24 December 2011


Who's Number 1 ???

The Best Schools website had chosen the world's top atheists.

Among the 50, there are people whose names almost everyone will know and many I didn't recognize.  I am listing here those with whom I am most familiar. Use the link at the bottom on this post to see the entire list.

48. Dan Barker  - co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
45. James ("the Amazing") Randi - illusionist
42. Greta Christina - writer and blogger (I just posted something about her a few weeks ago.)
37. Ayaan Hirsi Ali -  her book "Infidel" presents an inside look into Islam from a
          girl's/woman's point of view.
35. Woody Allen - director
34. Ian McEwan - novelist
31. Philip Roth - novelist
18. Paul Kurtz - professor, author, founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
13. Sam Harris - author
10. Christopher Hitchens - journalist, essayist
 9. Stephen Hawking - mathematician, cosmologist
 8. Steven Weinberg - Nobel Prize Winner - Physics
 7. Richard Dawkins - scientist, author
 5. Daniel Dennett - professor of philosophy, author

Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit that the top four names were not familiar to me, but I will definitely be learning more about them.

For the criteria used to select those included on the list and the entire list of the top 50 atheists in the world today, click HERE.

Comments welcome on any of these questions:
Who would you add to the list and who would you drop?
What are your thoughts on the criteria used to choose those included on the list?
Who would you choose as your #1 choice or perhaps your top 5?

15 December 2011


Rogers, 18
Schaffran, 32

In my attempt to show that religion is not a guarantee of moral behavior, this post is one in a series about the inappropriate behavior of religious people. In no way am I suggesting that most religious people behave badly. Most of the religious people I know are good, moral, and ethical. Most of the non-religious people I know are good, moral, and ethical. I am simply demonstrating that religion does not guarantee moral behavior and that, at times, it might even promote unscrupulous acts unacceptable under standard precepts of ethical behavior. 


According to the Huff Post crime page, police investigating a home invasion in Mississippi broke up "The Savior Unit" a paramilitary group that trained its members in "hand to hand combat skills, paramilitary training and scriptures."

The Gautier Police department took a call about a home invasion and kidnapping on Dec. 6, 2011.

The group's so-called commander Michael Shaun Schaffran and its captain Cody Jacob Rogers have been accused of breaking into a residence while wearing bullet-proof vests and military clothing, dragging out three victims including a 70-year-old man, and assaulting them.

Apparently, the suspects trained a group of teens in combat skills and religion in a wooded area for the past six weeks.

An operation manual recovered by police describes the group as "a tactical search team that is faith based. Our purpose is to promote Christ. Obtain offenders who are a danger to society, do community service work for churches and halfway houses, and do security for different functions. Our training is a recon and infiltration, apprehension and retrieval. All team members are taught hand to hand combat skills, para military training and scriptures.[sic]"

Mmmmm??? "Obtain offenders who are a danger to society"??? How about "obtaining", or, er, detainiing themselves!

04 December 2011


Two more reasons to give up religion:

When I was in high school in the early 1960s, on a hot July Sunday, we were leaving for church when my mother asked me where my white gloves were.

Gloves? On a 95 degree day?

I complained that there was no way I was going to wear gloves in that heat in a church that was not air-conditioned. The church also had large clear-paned windows (not stained glass) so the morning sun made the church, well, hot as hell.

My mother finally permitted me to carry the gloves.

Why? So people wouldn't think I didn't have any.


This year, the day after Thanksgiving, it was quite warm here, near 60 ---unusual for this time of year ---and as we were driving, we saw many people installing holiday displays. It reminded me of a time when it was bitter cold out and my mother had me and my sister hanging Christmas lights in below-zero weather.

My father worked for the Post Office and also was a church organist and choir director, so from Thanksgiving until Christmas we rarely saw him. He worked overtime for the Post Office and had many extra choir rehearsals for three church services (in two different locations) each Sunday or holiday. So it was up to my sister and me to hang the lights. (My mom had frequent strep throat and therefore stayed out of the bitter cold, except to walk to church, of course, or to bark instructions to us on how to hang the holiday lights.)

We were complaining about the cold, and finally I asked why we needed to hang lights anyway.

My mom's response: "So people won't think we are Jewish."


I have a theory about people in general. Most of us, even if we hate admitting it sometimes, are pretty much like our parents, but there is always something about them that drove us crazy, and therefore, we try to be unlike them, in that one respect. In my case, my mother was hell-bent on keeping up appearances and I am not. I cannot say that I don't care at all what other people think of me, but I am much more interested in comfort than wearing what is fashionable. (I'm very glad the days of white gloves are gone.) I don't care much what my neighbors think. And I certainly would not be offended if they saw my unlighted home at holiday time and assumed I were Jewish. I'd be much more offended if someone assumed I were a Christian.

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