Monday, December 15, 2008

We came from rocks?

I've been watching more videos featuring the ferocious young-Earth creationist, Kent Hovind. In them, he often makes the joke (for a receptive audience), that 'evolutionists' believe that humans came from rocks (or sometimes dirt). It's considered quite a zinger in creationist circles, and seems to get a good laugh from the audience.

I never could figure out exactly what he meant by this, especially in light of the biblical story of Adam being created from dirt, but creationists aren't known for their ability to look at their argument from another point of view (keep this in mind until the next paragraph). So then I found this podcast on YouTube, featuring Hovind on the Infidel Guy's show. I noted that at least one poster in the comments section was repeating the ridiculous rock argument. Anyway, in the podcast, Hovind explains what he means by this puzzling remark. He says something along the lines of old science books state that organic material was brought to Earth inside space rocks, therefore those materials which make us up came from rocks, therefore scientists believe humans came from rocks.

Alrighty then. It seems like a strange case to try to make, but let's just accept it and give this creationist a lesson in reversing an argument onto himself. If organic material brought to Earth by rocks means that humans came from rocks, then one could easily make the case that creationists (or anybody else, really) believe that humans come from vegetables, fruit, rice, wheat, chickens, cows, fish and pigs. Afterall, those are our major food sources, and therefore the source of raw materials and energy that go into making a human. And I don't even think there's a creationist out there dumb enough to say that humans don't get materials and energy from the food that they eat.

So there you go. If you're going to be a petty dumbass and say that scientists believe humans came from rocks, then ask yourself why it doesn't mean that humans come from the plants and animals that we eat every day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Do they want to destroy us?

I have a program called StatCounter running on this site. For those of you who aren't savvy about running websites, there are free programs out there that a webmaster can use to monitor how many people are visiting the site, which country (and even city) they come from, which pages they visited, and how they got to your site in the first place. They even allow us to single-out individual users. It's a bit Big Brother-ish, but oh well.

I'm always very interested in they keywords which lead people to my site from search engines. The most popular term is "atheist's riddle", and that one post brings in about a third of my visitors. Other popular terms include, "Darwin eye", "atheists are immoral", "why do I need to believe in god", etc.

But then I get a spattering of more disturbing searches, such as "kill atheists" and "destroy atheism".

Is that really what religious people want? I hope not. But somehow, I think it's not beneath many of them to believe that it is necessary or that their imaginary friend commands it. This, my atheist friends, is why religious fundamentalists must never be allowed to create theocracies in our countries. Atheism could then be punishable by death, like it is in some other countries.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Isn't science great?

I just finished reading an article in December's issue of Scientific American magazine about the evolution of bats. Based on a recent discovery of what is currently the earliest known bat fossil, which has wings but not the right bones for echolocation, researchers determined that bats evolved flight before they evolved echolocation. This had been a topic of debate for quite some time, and is one of Ray Comfort's constant challenges to people who think science is useful; "Well, which one evolved first, X or Y? If you don't know, then the god of the Bible must have done it! ... Proof? I don't need any proof! You're going to hell!"

As I was reading the article, I was thinking it's great that I adhere to a way of thinking that is constantly making progress, learning more and more, solving more mysteries. I'd hate to be one of those pitiful, stupid bastards who cling to their unchanging holy books written thousands of years ago, desperately looking for information or answers that they haven't found before. I can think of at least one holy book that thinks bats are a kind of bird. We've made quite a lot of progress since then.

Good work, science!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't blame me, the stars told me to do it!

I have a friend who is at a major transition point in her life at the moment. She has to decide to marry her guy or not, to quit her job or not, to move to a different country or not. So how is she making these critical life-changing decisions? With astrology and tarot cards, of course!

Recall my last post about people relying on gods to help them with problems. I find this to be more of the same. There are people out there who don't have the patience or the strength to sit down with all of the available information and make a good decision. Instead, they'll turn to a random page of their holy book or look at the stars for guidance. Any decision made using such methods is a decision based on bad information, and if it screws up, well then you deserve what you get! It's just more weakness. People who know me will say that one of my faults is that I have very little tolerance for weakness in people.

