Posted by: sponyak | February 17, 2011

A Plea for Atheist Childrens’ Books

Prospective authors and illustrators- time to get busy!


Let’s face it… America is filled with books that promote religious indoctrination in children. There are thousands of titles available for Christian kids which range from the relatively benign to the downright maniacal.

The lack of overtly atheistic children’s books neatly illustrates the “protective cocoon” that religion has woven for itself… unfortunately with our help (the “secular” are generally WAY too concerned about being “controversial” or appearing to be “antagonistic” towards religion).

While there are some very good (and fairly current) parenting books for freethinkers on the market (Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide to Parenting Beyond Belief is a good one), there is a distinct lack of books for kids that give the very concept of “gods” the scrutiny it so deserves.

There are a few- Dan Barker’s Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong examines morality without supernaturalism. As one reviewer said, the book is “good for undoing religious brainwashing”.

Dan Barker also authored Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children which pretty much compares belief in gods to belief in Santa Claus, etc. (and justifiably so).

We also have S.C. Hitchcock’s Disbelief 101: A Young Person’s Guide to Atheism– this one is aimed at Grade 9 & up, though.

Fortunately, there are indeed many pro-science and pro-critical thinking children’s books on the market… some of you might want to list some good ones below in the comments.

But for those parents who are looking for a childrens’ book that includes those things, but also delves into the absurdity of religious dogma itself (the “heart of the beast”), the pickin’s are very slim indeed.

The world is ready for childrens’ books that directly challenge the very notion of gods & religious belief. Prospective authors, it’s a market that’s waiting to be tapped!

Posted by: Michael Logan | October 9, 2010

Real Or Imagined Equivalence?

People Are Allergic To Facts

I was reading about this interesting study on the cognitive biases found in liberals and conservatives, and the thing I found most fascinating was the determination the author showed in trying to portray the findings as equally damning of both sides.

In the first question, participants were predisposed to believe that a majority of experts agreed with their personal point of view. Among those with an egalitarian/communitarian mindset (i.e., liberals), 78 percent reported (correctly) that there is a scientific consensus that climate change is occurring.

But among those with a hierarchical/individualistic attitude (i.e., conservatives), only 19 percent said there was a scientific consensus that climate change is real. Fifty-six percent reported the scientific community is divided on the issue, and another 25 percent insisted that most scientists agree with them that climate change is not real.

Before you start cursing close-minded conservatives, consider this: When it came to the issue of safely storing nuclear waste, the opposite effect was found (although the differences between the two groups were not as large). Thirty-seven percent of those on the right reported, correctly, that the scientific consensus supported their view. In contrast, 35 percent of those on the left inaccurately believe the scientific consensus reflects their opinion.

When it came to assessing the imaginary expert, the attitude he purportedly held “dramatically affected the responses” of the participants, Kahan and his colleagues report. If his writing sample reflected the belief the planet is at high risk from global warming, 87 percent of those on the left agreed he was trustworthy and knowledgeable, compared to 23 percent of those on the right. The numbers reversed when the expert, with the exact same credentials, stated that climate-change risks are low: 86 percent of conservatives called him knowledgeable and trustworthy, compared to 47 percent of liberals.

The first numbers (78% right on the Left, 81% wrong on the Right) only tell you that those on the Right are factually wrong on that particular issue (that there is a scientific consensus supporting the occurrence of climate change); where the strangeness begins is the 3rd paragraph, when the author tries to negate the results of the 1st question by pointing out that only 35% of those on the Left accurately believed that nuclear waste could be stored safely. The problem is that only 37% of those on the right got the same question correct, and the author’s use of language tries to obscure the fact that statistically speaking, both sides got the question wrong equally.

Now consider the 3rd result; while true that both sides assessed the integrity of the “expert” based on their concurrence with the participant’s own views, but the left was 24% more likely to accept his claims even though they went against their own beliefs, twice that of those on the Right. Consequently, I feel it is a fair conclusion to state that while all people demonstrate this tendency to trust those sources that reinforce their own opinions, the right is more likely to do so, and gets a greater number of things wrong as a result.

My biggest contention with this article is not the findings, but the shameless and dishonest way in which the author attempts to misrepresent the findings to support their own position, that Left and Right are equals (2 sides of the same coin, if you will) on the issue of intellectual integrity. Clearly, there is a difference. Less clear is whether the author intended the irony found in this piece.


Posted by: sponyak | September 26, 2010

A Testament to Naturalism

From Infidels.Org:

As defined by philosopher Paul Draper, naturalism is “the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.” More simply, it is the denial of the existence of supernatural causes. In rejecting the reality of supernatural events, forces, or entities, naturalism is the antithesis of supernaturalism.

The philosophy of Naturalism is well supported by modern science. With respect to the existence of a God, the statement: “A godless universe is in accordance with scientific empiricism” can only be viewed as a true statement, considering the fact that humanity holds not a shred of empirical evidence in support of the existence of any deities.

Professor PZ Myers, outspoken atheist and the author of the blog Pharyngula, has decided to put his copies of the Bible and the Quran to rest… in his flower garden.

Myers’ epitaph for these supernaturalism-laden holy texts reads like a poetic testament to Naturalism:

“Right now, the pages swell with moisture, the fibers separate and the chapters turn into pulpy masses. Bacteria bloom and their colonies expand; fungi flourish and their hyphae infiltrate and convert cellulose into spores. The ink runs as nematodes writhe over the surfaces, etching the words with slime and replacing the follies of dead men with the wisdom of worms. The roots of flowers and grasses will fumble downwards to embrace the decaying leaves, and the roots of trees will impale the volumes laterally. Given only a little time, the madness will be reduced to compost.”

Myers’ full post, A Funeral for Folly, can be read here.

The naturalist philosopher John Shook, Vice President and Senior Research Fellow at The Center for Inquiry, has written a not-so-wonderful piece lamenting “ignorance” on the part of both atheists and religious folk.

The usually-reliable Shook really missed the mark on this one… he begins:

“Atheists are getting a reputation for being a bunch of know-nothings. They know nothing of God, and not much more about religion, and they seem proud of their ignorance.”

This opening statement can be attacked on so many levels, we won’t even go there… or should we?

“They know nothing of God”… well, who really does? And to the atheist, God is a non-entity… how much is to be learned about nothing? How about the common “moving the goal posts” argument that “God is unknowable”?

“…and not much more about religion”… a canard to end all canards. Mr. Shook conveniently forgets that many atheists & agnostics, including many here in the Cleveland Freethinkers group, once upon a time had more religion than many of them would care to admit. There is also the problem of many atheists possessing more “knowledge of religion” than your everyday American Christian.

“…and they seem proud of their ignorance”… I don’t think so. We are proud of the ability to think for ourselves, and proud of the fact that we have not succumbed to any form of religious dogma. Does disinterest in “looking further” into religion equate with ignorance on the atheist’s part? Since atheists reject the central concept of religion- which is the existence of a God- what exactly would the atheist expect to “learn” there?

Shook goes on to say; “To listen to the loudest atheists, you can hear the bewilderment…”

Who are these “loudest atheists”? Does he mean the perennial whipping-boy of theists and accommodationist non-believers alike, Richard Dawkins? Let’s face it, folks… there are “loud” atheists all across the United States now, and we intend to get louder. Is it Mr. Shook’s intention that we should just keep our non-theistic views to ourselves, and let the religious set the framework for “debate”? To John Shook’s credit… are we atheists “bewildered” that so many people here in the 21st century still adhere to Dark Age mythologies? In a word, yes. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t understand the reasons behind the persistence of religion and all its dogmas.

Especially bothersome is Shook’s statement; “… And they just can’t believe how a thing like religion could appeal to any intelligent person.”

Contrary to Mr. Shook’s assertion, we atheists have a very good idea as to how (and why) religion can appeal to intelligent people. Some of us just wish it wouldn’t…   🙂

How religion can appeal to intelligent people:

1) their religious worldview was instilled since early childhood, and it is the only worldview they have ever known. Intelligent person or not, religion continues, in adulthood, to provide a “safe haven” of sorts that is perceived to keep one safe from all the real, nasty things in the universe, such as bad stuff happening, death, exploding galaxies, etc…

2) they sought guidance in religion, and they found it… at least they THINK they found it, and it stuck. How outrageous the claims of said religion are, doesn’t seem to matter.

