Skepticon IV: LIVE BLOGGING!

Well, the awesome first day has now come to an end. Tonight is a night of drinking and revelry and tomorrow is another day of godlessness. It’s a great weekend to be an atheist!!

-Jon
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Revival! Goddamn!!
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7:55 PM
Ready for Brother Sam’s Revival!! I love Sam Singleton and always try to get myself to any social event where he’ll be.
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PZ and me (I’ve obviously gained some weight). He’s a very approachable scientist and a very friendly guy.
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PZ looking for Rebecca Watson for a special presentation because of the shit she’s been taking online.
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7:00 PM
Next up, PZ Myers! I always love hearing him speak and am looking forward to a more science-driven talk. What can I say? I love learning!
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6:30 PM
Rebecca Watson is talking about the religious right’s war against women. Her facts on reproductive health and education are amazing. I came back from dinner too late, unfortunately, but she’s really rocking it. I’m glad I didn’t miss her talk!
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Greta!!! That woman just hits home runs every time. Her talk was “Why are you atheists so angry?”
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4:10 PM
Greta Christina is up next. She’s awesome!!
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3:30 PM
I officially don’t like Julia Galef’s talk about rationality and emotions. It’s not that the information isn’t accurate or useful, it’s just that she’s difficult to follow and her voice is wearing on my ears.
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2:00 PM
Dan Barker has taken the stage to talk about his experiences as a pastor who lost his faith and had to eventually come out as an atheist to stop lying to people. He just told an excellent story about how Christianity solves a problem that Christianity creates:

Man: Good news, folks!
Passersby: What’s that?
Man: You don’t have to go into my basement!
Passersby: Huh??
Man: Yeah, I had built a torture chamber down there and I was going to put you guys down there to do all kinds of nasty things, but it’s OK now! I sent my son down there instead so now I’m satisfied and don’t need to torture you anymore.

Given this scenario (which Christians will recognize as their deity’s salvation plan) would you then fall down and kiss the man’s feet for “saving” you? Honestly.
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My buddy Frank showed up just before the panel discussion! I’m bringing new heathens into the movement. ūüėÄ
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1:00 PM
After a delicious Jimmy John’s BLT for lunch, we’re getting ready for a panel discussion on how non-believers address and deal with death. This should actually be really good.

Oh, and as a sidenote, Brother Sam Singleton recognizes me on sight! That’s freaking awesome.
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10:50 AM
I have my picture taken with David Silverman by JT Eberhard. Everyone here is awesome!
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David Silverman took the stage first to talk about what atheism is/isn’t. Great speaker with good presence. He’s a fantastic representative.
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10:05 AM
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9:45 AM
The conference is HUGE this year! Last year there was a really good turnout and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people but this year the registration table lines are overflowing into the street. It’s so awesome to see so many freethinkers banding together in Springfield.

Of course, Christian protesters and proselytizers have showed up at the doors to try and save attendees. When we walked up to the theatre, a debate was going on about god’s nature. Good stuff.
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9:00 AM
It’s that time of year again! The Midwest is again host to the largest skeptic and non-believer conference in the area. I’ll be live-blogging for two days, so check back here hourly for the scoop!

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Who Makes the Rules?

I was always taught as a child that god was in charge. ¬†He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law. ¬†He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer. ¬†God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted. ¬†There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do. ¬†Then I read the Bible.

At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means. ¬†It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he’s constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that’s just way too complex to work. ¬†Here are some examples:

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Respect for Respect’s Sake

I’ve been in a number of debates in person and online where emotions flared and the conversation eventually boiled down to a variant of the following:

Why can’t you just respect a person’s beliefs?

Here’s the problem with that: not all beliefs are created equal and not all are worthy of respect. ¬†The person saying the above is usually emotionally invested in the beliefs I’ve questioned and is usually unable to present any rational reason for a person holding those beliefs in the first place. ¬†What they’re really saying is, “Since I can’t defend my untenable beliefs I really wish you would leave them alone so I don’t feel like I have to!”

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