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A Debate Whether Death Is Final -
(With Sean Carroll and Steve Novella on the Skeptical Side)

This is an Intelligence Squared debate, which is a series of Oxford-style formal debates that are held around the world, often with quite impressive participants. Four people, two on each side of a resolution. Seven-minute opening statements, round-table discussion, then two-minute closing statements. No slides or other visual aids; just bare-knuckle combat in the gladiatorial arena of ideas. [Watch Debate]

The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States

PF_14.05.07_HispanicReport_promo640x300[1]Most Hispanics in the United States continue to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. But the Catholic share of the Hispanic population is declining, while rising numbers of Hispanics are Protestant or unaffiliated with any religion. Indeed, nearly one-in-four Hispanic adults (24%) are now former Catholics, according to a major, nationwide survey of more than 5,000 Hispanics by the Pew Research Center. Together, these trends suggest that some religious polarization is taking place in the Hispanic community, with the shrinking majority of Hispanic Catholics holding the middle ground between two growing groups (evangelical Protestants and the unaffiliated) that are at opposite ends of the U.S. religious spectrum. [Read more]

Former Co-Op Bank Chairman and Methodist Minister Paul Flowers Pleads Guilty to Drug Possession

Paul Flowers the former chairman of the Co-operative Bank arrives at Leeds Magistrates' Court in Northern EnglandFormer Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers pleaded guilty on Wednesday to possessing illegal drugs, adding to a series of blows to the image of the 150-year-old customer-owned Co-operative Group in the past year. The former Methodist minister, 63, of Bradford in northern England, admitted two counts of possessing Class A drugs and one count of possessing Class B drugs during a 15-minute hearing at Leeds magistrates court that attracted a large media crowd. A police spokeswoman said he was fined 400 pounds ($680) for possession and was ordered to pay 125 pounds in costs. [Read more]

Mind-Blowing Computer Simulation Recreates Our Universe

dnews-files-2014-05-cosmic-web-670x440-140507-jpg[1]Astronomers have a pretty good idea how the universe began and the near-14 billion years of evolution after, but throwing all our knowledge behind one grand computer simulation has been hard. The task at hand has simply too huge for any one computer to handle. However, astronomers have announced the results of three months of computer number-crunching, combining 8,000 CPUs all running in parallel, modeling our evolving universe. If the same simulation was carried out on your office desktop computer, the simulation would take 2,000 years to recreate. [Read more]

Evangelist Jamey Ragle Asks for Money and a Vacation to Lose Weight

jamey-ragle[1]Jamey Ragle is a fundamentalist Baptist evangelist. (though I suspect Rage would vehemently dispute the fundamentalist label) I have been acquainted with Ragle for 30 plus years, back to the days when he was singing with the Dixie Melody  Boys  and holding meetings and singing for independent Baptist churches in Ohio. Over the years, like many Baptist preachers, Ragle has mushroomed in a plus, plus, plus size of himself. Too many church dinners I suppose, along with a sedentary lifestyle. Ragle has decided to do something about his girth. Like most of us fat folks, he knows he needs to change his diet and exercise more. [Read more]

Neil deGrasse Tyson ‘Goes There’ on Climate Change: Creationists and Right-Wingers Freak Out

composite_hamtyson_0[1]Like clockwork, the folks at Answers in Genesis (AiG), the creationist haven for self-imposed ignorance, take issue once again with Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the popular television series “Cosmos.” While it surprises no one that AiG would flip out over evolution, the Big Bang and any other perfectly described and demonstrated scientific theory, it is rather funny to see them flipping out over something much less controversial: oxygen. Yes, they are upset about oxygen. [Read more]

“Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Less Durable Than Sexism Surrounding It

sisters_302[1]Last week a curious headline began to make the rounds online: “Jesus had an ugly sister-in-law.” It was the title of a blog post about the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” a papyrus fragment that caused a media frenzy in 2012, and again last month. The fragment, written in Coptic and initially dated to the 4th century, contained a few explosive words: “Jesus said to them, my wife…” and “she will be able to be my disciple.” Harvard’s Karen King, who first published the text, cautioned that it tells us nothing about whether Jesus really had a wife, but a storm of questions ensued anyway. [Read more]

Christian Group Praises US Gov’t’s Decision to Help Save Kidnapped Schoolgirls in Nigeria

boko-haram[1]The Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans praised the U.S. government after it announced that it will send forces into Nigeria to help rescue over 270 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. The association has called for more urgent action on the issue. “We acknowledge that yesterday President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the U.S. would be setting up a Coordinated Cell within the American embassy in Nigeria to provide intelligence and investigation assistance,” CANAN President Dr. James Fadel said at a press conference on Wednesday. [Read more]

Evolution of the Cosmos Re-Created by Model of Large Slice of Universe

2077EFEC-D080-44B5-9DE5BC37CCC1AA1B_article[1]Can current theories of cosmology explain how the Universe evolved? One way to find out is to plug everything we think we know about the early Universe and how galaxies form into a supercomputer, and see what comes out. In a simulation presented today in Nature, researchers did just that — and revealed a cosmos that looks rather like our own. The findings lend weight to the standard model of cosmology, but could also help physicists to probe where our models of galaxy formation fall down. [Read more]

Scalia Law is the New Sharia

msnbc_ed_fugelsang_[1]Undoubtedly the Supreme Court is losing its faithful members. It’s clear to any but the conservative-conservative their agenda is love of the worst sort of theocracy. The court itself is divided by Jews and Catholics where Catholicism better aligns with Protestants than Jews. It is not only a bigoted divide it is a divide of inclusion versus exclusion, minority versus majority, hierarchy versus equality, authority versus liberty. This post’s title is sheer plagiarism  (“Comedian John Fugelsang on government prayer: ‘Scalia law is a lot like Sharia law” but I could think of no better so consider it research, a musical cover. John Fugelsang a comedian proves once again the only truth-speaker in the new theocracy can be the court jester. [Read more]