3) despite lack of empirical evidence, they NEED to believe in something “above and beyond” the natural universe, which is beautiful but harsh and unfortunately includes death as part of its reality. Many intelligent, science-minded people choose to believe in God and the “afterlife”, and have no internal conflict because their “rationality” and their “faith” are held separately.

Any other ideas as to why religion can appeal to intelligent people? You can post them in the comments below…

Mark Tiborsky

The Cleveland Freethinkers


Posted by: sponyak | September 4, 2010

Glenn Beck & Crew Lament “The Epidemic of Nonbelief”

In which the “Golden Booger” award goes to Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who says “atheists are parasites”.

Speak for yourself, O sucker-outer of the human capacity for rational thought…

More Potential Faith-Eaters I caught this article through PZ about the Christian faith-healers killers of Followers of Christ Church. It seems this particular religion is hell-bent on killing their kids. I should get these people to join my faith-eating cause. The Wylands' 7-month-old daughter, Alayna, was placed in state custody earlier this month after child-welfare workers received a tip about the untreated and ballooning growth. Doctors said that the condition could cau … Read More

via Inside the Atheists Studio

What REALLY Happened to the Dinosaurs I found this hilariously appalling children’s creationism book available for free download. I decided to improve upon it by replacing the text with my own. You can see the original here (warning: not safe for children).

Read More

via Inside the Atheists Studio

CFT’s July Roundtable was recorded for a podcast episode. Rob Farmer of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State gave a great talk that was both interesting and informative. To access the podcast, click “read more,” below.

PODCAST: Rob Farmer

This episode is a break from the interview format. The focus of ITAS remains on the godless internet community, but on occasion we’ll switch gears a bit. On July 3 I attended a Cleveland Freethinkers Roundtable meetup that featured speaker Rob Farmer of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Rob spoke with us … Read More

via Inside the Atheists Studio

Posted by: sponyak | July 8, 2010

Our God is More Fun than Your God!

Gods throughout history have been so serious, so dour… the equivalent of cosmic sourpusses. Yahweh, Allah, all those Dudes… they’re so easily offended!

Dionysus was a lot of fun, I suppose- as was Mbombo (AKA Bumba), the African god who vomited out the universe.

But no gods compare to the Flying Spaghetti Monster! It is unoffendable, unless one chooses to break atheism’s lone commandment:


Here is a tribute, courtesy of the Cleveland Freethinkers group. Incredibly, the omnipotent FSM makes an appearance in the video, long before It conceived of Itself! Now that IS a miracle.

Posted by: camtimothy | June 9, 2010

God, Yahweh, Science, Religion, Atheism (Part One)

By Tim Campbell

“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this, but have expressed it clearly.  I do not believe in immortality of the individual and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.”  ~Albert Einstein, 1954

For the record, I do not believe in tribal gods or as Einstein put it, personal gods either. This includes Yahweh and Jesus, as well as Zeus, Mithra, Odin, and the Sock Fairy.  I do not know what if anything lies beyond the boundaries of our known Universe.  If there are entities, beings, or intelligences that do exist beyond our Universe, I am not aware of them, they have not made themselves known to me, and if they do exist, I do not believe that they have any relationship with any of the aforementioned tribal deities.  I am not denying the possible existence of beings beyond our known Universe; I am just saying that they are unlikely to be named Yahweh or Jesus or Allah.

I am not writing these essays in order to convert believers to unbelievers. If I can persuade you to think clearly and critically about your own beliefs, that is enough. Perhaps you will do more research and read more (I’ve included a list of books for further reading at the end of this Part One) and learn more about your beliefs, their history, and their very human origins.  Perhaps not.  There are many who would not even attempt to see anything that might contradict their religious beliefs.  They are not open-minded.

That is their problem.  I say “their” because I doubt that any of the “true believers” will bother to read this. 

