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February 02, 2007

Nightline covers the Blasphemy Challenge

The Rational Response Squad and their Blasphemy Challenge were covered on Nightline the other night. Here's the video:

I found the whole piece a bit frustrating. The reporter, John Berman, seemed obviously biased against the group, at times bordering on hostile. I found the complaint that they were targeting teenagers to be particularly annoying. Religions target teenagers, so why can't atheists?

Berman also found it strange that people would spend their time opposing religion. Well, some people devote their whole lives to promoting religion, even swearing off sex and marriage to do so. I'm wondering whether he would be just as willing to label ministers and priests as odd?

Berman seemed to be unable to wrap his mind around the idea of God, Heaven, and Hell not existing. As a result, he seemed unable to grasp why atheists aren't worried about saying, "I deny the Holy Spirit".

And there was the usual "what if you're wrong" question, which should have been answered with "what if the Muslims are right and worshiping Jesus condemns you to Hell? What if the Hindus are right? What if the Norse were right? What if the Mormons are right? Which god should I worship?"

Speaking of the Holy Spirit, this reminds me of an event that happened to me in second grade. (For those of you outside the U.S., that means I would have been about 7 years old.) We had recently moved, so I was attending a new school. It was lunch time, and some kid was talking about ghosts. He asked me whether I believed in ghosts, and I said, "No".

Then he asked, "not even the Holy Ghost?", and I again said, "No". This got a shocked reaction as he immediately turned to the kids at the next table and exclaimed, "He doesn't believe in the Holy Ghost!" It was at that point that I realized that what he was calling the "Holy Ghost" my church called the "Holy Spirit". I was extremely embarrassed at my faux pas and couldn't bring myself to explain my misunderstanding.

I find it somewhat odd that I still remember that event 37 years later. I guess it must have been really dreadful, the feeling of being viewed as a heretic -- even though, at the time, I believed in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, just because everyone else did (or so I thought). It was another 10-15 years before I became an atheist.

If you haven't already seen it, here is the video promoting the Blasphemy Challenge:

Oh, by the way, I deny the Holy Spirit.

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February 2, 2007 in Religions, Cults, and Miracles | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 01, 2007

Advice on Designing Scientific Posters

Colin Purrington of the Department of Biology at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania offers some very good advice (with plenty of pictures!) about creating scientific posters to effectively communicate your research at scientific meetings. It's been awhile since I've attended a conference, but I used to attend GIS (Geographic Information Systems) conferences a couple of times a year, so I've seen numerous posters -- good and bad.

(Incidentally, Colin Purrington is the one whose photos at Flickr I've featured here a few times in the past, and I'm sure I'll do so again in the future!)

Link: Advice on Designing Scientific Posters | digg story

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February 1, 2007 in Science and Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack