CURRENT EVENTS: FFRF condemns death of 22-year-old Iranian for not wearing hijab

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is speaking out against Iran for the killing of a young woman for not wearing the hijab. From the article:

  • The notion of religion tied to the Iranian state in this theocracy — a reminder to Americans of what “One Nation Under God” really looks like — depends on female subjugation. Women are property. Women are sin-inciting and do not own their own bodies. They must be controlled by male religions and legislatures. Sounds familiar.
  • What’s happening in Iran is a lesson for us in America, where women are also now legally second-class citizens after our Supreme Court, dominated by Catholic patriarchs (and one handmaiden) ruled that deciding whether to not to be pregnant or become a parent is no longer a constitutional right.

Check out the full article here

How things have changed in Iran in 50 years, via Anand Ranganathan

New Kids BOOK: “Darwin & Hooker: A story of friendship, curiosity and discovery that changed the world”

The description of the book is as follows:

On 24th November 1859, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was first published, selling out almost immediately. Describing the now well known theory that humans evolved through a process called natural selection, it became an instant classic and cemented Darwin as one of the greatest biologists of all time. However, he couldn’t have done it without the support, encouragement and advice from those who believed in him. None more so than Joseph Hooker, his friend, confidant and fellow collector, who supported and helped Darwin when he didn’t dare ask anyone else. Hooker, too, had his own adventures and made his own discoveries – many of which not only aided Darwin, but went on to change what the world knew about plants. Becoming head of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, he came to be one the world’s most influential botanists. Across many years, countless adventures and numerous letters, this captivating and wonderfully illustrated book tells the story of one of greatest friendships to happen to science. Publishing in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, this book will show children how teamwork, curiosity, openness and trust can be the greatest tools a scientist will ever need. They might even help you change the world.


Christianity and Poverty

Jesus is famously recorded as saying that rich people should sell their possessions and give them to the poor, and that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. But, this hasn’t stopped many Pentecostal Christian pastors from becoming wealthy. Here are the richest in 2022:

Top 10 Richest Pastors in The World 2022

The table below contains the names, net worth, ministry, age, and nationality of the top 10 richest pastors in the world in 2022.

1Kenneth Copeland $760 millionKenneth Copeland Ministries62America
2David Oyedepo $150 millionLiving Faith Church (Winners Chapel)48Nigeria
3Pat Robertson$ 100 millionChristian Broadcasting Network91America
4Benny Hinn$70 millionWorld Healing Center Church69Israel
5Chris Oyakhilome$60 millionChrist Embassy58Nigeria
6 Joel Osteen $50 millionLakewood Church58America
7Creflo Dollar$30 millionWorld Changers Church International60America
8Rick Warren$25 millionSaddleback Church68America
9Jesse Duplantis$20 millionJesse Duplantis Ministries72America
10Bishop TD Jakes$20 millionThe Potter’s House64America

Shared by Darwin via twitter

Question: Is it right for pastors to get rich while their followers are poor?

New Paths In The Origin Of Life Debate Part 2: FOR KIDS, The Miller-Urey experiment.

Religions often teach a god or gods created life, because living things can’t come from unliving things. But this isn’t true. Consider the Miller-Urey experiment:

This animation was sponsored by the Center for Chemical Evolution, NSF, and NASA

The Miller-Urey experiment was the first attempt to scientifically explore ideas about the origin of life. Stanley Miller simulated conditions thought be common on the ancient Earth. The purpose was to test the idea that the complex molecules of life (in this case, amino acids) could have arisen on our young planet through simple, natural chemical reactions.

The experiment was a success in that amino acids, the building blocks of life, were produced during the simulation. The finding was so significant that it kick-started an entirely new field of study: Prebiotic Chemistry.

Scientists now have reason to believe that the gases used in the Miller-Urey simulation were not actually the same as those of the ancient atmosphere. Because of this, many experiments have since been done, testing a wide variety of atmospheres and different environmental conditions. The results are overwhelming: the molecules of life can form under a wide variety of ancient Earth-like conditions.

Many questions about the origin of life remain to be answered but these findings give strong support to the idea that the first living cells on Earth may have emerged from natural chemical reactions.

(From Stated Clearly: Science For Everyone )

If Secular Web Kids Promotes Critical Thinking, What Is The Alternative?

As an educator, my goal is to promote critical thinking, which I think naturally leads to secularism. However, if a child’s exploration of thinking leads to religiousness, then that’s fine too. The point is to level the playing field to let the truth speak to kids as honestly as it can. What’s the alternative?

Dr. Frank Turek is now promoting curriculum to prove Christianity to kids, and claiming the alternative is the work of the devil. Here is his advertisement:

The devil ain’t playing tiddlywinks with your children, ladies, and gentlemen! These new curricula available for 2-5th graders and 6-8th graders will guide you step-by-step through the process of teaching them why Christianity is objectively true!