For those of you who do take the time to read these essays, welcome!  The hope for a just authority that makes everything right in the long run is a universal hope.  I do not wish to denigrate that hope, but hope does not make reality.  Wishing for a god does not make that god an actuality.  Believing in a god does not make that god real. 

Unfortunately, religion and faith have no form of bullshit detector.  The claimant claims and the believers believe because the claimant has claimed and most likely because the believers want to believe.

I am a human being…  nothing more, nothing less.  I have no more credibility that Saint Paul, who is credited as being the founder of one of this planet’s major religions: Christianity.  But like Saint Paul, I have never physically seen or met the Christ on which he based his religion.  Unlike Saint Paul, I do not claim to have met this Christ in visions or dreams.   Unlike John, the writer of the Book of Revelations, I do not claim to hear Jesus talking to me from a hole in the roof of my cave, or for that matter from my toaster or television, or bedside lamp.

I have read the Bible.  I have seen nothing in that amazing collection of ancient Bronze Age stories, poems, and parables that could convince me that any of the writers of those works had any actual contact with any actual gods either! 

If this offends you, then turn away.  Read something else and have a good life. Go in peace! If, however, you wish to know why one man claims to be an atheist, then please read on.  I welcome your comments and reactions, unless your only rebuttal is to send me to the eternal fires of Hell for daring to disbelieve the veracity of your religion’s claims. In that case, I wish you poxes and disease and demonic sores!


These three Irishmen were sitting around in the pub late one night and the discussion turned to the subject of great inventions.

Tommy stated that the greatest invention of all time had to be the telephone because then he could call home anytime to make sure his dear ma was feeling good.

Mickey said no, the greatest invention had to be the automobile because then he could drive to church on Sundays.

But Paddy said no, the greatest invention was the thermos.

The thermos? the other two said in unison as folks tend to do in these jokes! 

Why the thermos, they asked?

Simple says Paddy.  It keeps the hot things hot and the cold things cold.  How does it know?

No doubt that the thermos represents a wondrous advance in human technology, but if I were sitting with Tommy, Mickey, and Paddy, my vote would have been for the invention of glass!

Glass, you see, is THE amazing invention.  Man discovered centuries ago that glass has the ability to be heated and molded into almost any shape, with the result being a TRANSPARENT solid!

I might also add that the properties that make glass glass would stand as one of God’s best jokes on His Earthly rivals, the tribal gods!  For if God exists, then God gave glass (or more accurately silica) its wonderful properties.

You see, this transparent moldable solid is the underlying basis for the invention of the microscope and the telescope, not to mention eyeglasses, windows, and protective windshields, and even walls and floors!  But it is the microscope and the telescope that have opened up the Universe for us little humans.  This has been a stupendous development for humanity as it has shown us more clearly our place in the Universe, but it has meant the inevitable death sentence for the tribal gods.

By tribal gods, I mean specifically, Yahweh, Allah, and Jesus.  There are of course hundreds of other tribal gods out there, but most of them (Zeus, Mithra, Issus, Odin, etc.) have already been whacked by these three tribal gods.  In some parts of the world, Shiva, Papa Legba, and the Great Spirit are still thought of fondly by a few folks, but not with the enthusiasm and horrible consequences that come along with the Big Three. 

Did you know that at one time the earth, our little planet, was thought to be the center of the universe, a huge slightly curved plot of land surrounded above and below by vast reservoirs of water and around which a much smaller ball (the sun) revolved?  That this plot of land was made in a single day in a fit of creational genius some 6000 years ago by a tribal god named Yahweh, who subsequently created all living things also in a single day?  That the stars were just little points of light, also created by this god in a single day and set into fixed locations around the earth.  This was written down sometime between 1500BCE and 1000BCE in a collection of stories that became known as the book of Genesis and became the opening book of the Hebrew histories that Christians call the Old Testament.

More, at one time, people believed that illnesses were caused by demons, or by Sin. In fact, pretty much everything bad—storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, acne, was caused either by Man’s Sin or by God or gods angry at Man’s sins.

