formed a new species. Selection only modifies existing characters. When humans wish to create new species, they use other means.”

This is the old canard that artificial selection doesn’t create “new features.”  His definition of a “new organismal feature” is, of course, one that hasn’t been generated by artificial selection, so it’s all tautological.  Of course we haven’t seen whole new organs or limbs arise in the short term, for people have been doing serious selection for only a few thousand years, and have not even tried to create new organs or limbs. But we can create a strain of flies with four wings, breeds of dogs that would be regarded as new genera if they were found in the fossil record, and whole new biochemical systems in bacteria.  Both Barry Hall and Rich Lenski, for example, have demonstrated the evolution of brand new biochemical pathways that have evolved to deal with new metabolic challenges. Now that is a “new organismal feature”!

Often new species are created by hybridization, but Shapiro forgets that that hybridization is often followed by either natural or artificial selection for increased interfertility of the new hybrid form, so it truly becomes an interbreeding population that characterizes a species.  And that, of course, gives a crucial role to selection, as it did in the experiments of Loren Rieseberg and his colleagues on hybrid sunflowers.

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Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the US? - - - BBC News

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

Thousands attended an atheism rally in Washington DC this March

Recently, researchers conducting a WIN-Gallup International poll about religion surveyed people from 57 countries.

The poll suggests that in the US, since 2005:

  • the number of people who consider themselves religious has dropped from 73% to 60%
  • those who declare themselves atheists have risen from 1% to 5%

What's behind the changing numbers? Is the cause churches that chase modern trends at the expense of core beliefs? Or are those who have always been ambivalent about religion now less likely to identify as Christian? We asked two writers for their take.

Rod Dreher: Progressive churches fuel apathy

As a practicing Christian of the Hitchens sort (Peter, the good one), I welcome the news that more Americans are willing to identify as atheists. At least that clarifies matters.

I respect honest atheists more than I do many on my own side, for the same reason Jesus of Nazareth said to the tepid Laodicean church: "because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth".

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From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader - Robert F. Worth - New York Times

Late one night in early May 2011, a preacher named Jerry DeWitt was lying in bed in DeRidder, La., when his phone rang. He picked it up and heard an anguished, familiar voice. It was Natosha Davis, a friend and parishioner in a church where DeWitt had preached for more than five years. Her brother had been in a bad motorcycle accident, she said, and he might not survive.

DeWitt knew what she wanted: for him to pray for her brother. It was the kind of call he had taken many times during his 25 years in the ministry. But now he found that the words would not come. He comforted her as best he could, but he couldn’t bring himself to invoke God’s help. Sensing her disappointment, he put the phone down and found himself sobbing. He was 41 and had spent almost his entire life in or near DeRidder, a small town in the heart of the Bible Belt. All he had ever wanted was to be a comfort and a support to the people he grew up with, but now a divide stood between him and them. He could no longer hide his disbelief. He walked into the bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. “I remember thinking, Who on this planet has any idea what I’m going through?” DeWitt told me.

As his wife slept, he fumbled through the darkness for his laptop. After a few quick searches with the terms “pastor” and “atheist,” he discovered that a cottage industry of atheist outreach groups had grown up in the past few years. Within days, he joined an online network called the Clergy Project, created for clerics who no longer believe in God and want to communicate anonymously through a secure Web site.

DeWitt began e-mailing with dozens of fellow apostates every day and eventually joined another new network called Recovering From Religion, intended to help people extricate themselves from evangelical Christianity. Atheists, he discovered, were starting to reach out to one another not just in the urban North but also in states across the South and West, in the kinds of places­ DeWitt had spent much of his career as a traveling preacher. After a few months he took to the road again, this time as the newest of a new breed of celebrity, the atheist convert. They have their own apostles (Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) and their own language, a glossary borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Bible and gay liberation (you always “come out” of the atheist closet).

DeWitt quickly repurposed his preacherly techniques, sharing his reverse-conversion story and his thoughts on “the five stages of disbelief” to packed crowds at “Freethinker” gatherings across the Bible Belt, in places like Little Rock and Houston. As his profile rose in the movement this spring, his Facebook and Twitter accounts began to fill with earnest requests for guidance from religious doubters in small towns across America. “It’s sort of a brand-new industry,” DeWitt told me. “There isn’t a lot of money in it, but there’s a lot of momentum.”