Charter Schools are Cheating Your Kids: Report Reveals Massive Fraud, Mismanagement, Abuse

shutterstock_79547590[1]Just in time for National Charter School Week, there’s a new report highlighting the predictable perils of turning education into a poorly regulated business. Titled “Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud and Abuse,” the report focused on 15 states representing large charter markets, out of the 42 states that have charter schools. Drawing on news reports, criminal complaints, regulatory findings, audits and other sources, it “found fraud, waste and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers,” but warned that due to inadequate oversight, “the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.” [Read more]

Reasoning Ended My Relationship with Jesus

dockthought[1]I must say that it’s the role of skepticism which brought me to where I am today. It’s all about being open-minded and open-hearted by being allowing the truth to set me free. Different people in life have different world views trying to explain the same entity. In this regard I’m talking about religions of the world. Someone said that there are about 10 thousands religion in the world in every different culture of people. Though most of polytheistic religions died out throughout the centuries, monotheistic religion still continue to flourish. [Read more]

The Impact of Cafeteria Religion on Political Engagement

faith_equality_promo002_16x9[1]America’s religious diversity is important not solely, or even primarily, because of demography, but because of ideas. The politically significant change in America’s religious landscape is not that we are growing more religiously diverse as a people, but more specifically that our religious public square—the parameters and content of our public religious conversations—is more diverse than ever. Today, it seems, everything is spiritual, yet little is sacred. [Read more]

Lawmakers Discuss Whether ‘In God We Trust’ Should Be Posted In Pa. Schools

ingodwetrust_dougherty[1]Discussion in the state House over whether schools should post the national motto – “In God We Trust” — turned into a debate about funding for Philadelphia schools yesterday afternoon. It happened when Montgomery County House Democrat Steve McCarter offered an amendment that would call for a local referendum before “In God We Trust” is posted in schools. McCarter referenced a writer who suggested that divine intervention is needed to help Philadelphia’s schools. [Read more]

Why Is Pope Francis Throwing Nuns Who Share His Beliefs Under the Bus?

nun[1]In the earliest days of his tenure, Pope Francis became one of the world’s most admired religious figures – due in large part to his vocal support and actions on behalf of social justice. So, to many Catholics, there is more than a little disappointment that he is  turning a blind eye to the Vatican’s ongoing crackdown on America’s nuns. The really disheartening thing about the pope’s unwillingness to end the nuns’ censure – indeed, about his unwillingness to openly support them – is that his stated values are no different than the ones the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is being punished for carrying out. [Read more]

Is Meditation Overrated?

C637ECC9-FE7A-4C41-A715CCAB4788AAEC_article[1]Many people who meditate believe that the practice makes them healthier and happier, and a growing number of studies suggest the same. Yet some scientists have argued that much of this research has been poorly designed. To address this issue, Johns Hopkins University researchers carefully reviewed published clinical trials and found that although meditation seems to provide modest relief for anxiety, depression and pain, more high-quality work is needed before the effect of meditation on other ailments can be judged. [Read more]

Teaching Bible in Public Schools: Not a Good Idea

In April the Mustang, Okla., school board voted to adopt the Museum of the Bible curriculum developed by writers and researchers associated with Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, a family-owned crafts store chain whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is before the Supreme Court. [Read more]

Christian TV Ministries Qualify as Church Under IRS Regulations

daystar-sponsored-race-car[1]If a Christian TV ministry is a religious organization they are required to annually file form 990 with the IRS. Form 990 requires religious organizations to report their income and expenditures, along with officers, directors, trustees compensation. You can review form 990 here. If the religious organization is considered a church there are NO, yes you read that right, NO reporting requirements. [Read more]

One Step Closer to Cell Reprogramming

cancer-cells-communicating_0[1]In 2012, John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamakana were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering that adult cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent ones (iPS); the cells obtained are capable of behaving in a similar way to embryonic stem cells, and hence have enormous potential for regenerative medicine. [Read more]

Catholic Church Denounces Planned Satanic Mass at Harvard

A reenactment of a Black Mass celebrating Satan is scheduled to take place at Harvard University on Monday evening. It has outraged the Catholic Church, but the group holding the event says it’s educational. [Read more]

Dionne: Supreme Court Fails Religious Empathy Test

To understand why religious freedom matters, put yourself in the position of someone who is part of a minority faith tradition in a town or nation that overwhelmingly adheres to a different creed. Then judge public practices by how they would affect the hypothetical you. [Read more]

Why Are Many Nigerian Christians So Stupid?

Ikechukwu-Nwanze-edited-300x245[1]I often receive some very ignorant comments from believers, mostly Nigerian Christians who pompously inform me that I am going to burn in hell for not accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior. They claim if I do not stop campaigning for equal rights for all, which basically mean, I should stop the ‘gay agenda’ of promoting lesbians, gays , bisexuals and transsexuals as PERSONS entitled to human rights,  I will feel the wrath of their all merciful, all loving but obviously vengeful and insecure in his sexuality God. Oh, how they love calling me a fool because their precious bible claims anyone one who says there is no God is a fool. But I must say, this comment on my fb wall by a deluded Christian is a prime example of just how stupid many Nigerian Christians are. [Read Part 1] [Read Part 2]