Silly, I know.  But while the only people who believe these things today are Fundamentalist Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the rest of us would still believe in them if it was not for what we have seen through the lenses of microscopes and telescopes!

Today, we know that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, rotates on an axis every 24 hours and revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit that takes about 365 of those 24 hour periods.  The Sun is a star itself that is part of the Milky Way Galaxy which contains about 200 billion other stars.  The Milky Way Galaxy is just one galaxy in a Universe of galaxies that is approximately 13.75 billion years old and expanding at an accelerating pace!  This knowledge is due to the invention of the telescope

We also know that every living thing on earth that we are aware of shares a common ancestor that lived some 3.5 billion years ago.  We know now that germs, bacteria, viruses, and genetic errors cause illnesses and disorders, not Sin or demons.  And we know this because we have seen the actual culprits through the lenses of our microscopes.

We (humanity) have used this real knowledge to cure or prevent many of these illnesses and to do things like putting humans onto our Moon and developing cell phones, GPS devices, MRI machines, and a host of other such things!

These facts make the tribal gods and their tribal myths so small as to be insignificant when looking for the reality of the Universe.  And more importantly, they hint that the tribal gods are just that: deities made up by and for specific ancient tribes who really had no idea what was the real nature of their world.

But those so-called facts are just theories, the tribal god believers will say.  Just theories.  And nobody was actually there, so you really can’t know what happened 6000 years ago.  And all of the physical laws of the Universe COULD have been different back then. You don’t know!

Well ok.  I wasn’t there.  Scientists weren’t there.  But the animals were there and they left behind their fossils for us to study today.  And the stars were there and their light is just reaching us—reaching our telescopes!  And the rocks were there, and thanks to our microscopes we can see the tiny tiny animals that lived and died then and became fossilized or preserved in those rocks. 

There is also the predictiveness of those theories that have been confirmed by the evidence of consistent results.  Cell phones, GPS, MRI, vaccines, spacecraft, atomic and hydrogen bombs, nuclear fueled ships, all are the result of predictions based on those scientific theories that proved to be true.  We might not be happy that nuclear weapons were developed, but the fact is that they were developed from predictions based on the same theories that lead us to accurately determine things like the age of the Earth and the Sun and the Universe.  Polio and smallpox and measles are no longer the killers today that they were just a couple of generations ago, not because of prayer and devotion to tribal gods, but because we discovered the true nature of these illnesses and developed preventions and cures.  And we made those discoveries through the use of microscopes!

So the ancient universe is a fact, the ancient earth is a fact, and the evolution of the living organisms on this planet is a fact as well.  Not “just” theories.  And that makes Yahweh, his alleged son Jesus, and his Muslim counterpart Allah small fictitious tribal gods.

How so?  Could not Yahweh or Allah be the Creator, the Cause of this Universe and the life that exists within it?

Sure.  If you accept some absurdities in the face of some basic facts.

Let’s start with the Universe…

I imagine that most of you are familiar with the new LCD and plasma Hi-Definition flat panel televisions?  These amazing technologies are based on an array of cells(technically called pixels)  in each TV screen.  Essentially, each of these cells produces a small portion of the whole picture, like a giant jigsaw puzzle with extremely tiny pieces!  You have heard the buzzword “1080p”.  This buzzword simply means that the array of cells or pixels in a 1080p television consist of 1,080 rows by 1,920 columns.  In other words, your 1080p HD TV screen consists of 2,073,600 individual pixels!  For the sake of this analogy, let’s round that off to a straight 2 million pixels in one television screen.

Let’s take just one of those pixels: that one in the bottom right corner.  One pixel.  Let’s call that the Sun.  Our sun, our STAR!  The star around which our planet Earth revolves (once every 365 days or so!).  That star, btw, is approximately 93 million miles from us.  It’s pretty big:  8.6 million miles in diameter and about 109 times bigger than our planet Earth!

But for now, let’s say that the Sun is represented by just one pixel in a single 1080p HD TV.  A single pixel being about the size of this letter “o”.