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Latest Activity

Ava Wilson replied to AgeOfAtheists14's discussion why don't art galleries get more tax breaks and places of worship less? great demo coming to ft. laud.. fellow artist heathens!
"Because tax breaks for churches is supposed to ensure that the separation of church and state will be upheld. There is no separation of art and state."
Jun 11, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to Anthony Jordan's discussion What is your view of Agnosticism ?
"I don't believe in agnosticism as a separate classification. To me it's a qualifier of belief. That is, when I say I'm an 'agnostic atheist', I mean that I lack a personal belief in a god but I recognise that we probably…"
Jun 11, 2013
Ava Wilson posted photos
Apr 18, 2013
Ava Wilson posted photos
Feb 21, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to Philip Jarrett's discussion Comfort from religion
"I agree with Syed in a way. There isn't much you can say about the afterlife, but you can address the here and now. Ask her what he would have wanted of her - would he want her to be miserable and drink, or to move on and be happy and live her…"
Feb 21, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to Ajita Kamal's discussion Our History Is Being Defined By The Superstitions Of Our Ancestors in the group Native American Atheists
"I grew up around a lot of 'superstitions' but none of them were harmful or alarming in any way. Our tradition of medicine men and cleansing rituals are pretty superstitious, but I'm not always sure that everyone takes them literally…"
Feb 21, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to matthew greenberg's discussion email forward from my Mom
"I actually liked that story up to the point she mentioned God. The story is cute and has an equally secular application (don't nitpick at peoples' small imperfections or mistakes because we're human and they happen, and it's not…"
Feb 20, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to Hiram's discussion Warrant for the pope's arrest for crimes against humanity and conspiracy?!
"I don't think it's a matter of 'now that he resigned he can be arrested'. The Vatican is sovereign. I think what's more likely to have happened is that the knowledge of the warrant (which he knew of prior to resigning) may…"
Feb 20, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to Peter White's discussion Does anyone agree with philosopher Thomas Nagel's reason for being an atheist?
"No, I agree with him. I don't think he's an atheist because of wishful thinking. He adds it as a secondary thought. He says 'it isn't JUST that I don't believe in God' . . . 'I hope there is no God! . . . I…"
Feb 20, 2013
Ava Wilson replied to Blade Of The Bunny's discussion Culture and Sexuality in the group Native American Atheists
"Well, Facebook has privacy options. If you have the patience to go through your list, create a group called NDN and add anyone that falls into that conservative NDN type of category you don't want to freely share information with. You can…"
Feb 7, 2013
Earther left a comment for Ava Wilson
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Nov 26, 2012
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Sep 29, 2012
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Sep 17, 2012
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Sep 16, 2012
Ava Wilson replied to Irrelevant People's discussion Who would you vote for Romney or Obama?
"I couldn't be paid enough to vote for Ron Paul, or Romney. I'm voting for Obama because he's the only candidate running with a firm grip on social issues and I do not want this nation to step backwards in civil rights. I agree with…"
Sep 11, 2012
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Sep 8, 2012

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Ava Wilson's Blog

Why are Christians conservative?

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:00pm 3 Comments

Whether it's a well-known concept or not, the hypocrisy of modern Christians is startling. Well, not startling when you realize (to even their admittance) that they do not read their own Bible. But startling to us who have, and have gleaned from its pages some positive things.


Don't get me wrong, the Old Testament is worth being burned (and as a hard-core reader, who faints when the page of a book is torn, that's something for me to…


Comment Wall (29 comments)

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At 7:42pm on November 26, 2012, Earther said…


At 7:28am on August 20, 2012, Loren Miller said…

Glad I was able to help!  Enjoy!

At 12:31pm on August 15, 2012, Loren Miller said…

Eeek, I think you broke yer browser!

Seriously, something's not right here.  I can see from your screenshot that you're logged in.  If you have any pop-up blockers, you might try disabling them.  One other alternative is to try a different browser.  I use Firefox, and have had no problems with A|N.

The other thing you could do is to Report An Issue to A|N and see if you can get some more detailed technical support than what I can provide.

Best of luck!

At 12:13pm on August 15, 2012, Loren Miller said…

Hi, Ava.

Here's what a typical photo page looks like for me:

Note the OPTIONS button next to the ADD button.  If you don't have that button, you may not be logged in, or there may be additional add-ons for your browser that are not loaded.  I think that, at minimum, you should have Adobe Flash, which runs the photo slide show on your profile page.  There may be others.

Hope this helps!

At 2:42pm on August 12, 2012, Loren Miller said…

Look under the OPTIONS button.  The DELETE function is there.

At 11:29am on August 9, 2012, Joseph P said…
Heh, so no bodice rippers for you, huh?  I tend to read a lot of science-fiction and fantasy, but I also catch a few courtroom dramas, horror/suspense novels, generally @#$%*& up novels (Chuck Pahalniuk), and other difficult-to-classify stories.
I've also been reading more religion, philosophy, and science books lately, for some reason. Go figure.

Hmm, is that Eagle Scouts group somehow associated with Scouting for All? Or is that ex-Boy Scouts who are opposed to the bigoted direction that the Boy Scouts are headed in?

Hmm, sounds like a cousin of the chai that I know. The Tazo, Bigelo, and such are a bit heavier on the spices and don't have the citrus added to them. I think they mostly have pepper, ginger, cardamom, star anise, and one or two others, in addition to the spices you mentioned ... then are sweetened with honey, instead of sugar.
At 12:38pm on August 8, 2012, Joseph P said…
Sorry, that wasn't entirely clear, was it? I meant genres of reading. Which sort of drawing do you do though, too? I used to do mechanical drafting, but I can't do much, freehand.

Hmm, how does Russian chai vary from the generic sort? I mostly drink Tazo, Celestial Seasonings, and Bigelo chai, but I mix it up with other kinds of tea, to keep it from getting monotonous for my tastebuds. I drink them all as lattes with about half milk and honey.
At 11:57am on August 8, 2012, Joseph P said…
Ooh, which sort of tea?
And which genres do you frequent?
At 7:06am on February 25, 2012, Richard Hatch said…

Hi Ava... Well, I'm nearly giddy at the thought of finding any group of humans who even respect rather than eschew rational thought.

Have a lovely weekend,


At 6:16pm on November 27, 2011, Steph S. said…
Nice to have you back!

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