Loren Miller's Blog (87)

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 — 21 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 — 7 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

The New Covenant Group - and Some Rather Intriguing Ideas

It happened again.  Steve Shives (no, he and I are NOT an item!) was a guest again on "The Place," a video podcast produced by the New Covenant Group.  I saw that on my YouTube feed and figured that, despite the 2-hour-plus running time that I would give it a shot.



And it could be a good thing I did.  The NCG had another guest as well, one Michael Dowd.  Initially, listening to him speak, I wasn't sure I was going to warm to a guy who seemed to be trying to couch atheistic…

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Added by Loren Miller on November 19, 2013 at 3:30pm — 4 Comments

Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Life, with a Tip of the Cap to Bill Watterson

Spend even a small amount of time on an atheist website and the issue of the, quote: “Meaning Of Life” end-quote, will doubtless come up.  There have been several such conversations here on A|N, and doubtless the topic will come up again as new members join our ranks.  It’s a topic so fundamental to our lives that wrestling with it should be a natural part of living … or one would hope.



That said, who here remembers Bill Watterson, creator and artist behind one of my favorite…

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Added by Loren Miller on November 3, 2013 at 11:36am — 3 Comments

A Poser for Those Here Assembled...

Seen on a Daily Kos comment page:

GOP Wars against: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Immigrants, Mexicans, Blacks, Gays, Women, Unions, Workers, Unemployed, Voters, Elderly, Kids, Poor, Sick, Disabled, Dying, Lovers, Kindness, Rationalism, Science, Sanity, Reality.



And here I am, still wondering if the commenter missed something.  Did he?

Added by Loren Miller on October 28, 2013 at 4:22pm — 7 Comments

What a Believer Should Know About an Atheist - Me

Since my wife and I moved here in 2009, we’ve been visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious representatives on multiple occasions.  On three of those incidences, I engaged my visitors and responded to statements or questions made by them regarding both religion and atheism.  While I will admit having no interest in actually inviting them into my home for a protracted conversation, there are certain things I wish they would learn and understand about me as an individual atheist and…

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Added by Loren Miller on October 7, 2013 at 7:03am — 21 Comments

Justice for Nidal Malik Hasan

Not quite four years ago and not long after I joined Atheist Nexus, the incident with Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood happened.  I wrote about it then and wondered at what motivated Hasan to do what he did.  As the discovery process and the trial unfolded, we learned, about Anwar al-Awlaki and Hasan’s communications with him, about Hasan’s radicalization, at least in part from that association and…

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Added by Loren Miller on August 24, 2013 at 8:48pm — 18 Comments

'Unbelieving' WLC - William Lane Craig exposed by Lawrence Krauss

It would seem as though our favorite "professional philosopher" and christian apologist, William Lane Craig [gag-retch!] has been playing fast and loose with what may be a pirate recording of the pending documentary, The Unbelievers.  Per usual, Craig makes assumptions and leaps of something (I can't call it logic!) and other distortions which he attempts to draw from the film, which features Drs. Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins.  Why Craig didn't think his BS would be found out…

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Added by Loren Miller on August 19, 2013 at 2:30pm — 4 Comments

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