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Interesting Stuff Thread



  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Well, that's theism told off good and proper :) as for deism, as Franklin suggested, we need care no more for the possibility of a creator outside of our time, space and universe than that supposed creator might care for us, i.e. not at all.

    I do admire the courage of atheists who very much went against the flow of their time - especially before evolution and the Big Bang theory explained the outstanding 'god gaps'. We now no longer need any supernatural explanation for a single thing which happened since the first microsecond after the Big Bang. That's good enough for me. As for "why do we exist" etc., I regard these as stupid questions. The fact that we exist is wondrous enough, why do we need a why? We know that we are all only here because one out of millions of sperm happened to be in the right place at the right time to form a zygote, which we believe about 25% implant, and a substantial number of those never make it to the second trimester never mind a healthy childhood. From the individual's point of view, we all only exist by the faintest chance. Yet from the point of view of the species, our propagation is inevitable. Let's not ruin the wonder of it by trying to find an explanation for that which no explanation can exist.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,124 ✭✭✭ Odhinn

    Shinto, wrestling - whats there not to like -

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch

    In Walkinstown, Ireland's first Hindu temple, or the Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre of Ireland to give it its full title, opens:

    More details at

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Well this is starting to look prescient

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Assisted dying bill to be introduced to the Dail tomorrow. Private member's bill so it'll probably go nowhere unless the government decide to support it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Deep in Siberia's Taiga forest is Vissarion, a cult leader who looks like Jesus and claims to be the voice of God. He's known as "the Teacher" to his 4,000 followers, who initially seem surprisingly normal. Over time, however, their unflinching belief in UFOs and the Earth's imminent demise made this group start to look more and more like some sort of strange cult.

    The authorities have caught up with him...
    Russian authorities mounted a special operation to arrest a former traffic police officer who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus and has run a cult based in the depths of Siberia for the past three decades.

    Helicopters and armed officers stormed communities run by Sergei Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion, and arrested him and two of his aides. Russia’s investigative committee said it would charge him with organising an illegal religious organisation, alleging that the cult extorted money from followers and subjected them to emotional abuse.

    Like telling people they'll go to hell unless they do what the man says, then sticking a collection plate in front of them?

    Anyway, he'll be hoping it's "Welease Wissawion" rather than "Crucifixtion? One cross each, first door on the left."

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,247 ✭✭✭ pauldla

    Scientific American on 'The Denialist Playbook'. Should be familiar to many reader of this forum...

    In short:

    Doubt the Science
    Question Scientists’ Motives and Integrity
    Magnify Disagreements among Scientists and Cite Gadflies as Authorities
    Exaggerate Potential Harm
    Appeal to Personal Freedom
    Reject Whatever Would Repudiate A Key Philosophy

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch

    Douglas Adams would shed a tear at this moment - the first electric monk:

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Interesting clip here with Terry Gilliam's thoughts on Kubrick and Spielberg:

    Basically Kubrick = Reality.
    Spielberg = Pablum. Like religion, pat answers wrapped up in a neat digestible package.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch

    Henry Marsh, neurosurgeon and author of the excellent autobiography "Do No Harm", has announced that he's suffering from stage 3/4 cancer and is actively promoting a change in UK law to allow for assisted dying:
    Having spent a lifetime operating on people with cancer, the prospect of dying slowly from it myself fills me with dread. Despite the best efforts of palliative medicine, I know that dying from cancer can still be a very horrible business – for both patient and family, despite what the opponents of assisted dying claim.

    I fiercely believe that if people in my situation knew they had the ability to choose how, when, and where they would die, it would greatly reduce their suffering. Knowing that I had this choice, if life became unbearable, would certainly give me much greater confidence now in facing whatever the future might hold for me. But as the law stands, I am not allowed this comfort, and the law insists instead that I must suffer. Many politicians have shown a striking lack of compassion by ducking this issue for too long, and are inadvertently guilty of great cruelty. Irrespective of your view on assisted dying, I would hope everyone could agree that our laws should be based on evidence and informed decisions, not alarmist, unfounded opposition that flies in the face of all the evidence from countries where assisted dying has been legalised. It’s time for all MPs to start taking this issue seriously and I urgently call upon them to undertake an inquiry into the law.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl

  • Administrators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 28,562 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ oscarBravo

    Schist to t'mill?

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 19,032 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Bannasidhe

    smacl wrote: »

    Ohhh, I do love it when the Germans start a schism.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Germany has a church tax and a very large population so no doubt the Vatican will need to do its sums very carefully here.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch

    Douglas Adams - gone twenty years today :(

  • Registered Users Posts: 35,648 ✭✭✭✭ ohnonotgmail

    Bannasidhe wrote: »
    Ohhh, I do love it when the Germans start a schism.

