The Power Of Light Works
July 2019
LightSail 2 is changing its orbit using only the power of sunlight. The Planetary Society announced this week that their LightSail 2 solar sail is working well, and actually raising the orbit of the spacecraft as it travels around the Earth. According to mission managers, they've been able to raise the orbit of the spacecraft by about 2 kilometers at the high point of its orbit. Unfortunately, they'll only be able to go for about a month before the sail dips into the atmosphere at the low point of its orbit and it crashes.
Sci-Fi Writers Include Religion
October 2018
At his appearance at the American Writers Museum in Chicago, John Scalzi said that it is important that science fiction writers include religion in their universes, "When 5 billion people out of 7 billion very strongly have professed religious belief of some sort or another, to ignore it, minimize it or just say it doesn't matter is foolish," he said.
A Personal Relationship
James C. Rocks
If I had a dollar (or a pound, since it's much the same since we Brits rashly decided to throw ourselves out of Europe) for every time a theist has tried to tell me we atheists can't understand their relationship with god I'd be ... well I wouldn't actually be rich but I'd probably be able to buy my family a decent curry and several beers each. Suffice to say, it's a common claim but it's also wrong and here's why.

A Personal Relationship With God In my experience, extensive experience I assure you, the vast majority of atheists tend to be refugees from religion so you'll excuse me if I don't accept the premise that atheists don't "get" religion. I have sixteen years of Catholicism, twelve of Catholic schooling and around twenty years of debating theists so I'd say I have a fair bit of experience of religion. Unfortunately, the claim sounds just a little too familiar to sceptical ears, the clarion call of the theist that we (the unwashed heathen masses) cannot possibly understand their relationship with their god unless we too "try it on for size". I mean come again? That's right, theists actually expect us to become religious in order to understand religion which is, perhaps, one of the biggest pile of fetid dingo's kidneys I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. This argument isn't philosophy, or at least not real philosophy in the sense I understand it, it's merely religious apologetics and even when theists aren't saying such daft rubbish you can often almost sense them thinking it.

Some apologists have tried to compare it to art-lovers and those who lack an appreciation of fine art and it happens that, as the cynic I am, I do. The comparison between a person's lack of appreciation of art and another's lack of understanding of religion is just clumsy; despite arguments to the contrary, the appreciation of art is ultimately a popularity contest. I know, I know, you think I'm wrong ... most people, especially most who fancy they know something about art, would but if I am actually wrong then tell me the rules, the formula that distinguishes good art from bad. There must be a way, something empirical, else all it is opinion, granted the opinion of so-called "experts", but opinion nonetheless. On the other hand, of course, irrelevant comparisons of this kind fly dangerously close to that old evangelist favourite debate tactic, that of the strawman argument.

In my experience atheists do not simply dismiss religion as "stupid, pointless and false" because they don't "get" religion, most dismiss it because the central claims have no supporting validatable evidence, because whenever science turns its eye to such facile claims, they invariably turn out to be bogus or explicable in other ways. Most atheists consider claims to the existence of deity premature given that science has yet to explain all of the universe we live in and gods always appear to live somewhere in the gaps of our understanding. This claim is frequently referred to as "The God of the Gaps" argument because, if a god or gods exist somewhere outside of our current knowledge and we humans are on a quest to explain all that we can observe then someday, one presumes, such gods are likely to be found and explained or not found and (quite rightly) dismissed. As an atheist I absolutely concede there may be one or more gods out there but here's the thing ... we haven’t found one yet and none of the explanations so far accepted as valid by science either require or request the action of deity. Technically I suppose that makes me agnostic but, as you might expect, I disagree.

But I digress, I think most atheists more than understand (at least intellectually) theists claims to having a personal relationship with god ... they simply don't buy into it. Moreover, there's a place for people who talk to and have relationships with invisible people ... a place where they drug you, strap you down and look after you. That said, I hear the men and women in white coats are nice :)

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Each generation is a filter, a sieve; good genes tend to fall through the sieve into the next generation; bad genes tend to end up in bodies that die young or without reproducing.
Richard Dawkins