Saturday, March 21, 2009






Join us Saturday, March 28, 2009 at United Nations for Free Speech demo...

ATHEISTS, SECULARISTS and anyone else concerned with freedom of speech is invited to a peaceful protest/picket next Saturday, March 28, 2009 at Dag Hammarsjold Plaza adjacent to the United Nations building in New York City.

The demo -- sponsored jointly by American Atheists and New York City Atheists -- protests a recent non-binding resolution passed by the UN General Assembly to combat "blasphemy" and any other verbal or printed comments unflattering to religious superstition and movements. The resolution was enacted at the behest of Pakistan, and enjoys widespread support from Islamist regimes in the Middle East. Many Christian, Jewish and other religious establishments, though, support the intent of the resolution, and want governments to insulate them from
"insulting" or "hateful" remarks.

Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, told reporters recently that religion must not be given "special rights" from criticism. "We're for free speech," said Buckner. "Religious groups and beliefs must not be 'protected' at the expense of our First Amendment rights."

Secularists throughout the world are speaking out against this dangerous resolution!

protest outside the United Nations Building on Saturday, March 28, 2009 from 11:00 - 3:00 PM at Dag Hammarsjold Plaza, 46/47th St. and First Avenue.


From Penn Station on 34th St. take M34 bus east to 1st. Avenue, then take M15 north to 43rd. St.

From Port Authority Bus Station on 42nd. St., take M42 bus east to First Avenue, then walk north three blocks.

From Grand Central Terminal on 42nd. St., M42 bus east to First Avenue, then walk north three blocks.


Check weather forecast, dress appropriately.


Picket signs will be provided, or bring your own. If choosing the latter, please make them appropriate to the free-speech theme of this peaceful demonstration. NYC rules ban having signs or banners on poles.


There will be an informal social get together (on your own) after the demo.


Watch for updates. We are still in the approval process for this demonstration, so there may be changes! Visit or for current Action Alerts; or contact Ken Bronstein at NYCA through 212-535-7425.


* ED BUCKNER, President of American Atheists
* KEN BRONSTEIN, President of New York City Atheists
* DAVE SILVERMAN, Communications Director, AA

WHO & WHAT: All Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and anyone else concerned about free speech and the current UN resolution on "blasphemy."

WHERE: Outside the United Nations Building, at Dag Hammarsjold Plaza, 46/47th St. and First Avenue.

WHEN: Saturday, March 28, 2009 from 11:00 - 3:00 PM

MORE INFO: Visit o for current Action Alerts; or contact Ken Bronstein at NYCA through 212-535-7425.


(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

Larry Mundinger (aa#451) American Atheists Internet Representative


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rejecting Pareidolia

My mind is inclin'd to give meaning,
and think a rock a cake, for survival's sake

Much of reality confuses, and threatens to blow fuses,
in my brain, and give pain, so it strives simply to remain unslain.

The noble lie of shutting my eye,
is good for those, who don't bother to suppose,

But for me, curiosity is glee,
and deceiving myself: not an option

Elf and faerie may actually be,
flying the Earth around, in a teapot unfound

So I must be picky and choose (win or lose),
what I accept, in regards to concept

Is evidence such a big fence,
against that which is proposed?

Does asking for proof, make me aloof?

You may say that faith is the way, and my mind holds me at bay,
but even if you can say it, can you show it?

by Drafterman of AvC

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sam Harris : The Reason Project

Friends and Readers -

We are happy to say that the advisory board of The Reason Project now includes some of the most talented and committed secularists to be found anywhere--and more are on their way.

While it will probably be two months before we launch The Reason Project website, we are now faced with the task of building a large archive of online resources. To facilitate this process, we are hoping to create a network of volunteer editors. If any of you would like to become part of this network--by submitting links to good articles, websites, or videos--your help would be greatly appreciated at this stage.

For those who want to make a submission, please review the content and style guidelines at the following link:

For the moment, we are only looking for volunteers to collect archive materials, but there will undoubtedly be many other opportunities to contribute to the Reason Project in the future. Our website will provide more information about such opportunities as they arise as well as ways for you to network with like-minded people in your own community.


Sam and Annaka Harris

The Reason Project Advisory Board

Clifford S. Asness is the Managing and Founding Principal of AQR Capital Management which manages assets for some of the largest institutional investors from the United States, Europe and Asia. Prior to starting his own firm, Mr. Asness was Managing Director and Director of the Quantitative Research Group at Goldman Sachs. He has received numerous awards for his economic research and serves on the editorial boards of several economic journals. Mr. Asness is also an Overseer for the International Rescue Committee and on the Robin Hood Foundation’s Leadership Council.

Peter Atkins is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, Fellow of Lincoln College. He is the author of nearly sixty books, including Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science; Four Laws that Drive the Universe; and the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, China, and Japan, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

Jerry Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where he works on diverse areas of evolutionary genetics. The main focus of his laboratory is on the original problem raised by Darwin — the origin of species — and on understanding this process through the genetic patterns it produces. He has authored over one hundred scientific papers and regularly writes essays and opinion pieces for the popular press, including The Guardian, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, and The Time Literary Supplement. He is the author (with H. Allen Orr) of Speciation. Mr. Coyne was elected to the American Academy of Sciences in 2007.

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He was voted Britain’s leading public intellectual by readers of Prospect magazine and was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” for 2007. Among his books are The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil’s Chaplain, The Ancestor’s Tale, and the New York Times best seller The God Delusion.

Daniel C. Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Breaking the Spell, Freedom Evolves, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Consciousness Explained, and many other books. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987.