    Wake me up when they start nailing treatises to church doors.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch

    On bullshit:
    Bullshitting, communication characterised by an intent to be convincing or impressive without concern for truth, is ubiquitous within human societies. [...] We find that bullshit ability is associated with an individual’s intelligence and individuals capable of producing more satisfying bullshit are judged by second-hand observers to be more intelligent. [...] The ability to produce satisfying bullshit may serve to assist individuals in negotiating their social world, both as an energetically efficient strategy for impressing others and as an honest signal of intelligence [...] we find that one’s ability to produce satisfying bullshit is independent of one’s willingness to produce bullshit.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    For the first time ever members of Atheist Ireland have been invited to meet a Lord Mayor of Dublin as part of the usual round of meetings that take place when a new occupant assumes the office.

    Labour Cllr Alison Gilliland, who became Lord Mayor last June, met Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent and its Human Rights Officer Jane Donnelly at the Mansion House this on Tuesday afternoon.

    It is customary for a new Lord Mayor of Dublin to meet the President, Taoiseach, Dublin’s two Archbishops, an Imam and Rabbi but this year she requested a meeting with Atheist Ireland also.

    Mr Nugent noted how “we are often described as people of ‘no belief’ or as ‘nones’, which is not true. We have positive beliefs,” he said.

    They were “very pleased” at the meeting, where discussion centred on “the importance of recognising atheism and other non religious philosophical convictions as having the same positive status as religious beliefs” he said.

    They also discussed “our alliance with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland regarding secular education, human rights and separation of church and State”.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl

    Each to their own, but the statement that atheists have positive beliefs and describing atheism as a non-religious philosophical conviction pretty much sums up why I've never joined Atheist Ireland and most likely never will. Throwing their lot in with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland to promote secularism doesn't sit well with me either. Personally, being an atheist says exactly nothing about my philosophical leanings (as opposed to being a secularist). I applaud Michael and Atheist Ireland for much of the hard work they've in promoting a secular agenda but at the same time don't feel in any sense represented by them.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Atheists do have positive beliefs

    They just can't agree among themselves what those beliefs are 😄

    It is unsurprising that it is only a small splinter of Christianity and a small splinter of Islam which have any interest in promoting secularism; in the case of each group it's self-interest (whereas with AI it's pure altruism, natch 😉 )

    There again, if you want to topple the catholic monolith you have to build a coalition. Many of those involved in the repeal the 8th campaign detest SF and saw that party's new-found pro-choice stance as complete opportunism, but that had to be swallowed to achieve the greater goal. Similarly, perhaps AI's marriage of convenience makes it somewhat harder for theists to dismiss AI out of hand as a bunch of anti-theist cranks. Though they probably will, anyway...

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl

    Agreed, ten out of ten to AI for pragmatism. In terms of effective promotion of secularism combined with inclusivity, I think Educate Together have achieved more concrete results than anyone else out there. The barney AI had with them over multi-denominational / non-denominational also left me very unimpressed and had me wondering how much of it stemmed from earlier possible collaborations falling though. I think that AI certainly have a positive and coherent belief system but this is not something that could be said about atheism in general. Secularism is a banner I'd have no problem rallying under, grouping atheists seems about as sensible as cat herding.

    What I find interesting are the distinct approaches taken by ET and AI here. AI is attacking the problem head on by taking on the RCC and establishment on secular issues, ET is focussing on delivering the preferred solution while circumventing them while at the same growing to a size where they're starting to gain some considerable political clout. Both approaches have their merits and no doubt compliment one another. I've no doubt that grip the RCC has had on education, and (ab)used as a means to somewhat stifle its own decline in this country, will falter soon enough. My position is very much that diversity of religious beliefs and cultures should be celebrated within both society as a whole and also within our schools as part of that, and that none of us should be making any demands on the other as to what they should or should not believe.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Agreed, especially about what ET have acheived, but education isn't the only area where church(es) have influence in the affairs of state.

    What worries me is that politicians keep talking about a diversity of schools, as if extending our system of religious, class and gender segregation into ever finer differentiated cohorts is the way to go. What we need is diversity, tolerance and equality within schools.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    America's prestigious Harvard University, founded by Puritan settlers almost 400 years ago, has a new chief chaplain - and he doesn't believe in God.

    Greg Epstein, 44, took up the role this week, becoming the first atheist elected president of Harvard's organization of chaplains.

    "I'm obliged and honored," he wrote on Twitter.

    Mr Epstein has been Harvard's humanist chaplain since 2005 and is the author of the bestselling book "Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe".

    He will lead a group of more than 40 chaplains who represent some twenty different religions and beliefs including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    39 years in a coma / vegetative state is a pretty horrifying prospect.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch



  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Environmentally damaging levels of illegal drugs have been found in the river running through the Glastonbury Festival site in England, scientists said.

    Researchers discovered that during the festival, levels of MDMA and cocaine in the water were so high it could be harming wildlife further downstream, including rare populations of eels.

    All together now...

    "Eels'r'Goode, Eels'r'Goode,

    It's Eben-eels'r'Goode"

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch

    In a change from our usual programming, the Vatican is doing something useful - in this case, and after what seems like a significant delay, an ad campaign supporting vaccines:

    It's also been suggested that the Vatican has requested all employees to vaccinate themselves, or forgo their salary:

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Y'know, if he'd just pray harder god would stop the virus and we wouldn't need all those vaccines.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,490 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Hopefully this unfortunate case will put an end to team-building bullshít once and for all.