Friday, July 30, 2010

News Pleas

Today I'd like to send out three quick pleas for your support of other folk trying to fight the good fight for reason and science.


Help Skepticon III: They are getting so many reservations to attend that they are just about past their current venue size of 500, and reservations are accelerating, so projecting forward they are likely to have 1000 or so attending this year, which means they need to hire a much larger venue, which is much more expensive. They promised to make attendance free and will stand by that. But to keep that promise and rent a venue (it'll run them nearly ten thousand dollars altogether), they need more financial support. Every little bit adds up, so anything you can do will be a boon to the Bible Belt. Go to their official skepticon donations page to give.


Help the Tai Solarin Organisation: There are a lot of weird things about me people don't expect. Like the fact that I'm actually known in Africa for an essay I wrote in 1995 summarizing the achievements of the most famous outspoken atheist activist and reformer in the history of that continent (see "Tai Solarin: His Life, Ideas, and Accomplishments"). Because of this, I'm often sent news from atheist organizations in Africa. Needless to say, they don't have it easy there. And one such organization, the Tai Solarin society, needs funding to continue its annual lecture series. Based on past years, they were supposed to have had the 2010 lecture by now, and maybe they have (or will in a matter of weeks). But even if they have, they'll no doubt need money to recoup losses, and contribute toward the cost of next year's event. A lot goes a long way there. So if you want to help out, here's the appeal from Bayo Adenubi, Chairman of the Tai Solarin Organisation.
Tai Solarin Organisation (TSO) needs your help to convene this year's memorial lecture. Founded in 2003 to promote the ideals of Nigeria's late humanist and educator, Tai Solarin, TSO organizes a lecture every year to commemorate the life and legacy of the late sage. To organize these lectures, TSO Board members receive financial contributions and solicit donations from individuals and corporate bodies. But this year, our regular donors have not been forthcoming and our lecture is just a few months away. Hence we are making this urgent appeal for financial support. We are asking you to consider making some donations to TSO to enable us organize this event and continue to keep Tai Solarin's legacy alive. Please donate today, TSO needs your help. All donors will be acknowledged in our reports. They will receive copies of the lecture, annual report of activities and the financial report. If you wish to make a donation please contact us by email, or
Contact them right away if you are interested, as contact by email can take several days (power and communications are sometimes unreliable there), and the event is supposed to happen now. I have not corresponded with this organization very much, so I cannot vouch for them personally, so if you have any concerns feel free to vet their credentials or sincerity however possible when you contact them.


Help the Skeptical Inquirer: Prices of materials have gone up, funding has dropped, and subscribership is actually shrinking. SI might go under if trends don't reverse. I don't want you to donate to their cause. I want you to subscribe to their magazine. And when you see how awesome it is (and you will), I want you to tell everyone you know about it, and persuade them to subscribe to this excellent periodical. Give them the patronage they deserve.

I hate piling up magazines, and most I can't stand (Newsweek sucks; Time could bore a rock to death). So the ones I do subscribe to make a very select list. Apart from trade periodicals, only four make the cut: The Week (best news weekly...ever), Science News (required reading, IMO), The Skeptic (Shermer's baby, broadly focused and usually well-sourced, I actually shelve the issues like books) and the Skeptical Inquirer. SI is very well produced and edited, interesting on nearly every page, full of leading news in skepticism, and packs many feature articles in every issue (they deal mainly with religion and the paranormal but often venture into other subjects like global warming or polygraphs...check out their website for an idea of their range). I always learn a lot from every issue I read. You will too. And you'll enjoy reading it. Give them a try!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Updates

I've been very busy of late, almost underground working furiously away, but I finally found a hiatus to blog some news. I have a hodgepodge of things to mention. Two items today...


First big news is that Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism is now available as an eBook. You can buy it in various places, but most obviously on (click for Kindle edition). Not the Impossible Faith has always been available as a PDF download and now is available in other formats, too (click for Lulu edition as a PDF download; and click here for Kindle edition). And The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails is also now available in e-format (click for Kindle edition), as is The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave (click for Kindle edition).


And second is a status update on my book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ. Donors to the project have already received a full report, but for the general public the latest news is that I've solved the problem of cutting material down by seeking publication as two volumes, the first on method and the second on results, though the first volume includes one major section of results. That volume is completed. I am seeking a private peer review from a number of respected scholars, and shopping for a publisher. Meanwhile, I'm hard at work on volume two, some of which donors have already seen, but there's even better stuff to come.

The first volume has the current working title Bayes' Theorem and Historical Method: The Invalidity of Current Historicity Criteria in the Study of Jesus and Their Replacement. The subtitle actually isn't the controversial bit. I discuss all the leading scholarship on those criteria, and all of it comes to the same conclusion I do. The main title will actually be the controversial part, and the bulk of the book is devoted to answering all the arguments against applying Bayes' Theorem to history, while explaining in easy-to-understand terms what that theorem is, how it works, and how we can employ it as historians. Donors and scholars who have been reviewing the work up to this point have given me very valuable criticisms and advice that has made this volume into something I'm quite proud of. It rocks now. I'm confident the second volume will be as good.