Was DaVinci an Atheist? Retelling Church History on the Starz Channel

I'm loving DaVinci's Demons - a new TV series about the life of the young Leonardo Da Vinci. From the first episode they managed to throw in a ton of intrigue and character twists. The only thing is, this brash and daring, charming and handsome, half-insane genius almost certainly didn't exist. It's hard to know what DaVinci believed, because he had to be secretive his whole life (hence his language codes and secret notebooks, etc.) This was ...

Does Religious Freedom Protect Torture? SyFy’s new Series “Defiance”

I'm watching Defiance, Episode 2 - a new SyFy channel production about a post-apocalyptic earth city filled with mixed alien races. One of the aliens communities is torturing one of its own for cowardice in battle. The new sheriff, a typical blonde American cowboy, stops the ceremony at gunpoint. The alien in question begs to let them finish his torture, which is necessarily to clean him of sins so that his soul will reach absolution, and ...

Was Jesus a Fraud? The Wizard of Oz, Easter 2013, and the power of Faith

I'm watching the 2013 "Oz the Great and Powerful." I've been excited about the movie for a long time; what a rich theme to build a story into. Disappointingly it's mostly a kid's movie. Not the smart and mature kid's movie that the original Wizard of Oz was, but the cheesy and silly kid's movie that is aimed at the largely vapid youth of today. But nearing the end of the movie, I'm recognizing the classic pieces ...

The link between Paradise Lost and YA post-apocalyptic fiction

I'm working on a paper for an Apocalypse conference in Romania the details are fuzzy, but I wanted to make some notes to come back to later. In short, the majority of contemporary post-apocalyptic YA novels are about Revolution. Unlike classic dystopian fiction like 1984 or even the more modern Never Let Me Go show a reality that can't be escaped from. Resistance is really futile, if not only because systems of bio-power have nullified any ...

Utopia: Is Mass Sterilization the Answer to OverPopulation?

I'm watching Utopia, Season One Episode 5. A small band of unlikely heroes are chasing down a conspiracy. They have one of the badguys tied up to a chair and are asking him questions about a dubious new super-vaccine called Janus, created along with a flu-epidemic panic. The gang thinks the bad guys are trying to eliminate a certain race. Not so. "We are now past 7 billion on this planet. When I was born it was ...

What kind of people are atheists? Behind the scenes at an atheist conference

I got up early the second day of the conference, took a coffee and a pastry from the hotel lobby, and headed to the convention hall in Springfield Missouri. There was a large crowd outside today. I smiled, eager to meet new friends - until I realized they were Christian protesters. Skepticon describes itself as the "Largest Free Conference on Skepticism" in the nation, and it has been a well-known atheist convention for several years. I'd flown ...

Satan is Good, God is Bad: our shifting moral compass and why atheists are throwing the Devil under the bus

I went to Skepticon 5 expecting a group of heretics that would get a kick out of my inversed reading of Milton's Paradise Lost, which claims that Satan is the hero of the story (which was actually the mainstream reading before it became the "mistaken reading", and is now coming into vogue again by top Milton scholars). I was surprised to find that Satan makes atheists uncomfortable. Atheists already have a huge image/perception problem, with the ...

$50 Blasphemous Halloween Costume Contest for Atheists and Heretics: What are you Wearing?

Halloween is for everybody, but it seems like atheists and non-religious people would particularly enjoy dressing up as devils, monsters and witches (role-modelling their true heroes on the only socially acceptable day for it). It's also an opportunity, depending on your level of daring, to make a funny, obnoxious or controversial irreligious statement with a loud costume choice. But what are you going to wear? I searched for Atheist Halloween ideas for awhile but couldn't find ...

Is Kevin Costner an Atheist? The Religious Implications of the History Channel’s “Hatfields and McCoys”

Is Kevin Costner an Atheist? This thought crossed my mind a few times while watching the History Channel's 3 part special "Hatfields and McCoys". While based on a historical family feud, a few key themes in the plot and dialogue seemed specifically focused on the relationship between violence and religion. So what exactly does the mini-series have to say about religious belief? Let's find out. Kevin Costner plays Anse Hatfield, opposite Bill Paxton who plays Randall McCoy. The ...

Guy Fawkes is Satan: The Truth About Anonymous and the Digital Revolution

I'm surprised I didn't see it before. I've been working on a research book about Satan as a revolutionary hero: a tradition of liberal rebellion against totalizing and corrupt government, starting from Prometheus, going through Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, the Modernist and Romantic Movements, ending in today's Super Heroes. I've already considered contemporary revolutions as part of this same tradition: I can prove that The American Revolution, the Free Rights, Gender Equality, Racial Tolerance and all ...

The Poetry of Atheism: Emily Dickinson Celebrates International Blasphemy Day

Oops, it's 2:56AM here in Taiwan and I was just reminded that September 30th is International Blasphemy Day. Luckily, since most of the world is half a day behind, I still have time. I decided to celebrate by dusting off this post about Emily Dickinson I've been meaning to publish for about a year. It vexes me to see Christians and other religious people quote Emily Dickinson's Poetry in support of their faith, when she spent ...

Red Lights Review 2012: Simon Magus confronts Doubting Thomas about Paranormal Phenomenon

"I just need to know how he does it." This is the consuming passion of Psychologist Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) as she investigates a world-renowned blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), who has resurfaced after decades for a final appearance. The movie builds and builds, with supernatural attacks leading up to the death of Margaret. Her partner Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) takes over the case, determined to solve the mystery. "Forget about Silver, there are certain things it's ...