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The National Atheist Party's President, Troy Boyle, has gladly embraced on open door policy when accepting questions from theists. Ready with sharp wit and an open mind Troy is always ready for a friendly discussion. Encouraging curious theists to ask us their questions promotes more awareness about what atheists actually believe in and has helped disband some of the more harmful stereotypes about atheists.

Hi Troy! I have a question please. First off i respect everyone’s choices and beliefs. I do find some of your posts very interesting. However my question is in your opinion how did we get here? How were things such as trees, flowers,birds, insects, etc…get here on earth? Trust me Troy i by far am not being a smartass. I’m curious to know from your point of view or an atheist point of view. There are something’s i can agree with you but curious of the answer of my question. I hope u respond to my question. I greatly appreciate it!
Read more for Troy's response.

This question is more easily explained by a science textbook, but I’ll do a quickie version.

1) Our sun formed from remnants of earlier stars. It is a second-generation sun. How do we know? Because heavy elements, like oxygen and iron and nickel, abound in our solar system, and those elements are only created when a star explodes. How do we know THAT? You can simply watch the process in action through a powerful telescope, there are millions of examples available of different stages of solar system formation.

2) All of the planets, moons and planetismals in the solar system formed from the same disc of material that the Sun did. This called an accretion disc. Here is an animation of one. http://www.youtube.com/...

3) The planets cooled. Our planet Earth is in the “habitable zone” of our star – which means that water, which is necessary for life, is in a liquid state here. Any planet that forms in the “habitable zone” of its host star will have the potential for developing life. There are an estimated 120 BILLION planets in the habitable zone of their host star in this galaxy alone, and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, resulting in some QUINTILLIA of habitable bodies. Life is certain to be common.

4) Inorganic material – like sulfur, carbon, and hydrogen – forms ORGANIC material, acids, simple proteins and sugars – when mixed in a dynamic environment. The early Earth was a dynamic environment. Volcanism, lightning and rotational energy kept all of these chemicals mixing and remixing in the presence of energy and radiation for a billion years before….

5) Some of the protein-acid chains became self replicating. RNA, it’s called. Ribo-nucleic acid. It’s NOT alive, but it has the life-like property of replicating itself. Viruses, which are NOT alive, contain RNA. Viruses do not eat, are not mobile, do not excrete, and last forever unless destroyed. Viral RNA eventually inserted itself into these protein-acid chains, resulting in organic structures that reproduce. The first real form of life: bacteria. How do we know this: it has been replicated in the lab. NOT the virus to bacteria part, because that takes a billion years and who has the time? But the inorganic to organic step has been replicated easily. The term for the process is “abiogenesis” or life, from non-life.

6) Once bacteria began reproducing, evolution sped up. Radiation and energy all over the world in different conditions and amounts yielded millions of different varieties of bacteria, all competing for food-energy. Evolution began operating at this point, the most successful competitors (favoring GROUPS of cells over single-celled, and motile groups over stationary groups) survived while the least successful either went extinct or occupied non-competing niches.

7) As groups became larger, organizational principles and complexity emerged, because those with more specialization tended to out-compete simpler forms. Amoeba and other motile single celled animals became dominant and filled the nutrient-rich pools of water. Simple nematodes followed, then tiny fish, like brine shrimp and jellies.

8 ) One of the characteristics of life is that, if an environment is not TOO alien, life will eventually change to adapt to it, because competition pressure constantly drives life to new areas and new energy sources. Eventually, some fish learned to hop into the air for brief seconds, eventually abandoning the water entirely. So on and so on until reptiles, then birds, then mammals, and finally primates emerged.

9) You have to have an appreciation for the length of time this took. Millions, then Billions of years. If the length of time the Earth has existed equals the length of a football field, mammals have only been around in the last inch, and humans have only been around for the last millimeter of that football field.

10) There is no fantasy in the foregoing. Some conjecture, but the conjecture fits the facts. All religions, including Christianity, are fantasy. Their creation stories do NOT fit the facts. In fact, most of the creation stories of the thousands of religions in history, are in direct opposition to the observable facts. They are stories. Fanciful stories invented by people that were ignorant of science. Now that we know the true reasons for the way things began, religion can be abandoned. They were never true, and now they are no longer even useful. They are an artifact of an earlier attempt at understanding.

Note: I am not a scientist. I may have some orders of development reversed, or some timescales inaccurate. This represents my layman’s understanding of a wonderfully complex and awe-inspiring process and phenomenon that, to my mind, far exceeds any wonder or beauty yet proffered by any religion. As Carl Sagan said: “We are starstuff.”

