Loren Miller's Blog (93)

The Science / Religion Dichotomy – Another View

Christianity insists on dependence on its god and its savior.  Indeed, it demands submission to that supreme being, saying “thy will be done.”  Islam is not only no different, the very word means “submission.”  Both expect the believer to trust in Yahweh or Allah to provide for them and nurture them and bring meaning to their lives.  The price for that nurturance, though, is utter obedience without question.  One of the immediate consequences of such an attitude is vulnerability to…

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Added by Loren Miller on December 18, 2014 at 11:11am — 4 Comments

Is god good?

Is god good?



If we’re going to ask that question, the first thing that has to be established is: whose “good” are we using as a standard?  If human good is to be the benchmark, then the task is relatively easy.  Whatever good god recognizes, however, will introduce a degree of vagary which may be insuperable.



Regardless of which deity is supervising this reality, he/she/it cannot be said to be good by human standards in the slightest measure, and one need look no…

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Added by Loren Miller on December 14, 2014 at 11:27am — 26 Comments

I want to live in a world where...

Just watched “The Best of Charlie Skinner” on YouTube for the umpti-umpth time.  Sam Waterston’s portrayal of Charlie in the HBO series, The Newsroom,  is dear to me for his alternation between avuncular father-figure and curmudgeonly news director, and I get a big kick out of him.  Watching that made me think about how much I’d love to see Atlantis Cable News become a real, actual news organization, and then…

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Added by Loren Miller on December 6, 2014 at 8:38am — 26 Comments

What I Want for Christmas - Robert Green Ingersoll

That time of year is very nearly upon us, and so it is appropriate that I post this now, I suppose.  I literally just learned of this through the good offices of Seth Andrews and The Thinking Atheist podcast.  I do truly wish the following were words of my own invention, but they're not.  About all I can do is offer them to you for your enjoyment and edification.



Along with my very best wishes for a happy and safe Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanza / Yule / Saturnalia /…

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Added by Loren Miller on November 26, 2014 at 10:00am — 4 Comments

Interstellar

Right off the top, Interstellar is no small statement, either in time or what it attempts to say.  It runs a full 169 minutes, not quite three hours, and while it might have been able to give its testimony in an edited form, I seriously doubt it would be the same film or have the same impact.



On the surface, it is what you’ve seen in the previews and trailers.  Our Earth is exhausted, fatally damaged by human mistakes and natural disaster.  A physicist played by Michael…

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Added by Loren Miller on November 9, 2014 at 11:30am — 11 Comments

Mr. Deity and the Humorless Atheist

For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Deity is an ongoing series on YouTube, featuring Brian Dalton as writer, director, and star of the eponymous series.  Mr. Deity is a fast-talking 21st century take on Yahweh, complete with his son, Jesse/Jesus, Larry, the omnipresent holy ghost, and adversary Lucy (fer), doing three to four minute sketches, usually riffing on various shortcomings of the bible and its god.  Frequently highlighted are Mr. Deity’s cluelessness about the…

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Added by Loren Miller on October 31, 2014 at 7:00am — 17 Comments

The Particular Problem with Islam

On Sunday morning, 12 October, 2014, I listened to Reza Aslan as he spent three minutes saying next to nothing of consequence regarding the contretemps of a week ago between Sam Harris and Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher.  Whatever Aslan wanted to accomplish with his vacuous commentary is beyond me, which doesn’t stop me from seeing it and him as being problematic as…

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Added by Loren Miller on October 13, 2014 at 9:53am — 17 Comments

"Break a Leg"? Thanks, I'd Rather Not

I was watching a segment of CBS Sunday Morning today, when a segment was presented about a new Broadway production, “It’s Only a Play.”  During that piece, Lesley Stahl asked the cast about the expected fortunes of this new work and what the reviews might be.  The reactions of the players, whether feigned or real, bothered the hell out of me and were of the tenor of “you don’t EVER talk about that in the theater!”  Eventually, there was conversation on those issues, but that the superstition…

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Added by Loren Miller on October 5, 2014 at 11:30am — 20 Comments

The Irony of a Frightened Jehovah

I was watching a profile piece on CBS Sunday Morning about actor Steve Bucemi a bit ago, when I heard that actor in one of his roles offer the following poignant observation:



Do you think God stays in heaven, because he too lives in fear of what he’s created?



If there were a god of any stripe who was responsible for the creation of Homo sapiens, I should think he’d be pissing his pants by now, and with good reason.  Ever since Yahweh made the…

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Added by Loren Miller on September 7, 2014 at 10:25am — 4 Comments

A New Icon for Atheists - Frank Sinatra!