Now, let’s take that little pixel and look at our homne galaxy, the collection of stars that we call the Milky Way.  It is estimated that there are some 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, besides our own Sun.   So, if we represent our sun as just one pixel in a 1080p TV and we assign one pixel for each of the other stars in our galaxy, then we will need 100,000 1080p televisions to represent all of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy!

That’s a lot of televisions, but now let’s take the Milky Way Galaxy and represent THAT as single pixel in our 1080p screen.  Now, based on our best estimates, the KNOWN Universe consists of more than 100 billion galaxies, with an average of better than 100 billion stars each.

So, with each pixel representing a galaxy, we now need more than 50,000 televisions to represent the galaxies in the entire known Universe!  For those of you with a mathematical bent, that means there are more than 10 trillion trillion stars, or 10 followed by 21 zeroes in the known universe!

And just so we don’t imagine that these are all just points of light, they are all stars like our sun. Many of them are the same size, many smaller, and many much much bigger.  And in our own neighborhood of stars, we have discovered more than 400 planets circling them!  So we are looking at potentially 10 trillion trillion solar systems.             

Ok, enough with the big numbers.  My point here is that when you read the First book in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Genesis, the “creation” story features a human-like definitively masculine deity who makes the earth BEFORE he makes the sun or stars (generally he PLACES the stars into the sky after he has made the sky and the earth) and He implies that the Earth and its inhabitants are the center and most important of His creations.

This deity then physically appears on the earth and physically makes animals, plants, and humans, often from a combination of earthly dirt and the deity’s own bodily fluids.  And then this deity makes one tribe or one person its special friend/messenger.

Later, after wiping out most of his first effort at creating humans amenable to his wishes, He appears only to this tribe and even then only to this tribe’s special people. He gives them specific commands on diet, dress, agriculture, and sexual mores.  And He even helps them out when they go into battle against other tribes.  He will even stop Time for them(actually he stops the sun from continuing its circuit around the earth, apparently not remembering that He made the earth rotate, and did not make the Sun revolve around the Earth!) so that His “special tribe” has more daylight available to kill more of their enemies.  This was so that they would not have to interrupt their slaughter in order to honor the Sabbath, His special Day!   

All of this is not according to the histories passed down by rival tribes; these stories are all according to those writing or passing down the Hebrew myths. 

Now, seriously, does this sound like a deity that would be responsible for the numbers that I showed in the paragraphs above this?  Or does this sound like a small deity invented by a small tribe for their own purposes?

Is there a God?   

More accurately, is there a Yahweh, or a Jesus, or an Allah, or a Zeus, or a Mithra, or a Baal?

No.  Not a chance.  Too obviously created by the human tribes that worshipped them.

If you want to believe that these beings (or any one of them) actually exists or existed, then go ahead.  If you can read these essays and STILL believe in these small tribal gods, then that is your right.  For the record, I believe that if you believe that the world is only 6000 years old and that the Book of Genesis is an accurate history of the world, then you are unaware of what we as humans have discovered in the past 500 years.  Or you are delusional, so caught up in a religious fervor that reality no longer has any hold on you. That may sound cruel, but I see no other alternative for people holding to these anachronistic and tribe-centric beliefs.

Of course, if you believe in these stories, it is because of your “faith”.  You believe that you have been granted an amazing ability to believe in the Great Unseen!

Ok, if you have it; I don’t. And quite frankly, I don’t want that kind of faith, that believes blindly without evidence, that accepts as fact tribal stories made up thousands of years ago by a brutal tribe of Middle Eastern nomads! We’ll talk more about that in Part Two!


I do not expect you to read everything that I recommend.  I have read these books and many more. I strongly recommend that you do read at least some of these.  You can get them cheaply at or borrow them for free from your local library!

THE ANCESTOR’S TALE- Richard Dawkins



JOHN ADAMS- David McCullough



FEAR OF PHYSICS- Lawrence M. Krauss

ATOM- Lawrence M. Krauss

UNSCIENTIFIC AMERICA- Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum

GODLESS- Dan Barker


DEAD POOL- James Lawrence Powell



END OF FAITH- Sam Harris




Tim Campbell (the Cleveland Freethinkers)

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