Troy Boyle

President

National Atheist Party

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Comment Preferences

  •  my questions... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, Chi, pixxer

    what were you guys thinking when you invite and host the Westboro Baptist Church?
    Do you think they represent anything but hate?
    Do you think they can speak for Christians about anything but hate?
    Do you want to mimic some christians and convert the or save their souls or change their minds?
    Do you think you can 'learn' anything from them?

    W.T.F.?

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:39:47 PM PDT

    •  I believe this group had already made plans to (3+ / 0-)

      be present with their usual Krazy Klown Kar Kavalcade of Faith hoping to rankle some people enough to give grounds for yet another lawsuit.

      This gives them the opportunity to participate in the process which they will not do.  Their whole schtick is dependent on their being persecuted outsiders

      •  so the invite was bogus or what? (0+ / 0-)

        I saw a diary but never understood what was to be accomplished by the invite. Still don't really.

        America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

        by cacamp on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 06:36:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  here is some background (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cacamp

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/...
          and the reasoning behind the invitation
          http://www.patheos.com/...
          along with some commentary
          http://coffeeshopatheist.com/...

          •  wow! here are some comments to NAP's invite (0+ / 0-)

            The NAP seems to have stepped in abucket of shit...

            fredwords;

            The obvious objection, of course, is that this move has gotten us all tarred as provocateurs willing to go out of our way to generate confrontation in a cynical bid to beef up our media coverage.  But whether you agree with that assessment or not, there's a basic democratic, procedural issue that was violated here. The National Atheist Party applied for and was accepted into the Reason Rally Coalition because of its willingness to be part of and help with the rally as a sponsor. It was thus invited to join the team. But it then proceeded to act unilaterally in a promotional effort of its own devising that it had to know would be controversial. This promo idea should have first been offered as a proposal to the Reason Rally board, which meets over the phone weekly and is constantly accessible by e-mail. This is the way all the other sponsoring organizations operate. We're a coalition, not a chaos.

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             4 days ago
            38 Likes
            F

            .

            Richard Wade

            Mr. Moore:

            If I agree to help support an event that others have initiated, I bear a responsibility to make decisions that are in concert with the rest of the organizers. It would be very irresponsible and selfish of me to unilaterally invite someone who is very controversial and potentially disruptive to the event without consulting the rest of the organizers first.

            The WBC would have shown up as uninvited party-crashers, and they could have been treated as such. Now thanks to you, we have to treat them as invited guests. If any unfortunate incidents or violence occurs, the WBC will be able to portray themselves as the victims who were invited and then abused, rather than as the provocateurs.

            Your self-centeredness and insensitivity to the basic etiquette of working with the other event organizers,  combined with your nonpology at the end of your rationalizing PR spin letter in this post have sealed the deal for me. Just as with Chris Leithiser who has made the second comment here, I had some doubts about the NAP, but no longer. I will avoid you and disassociate myself from you.

            I fear that the NAP will become embarrassing to atheists in general in the same way that the WBC is embarrassing to Christians in general.

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             3 days ago
            24 Likes

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            Chris Leithiser

            I was dubious about NAP before this move.  I'm no longer dubious--I'm avoiding them actively.

            Like
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             4 days ago
            28 Likes

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            Roxane Farrell Murray

            With any luck there will be thousands of people at the Reason Rally.  It's not like a small campus thing where people prepare witty counterprotests.  If any of the rationalists behave badly, we're going to come out smelling like a skunk.  If they were planning to come anyway, they would be provocateurs in that situation.  Now they're invited guests.

            And why stop at WBC?  Why not invite a few pedophile priests and Focus on the Family?  

            Why give them publicity when it's supposed to be, for once, OUR day?

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             4 days ago
            25 Likes

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            Sandy Kokch

            This has all the makings of a media fiasco of monumental proportions, and I sit in slack jawed aghastedness at the inane stupidity of this stunt.

            If I were attending, and I am damn glad Im not, the last thing I would want to expose myself and my family and friends to is screams of abuse and sneering tacit hate threats from a pack of rabid publicity hungry psychos like the WBC.  I dont give a flying toss what reason (and I use that term very loosely here) you THOUGHT you had for this. You acted unilaterally, without the knowlege and consent of the other organisers and sponsors, and without consideration for others who, like me, never want me and mine to be exposed to a mob of bigots and haters like the WBC.