Activity: put on a short skit showing the difference between education and indoctrination

Letter To A Christian Parent

With the title of this post, I have in mind prominent secularist Sam Harris and his book “Letter To A Christian Nation.” Letter to a Christian Nation is a 2006 book by Sam Harris, written in response to feedback he received following the publication of his first book The End of Faith. The book is written in the form of an open letter to a Christian in the United States. Harris states that his aim is “to demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms.”

My letter here isn’t meant to demolish anything, but to ask Christian parents to view the short video below and ask themselves if they can see their own Christian faith with the same disinterested objectivity they see the silliness of voodoo faith and rituals? This is the challenge of the “Outsider Test For Faith,” put forward most famously by secular activist John Loftus.

My question for Christian parents, or really any religious parent, is can you watch the video, and then see your own faith the way secular people see your faith?

Beginning to see religion through the eyes of a secular person is like coming to see one of those gestalt hidden images – hidden at first – but once you see it you can’t “un-see” it. This is what the ancient Greeks meant by truth, “un-covering (a-letheia, un-hiding).”

Can you see the two images?
What prayer looks like to secular people

get Loftus’ provocative book here

Grooming Minds: Indoctrination vs Argumentation

  • “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” (Aristotle)
Has this above child been brainwashed into conservative fundamentalist Christianity?

Is difference between this above child and the more mild cases of religious upbringing of children we see  one of degree, or of kind.  Picture a child who is not vocal like this one, but holds similar or more mild conservative Christian views.

Here is a helpful analogy video on religious child grooming: inundating a child with just one kind of religion, excluding others and secularism:

How do the thought experiment analogies in the video above help us see religious upbringing in a different light?

BONUS: Thinking about logic and humor – have you ever noticed the connection between logical errors and humor?  Picture a reductio ad absurdum: a method of proving the falsity of a premise by showing that its logical consequence is absurd or contradictory. So: “The Earth cannot be flat; otherwise, we would find people falling off the edge.”  That people are not falling off the edge makes Flat Earth proponents false/wrong, seem silly, which is to say hilarious!  Question: Is the video of the conservative Christian preacher child above in the first video (i) not something we should care about, (ii) horrific, (iii) hilarious, or (iv) profoundly true?

Talking to Kids About Morality Without God

One thing you sometimes hear is that without God there could be no objective morality (the oughts), because if moral rules/principles don’t get their authority from God, where could their authority come from?

Of course, this way of thinking is wrong. Children from a very young age understand what being a “friend” means without God having anything to do with the knowledge. So, kids can extrapolate from this understanding of friendship principles like “you’re being a better friend if you play the game your friend wants to play than if you selfishly demand to play your favorite game” or “you are being a bad friend if you steal your friend’s toy car.”

Another important point here is that the key elements of morality such as altruism are present widely in the animal kingdom, and so aren’t simply implanted in humans as the unique and special pinnacle of God’s creation. One article on this topic makes such points as:

  • Since altruism, empathy, and gratitude all underpin moral behavior, finding them in our fellow mammals suggests that they run deep in our brain biology and did not come about because of moral reasoning or religion. In fact, probably the opposite is true—religion developed because of our innate capacities for caring.

  • [I]n our attempts to study our animal brethren and avoid anthropomorphizing them we sometimes miss their very real similarities to us. According to the scientists Morell interviews, birds are capable of complex communication, elephants have long memories and strong social networks, and dolphins will act altruistically. These scientists are convinced that many higher order cognitive abilities are not limited to humans, and that we only need look a bit further to discover them in animals.


ARTICLE: Finding Morality in Animals
Two new books explore research on animals to better understand the roots of human morality and challenge human specialness.

Treat Your Kids Like the Little Philosophers They Are

Great new article suggesting to treat kids like philosophers:

Here’s an excerpt:

I hope the kids continue to have those sorts of conversations. I want them to think deeply about the world, to ponder big ideas, like truth, justice, and God. But the research suggests that those conversations are likely to trail off as they age. Little kids (age 3-8) often raise philosophical questions on their own (“Why does the world exist?” “What is it like to be dead?” “Am I dreaming my entire life?”). They’re puzzled by the world—and they’re trying to puzzle it out.

But as they age, kids start to worry about what others think of them. They don’t want to seem silly or risk being wrong. And they notice that the adults in their lives don’t discuss questions like, “Why does the world exist?” or “Am I dreaming my entire life?” Over time, they lose some of their curiosity and courage as thinkers.

I think that’s a shame. The world could use more deep and discerning thinkers. We’re flooded with disinformation, and too many people are too easily duped by it. Our society values hot takes and tweets more than sustained thought.

The good news is: we can push back on that. If we support our kids’ philosophical adventures, they’re more likely to continue them. In fact, we can raise philosophers.