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What's New on the Secular Web?

See also: Events & The News Wire

December 28, 2004

Added "Jefferson Bashes Bush" by Gary Sloan to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"His wraith having appeared at a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Thomas Jefferson descants on George W. Bush's enunciated religious beliefs and occupation of Iraq."

December 27, 2004

Updated the listing of Local Organizations Around the World with the addition of Freethinkers New York (FANNY).

Freethinking-Activist-Nonbelieving New Yorkers (FANNY) acts as liaison to humanistic groups that cater to the interests of fellow agnostics, atheists, secularists, humanists, philosophic naturalists, and freethinkers. Membership is open to those who have completed an individual activist project and been approved by the founder-directors. Dues: None.

Updated the listing of National Organizations with the addition of The Brights' Net.

A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview (a worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements), and whose ethics and actions are based on a naturalistic worldview.

Updated the listing of National Organizations with the addition of United Universists.

A Universist is an individual who applies personal reason and experience to the fundamental questions of human existence, derives inspiration from the natural uncertainty of the human state, and denies the validity of revelation, faith and dogma.

December 24, 2004

Richard Carrier has extensively revised/updated his article, "What an Atheist Ought to Stand For."

This article should be of interest to anyone who is interested in the basis of an atheist's value system, in what sort of moral standards an atheist should want to adhere to.

December 21, 2004

Secular Web T-shirt Designs Contest

This is an informal contest designed to determine which T-shirt designs Secular Web readers would most like to see realized. We will consider which shirts are best liked and go with some of the top picks.

December 15, 2004

The Essay Contests & Scholarships page was updated with the addition of a link to the website of The Humanist Society of New Mexico.

This is a high school essay contest. See the Entry Form for details and/or to enter.

December 12, 2004

Added a link to "Interview with Cliff Walker" (1999) (Off Site) from Victor J. Stenger's author page

Added "The Other Side of Time" (1999) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Short essay on the Kalam cosmological argument in which it is shown that the universe need not have had a beginning.

Added "The God of Falling Bodies Galileo, Newton, Bentley, and Leibniz Chat on the Internet" (2001) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Stenger examines contemporary dialogue between science and religion from the perspective of a fictional conversation between the modern-day versions of Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz.

Added "The Breath of God: Identifying Spiritual Energy" (2001) (Downloadable PDF) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

If other forms of energy exist beyond those recognized by physics, these should still be detectable in controlled experiments by the observation of apparent violation of energy conservation. This includes the psychic energy associated with paranormal phenomena, the vital energies supposedly manipulated in alternative medicine, and even supernatural or spiritual energy. So far all the data are consistent with conservation of the known forms of energy. Furthermore, observations indicate that the total energy of the universe is zero, and so no outside energy was necessary to bring it about.

Added "Physics, Cosmology, and the New Creationism" (2002) (Downloadable PDF) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

A draft chapter for a new book entitled, Scientists Confront Creationism II.

Added "Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Us?" (draft) (Downloadable PDF) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

The fine-tuning argument would tell us that the Sun radiates light so that we can see where we are going. In fact, the human eye evolved to be sensitive to light from the sun. The universe is not fine-tuned for humanity. Humanity is fine-tuned to the universe.

Added "Natural Explanations for the Anthropic Coincidences" (2000) (Downloadable PDF) (Off Site)> by Victor J. Stenger

The anthropic coincidences are widely claimed to provide evidence for intelligent creation in the universe. However, neither data nor theory supports this conclusion. No basis exists for assuming that a random universe would not have some kind of life. Calculations of the properties of universes having different physical constants than ours indicate that long-lived stars are not unusual, and thus most universes should have time for complex systems of some type to evolve. A multi-universe scenario is not ruled out since no known principle requires that only one universe exist.