            I thank reason that this pack of hateful goons are banned from my own country (the UK), and so our conferences are happily free of such hate noise. I thank reason that under the UKs hate laws we can outlaw groups like this and Islam4UK and drive them off our streets. Only in America as the old saying goes.

            What next? Maybe you could invite the KKK or neo-nazi white power goons along on MLK Day or to the next Gay Pride March?

            You, IMHO, should apologise for your stupidity, and now make sure that
            if they do turn up they are cordoned off by a human wall of your own
            members a long way away from the main event where their abuse will not
            spoil the day for the other attendees, especially families with kids who may not get your little joke. This is YOUR problem, one YOU created.

            Now fix it.

            I penned an article recently, (I write and broadcast as Dave The Sandman), which would have been mirrored in audio format to an atheist radio show, in support of the NAP extolling your drive and movement and recommending that Americans get behind you. Tll now I respected your pluck, your drive, and your strategy. Now it seems that respect was ill placed.

            I have, in light of this stunt, written to the blog manager and programme co-ordinator asking them to spike the pieces pending replacements.

            Congratulations dickwads.....you just lost my vocal support.

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             3 days ago
            16 Likes

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            p

            Not sure what "other side"  is shown in the video. WBC are not some ironic  post modern situationist art parody group. They still picket funerals and cause real distress to the bereaved. That is not "maintaining civility".

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             4 days ago
            18 Likes

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            Yasatrek

            This seems seriously ill-considered.

            Did somebody seriously think that "Look at us! We're better than Westboro!" would change any minds about atheists and rationalists? Is the hope that at least one religious group will be viewed more negatively than us? Why not just go all out and invite the Catholic wing of NAMBLA?

            If nothing else, this demonstrates that atheists can be just as idiotic as any other group.

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             4 days ago
            14 Likes

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            Katherine Lorraine, Liberal, secular, transgender, pansexual, atheist, science-loving, space-and-dinosaurs-are-awesome, nerd.

            This is just a bad move - if not for the PR nightmare alone (Fox News will have a field day with this...) it's also a spectacular way to make certain people feel really unsafe. I am seriously considering attending the rally in a skirt (to show off my fantastic legs :O) and the knowledge that bigoted assclowns like the WBC were INVITED by the NAP is disheartening. It's the equivalent of actively inviting the KKK to the Million Man March.

            The WBC would maybe have come, now you're just provoking them to come, at the detriment of what would be a decent event.

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             3 days ago
            11 Likes

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            walkamungus

            "Cheapening the Reason Rally or our movement was never our intention."

            You've managed it nonetheless. Congratulations.

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             3 days ago
            9 Likes

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            Adam Lee

            I agree with the other commenters that inviting WBC was an act of spectacularly poor judgment. It has no upside for us that I can see, and a large potential downside in that, if WBC causes a scene or Reason Ralliers get into an altercation with them, it risks making media coverage of the day about them, rather than about us. They exist to parasitize others' publicity; that's like oxygen for them. Why are atheists helping them do it?

            If we want to fight negative stereotypes of atheists, we should do it by presenting a positive image of ourselves. We shouldn't do it by inviting the worst religious people around just so we look better by comparison. WBC might well have shown up anyway, but daring them to come serves no purpose and accomplishes nothing.

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             3 days ago
            10 Likes

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            Jeanette

            Um, the major objection/stereotype atheists are associated with are being unreasonably provocative when it's unnecessary...so, I don't really see how this gives atheists a better image.

            Plus, WBC deserves to be ignored. Come on. We know we're a sincere group of people, but this makes us look really insincere (with good reason!).

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             3 days ago
            9 Likes

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            Timid Atheist

            That's an interesting not-apology at the end.  Why even apologize when you don't think you were wrong?

            I avoid gatherings as a rule, regardless of what kind of people are there. I just don't like crowds.  But inviting the WBC was just a very poor idea in my opinion.  If you honestly think you're going to use them as a way to promote your rally by getting in on some of their infamy you're going to paint your own organization as no better than they are and even less genuine.  You're publicly stating that's your reason for inviting them, to make yourselves look better and to take advantage of their infamy. You don't think that will backfire at all?

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             3 days ago
            7 Likes

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            brianmacker

            Yep, dig hole deeper. Plus now he's showing videos indicating that WBC isn't bad at all.

            Like
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             3 days ago
            in reply to Timid Atheist
            2 Likes

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            Religious Critic

            WBC disrupt events - they don't turn up to participate, engage or (god forbid) listen. So perhaps NAP's hearts were in the right place, but I can't see how anything productive will come of this venture.

