Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No hell below us, above us only David Mills?

David Mills, author of "Atheist Universe", has lost his mind. And Im jealous :(

Atheist Floating to Heavens

HUNTINGTON, West Virginia / KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida — As the number of publicly-declared atheists continues to rise in the US and Canada, a new-generation atheist author will, in his own words, "float like an angel in heaven" on Sunday, December 9, 2007 to draw attention to his unholy cause. David Mills, author of the divisive yet briskly-selling book Atheist Universe, is scheduled to become history's first avowed atheist author to fly into zero gravity.

If the mission proceeds as scheduled, Mills, 48, will fly from Kennedy Space Center aboard G-Force One, the same modified 727 space-plane that ferried renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking into weightlessness on April 26, 2007. Unlike Professor Hawking, who was rewarded for his stellar scientific achievements with a "free ride" aboard G-Force One, Mills is self-financing his own cosmic excursion. G-Force One was also previously employed by Producer Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to film weightless scenes for the movie Apollo 13.

When asked what he hoped to achieve through his expensive voyage, Mills replied, "Religious believers think they're going to float like an angel in heaven after they die. Atheists, by contrast, believe that the only life we're ever going to experience is right here and right now. So I'm floating like an angel on December 9th.

"There are still millions of atheists in our nation who feel alone and isolated. I also want to raise their awareness of the diversity of free-thought organizations that now exist for them: The Richard Dawkins Foundation, The Secular Web, The Rational Response Squad, Atheist Alliance, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, and American Atheists to name just a few." He adds, "I hope this flight boosts public visibility of the atheist movement for non-believers and believers alike and underscores that, together, we must work now on earth to resolve our conflicts, rather than storing our treasures in a nonexistent heaven."

According to Mills, who lives in Huntington, WV, "Many other atheists have certainly preceded me throughout the 45 years of manned-space flight. But I'll be proudly and openly representing the estimated 15 million atheists in the US, many of whom continue to feel underrepresented. Like it or not, there are plenty of us [atheists] out there. We're your next-door neighbors and coworkers."

Mills' book Atheist Universe ignited the explosion of atheist books in 2004-05, when it became Amazon.com's emergent and best-selling title on the subject, a sales ranking that it maintained for over two years. Since that time, however, other, better-known authors have followed with atheist volumes of their own, including Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (The End of Faith & Letter to a Christian Nation), Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell) and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great). Dawkins quotes Mills extensively in The God Delusion, describing Mills' anti-Fundamentalist writings as "admirable work." Mills' book showcases a Foreword and personal endorsement by Dorion Sagan, son of the late astronomer Carl Sagan.

Not everyone supports Mills and his floating book tour. A Baptist pastor in nearby Charleston, WV, who asked to voice an observation without identifying himself, said, "This is yet another sorry illustration of Mills' juvenile behavior and immature intellect. He uses cheap stunts and theatrics as a substitute for intellectual substance in his writings. Even if he were the first man on Mars, it wouldn't prove that one word of his book was true. We already knew that Mills' brain was weightless, so now the rest of him will be weightless too. This proves only that he's a lightweight. But the Word of God will stand forever on a solid foundation."

Mills' flight aboard G-Force One will jet steeply over the Atlantic Ocean after leaving the Kennedy Space Center. After achieving the necessary sub-orbital altitude, the G-Force craft will then execute a series of high-speed 45-degree nose-dives back toward Earth, creating the weightless condition NASA uses to train its corps of astronauts. Mills' flight entails 15 such parabolic maneuvers, simulating Zero G (or weightlessness), Lunar (1/6th) gravity, and Martian (1/3rd) gravity for approximately 30 seconds during each earthward tumble.

There are 5 such gravity-escaping aircraft on the planet. Three are owned by the governments of Russia, France and the US. Two are owned by Zero Gravity Corporation of Las Vegas, NV, from whom Mills purchased, without sponsorship, his flight into weightlessness.

When asked about personal fear or trepidation about embarking on such a roller coaster flight—described even by hard-boiled NASA astronauts as the "Vomit Comet"—Mills jokingly replied: "To me, Zero G means zero gods. In the highly unlikely event that the aircraft disintegrates before landing safely back at Kennedy, I'll be at peace. I know in my heart where I'm going . . . to the bottom of the ocean to be pilfered by squid."


