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Smith’s Wager (the counter-wager to Pascal’s Wager) :

There are only four possibilities, as follows:

1) There is no god. The atheist is correct, and consequently lives a happy, fulfilling life free of mindless dogma and emotional tyranny.

2) The second possibility is the god of deism, who was said to have created the universe and then left it to run on its own. There is nothing to fear from such a god; he or she is impersonal and does not reward or punish us.

3) This third possibility is a god that is concerned with humanity. He is a fair and just god. Such a god, in his infinite goodness would never punish anyone for honest errors of reason, assuming of course that there is no moral turpitude involved. Here again we have no reason to fear such a god. In fact, if our reason is what separates us from the animals, then not to use it might be construed as the gravest of “sins.” If anyone is in danger of punishment here, it is the theist, and not the atheist.

4) The last possibility concerns an unjust god. Unconcerned with justice, he will burn us whether our mistakes are honest or not. There is, after all, no greater injustice than to punish someone for an honest error of belief, and yet that is just what this fourth god, the Christian god, promises to do. He is unconcerned with issues such as honesty and intellectual integrity and, according to the Bible, will burn us eternally if we doubt his existence. No matter what kind of life we have led, this issue is central in determining where we will spend eternity. Gullibility thus becomes a virtue rather than a vice. Therefore, by definition, this fourth god is a most unprincipalled deity. Christians have always felt that they are in a better position here, but if one thinks about it, they are really in the same boat as the atheist. Why? Simply because, if this god really gets such a thrill out of creating people just to burn them, what could give him greater enjoyment than to promise the Christian eternal bliss and then turn around and burn him too? Certainly, you cannot trust the word of an unjust god when he promises you something, since he must have a sadistic streak in him to begin with.

This then is the wager: Use your reason in all areas of human endeavor, including religion. This should lead you to atheism. If there is no god, you are correct. If the Deistic god exists, you have nothing to fear. If a just god exists, there is again nothing to fear; the only one who is at risk is the believer. And if the fourth god exists, we do indeed live in a nightmarish universe, but the Christian is in no better position than the atheist, so why not live our lives as rational human beings? Why not do all we can to make this world, our only home, a better place and do all we can to make life worthwhile and enjoyable for all? In Smith’s wager, there truly is nothing to lose!

[from ‘Atheism: The Case Against God’ by George H. Smith‘]

From SMH:

A bracelet worn by high profile sports stars that claims to improve athletic performance has been exposed as a sham by the consumer watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ordered Power Balance Australia to refund all customers who feel they were misled by the supposed benefits of Power Balance bracelets.

Read the rest of the article

Power Balance acknowledged it had breached the code and said the relevant claims had been removed from its website.

PowerBalance ordered to admit its product is a sham and to refund the money of everyone who ever bought it.

From LA Times:

No matter how silly or serious, superstitions can affect decisions and behavior in daily life, and such activities as sports and gambling. It’s only human to look for connections between events where none exist.

From the New York Times:

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

Full article

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From examiner.com:

It is a common talking point amongst Christians to attribute the horrors committed by infamous world leaders to atheism, and many times we are ill-equipped to refute those erroneous claims. In fact, last year, an Anglican Archbishop named Peter Jensen told his Australian congregation that atheism is not the rational philosophy that it claims to be. He stated, “Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships – all promoted by state-imposed atheism…the illusion that we can build a better life without God.” He further stated, “It’s about our determination as human beings to have our own way, to make our own rules, to live our own lives, unfettered by the rule of God and the right of God to rule over us…What we’re really seeing, once more [is] an example of the contest between human beings and God over who rules the world.”

From Examiner.com:

Last Sunday, June 20, 2010, the politicians in Louisiana made an official day of prayer to stop the oil from spewing out of the BP well and into the Gulf of Mexico. The prayers did not work, the deadly oil is still spewing and causing death and destruction in the Gulf which will last for at least decades.

Wishing the oil spill away? A waste of time by New Agers.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/jesus_christ_but_i_hate_these.php

CNN’s Anderson Cooper talks to author Ayaan Hirsi Ali about an Islamic website’s warning to the “South Park” creators.
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