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             4 days ago
            7 Likes

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            SpiritualRationalist

            I wholeheartedly support the invitation!  It seems like you couldn't
            ask for better entertainment. Thousands of generally smart, educated folks
            with good senses of humor, versus 30 or so hyper-serious nutjobs?
            That's a recipe for some really awesome internet-fodder...

            Like
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             3 days ago
            5 Likes

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            Chris Leithiser

             Not to mention the lawsuits.

            Like
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             3 days ago
            in reply to SpiritualRationalist
            1 Like

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            SpiritualRationalist

             Yes, many's the time I've been sued for making fun of idiots...

            Like
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             3 days ago
            in reply to Chris Leithiser
            3 Likes

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            Chris Leithiser

             They only need ONE person more idiotic than they are.  You want to bet they can't find one?  Look, that's how they make their money--they don't have tithing.

            They goad people and then sue--and win.

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             3 days ago
            in reply to SpiritualRationalist
            6 Likes

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            Kaylya

            "
            The WBC has quite a following, and they command a great deal of “media credit.”"

            The WBC does not have "quite a following". They have somewhere around 40 members, most of them relatives of Fred Phelps. While I'm sure there are some other Christian groups who are sympathetic, most will try and distance themselves from the craziness. Jerry Falwell called Phelps a nut. ( http://news.google.com/.... ) They get a lot of media coverage because what they do is so disgusting; I'm not sure what you mean by "media credit" - I tried to look it up to see if it had a specific meaning in PR but couldn't find anything.

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             3 days ago
            4 Likes

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            p

            The phrase "media credit" really shows the sophistry in this article. They do not have " quite a following", not any "credit". The WBC are not only hypocrites of the first order, picketing Steve Jobs funeral while sending the message they were doing this via twitter on an I-Phone! They are called "hatemongers" by none other than the KKK. Some achievement.
            Media credit? Why the NAP should need to piggy back on the WBC  for publicity is beyond me.
            And the phrase " sensationalized media editing"? where has this been? Who is creating the sensation here? Did the media invent the Church and their absurd signage and statements ? Most of the reporting and documentaries on the WBC have been pretty subdued , or even mocking, people know they are real-life Trolls and try not to rise to the bait.

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Kaylya
            4 Likes

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            BenFromCA

            Wait, aren't we supposed to be the rational ones?  Does anyone doubt that we can ignore them just as easily as we ignore the traffic jam on the way to Dunkin' Donuts as the church crowd gets out?  I dunno about the rest of you, but I've had to build up a pretty thick stupidity callous over the years.  You all know how the stupid burns!

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             3 days ago
            4 Likes

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            Joe Zamecki

            This is silly. The WBC just stands in their designated area with their signs, and they sing, and then go home. They don't debate, they don't use violence, they don't block anyone or disrupt anything. There are lots of other Christian groups that misbehave in public routinely, and the WBC simply isn't one of them. Whatever chaos comes from them being there, it certainly won't come from them.

            You can't expect to exclude anyone from the National Mall, so why get so upset that some folks you don't like were invited? Thousands of people are being invited! You can count them in the turnout report. They will add to the turnout.

            This invitation is a good thing, until folks want division and infighting. That's not helpful. It's going to be a diverse and lively day, and that's long before the first speech. I say go with it, and enjoy the ride.

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             4 days ago
            4 Likes

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            Matt Dillahunty

            Thanks for dismissing people's legitimate concerns as "folks want[ing] division and infighting". Do you REALLY think that the people who are pointing out problems WANT to promote division and infighting?

            I'm betting you don't. Because, if you are, you can make that accusation directly to me.

            When the reporter asks WBC why they're there, and they respond that they came at the invitation of the organizers, you don't think that's a potential problem?

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Joe Zamecki
            11 Likes

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            Question Everything

            Blah blah blah NAP - That is not what Troy Boyle said to me when I emailed him my concerns about this childish letter. You all need to get your stories straight.

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             3 days ago
            3 Likes

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            Timid Atheist

            Out of curiosity, what did Troy Boyle say in response to your e-mail?

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Question Everything
            2 Likes

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            Ion

            If the goal was to distinguish atheists from WBC, why would sending a chummy, irony-laden invitation accomplish that? Either we look like we are in collusion with them, or we look like we are exploitative and heartless.