Brent Forrester is an Emmy Award-winning television writer. He has written for The Ben Stiller Show, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and is currently a writer and producer for The Office.

Rebecca Goldstein is a philosopher and novelist. She is the author of eight books, including, The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light, Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, and Betraying Spinoza. In 1996 Goldstein received a MacArthur Fellowship (popularly known as the “Genius Award”). In 2005 she was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2006 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Fellowship. Goldstein holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and Reader’s Digest’s European of the Year for 2005. She is the author of The Caged Virgin and the New York Times best selling memoir Infidel. Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia where she escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992. She later served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. Ms. Hirsi Ali continues to speak and write about the importance of freedom of speech, the need to reform Islam, and the rights of women.

Christopher Hitchens is an author, journalist, and literary critic. He regularly writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, Free Inquiry, and a variety of other journals. He is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller God is Not Great (a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award). He has also written Why Orwell Matters, Letter to a Young Contrarian, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, and many other books. In 2005 Mr. Hitchens was named one of the world’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines.

Harold Kroto is Chairman of the Board of the Vega Science Trust, a UK educational charity that produces science programs for television. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and in 1996 shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley for the discovery of a new form of carbon, the C60 Buckminsterfullerene. He has received the Royal Society’s prestigious Michael Faraday Award, given annually to a scientist who has done the most to further public communication of science, engineering or technology in the United Kingdom.

Bill Maher is one of the most politically astute comedians in America today, entertaining millions though his television series “Politically Incorrect” (Comedy Central and ABC), “Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO), sold-out comedy tours, and hour-long specials on HBO. Maher is also the author of several bestselling books including, New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer. He has received numerous Emmy, Tony, and Grammy nominations for his work. Currently, Mr. Maher is in production on a documentary that will take a deep look at the presence of religion in some of the major news stories in recent years and religion’s effect on society as a whole.

Ian McEwan is a writer of worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany’s Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday.

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and Slate, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, and The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. Mr. Pinker was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2004.

Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize for Fiction for his second novel, Midnight’s Children. In 1993 the book was judged to have been the ‘Booker of Bookers’, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the award’s 25-year history. Rushdie’s third novel, Shame (1983) won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize as well. The publication in 1988 of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, lead to accusations of blasphemy against Islam and demonstrations by Islamist groups in India and Pakistan. The orthodox Iranian leadership issued a fatwa against Rushdie on 14 February 1989, and he was forced into hiding under the protection of the British government and police. The Satanic Verses won the Whitbread Novel Award in 1988. Mr. Rushdie is the author of many novels and works of criticism. He is Honorary Professor in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has received numerous awards and eight honorary doctorates. He was elected to the Board of American PEN in 2002.

Lee M. Silver is Professor at Princeton University in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received a doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University and trained at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is the author of Challenging Nature: The Clash Between Biotechnology and Spirituality; Remaking Eden; and Mouse Genetics. He has published 180 articles in the fields genetics, evolution, reproduction, embryology, computer modeling, and behavioral science, and other scholarly papers on topics at the interface between biotechnology, law, ethics, and religion.

Ibn Warraq is a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism. In 1996 he published the groundbreaking work, Why I am not a Muslim. He went on to edit a serious of anthologies: What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary; The Quest for the Historical Muhammed; The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book; Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out; and Which Koran? Variants, Manuscripts, and the Influence of Pre-Islamic Poetry. His latest book is Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism.

Steven Weinberg holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1991 the National Medal of Science. In 2004 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, with a citation that said he is “considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today.” He has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and Britain’s Royal Society, as well as to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of over 300 articles on elementary particle physics. His books include The First Three Minutes (1977); The Discovery of Subatomic Particles (1983, 2003); Elementary Particles and The Laws of Physics (with R.P. Feynman) (1987); Dreams of a Final Theory—The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature (1993); a trilogy, The Quantum Theory of Fields (1995, 1996, 2000); Facing Up --- Science and its Cultural Adversaries (2002); and most recently Glory and Terror—The Growing Nuclear Danger (2004). Articles of his on various subjects appear from time to time in The New York Review of Books. He has served as consultant at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the JASON group of defense consultants, and many other boards and committees.

Guidelines for Editors of The Reason Project Archive

1. Please avoid material that is too topical or trivial. There will be a daily newsfeed on the website covering recent intrusions of religion into politics, etc. For the archive, we are looking for material that will stand the test of time: the best examples of critical thinking, rational ethics, etc. (think Darwin, Twain, Russell, Orwell, Sagan, Dawkins, etc.) For videos, we want quality documentary footage, or great (and relevant) comedy. We are hoping to dig very deep here and quickly gather a lifetime's worth of fine reading and viewing.

2. Please submit all articles in the following form: Author (Date). Title. Periodical. Followed by URL. For example:

Pinker, S. (2008, January 13). The Moral Instinct. The New York Times Magazine. ... ker&st=nyt

3. Please submit all videos with an appropriate title and the link to YouTube, Google Video, etc. For example:

Ricky Gervais - The Bible

4. Please submit all websites with the name of the organization and the link. For example:

The Middle East Media Research Institute

5. Please include at least one (perhaps several) key words with each submission. For instance: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Eastern Religion, Religion and Politics, Science, Ethics, Comedy, Cults and New Religions, Hall of Shame*. And, once again, please keep your standards of quality and relevance high.

*The Hall of Shame category should contain egregious examples of unreason on the part of otherwise reasonable people. Nicholas Kristof seems to offer frequent examples:

Kristof, N.D. (2008, February 3). Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love. The New York Times. ... 0&emc=eta1

Please send all submissions to: