Friday, January 18, 2008

True Horoscope Signs / Todelliset Aurinkomerkit

I just tried the Facebook application "Birthday Sky: My True Sign". It seemed like an unusually good application for Facebook, and because of the implications of the information it provides, it's unusual as a Facebook application in that I, a Scientific Skeptic, also like it. :-)

My only criticism of the application is that the box it created on my Profile now claims that I'm a Leo although I had previously mistakenly believed that I'm a Virgo. Not true! I've known for many years that I'm a Leo, even though tabloid horoscopes claim otherwise. :-)

Ok, that's not to be taken too seriously.

For those who don't want to, or cannot, use the application, here are the approximate dates for the various Sun Signs:

Capricorn - Jan 20 to Feb 16
Aquarius - Feb 16 to Mar 11
Pisces - Mar 11 to Apr 18
Aries - Apr 18 to May 13
Taurus - May 13 to Jun 21
Gemini - Jun 21 to Jul 20
Cancer - Jul 20 to Aug 10
Leo - Aug 10 to Sep 16
Virgo - Sep 16 to Oct 30
Libra - Oct 30 to Nov 23
Scorpius - Nov 23 to Nov 29
Ophiuchus - Nov 29 to Dec 17
Sagittarius - Dec 17 to Jan 20

Not that it much matters what one's Sun Sign is. Astrology is, as everyone should know, simply a stupid pseudo-science now. In other words, it's BS.


I'm attaching a copy of a page from an old issue Skeptikko, the Finnish magazine for Scientific Skepticism. I'm pretty sure I have the permission to do so.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Muslim Reform

Irshad Manji For Muslim Reform and Moral Courage
( )

Finally there are signs of a possibility of Muslim reform, although not surprisingly the signs are mostly from "the West". Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that the reformers (or at least the most well known of them) seem to be women.

Although I strongly welcome this movement, I think it too is fundamentally flawed in that it fails to recognize the problems with religion in general or Islam specifically. It refuses to asses the very foundation of the notion of reform, by failing to ask, should there be any religion at all. By simply starting - as all religious people seem to do - from the assumption that their religion has the right to exist and the justification to be participated in, these reformers fail to go full distance.

But in this case, even some distance is better than nothing. It took a long time for the Enlightenment to arise in Europe, and before this could happen, much internal dispute had to occur within religion and the religiously dominated continent. Only when enough people had come to know of the intellectual and ethical problems of religion, could criticism and free discussion of such things begin. Perhaps western "intellectual" muslims can smuggle some such freedom of thought into the religious discourse of the muslims in less well-off areas? Perhaps, after years of debate and the branching off of various "heretical" sects of Islam, enough muslims around the world will become more educated in their religion, thus allowing serious criticism of the religion to be heard, and opening the possibility of finally secularizing Islam and bringing the muslims out of the dark ages of religion into the 21st Century.


See also