            The idea that it would be great to have lunatics on hand screaming hateful, homophobic epithets in order to show off our maturity is absurd. Why people insist on continually feeding these trolls I have no idea.

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             3 days ago
            3 Likes

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            Keulan

            Well that video was weird, but it just shows that the WBC bigots can get along with people they hate as long as it gives them more publicity. I think inviting them was an incredibly bad idea.

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             3 days ago
            3 Likes

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            Lee Moore

            Interesting point Roxanne however I should probably point out that before we ever sent any invitation we were well aware of the religious groups massing support to counter protest our event.  

            I for one am curious to see how these groups react when they find themselves standing shoulder to shoulder with one of the most hated groups in our country.  

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             4 days ago
            3 Likes

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            Annie

            I'm wondering how you plan on handling the Christian spin that will surely be put on this invitation... that the only religious people the atheists will align themselves with are the WBC?

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             4 days ago
            in reply to Lee Moore
            4 Likes

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            Lee Moore

            Just today I sent an email to one of the anti Reason Rally spin groups Ratio Christi inviting them to an open dialogue with us.  WBC is not the only group we wanted to open lines of communication with.  They were just the most well known one.  

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Annie

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            Annie

            You haven't answered my question.  You don't fix a leaky bucket by drilling holes in it.  I sincerely don't understand your logic here, and was hoping for a more clear response.  An additional question, who is the "we" you speak of?  Is this the stance of everyone at the NAP? Or all the sponsors of the Reason Rally?  

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Lee Moore
            2 Likes

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            Sware

            As a member of NAP, who just voted in their election, I do not support this...for all of the reasons many have named above.  

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Annie
            2 Likes

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            Lee Moore

            To your new question.  I do not represent all of the sponsors for the Reason Rally, I am speaking for the NAP only.  We stand together in this action.  

            As far as your first question, I thought I did answer it.  Let me clarify.  How do we handle the Christian spin?  While I doubt we can change any of their views we can at least attempt to open up a dialogue with them and get our side of the story heard.  

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Annie

            .

            simone just simone

            Lee, if you want the Christian "spin" why not invite William Lane Craig or other respected Christian apologists [ah, I see you just mentioned inviting Ratio Christi--good! still...].  Westboro is really anti-Christian, when it comes down to it.  This is the REASON Rally, isn't it?  So ... find Christians who actually do 'reason' with which to engage ... no??!!

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Lee Moore
            3 Likes

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            Annie

            Honestly (or perhaps, obviously) I don't support this decision, but I hope for the sake of the atheist movement that I will be proven wrong.  The law of unintended consequences should always be considered when making bold moves like this.

            The Christians who will be using this to spin more hate about atheists are not the ones that will be in attendance.  Although I don't suggest doing things to reduce spin, I also don't think it wise to take actions that will most likely produce fodder for antagonists.

            The silver lining to this is that the WBC is a rather small group.  My hope is that they get lost in a sea of atheists... and that no one confronts them in a way that would be counterproductive to the purpose of the rally.  Thanks for your clarification.

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Lee Moore

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            Michael S

             You can't decide any action based on how the people who most oppose you will try to spin it.

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             2 days ago
            in reply to Annie

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            GodVlogger (on YouTube)

             Maybe it would be great that any other christian protesters would be in the same pen (or whatever the protest area is) with WBC.

            Meanwhile, I tip my hat to the NAP for the efforts invested and vision that they have been creating. This one single invite/letter might be a misstep if it ends up getting negative P.R.. But then again for news coverage and story telling, stories often need an antagonist, and maybe that will be WBC. Even if if goes poorly I will be likely to forgive an occasional misstep as the inevitable growing pains of the NAP. Meanwhile let's hope for the best.

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             4 days ago
            in reply to Lee Moore
            2 Likes

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            Ecmarks245

             http://www.youtube.com/....

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             4 days ago
            3 Likes

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            Dan Egan

            What do you mean we're not 'judgmental' ? I for one AM. Someone who really believes the crap in the bible is an idiot. I think many out here would share the same judgement.

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             3 days ago
            2 Likes

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            Gus Snarp

            I can see one problem with the presence of the WBC, aside from their attempts to create a lawsuit. The WBC are masters of media manipulation, and the right wing media are masters of using the WBC to send the message they want to send. When you put those two together what you get is a right wing media who has convinced most of it's viewers that anti war activists are engaged in hateful protests at the funerals of soldiers who died overseas. Let's just do a quick opinion poll with a proper random sample of Americans about protests at soldier's funerals and see how many of them realize the protests are by a fringe, homophobic cult and how many think the protesters must be anti-war activists.

