California Farmers Must Be Really Desperate if They’re Resorting to This

I understand that California’s going through a dry season right now… but this is not the way to solve the problem:

The nation’s fourth-largest wine maker, Bronco Wine Co., says it uses dowsers on its 40,000 acres of California vineyards, and dozens of smaller farmers and homeowners looking for wells on their property also pay for dowsers. Nationwide, the American Society of Dowsers, Inc. boasts dozens of local chapters, which meet annually at a conference.

“It’s kind of bizarre. Scientists don’t believe in it, but I do and most of the farmers in the Valley do,” said Marc Mondavi, a vineyard owner whose family has been growing grapes and making wine since the mid-20th century in the Napa Valley.

Dowsers are “magical” tools that use “natural energy” to find water and minerals. You basically dig where you think the dowser is telling you to dig… you ignore all the times when there’s nothing below and count the successes as a miracle. Often, the dowser “tells” you to dig precisely where you’d expect water to be found — who’d have guessed?!

[Read more...]

This Is the Real Reason an Atheist Club Isn’t Forming at Pisgah High School

I spent most of Friday afternoon speaking to multiple people involved with the Pisgah High School saga and you won’t believe what’s happening there now… I thought the story ended after I wrote my last post about it, but there’s so much more to it. And it’s nasty stuff.

First, a quick recap:

Earlier this year, student Ben Wilson attempted to begin an atheist group at the Canton, North Carolina school and claimed a school official told him he should just try joining a different club because this one wouldn’t “fit in” with the community. The Secular Student Alliance sent a letter to the school on his behalf, stating that the school had to allow the group to form, but no response was sent back.

Ben left the school after first semester, so his sister Kalei (pronounced KAY-lee) decided to continue what he started… and she was also denied. That’s when the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the state’s ACLU got involved, sending a letter of their own. The school quickly agreed to allow the club to form after that.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kalei Wilson[/caption]

Almost immediately, students expressed interest in joining the club and two faculty members offered to be the club’s sponsors.

But Kalei made it clear last week that the club would not be forming after a series of threats and verbal attacks.

That gets us up to speed. As I said, I thought the story ended there. It wasn’t a happy ending but I couldn’t blame Kalei for her decision. If I were receiving threats and feeling picked on at school, I’d probably do the same thing. But I had to admit it was an abrupt 180 from a student who had already shown an incredible amount of courage…

[Read more...]

How You Can Support the Work We Do on This Site

Over the past couple of years, what began as a personal blog has turned into a hub with several contributors and multiple posts per day. I like to think the quality of posts has gone up significantly along with the increase in quantity and I’d like to expand the reach of this site. That means bringing on additional writers in various niches. In addition to this site, I’ve also started making YouTube videos, a new world for me, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.

I’m finally ready to explore new ideas and additional methods of outreach that I’ve put aside because of other obligations. I don’t plan on stopping what we normally do — I just want to do even more while the opportunity is here and there’s no reason to keep those ideas on a perpetual backburner.

That’s why I’ve created a page at Patreon.

If you’d like to support the work we do here, you can pledge a certain amount every month (with rewards along the way!) from $1 to $100. Depending on how that goes, we can finally start to tackle a few of those projects we’ve set aside, including the creation of an online magazine. Rest assured that the contributions will go right back into making this site bigger and better.

As always, I’m grateful for the kind words and support you all send my way. I don’t usually post about them, but rest assured they never go unnoticed. Many of you have emailed me asking if there’s any way to donate to this page, and I always say no, but I think Patreon offers a really incredible way to subsidize what we have done and will continue to do. Thanks in advance for your help.

[Read more...]

If Faculty Members Don’t Accept Young Earth Creationism, This Christian College May Fire Them

Here’s how you know the college you go to is a really shitty one: Administrators force faculty members to sign pledges that they won’t teach real science.

That’s what’s happening right now at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s named after William Jennings Bryan who defended Creationism in the Scopes Money Trial nearly a century ago.

The current Statement of Faith that professors at the school must adhere to says this:

[We believe] that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death;

If you believe in theistic evolution — that God started the process but evolution took over after that — you could twist that statement to suit your needs.

But on Friday, school officials told faculty members they had to sign a clarification to that statement, one that would eliminate theistic evolution as a possible interpretation:

[Read more...]

The Mormon Church Isn’t Exactly Denying the Idea of Owning Your Own Planet After You Die

If you saw “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway, then you’ll undoubtedly remember when the main character sings, “I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.” That idea is so obviously ridiculous that you can’t help but mock it when anyone mentions it. But according to some media reports, a new explanation of that idea by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that’s not actually how it works.

Here’s what that explanation says:

[Read more...]