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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dr Michael Shermer vs John Lennox Sydney Debate

Back in August, we attended a debate between Dr Michael Shermer and John Lennox at the Wesley Centre in Sydney. The full video is now out on youtube for your viewing pleasure.

Part One




Part Two




Part Three




Part Four




Part Five




Part Six




Part Seven




Part Eight




Part Nine




Part Ten

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Appearances and Events

There's a new Dawkins DVD out! It's called 'Appearances and Events'

Check it out, you can order it through the Richard Dawkins Foundation online shop

Friday, October 24, 2008

Atheist music treat

Driving home after taking Zach for a walk, this song came on the radio. The first few lines made our ears prick up. It's not often you hear this kind of sentiment so blatantly expressed on the radio. I think this could become the anthem for our 'good without god' campaign.

The Living End

Raise the Alarm


I may not believe in God,
It doesn't mean I'm a lesser person.
I still have a heart,
And I know what it feels like to be broken.

I may not believe in Jesus,
But I believe in sacrifice.
Life doesn't always stand a reason,
And no one ever gets a chance to live it twice.

But I'd rather risk my fate,
Than to lose my faith,
In the lovin', the hatin',
The constant debatin',
The chaos, the calm.
Raise the alarm.

The living that die,
The constant deny,
The chaos, the calm.
Raise the alarm.

Whoa, whoa...
Raise the alarm.

I may not believe in regrets,
But I believe in salvation.
Some things I'd rather forget.
We choose what we see,
And we see what we choose to believe.

In the name of the father,
The son, and the holy ghost.
I'm not concerned with religion,
After all it's what's inside that matters most.

But I'd rather risk my fate,
Than to lose my faith,
In the lovin', the hatin',
The constant debatin',
The chaos, the calm.
Raise the alarm.

The living that die,
The constant deny,
The chaos, the calm.
Raise the alarm.

Whoa, whoa...
Raise the alarm.
Whoa, whoa...
Raise the alarm.

But I'd rather risk my fate,
Than to lose my faith,
Yeah, I'd rather risk my fate,
Than to lose my faith,
In the lovin', the hatin',
The constant debatin',
The chaos, the calm.
Raise the alarm.

The living that die,
The constant deny
The chaos, the calm,
Raise the alarm

Whoa, whoa...
Raise the alarm
Whoa, whoa...
Raise the alarm.
(Yeah!)
Raise the alarm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Debate Video Online Now

The video from last Thursday's debate (more here & here) is now online.

Thanks again to everyone that came and showed support. I had a great time and enjoyed the experience. I hope to be able to get more involved in public discourse and feel that each time I jump into the ring, I finish up learning a whole lot more about what I'm doing.

So here's the video:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Which makes more sense: The Aftermath

I thought I'd give a bit of a rundown on the debate between myself and Mike Paget on 'Which makes more sense, atheism or Christianity?'


First of all, I'd like to thank the AFA for giving me the opportunity to represent them once again. To find out more about the AFA, you can check out their website or become a member.

In preparation, I had read some books by Michael Shermer, Christopher Hitchens etc. and was sent a link to a great archive of mp3s of debates, including William Lane Craig vs Robert Price, Vic Stenger, Paul Kurtz. Lennox vs Dawkins, Michael Licona vs Dan Barker, and heaps more.

But as for the debate itself, I think it was a good night and everyone that came would have been a little challenged. I was incredibly nervous before hand, especially when the seats had all been filled and there were just as many people standing as there were sitting. I couldn't estimate how many there were, but the theater was packed like sardines, with people sitting in the aisles and on the floor at the front, standing at the back and in the corridor. It was terrific to see so many people interested in thinking about these issues.


We will get video and audio of the debate up asap (they couldn't give us the MP3 afterwards as they had agreed to) as we had many Sydney Atheists members recording in various formats. It's now just a case of finding someone who captured the whole lot, (most people's devices failed in the last 10 minutes due to the presence of an interactionalist deity who must have thought it worth his time to turn up just in case Mike proved his existence, allowing him to finally come out of hiding... or through random chance operating against our favour) and making it available for download.

If you have recordings from the night, please contact me at criticalmass@live.com.au


I was much more nervous about the questions from the floor, and to make matters worse, it was ridiculously hot and I was sweating like a pig by the time they came around. The questions weren't too bad, but I don't think I answered them as well as I could have, had I been given some preparation time. I found question time to be the most challenging, as I prefer to think things out and prepare my arguments, rather than thinking on my feet, but having had the experience I will be working on building up my answers to the types of questions people are likely to ask.


Afterwards, there were heaps of people that came up and congratulated me, and a lot less that wanted to argue with me.

It was a terrific experience to be involved in this debate. Each time I get to do one of these things I feel terribly under-prepared, especially so as this was my first time speaking in front of a crowd, but pushing myself has the benefit of improving my knowledge on the subjects. I look forward to my next opportunity to do something, but for now I have a brand new puppy to play with...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Which makes more sense; Atheism or Christianity?

On Thursday (16/10/08) I will be debating Mike Paget on the subject 'Which makes more sense; Atheism or Christianity?' The debate will be at 6PM in The Theatre Lounge, Level 3 Tower, UTS, Sydney. It is being presented by Credo, a campus-based religious group, so I am expecting the audience to be a bit slanted towards belief and it might be a tough crowd.