            FOX News will likely find a way to do a story on the Reason Rally that takes whatever WBC does, along with the fact that they were invited, and uses it to convince their viewers that WBC's message is our message. So this ultimately gives us the opportunity to create videos and moments that clearly show what we're opposed to in the WBC, which will be seen almost exclusively by people like us. Meanwhile it will give FOX the opportunity to create extremely well edited videos showing the exact opposite, which will be seen by millions of religious people, conservatives, and random people hanging out in bars, which always seem to have FOX news playing.

            You do the math.

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             3 days ago
            2 Likes

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            Tom

            Indeed,  it would be an outright lie to claim that publicity was not the first idea that came to mind when writing this letter.  It was the ONLY idea you had for this letter.

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             1 day ago
            1 Like

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             Lissa

            Hmm. I'm not actually sure how I feel about this. While I understand what the NAP had in mind, the WBC is a noted hate group that is especially hateful towards the gay community. I've seen the video posted before and if I got anything other than confusion from it it was that these people are two-faced. Imagine being friendly to your gay friend one day and then holding up dehumanizing signs against them the next. I have to wonder why Kirk Cameron wasn't invited by the NAP, he did very much the same thing just without the picket signs.

            I won't speak for everyone but I think the vast majority of atheists can agree that your sexuality is something that you're born with, a gay person can not help who they are any more than a black man can help who he is. Should the NAP be inviting the KKK next time?

            With that said, I will say again I understand what the NAP was trying to achieve, I'm just not sure this was the right way to go. I guess I'm one of those who has mixed feelings about the whole thing.

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             3 days ago
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            joe

            Lee, I hope it turns out as you planned. I don't think well really know until its over. I don't think it was such a good idea, for whatever reason. maybe if there its a confrontation, it'll be seen as the wbc abusing an invitation. Trouble is there's also many in our community who don't avoid confrontation, so it just might be a bomb waiting to explode. To me its seems that the rally should have been "untainted", and we should have avoided internal conflict (which this seems to have resulted in) in order to put on a "better face" to the world.

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             4 days ago
            2 Likes

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            Robertlrader

            Sure, it was probably a bad move, and I REALLY don't like the concept of a "National Atheist Party", but I view this more as a chance for more of the children and young adults among their ranks to question what they've been taught; possibly seeing that the people they've been raised to view as evil, don't actually sacrifice kittens, and don't regularly eat values.

            But I've also been known to give people too much credit.

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             2 days ago
            1 Like

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            Robertlrader

            Oops, auto correct. Eat babies*, not eat values.

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             2 days ago
            in reply to Robertlrader

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            Dekky

            I'm not even sure if I'm going to attend the reason rally now. It's one thing to have WBC picketing the event, they will be invited guests and ~when~ havoc breaks loose, it's going to look bad for the event for inviting such horrible people. What were you thinking?!

            I can't help but to worry about my safety at this place. Is that silly of me?

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             2 days ago
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            Michael S

            WBC people probably won't accept the invitation into the event. Then they might be asked to show something like normal respect for others.

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             2 days ago
            in reply to Dekky

            .

            Drew M.

             You naysayers are overreacting and simply don't get it.  Megan Phelps-Roper tweeted a smiley face! How could anything go wrong after that?

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             3 days ago
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            Beadknitter

            I don't buy it. It is a mistake to invite groups like this. By inviting the WBC, you are giving them validation. You are giving them another opportunity to spread their hateful message. Something no one should be giving them. Validity only makes them worse.
             We should be IGNORING them.

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             3 days ago
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            rommel43

            Look at it this way, now people will have to choose between being on the side of the freethinkers or on the side of the WBC

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             3 days ago
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            p

            Nope. They'll just dis-associative themselves from the WBC.
            Or use as an opportunity to present a "moderate" religious alternative to the media.

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             2 days ago
            in reply to rommel43
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            Noodoggy

            I have no puppy in this fight.  But I have an opinion about it.  I am surprised at the vitriol and just plain pooh poohing of the WBC invitation.  In my mind, rational, reasonable people view ALL humanity as deserving of dignity.  On a lighter note, I am from New Orleans, and when you give a party, EVERYONE IS INVITED!  =)

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             3 days ago
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            Troy Boyle

            Cantankerous, opinionated, vocal, hyperanalyzing atheists. How I love you all. That's no lie. :) We'll see how this turns out after the RR. That's all that can really be said. We also have a billboard  campaign coming up that is quite different from anything you've seen before.

