“Famous Atheist Now Believes In God” from ABC News

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s submitted this by now…

A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence…

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Flew said he’s best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people’s lives.

“I’m thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins,” he said. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose.”

His thoughts bring up an interesting discussion: Can atheism and deism be one and the same? Since atheism puts its faith in science, could the concept of a God be rationalized scientifically? As simplistic an idea as that we’re a just a botched science experiment in a much more grandiose world, or that scenarios played out in movies like “The Matrix” could indeed be real.

The article goes on to point our that Flew “still does not believe in an afterlife.”

Yet biologists’ investigation of DNA “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved,” Flew says…

Here’s the whole article from ABC News/Associated Press.

Grilled Cheese Madonna on eBay - now relisted!

Uh… this is too wacky to comment on.

From Yahoo! Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Back Up On Ebay

The Internet auction house eBay Inc. reversed itself Tuesday and is allowing bids for half of a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich that its owner says bears the image of the Virgin Mary.

Diana Duyser, of Hollywood, put the sandwich up for sale last week, drawing bids as high as $22,000 before eBay pulled the item Sunday night. The page was viewed almost 100,000 times before being taken down.

An e-mail Duyser received from eBay said the sandwich broke its policy, which “does not allow listings that are intended as jokes.”

But Duyser, a work-from-home jewelry designer who has bought and sold items on eBay for two years, said the grilled cheese wasn’t a joke.

The auction was back on Tuesday afternoon with a top bid of $5,100. The winning bidder also has to pay $9.95 for shipping. In mocking response, two similar items were later posted — grilled cheese sandwiches bearing the images of the Virgin Mary’s used gum and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

A phone message left with San Jose, Calif.-based eBay was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Duyser thought eBay would be the best place to show off the sandwich, made on plain white bread and American cheese and cooked with no oil or butter. She said she took a bite after making it 10 years ago and saw a face staring back at her from the bread.

Duyser, 52, put the sandwich in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and kept it on her night stand.

At first, she was scared by the image, “but now that I realize how unique it is, I wanted to share it with the world,” Duyser told The Miami Herald.

She said the sandwich has never sprouted a spore of mold.

Yeah, I had to look.

[Editor’s Note: This same news item was also submitted by Eggman a couple of days ago. I had intended to massage Eggman’s entry a bit so it was a little more than just a cut-and-paste of the full news article, but when this entry came along it saved me a bit of work to approve this one. Still, Eggman deserves credit for bringing it to my attention first. – Les]

Burn, Halloween, Burn!

I have to admit, maybe Halloween should be relegated to an underground festival, a holiday that people celebrate in private, an annual celebration with a stigma of being evil, a day to celebrate the devil and speak with the undead. With that in mind, I have mixed feelings when I hear about efforts to stop Halloween celebrations in this country even today.

According to an article in the Pictorial Gazette, over near the town I grew up (Old Lyme, CT established 1666)…

An East Hampton elementary school recently banned the school’s popular Halloween parade – a tradition for decades – citing “safety concerns.” School officials said they feared a masked intruder could harm or even snatch a child.

I think writer Erik Hesselberg commented on this perfectly:

Are they thinking of the Osama Bin Laden costume that was the hottest item in Halloween sales a few years back?

(The Hartford Courant has an in depth article on the subject.)

This year, Halloween falls on Sunday. The sabbath. Not surprisingly, some Christians have become upset about this, and have either tried to outright cancel Halloween… or at least reschedule it for another day. Common logic would indicate Saturday night, right? Heck… maybe even the day after, Monday?

Down in the Baton Rouge Louisiana area the Mayor has announced it will be moved to Thursday night.

“We moved it to Thursday because of all the activity in the city, to give the children a chance to go out and Trick-or-Treat.”

Rideau said Thursday was chosen by the Baker City Council because of church services on Sunday, college football on Saturday and high school sports on Friday night.

Uhhh… do they have evening masses on Sundays in Louisiana that would pre-empt trick-or-treating? Have they ever attempted to reschedule professional football games held on Sundays? And, by the way, haven’t they had Halloween on the calendar longer than any of the college or football games they now have to schedule around?

There are other ridiculous efforts to ban Halloween. At Lyme Consolidated Elementary School, where my nephew Drew terrorizes, also in Connecticut, doesn’t celebrate Halloween because they consider it a “Pagan” holiday. To be fair, they don’t celebrate ANY religiously tainted holidays, including Valentines Day. Says Drew’s mom, my sister Patty:

Instead of having Halloween activities, and dressing up for Halloween, they may dress up as one of their favorite characters in a book. Most kids get creative enough and figure that whatever they want to be for Halloween IS somewhere in a book. Like Drew, he is going to be Spider Man. We know there are Spider man books! You do get your occasional geeks who dress up as Mark Twain. They can have a FALL party, equipped with pumpkins and leaves, but aren’t supposed to do much with witches and skeletons.

So they’re allowed to celebrate the season of Autumn… isn’t this considered a little Wiccan?

“How To Vote” - some shameless self promotion

I recently joined a cool filmmaking group called Group101Films. They offer no money or equipment, just a swift kick in the ass for lazy filmmakers like me. We have to make one new film every month for six months, quality not of the highest concern. Its essentially AA for procrastinators, and while Group101 has branches all over the country, its especially popular here in Los Angeles where there really is no excuse to not make a movie or two.

For my first contribution, I decided to make a “get out the vote” PSA (public service announcement), and asked my favorite blogger besides Les to write me something to shoot. Alas, “How To Vote” might be the first film made based on a blog.

Watch “How To Vote”

Its made for anyone who’s thinking twice about voting, for whatever reason, or people who need some advice on who to vote for.

Take a look, and I promise that my next submission to SEB won’t be self-hype material… unless its linking to pornographic video clip between me and the Hilton sisters.