Mike is the Anglican chaplain for UTS and is also the assistant minister for St Barnabas Broadway. He also writes a blog.Then there's me, I simply haven't seen any convincing, objectively verifiable evidence to prove the existence of a god, hence I am an atheist. I am also ordained, so 'Reverend Alan vs Reverend Mike' might be an appropriate subtitle for the debate.

You can see the promotional material here, here and here.

There are a few points to make about the flyer though:


'Atheism and Christianity are both very prominent beliefs in our society today '

Atheism is not a 'belief', but a lack of belief. Atheism is to belief as bald is to hair colour


'Atheism, which denies the existence of a God, gods or the supernatural...'


Atheism doesn't deny their existence, just finds no evidence and therefore no reason to believe in them. I think these people equate atheism with antitheism. An atheist can deny the existance of a god, but is not required to. It is a much more solid position to say 'until there is reasonable evidence, I will retain the null hypothesis that belief in god is unnecessary.'

On top of that, most of the atheists that I've heard talk on the subject would be welcoming of any decent evidence for the existance of a god. If it were to be found, it would expand our view of the universe and all that is exponentially.

I think it is a rather outdated concept that an atheist is a grumpy old scholar that rants on and on about the impossibility of a god. Atheists today seem more interested in the reasons that people choose to believe in something with no decent evidence for doing so and we are more than happy to run comprehensive experiments on any testable claim made by proponants of religion. If an interactionalist god did exist, it should leave testable traces in the physical world. So far, none have been found. The universe appears exactly as would be expected if there were no god, so it is unnecdessary to propose the existancwe of one.


'the Christian Bible and its belief in one God has remained unchanged for 2000 years.'

What? WHAT? UNCHANGED???!!!!! That has to be one of the most ignorant sentences I've read from a christian. It's so wrong, I don't know where to start... ummm addition of Jesus as God; Judaism > Christainity; Umpteen reinterpretations and rewritings of the bible; Mistranslations leading to major plot twists (Mary went from being a young girl to a virgin... shhh, don't tell the Catholics!)


I look forward to the debate and I think it is going to be very stimulating and should get the audience thinking about the basis of their religious position.

If you're in the area, come along!

I hope to see you there.

If you would like more info you can contact me at criticalmass@live.com.au

Monday, October 13, 2008

Evangelising atheism

Russell Glasser of the ACA recently presented a lecture entitled "How atheists can be effective evangelists". I would recommend reading his slide show to anybody wanting to know more about becoming a vocal atheist. It is very well presented and makes a lot of good points about why you would evangelise, how to evangelise and how not to be a jerk about it.

It's one thing to get out there and shout your opinion from the rooftops, but it's another to do it well without coming off as a fist-shaking fanatic. I would like to see more constructive argument and less finger waggling on both sides of the religious debate. If we engage in discussions amicably, it will do a lot to further the arguments of both sides and we won't have to continually argue definitions and semantics.

There's nothing healthier for the mind than a challenging discussion.

There's nothing worse than to see a good point destroyed by emotional ranting.

Pick your arguments. Make them well. Seek the evidence.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sydney Atheist Charity Walk

Today the Sydney Atheists participated in the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation's "Walk for a Cure" we raised close to one thousand dollars for the foundation and had a great time in the process.
Thanks to all those who donated, and a special thank you to everybody that turned up for the walk.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sydney Atheists Blood Drive



Often atheists get stigmatised as bad people because we don't believe in a god, therefore we are immoral, baby-eating scum.

One of the primary objectives of the Sydney Atheists is to show that we can be good without god. We have a charity branch to the group and as our first charitable act in the community, we donated blood.



Blood donation is a terrific way to really help the community and show that we are willing to go the extra mile to help others out.

I'd like to thank Tynan, Nathan, Ansgar, Peter, Phillip, Karen and Robbie for donating and thanks to all of those who turned up for support.



Anyone can donate and contribute to the Sydney Atheists 'club red' pool, just tell them you are donating under a club red group and fill out the slip. And you don't have to wait until our next blood drive to get involved. You can donate at any time (with three months in between leakages). If you do, let me know by emailing me at criticalmass@live.com.au



Our next charity event is a sponsored walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation this Sunday (12th of October). You can donate to us online through our site, or in person. So far we have raised $482 and I'm sure we can get a bit more before the weekend. Donations are tax deductable (for Australian residents) and it will do wonders to help in the research of Juvenile Diabetes.

This coincides with the sad news that our good friend from the Atheist Community of Austin, Matt Dillahunty has recently been diagnosed with Diabetes. We hope you're doing ok, Matt and we will be thinking of you on our walk.
Second Coming

Friday, October 3, 2008

Religulous

Religulous is being released in theaters across the states today. I can't wait for this to come out here, but sadly, I think it's going to be AGES until we get it in Australia. If we get it at all that is.

I'm looking forward to hearing the reviews as they start to flow in over the next few days, and I'm sure that it'll be covered in most of my favorite podcasts over the coming weeks. I guess that we'll just have to be happy with experiencing it vicariously through others until we can get our hands on a copy for ourselves.

I'll have to see if any of the local independent cinemas would be interested in running an "Expelled-Religulous" double header. That'd be a blast!

Atheist Quotes

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