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             3 days ago
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            Jose S Veliz

            Voy a ser el único hispano y ateo entre miles de cristianos INVITADOS   :-(
            Something  is very wrong in this.

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             2 days ago

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            Gunstargreen

            I've bounced around on wondering if WBC is an example of Poe's Law or not for the past several years. Now I'm even more unsure.

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             3 days ago

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            Gordon Duffy

            Will the WBC be put with the other christian who are showing up?

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             4 days ago

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            Chris Leithiser

             Nope.  Enabling the religious to point at them, AND us, as birds of a feather.

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Gordon Duffy
            4 Likes

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            fredwords

            All protesters of the Reason Rally will be in the Free Speech Zone at the back of the rally area--except, perhaps, for the sly ones trying to infiltrate the crowd and do one-on-one witnessing.  

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             3 days ago
            in reply to Gordon Duffy

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            Ubi Dubium

            Wait, free speech zone?  What?  The entire rally is one huge free speech zone! Surely you mean the "Lack of Free Speech Zone".

            But seriously, WBC delights in showing up where they are not wanted.  Many times when public counter-protests have been announced, or when the people they are protesting have said 'Bring it on, we're ready for you!", that's when they no-show.  I think the best deterrent for these bozos is open arms and a warm welcome.

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             3 days ago
            in reply to fredwords
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            brianmacker

            What is this zone nonsense? Are you saying there is going to be an roped off area referred to as the "free speech zone". You have to be kidding right? That's the stupidest idea ever. That implies the rest of the rally is censored.

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             3 days ago
            in reply to fredwords
            3 Likes

            .

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            .

            America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

            by cacamp on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 06:37:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I would suggest the curious theist visit PZ Myers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Nowhere Man, Neon Vincent

    at either of his sites:
    pandasthumb.org
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/...

    There are also links to other sites which can provide additional scientific information.  I would suggest a person who has no idea where things like trees, birds, the sun or planets or the wind and rain or whatever has done very little investigation on his own.  It is always refreshing to find someone who has already done some of the spadework before he asks a question.

    BTW I found this discussion recently on the role of the teacher when a science teacher was confronted by this response on a science test:
    "I wrote what I had to ‘agree’ with what was said in class, but in truth I believe ABSOLUTELY that there is an amazing, savior GOD, who created the universe, lives among us, and loves us more than anything. That is my ABSOLUTE, and no amount of ‘philosophy’ will change that."
    Here is the discussion: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/...

  •  My Response: "Why Not Ask Me About Quantum (9+ / 0-)

    mechanics, space probe design, climate change or brain surgery? You and I are both equally ignorant on all those topics too.

    These are highly technical matters that can only be debated intelligently by people trained in the science and other technicalities involved, using the methods that have passed tests of reliability.

    Any adult in an advanced democracy should have had enough basic science education to know very roughly how these matters look to science, how science handles them, and what the basic process of science itself is. We should understand that the citizen has no standing in technical matters beyond their education, but it is our role as citizens to take the information developed by specialists of any kind and debate together policies based on that information to govern ourselves.

    What religion says about the world is said to teach people about God. What science says about the world is said to teach people about the world and how to deal with it. Neither is any business of the other. Science doesn't prove religion "wrong" and religion doesn't prove science "wrong" any more than baseball proves football wrong. It's a meaningless idea.

    This is enshrined in our Constitution with 2 bans on religion in government, but a freedom of religion in our own lives."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 06:06:50 PM PDT

  •  With your claim that virus is not alive you're (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm

    making a rather arbitrary boundary between living and non-living matter. And anyone who calls RNA 'a protein-acid chain' has no business explaining science   to anyone.

  •  Goofy amateur answer. (0+ / 0-)

    There are big uncertainties about the early stages of life. Please ask a biologist friend for help before you publish answers to questions like that. Same for any other branch of science.

    Michael Weissman UID 197542

    by docmidwest on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 07:58:31 PM PDT

    •  whoops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi

      Actually, I confess to commenting after reading halfway. The concluding caveats are good. It would make sense to have them at the start, because otherwise readers (e.g. me) will get to all sorts of overly definite, and in some cases just wrong, claims before maybe struggling to the point where you acknowledge that there are guesses and maybe errors.

      Michael Weissman UID 197542

      by docmidwest on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 08:04:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  THE CORRECT ANSWER (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, DaveinBremerton, tung sol

    Q: Can you explain how life on Earth began, how did the first living thing on Earth (whatever life form it was) come to have life suddenly or perhaps gradually?

