Savage: You don’t need religion to appreciate the ordered existence.

This one is going around the Internets. I feel a little late to the game posting it, but it’s a must read and a must repost.

It’s a speech delivered by Mythbuster Adam Savage to the Harvard Humanist Society. Read it in full here.

Some good bits:

I want to start by saying that, to me, any discourse from me about how one can live a moral existence without religion or the church would sound improperly defensive. That there’s an opposite to be defended is absurd and based on a provably false premise. So let’s dispense with that.

(To be clear: I’m referring to the humanist axiom “Good without God,” whereby “good” means morality. It’s provably false that there exists no morality outside of religion, therefore the statement sounds defensive to me.)

For me it was pretty simple. I’m actually the fourth generation in my family to have no practical use for the church, or God, or religion. My children continue this trend.

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Prayer doesn’t work because someone out there is listening, it works because someone in here is listening. I’ve paid attention. I’ve pictured what I want to happen in my life. I’ve meditated extensively on my family, my future, my past actions and what did and didn’t work for me about them. I’ve looked hard at problems and thought hard about their solutions.

_______________________

I’ve concluded by this that someone is paying attention—I’ve concluded that it’s me. I’ve noticed that if I’m paying attention to those around me, to myself, to my surroundings, then that is the very definition of empathy. I’ve noticed that when I pay attention, I’m less selfish, I’m happier—and that the inverse holds true as well.

_______________________

The fiction of continuity and stability that your parents have painted for you is totally necessary for a growing child. When you realize that it’s not the way the world works, it’s a chilling moment. It’s supremely lonely.

So I understand the desire for someone to be in charge. (As a side note, I believe that the need for conspiracy theories is similar to the need for God.) We’d all like our good and evil to be like it is in the movies: specific and horrible, easy to defeat. But it’s not. It’s banal.

_______________________

If Daniel Dennett is right— that there’s a human genetic need for religion— then I’d like to imagine that my atheism is proof of evolutionary biology in action.

There may be no purpose, but its always good to have a mission.

Bachmann is still batshit crazy nuts

This is from Joe My God (it’s about a minute into the video below):

Rep. Michele “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann says that Bill Clinton “celebrated” the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City because he attended a ceremony marking its 15th anniversary.

They said that Bill Clinton gave a speech yesterday — the former president — at the Center for American Progress, John Podesta’s group. He gave a speech, and he called me out in his speech, and he was talking about the anniversary — Now, only Democrats would do this. The anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by Tim McVeigh. I mean, we don’t celebrate these things. This is not what we celebrate. So he was at this celebration, supposedly.
Think Progress points out that Clinton never mentioned Bachmann in his speech. Yet the teabaggers ate up her outrageous lies.

Artist recreates a masterpiece using a single pen

April 15, 2010 — BiC® Cristal® unveils the results of a challenge to artist James Mylne, to recreate a well known masterpiece using just one BiC® Cristal® pen. The reproduction of The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, took artist James approx 90 hours to complete, but thanks to its long writing length and oil based ink, just a single pen was needed to finish the work.
http://www.challengebic.co.uk