Added a review of "Cranks, Quarks and the Cosmos by Jeremy Bernstein" (1993) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Added a review of "Dreams of a Final Theory by Steven Weinberg" (1994) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Added a review of "The Cosmic Blueprint by Paul Davies" (2004) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Added a review of "Beyond the Big Bang: Quantum Cosmologies and God by Willem Drees" (1992) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Added a review of "The Big Bang Never Happened by Eric Lerner" (1992) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

Added a review of "The Physics of Immortality by Frank Tipler" (1995) (Off Site) by Victor J. Stenger

December 9, 2004

"Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of," by Richard Carrier, is brought back--with updated information from direct correspondence between Carrier and Flew--as a Special Feature in connection with the recent press coverage regarding well-known atheist Antony Flew, who has apparently become a deist.

"I do not think I will ever make [the assertion that 'probably God exists'] precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about a God in that sense ... I think we need here a fundamental distinction between the God of Aristotle or Spinoza and the Gods of the Christian and the Islamic Revelations." [Antony Flew]
Related items of possible interest:
Antony Flew's author page in the Secular Web Library
Richard Carrier's author page in the Secular Web Library
Feedback regarding this matter

December 6, 2004

Added "Regarding the Separation of Church and State" by Harvey Freilich to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

The ideas are as old as the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights: a free Nation, of, by and for the People; a nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all. When the Nation begins to veer from the intent of these Documents, the Citizen has the right--nay, the responsibility--to protest against those who abrogate their duty to uphold the Spirit of Freedom ensured under the umbrella of protection these documents offer.

The Internet Infidels Supporters page was updated with the addition of David Papineau, Kings college, London.

December 4, 2004

Added a link from the Modern Library author page of Quentin Smith to The Inefficient God (2002) (Off Site), by James F. Sennett

This is a rebuttal of Quentin Smith's The Anthropic Coincidences, Evil and the Disconfirmation of Theism (1992). Sennett focuses on Smith's premise that it is much more probable on atheism than on theism that the universe would begin in a quantum singularity. Sennett explicates four problems with Smith's reasoning, any one of which Sennett considers to be sufficient to render the premise implausible.

December 3, 2004

Added "Christmas Will Do: Observations on HumanLight and Other Pseudo-Christmas Celebrations" by Brian P. Hudson to the Agora section of the Kiosk.

"I discovered HumanLight, the Christmas for Humanists. And laughed. Do we need HumanLight? This Humanist says not."

December 2, 2004

Richard Carrier has updated his article "Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of" with new information direct from well-known nontheist philosopher Antony Flew regarding his consideration of the possibility that there might be a God.

Carrier asked Flew "point blank what he would mean if he ever asserted that 'probably God exists,' to which he responded (in a letter in his own hand, dated 19 October 2004): 'I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about a God in that sense ... I think we need here a fundamental distinction between the God of Aristotle or Spinoza and the Gods of the Christian and the Islamic Revelations.'"

The Internet Infidels Supporters page was updated with the addition of several new names:

December 1, 2004

Feature article: "Who Was Wenceslas? : Christmas Myth-Making," by William Hopper.

Have you ever wondered what it is that trees, holly, and mistletoe have to do with the birth of Jesus or the Jewish Festival of Lights? This brief synopsis on the origins of Christmas customs will shed light on some of the more obscure references. [Note: This was previously published as the December, 2003, Kiosk Feature Article.]

Book-of-the-Month: Life After Death : The History of the Afterlife in Western Religion, by Alan F. Segal

A magisterial work of social history, Life After Death illuminates the many different ways ancient civilizations grappled with the question of what exactly happens to us after we die.

Video-of-the-Month: Osama.

The first movie produced by Afghanistan filmmakers after the fall of the Taliban, Osama is a searing portrait of life under the oppressive fundamentalist regime. Because women are not allowed to work, a widow disguises her young daughter as a boy so they won't starve to death. Simply walking the streets is frightening enough, but when the disguised girl is rounded up with all the boys in the town for religious training, her peril becomes absolutely harrowing.

See "What's New? " for past months and years.