J-E-A-L-O-U-S

15 comments:

Perfectly Candide said...

"David Mills, author of the divisive yet briskly-selling book Atheist Universe, is scheduled to become history's first avowed atheist author to fly into zero gravity."


Yuri Gagarin was an atheist and he orbited the earth on April 12, 1961. That would fit my criteria for weightlessness. And as the use of airplanes to create brief zero g conditions has got to predate that, I would say that the claim is rather silly. I would be shocked if he was even remotely the first openly American atheist in zero g. I am sure it would be a waste of time to find out though. 1) No one has been keeping track of religious beliefs of people on the vomit comet. 2) I doubt that very many care.

I am sure Mills would be the first person in zero g whose primary claim to fame would be that he is an atheist.

(Of course we will ignore that "zero g" is not "zero gravity.")

Tyler DiPietro said...

Given the flippant tone of the press release I'm pretty sure it was intended in jest.

Laïka said...

I hope when he's up there he'll film himself saying "fuck the holy spirit" again.

The Factician said...

I'm not jealous. While I would gladly go into orbit, or to the moon (or to Mars!), I would view the zero gravity business as something I would have to do to achieve the coolness of going into space, not as an end in itself.

I'm quite happy to vomit right here on earth without any hi-tech assistance...

;)

Chris Noble said...

...personal endorsement by Dorion Sagan, son of the late astronomer Carl Sagan.

Given that Dorion Sagan appears to endorse HIV Denial this isn't necessarily a good thing.

Nikhil Rajwade said...

I fly everyday and every takeoff and landing is a new experience. However the quest for Zero G is more than just an experience... it is a opportunity to escape the embrace of Mother Earth and run free, albeit only for 30 seconds.

Green with envy!!...

Albatrossity said...

As part of a NASA-funded enterprise in which my lab participated a decade or so back, I have actually flown on the Vomit Comet from Houston. It was a blast, even though we were working (running our zero-g experiments) at the time.

I'd highly recommend it if you ever get the chance!

CAE said...

tag!

大力 said...

Hey, if your blog keeps attracting new readers and everyone puts aside, say, the cost of a beer every month, we might be able to sponsor you on such a flight by the time you're 48.

Gary said...

Albatrossity - Was this part of the Darwinisa Conspiracy to deny Guillermo Gonzalez research dollars, so he wouldn't get tenure later? Jeez, we've done it to so many other IDists, I'm kinda fuzzy on the details.

Congrats dude.

J-Dog

CAE said...

That was actually a pretty amusing comment by the anonymous Baptist pastor.

Albatrossity said...

J-Dog

I didn't see Gonzalez on the plane. But if he needs a new gig after that ISU flameout, maybe he could sign on to help clean up the plane after these flights. his next book could be "The Privileged Puker".

David Mills said...

Thanks, Abbie, for posting information about the Sunday flight. I would like everyone reading this popular blog to know that Abbie is truly a hero of mine. In fact, I offered to completely pay her way if she would accompany me on the Florida trip. Sadly (for me at least) she had important obligations elsewhere at the same moment. Damnit. I was hoping that, for purely scientific reasons of course, Abbie and I might due research into whether there could be a Zero G variation of the Mile-High Club.

David Mills

ERV said...

Chris-- lets pretend he takes after Mom on the denialism, and Dad on the atheism...

**punches J-Dog and Alba for being hysterical** "The Privileged Puker"? DONT GIVE THEM IDEAS!

Sample Luskin news release: GG has dropped his lawsuit against ISU, and is now working for NASA.

David-- Still. ANGRY! I think Im going to have to miss giving a presentation in NE the next Darwin Day for an immunology mid-term. *fumes*
NASA wouldnt sponsor our adventures unless we were married anyway :(

David Mills said...

Well, in that case, we'll just have to buy Dan Barker a ticket also to perform the ceremony in Zero G. You're bluffing the wrong man, Abbie. It sounds like a good idea to me. I would have no objections whatsoever. Quite the contrary. I only hope that I could quickly locate your Zero G Spot.

David