    A: No, I cannot explain how life on Earth began millions of years ago (or however many years ago), no more than can I explain how a supernatural being might have created life originally, by supernatural or other means.

    Sometimes the correct answer is "I don't know".

  •  I kind of think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Raggedy Ann

    that the question which led to this response was disingenuous. The person asking it didn't really want to know what science holds to be the origins of life.  There's the whole internet out there for those who want to learn about that.
    The question was more of a challenge, than an request for knowledge.  As such, an appropriate response would have been to throw it back; ask 'where did God come from?'   This is, I find, the best way to deal with 'first cause' arguments, no matter how they're dressed up.

  •  I like your effort to take the question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Raggedy Ann

    seriously and attempt to give a straight answer in so far as your personal knowledge allows. Even if the questioner is hoping to start a backwards and forwards slagging match it is best to just simply reiterate the facts as we know them. Those listening will be far more likely to go away and think about what you have to say under those circumstances than if they're angered and defensive by snarky responses back and forth.

  •  Perhaps others with more expertise could suggest (0+ / 0-)

    specific improvements to NAPs diary while keeping the explanation succinct? I'd like to have a bookmarked version of this description available for reference purposes when I get asked the same type of question online.

  •  missing in action diarist picks easy target (0+ / 0-)

    The whole creationist shtick is easily refuted with the simple observation that the supposedly inerrant bible contains two different and irreconcilable creation stories.  A more challenging issue is linked to my sig.

    Scientific Materialism refuted here

    by wilderness voice on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 07:02:28 AM PDT

    •  Your argument in (0+ / 0-)

      that diary is thoroughly circular.  You argue that consciousness is subjective and therefore it is not material.  You fail to even entertain the possibility that consciousness itself is a material phenomena.  Oddly you also completely neglect the fact that physical things such as drugs, alcohol, sickness, and neurological injuries profoundly affect the contents of conscious experience.  These facts are themselves strong evidence for the materiality of consciousness.  Finally, you seem unaware that there are a variety of materialist models attempting to explain free will in materialist terms.  Instead you seem to be fighting a model of materialism that no one has advocated since the 17th century.  The worst part of your diary, however, is it's smug, triumphalist tone.  You completely ignore the vast literature from neurologists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers of mind while speaking as if all these folks who have devoted to their life to understanding these things are stupid and are making an elementary mistake.  There's only ever been one successful theory of the world:  naturalism/materialism.  We are making massive strides in neurology every day due to this framework.  Why anyone would want to advocate dualism is beyond me.

      •  materialist confusion (0+ / 0-)

        consciousness is by definition our subjective experience.  There is indeed a parallelism between consciousness and neural activity, which is the objective side of this phenomenon.

        You reply is a perfect statement of the materialist confusion.  Until materialists such as yourself are able make the simple distinction between objective and subjective phenomena there will never be real progress in understanding consciousness.

        Scientific Materialism refuted here

        by wilderness voice on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 08:18:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  circular shoe is on the other foot (0+ / 0-)

        Consciousness is a property of a functioning human brain in a living human body. We know this because we experience it subjectively. Absent this experience we would be sleepwalking automatons and there would be nothing to talk about. We could just as well name this experience "subjective awareness". If we now consider this subjective awareness in relation to scientific materialism, as I have done, the result is we must either give up some treasured notions about it, or abandon materialism.  This result is profoundly uncomfortable to materialists such as yourself.  Since you were unable to attack the logic you attack the definition.  You claim it means something other than how it was defined at the outset.  This, my friend, is circular reasoning. Yours.

        Scientific Materialism refuted here

        by wilderness voice on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 05:53:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A "by definition" (0+ / 0-)

          argument simply begs the question.  It's not an argument at all.  By nature such arguments are necessarily circular and are no different than folks that claim that "by definition marriage is between a man and a woman."  I suggest you take an intro critical thinking course.  Try again.

          •  bullshit on 2 counts (0+ / 0-)

            To prove something one starts with a definition and goes from there.  (1)You are trying to change it after the fact because you don't like the result and (2) you are trying to change it to your very own personal meaning at odds with conventional usage.

            Against stupidity all efforts to educate are in vain.  I shall waste no more on you.

            Scientific Materialism refuted here

            by wilderness voice on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:21:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Wow...excellent summation of how I got (0+ / 0-)

    the ability to wonder at how I got the ability to wonder...

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