I totally endorse this rant by Penn Jillette. Sure, what Mormons (and Scientologists) believe sounds batshit crazy to most of us. But is it really any crazier than what mainstream Christians, Jews or Muslims believe? Hell no. “Just more modern, not more crazy”, as Penn says.
I’m as confused as Penn is about how otherwise intelligent-sounding people can just spout crazy stuff and act like it’s totally normal. It’s especially scary when you hear it from politicians, the people who are supposedly running the country. Surely there should be a sanity test that you have to pass before you can be elected to public office.
One of my favourite “new atheists” is Angie Jackson aka “Angie The Anti-Theist”. At only 27, she’s been blogging, tweeting & YouTubing up a storm for the last two years since she googled her grandmother and discovered she had spent her whole life growing up in an extreme Christian cult. Now she’s fighting again faith in all its forms.
So instead of Christmas, we celebrated the life of Anaxagoras, history’s first recorded scientist and atheist. And instead of giving my kids presents, we gave them power vouchers. Chrissy and I made up our own books of vouchers for the kids. They give the kids some extra power – for example, the ones I made up say things such as:
“This voucher entitles the bearer to spend an hour at the park alone with Dad.”
“This voucher entitles the bearer to get out of doing the dishes when it’s his turn.”
“This voucher entitles the bearer to a trip to Laserforce.”
They basically let my kids have a little bit of additional power than they normally would.
The vouchers Chrissy made up for the kids are similar, but contain special ones that let the kids go busking with her but keep all of the proceeds.
I was pretty happy with this approach and I think the kids were excited as well. The last thing they needed was more stuff they would have thrown in the corner after a few days and forgotten all about. And it’s better for the environment. And it forces me to spend more quality time with my kids. It’s a win all round, I think.
I’m having another attempt this year to promote my alternative celebration on December 25 “Anaxagoras Day”.
Anaxagoras was the first recorded atheist; has been described as the first scientist; and was the first philosopher to take up at his abode at Athens. He was the father of the idea of atoms and the teacher of Pericles. Around 450BCE he wrote his treatise “On Nature” which declared (among other things but we don’t know much of it, as it’s been lost to history) that the sun was a red-hot stone (an idea borrowed from the ideas of Anaximenes) and that the moon was made of earth and derives it’s light from the sun. He was accused of being an atheist, sentenced to death, but seems to have escaped (probably with the help of Pericles) and was exiled from Athens.
According to Britannica: “About 480 Anaxagoras moved to Athens, then becoming the centre of Greek culture, and brought from Ionia the new practice of philosophy and the spirit of scientific inquiry. After 30 years’ residence in Athens, he was prosecuted on a charge of impiety for asserting that the Sun is an incandescent stone somewhat larger than the region of the Peloponnese.”
If you want to join us in celebrating the life of Anaxagoras, just join the Facebook group. I just see it as a day to celebrate the fact that we CAN be atheists without fear of persecution. It’s a great day to think up a way to spread a little bit of rational thinking.
My guest today is Dr Greg Clarke (PhD), Honorary Associate, Dept of Ancient History, Macquarie University
and Director of the Centre for Public Christianity.
We talk about the survey that the CPX has recently sponsored that finds that 55 per cent of Australians don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead but only 11 per cent doubt that Jesus was a real historical figure. As you know, I am one of those 11 per cent. So Greg and I also had a chat about the lack of evidence (as I see it) for the existence of Jesus. As Greg works in the Dept of Ancient History I thought he could confirm for me that my basic facts are correct. As you’ll hear, that was like drawing blood from a stone. 🙂
If you want to listen to some of my other podcasts on the history of Jesus, see this page.
And finally, please support TPN’s April drive! We need your support!
If you want to keep TPN on the air, please show your support. If just the listeners of this show contributed $20 a month, I could fund TPN indefinitely! Is the information and entertainment you get from TPN worth a bottle of cheap wine?