On Sam Harris’s ‘Waking Up’ Lecture

WRITTEN BY BERKELEY STUDENT FRANCES HUANG WITH MARK KOLSEN, AAI NEWS TEAM

Does it make sense to talk of ‘secular spirituality’? Well-known atheist and author Dr Sam Harris thinks it does. I attended Harris’s San Francisco lecture on 17 September which coincided with the release of his new book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. The lecture series (also presented in Los Angeles and New York) tried (and mostly succeeded) in getting to the core of human consciousness, mindfulness and secular spirituality.

from http://www.thinkatheist.com First, Harris skilfully argued that since the very beginning, suffering has its origins in the illusion of self. This ‘self’ claims to be the thinker of our thoughts and the experiencer of our experiences. When we are wandering in our thoughts, those little persons in our heads are the ‘selves’ that we seem to experience. However, as Harris pointed out in both the lecture and the new book, ‘a persistent and unified self’ is merely an illusion since it is the whole brain and the firing of neuronal networks that make us who we are. Our thoughts and our behaviors are wholly caused by our brain, which also changes with time. As Harris argued in his book Free Will (2012), free will, like the sense of self, is also an illusion.

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Atheists should target the Supreme Court

WRITTEN BY MARK KOLSEN, AAI NEWS TEAM

In his 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine argued that the colonies should replace the English monarchy with a representative democracy. Although he offered few details on how the U.S. constitution should be structured, Paine argued that when deciding on laws, representatives “are supposed to have the same concerns” as the people who elected them, and when voting on laws, should “act in the same manner as (the people) would act were they present.” To ensure the representatives’ “fidelity” to the public, Paine said that Americans should have “elections often,” that is, annual elections as done typically in colonial legislatures. To Paine, “the strength of the government and the happiness of the governed” depends on the people and their representatives having a “common interest.”

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'AIDS Pastor Had Sex With Churchgoers'

 

Parishioners at an Alabama church have filed a lawsuit against their pastor who is accused of having sex with congregation members while knowing he had AIDS.

The members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery hope to oust longtime pastor Juan McFarland.

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I agree with Sam Harris and Bill Maher

By: Sameen Qazi

A few days ago, social media went rife with people praising Ben Affleck. “Batman comes to the rescue” was the general sentiment tweeted by everyone and my friends happily posted the link to the clip from Bill Maher’s show. People were ecstatic that an American, a prominent actor at that, finally stood up for Islam on a highly rated TV show.

The clip did not just cause a sensation in Pakistan; it opened a debate online with prominent analysts like Reza Aslan and Fareed Zakaria taking up sides and expressing their opinions.

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Majority of Canadians support assisted dying

According to Global News, eighty-four per cent of Canadians say they support assisted dying, according to a new national poll released Wednesday.

Just a week before the Supreme Court of Canada will begin hearings on a landmark case on assisted dying, a Dying with Dignity and Ipsos Reid survey suggests that Canadians are supportive of the controversial idea.

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Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0

By: Michael Tomasky 

The Real Time host’s spat with the 'Gone Girl' star gets to the heart of a major and longtime problem within contemporary Western liberalism

Every once in a great while, something happens on television that you know while you’re watching it: Well, this is unusual. Those old enough to know what I’m talking about when I say “Al Campanis”  will remember that that was one of your more extreme cases. The exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on last Friday’s Real Time wasn’t a Campanis moment, but I knew instantly—watching it in, well, real time, as it were—that this was going to spark discussion,  as indeed it has.

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Teen Faces Jail for Lewd Pose with Jesus Statue

 A Pennsylvania teenager faces up to two years behind bars after posting pictures to Facebook in which he simulates receiving oral sex from a statue of Jesus.

The unnamed 14-year-old says he posed with the statue, which sits outside a Christian organization in Everett, Pennsylvania, called Love in the Name of Christ, in late July. The pictures are being used as evidence that the teen may be guilty of desecrating an object of veneration.



Debating Mormonism: Why and How

WRITTEN BY LIZ EMERY, AAI NEWS TEAM

Atheists long enjoyed watching Christopher Hitchens “slap” believers, especially during formal public debates. But debaters accepting Hitch’s baton must likewise prepare diligently or get “slapped” themselves during debates. In the following article, Liz Emery offers valuable insider’s advice to atheists intent on debating Mormons. Raised and homeschooled by Mormon parents in Utah, Liz served in multiple Church leadership roles and was accepted to study at Bringham Young University. She instead attended Utah State University, where she wrote a weekly column for the university’s newspaper. Today she lives in Chicago, but continues to study the Mormon Church.

 

The recent debate between biblical literalist Ken Hamm and scientist Bill Nye has raised an old question: Is it useful for atheists to debate believers, or do debates give unnecessary validity to irrational arguments? Religious arguments rest solely on faith, not scientific evidence, and debate formats do not allow secularists to conduct a course on epistemology. Victor Stenger has argued convincingly that debates favor Christian apologists who regularly perform in front of audiences and that atheists face a formidable task in preparing properly.

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An atheist for Congress?

By Carlos S. Moreno

According to CNN, this fall, for the first time in U.S. history, an openly atheist candidate is running for Congress. James Woods is fighting an uphill battle as a Democrat seeking to represent the very Republican 5th Congressional District in Arizona.

There are now no openly atheist members of Congress, even though nearly 20% of Americans report having no religious affiliation, according to the Pew Research Center, and between 5% and 10% of Americans do not believe in a supreme being.

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CATHOLIC UNIVERSITIES HAVE BEEN PAYING FOR ABORTIONS ALL ALONG

According to Religion Dispatches, after three years of nearly constant Sturm und Drang on the part of U.S. bishops over the contraception mandate comes word that some of the same Catholic universities have been covering abortions all along. Loyola Marymount’s insurance plan, as its president recentlyconfirmed, has included elective abortion coverage for the past 25 years.

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Pas de taxes pour le bon Dieu

Alors que le ministre de l’Éducation sabre dans les services d’orthopédagogie et l’achat de volumes et que les municipalités coupent dans les régimes de retraite, l’Église ne paye ni taxes scolaires, ni taxes municipales sur la valeur de son patrimoine immobilier, pourtant évalué à plusieurs milliards de dollars.

Alors que le ministre de l’Éducation sabre dans les services d’orthopédagogie et l’achat de volumes et que les municipalités coupent dans les régimes de retraite, l’Église ne paye ni taxes scolaires, ni taxes municipales sur la valeur de son patrimoine immobilier, pourtant évalué à plusieurs milliards de dollars.

Les groupes religieux de toutes croyances sont très actifs partout  au Québec. À preuve, on y dénombre plus de 4 000 lieux de culte public répartis sur le territoire québécois. Si l’Église catholique ne domine plus le paysage comme autrefois, le nombre d’emplacements occupés par les autres religions est globalement supérieur à cette dernière. Or, il faut savoir que les édifices à vocation religieuse bénéficient d’une exemption totale du paiement des taxes scolaires et municipales, en vertu de l’article 204 de la Loi sur la fiscalité.  Cet article est libellé comme suit:

«Un immeuble compris dans une unité d’évaluation inscrite au nom d’une corporation épiscopale, d’une fabrique, d’une institution religieuse ou d’une Église constituée en personne morale, et qui sert principalement soit à l’exercice du culte public, soit comme palais épiscopal, soit comme presbytère, à raison d’un seul par église, de même que ses dépendances immédiates utilisées aux mêmes fins.»

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