I can remember the voice of Frank Sinatra from back when I was a kid.  My father wasn't quite a fan, but he had more than a couple albums which got played regularly and which I can still recall in my head when I want to.  Certainly, Ol' Blue Eyes was a vocal technician of the first water.  His intonation, treatment of even the simplest phrase, breath control and overall execution place him deservedly in a rarefied atmosphere shared with a scant few other artists, and that by itself is…

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Added by Loren Miller on September 4, 2014 at 7:19am — 12 Comments

Seth Andrews - "The Ultimate Question"

Seth Andrews is NOT “The Thinking Atheist.”  He’ll tell you this himself, and doubtless, he’s tired of disavowing that that sobriquet was in any way meant to represent him.  He wanted it to be an icon to represent atheists who THINK, who have reasoned their way to the conclusion: “Religion simply does not make sense.”  All the above notwithstanding, there can be no argument that Mr. Andrews is A thinking atheist, even if he isn’t THE Thinking Atheist.



As evidence to…

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Added by Loren Miller on July 9, 2014 at 7:00am — 6 Comments

The Problem With "The Leftovers"

When we think of irrational behavior, we naturally think of human beings first, of their ability to act based on belief rather than fact, to operate without regard to their own wellbeing or that of others they are charged with caring for or some other related behavioral anomaly.  However, what if there were an irrationality in the laws of physics and of nature, which allowed two percent of the world’s population to suddenly vanish, with the speed of throwing a light switch?  Babies from…

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Added by Loren Miller on June 30, 2014 at 9:14am — 15 Comments

The Wisdom of Bertolt Brecht

Saturday morning.  My wife sleeps in because she can and I don’t because my sleep-in gene wigged out about 10 squares back.  Feed the cats, check email, scope out what’s going on with Atheist Nexus and Car and Driver Backfires and it’s not even 7:30 yet.  Okay, time for breakfast, then.  A bowl of Rice Chex and a glass of OJ later and eight o’clock is still at least 15 minutes away.  A quick check on YouTube tells me that not a whole lot new is going on there, but, out of somewhere in…

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Added by Loren Miller on June 14, 2014 at 11:38am — 7 Comments

My Response to the Cancellation of "Atheist America"

As Matthew Greenberg alerted us yesterday, a planned exhibit - "Atheist America" - has been cancelled by the Smithsonian.  To put it at its mildest, I am NOT down with that and less so that this decision was caused by threats of violence from people who would have us believe they are…

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Added by Loren Miller on May 2, 2014 at 6:23am — 15 Comments

A Confrontation of Belief on Prime-Time Television

Anyone here watch Grey’s Anatomy?  It’s rather a scattered potpourri of mostly doctors at a fictitious Seattle hospital, playing out multiple plotlines, medical and interpersonal and too frequently with about as much reality involved as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, but that’s beside the point.  There was one particularly refreshing event which occurred in the most recent episode, broadcast naught but a handful of minutes ago as this was written, between Drs. April Kepner and Jackson…

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Added by Loren Miller on April 18, 2014 at 8:00am — 3 Comments

The Unbelievers - Postscript

During the introduction to The Unbelievers, the announcer indicated that there would be a book signing after the film and Q&A.  This was at once great news and lousy news, since I had brought my copy of Krauss’ The Physics of Star Trek with that very purpose in mind, but sadly, I have nothing of Professor Dawkins to that same end (yeah, yeah, I know, shame on me :-P).  Still, half a loaf is better than none and I exited the theater for the lobby and the line.  Uh, boy! …

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Added by Loren Miller on April 8, 2014 at 1:25pm — 5 Comments

The Unbelievers - My Experience

The drive from Cleveland to Columbus was punctuated frequently by heavy rains, which made the trip something less than enjoyable, though the 120 miles passed without incident.  Approaching the Wexner Center, there was a considerable queue of people in front of the building, waiting for the doors to open (it was over an hour to show time).  I secured my car in a nearby garage and joined the line, and we chatted a bit before 6 PM arrived and we were admitted to the auditorium.  I…

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Added by Loren Miller on April 8, 2014 at 9:44am — 19 Comments

Creating God in One’s Own Image (discovermagazine.com)

For many religious people, the popular question “What would Jesus do?” is essentially the same as “What would I do?” That’s the message from an intriguing and controversial new study by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago. Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.



Psychological studies have found that people are…

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Added by Loren Miller on January 26, 2014 at 9:50am — 9 Comments

Meditations on "How Religion Poisons Everything"

The other day I was listening to one of Seth Andrews’ Thinking Atheist podcasts.  This one was based on the subtitle of Christopher Hitchens’ masterwork, god is Not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything.  I found myself musing about that business of poisoning, and in the process of my musings, opened an instance of Microsoft Word and began committing my thoughts to bits and bytes.  The following are my thoughts on the matter:



Religion poisons everything in the same way…

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Added by Loren Miller on January 6, 2014 at 8:30am — 16 Comments

Absurdities and Atrocities - The Full Quote

I would think that, at some point or other in our arcs toward or in atheism, a good number of us have seen the following quote:



Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

-- Voltaire



That quote was on my mind this morning, to the point where I Googled it and found via Wikiquote that it was part of a larger statement made by Voltaire.  While the brief quote above is a powerful and disturbing statement, it is like many things…

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Added by Loren Miller on December 27, 2013 at 8:53am — 5 Comments

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