If she actually uses her brain to help with the decision, she'll see that she should break up with the guy because he doesn't love her, she should keep the job because it's a source of steady income in a very uncertain time, and she shouldn't move because she currently lives in the country that she wants to live in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Take responsibility for yourselves!

I found out recently that my brother is addicted to cocaine. I knew that he had been using it fairly seriously, but he assured me that he was quitting. But he just hit rock bottom after a fairly dramatic incident which I won't talk about here. He now admits that he needs help.

So I was looking at what programs are available to help. I found Cocaine Anonymous, which I didn't know existed before. I didn't know much about these 12-step programs, but I was pretty upset at what I found.

The 12 steps are listed below:

1. We admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances — that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

A full 6 of the 12 steps involve God in some way, and another step is about a spiritual awakening. Look at steps #6 and #7. We are ready to ask God to remove our defects of character, and we ask it to do it? What the fuck is that?!

Why can't people take responsibility for themselves? There's no way that I would refer my brother to this option. It breeds weakness, and he already has enough of that.

Why are people so lacking in confidence that if/when they finally do beat a problem, they'd credit an imaginary entity instead of themselves? If you believe the only way that you can solve your problems is with the help of supernatural beings, I tell you to grow up and grow a spine! In the case of drug addictions, try being strong enough to resist trying them in the first place!

You can do it by yourself *face slap* if you just take responsibility for yourself! *backhand face slap*

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Personal experiences are meaningless without evidence

One of the most popular reasons people give for their belief in their religion is that they've had a 'personal experience'. They don't usually properly explain what this means, but it's often described rather vaguely, as some kind of 'feeling' they had which pointed them to the truth.

As an example, one of my friends, who is definitely on the hippie side, recently told me about her time in Hawaii, where (I think) she lived in some kind of hippie community. She relayed a vague story in which she was united with the goddess Gaia, or something like that. She could feel the goddess all around her, oozing from the natural surroundings. Of course, her personal experience proves to her that Gaia is the truth.

The problem with the personal experience angle, and it's a serious surprise to me that more people don't figure this out, is that it's about the weakest argument you can use for deciding which religion, if any, is the truth. People from all religions that exist, or ever have existed, have used personal experiences to justify their faith. If you believe you've had a personal experience which justifies your faith, ask yourself, "What makes my experience fundamentally more valid than those experiences other people claim to have?" If you believe that some god actually speaks to you, then ask yourself, "What is the fundamental difference between the voices in my head that I believe are from a god, and the voices in the heads of those people in mental institutions?"

When so many people declare that their personal experience has revealed a truth which is in direct opposition to the truth that everybody else has determined from personal experiences, a reasonable person needs to step back and look for something more objective.

That more objective thing is commonly referred to as 'evidence'. Repeat after me, 'e-vi-dence'. Evidence is a wonderful thing which allows us to distinguish between truth and fantasy. And there is no evidence at all to believe that any of your religions based on your personal experiences are anything more than fairy tales.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let's teach all controversies

I was reading a little bit about the current hearings going on in Texas somewhere, about getting creationism of one form or another into the classroom in the state's schools. It's nothing worth posting, so I won't give a link.

I wonder if they would be as open to alternative ideas in their churches as they are to those in schools. Would they accept reading of Hindu holy books in their churches? How about the teachings of Islam? Would they teach that people can be reincarnated as animals? The Aboriginal Australian creation story? You get the point.

The creationist movement seems to rally behind the attitude of 'teach the controversy'. I'll make the standard disclaimer that there isn't a controversy for people who research the issue and know what they're talking about, unless 1% opposition or less counts as a controversy. I wonder what other controversies they would be willing to teach in schools. There are lots of 'controversies' (term used loosely) in modern society. Let's list a few; the World Trade Center attacks were an inside job, the moon missions were faked, Earth is flat, George W. Bush is a chimp in a suit, fluoride is put in drinking water to control people, HIV was created by scientists, Phobos (a moon of Mars) is a space station left from a previous civilisation, a perpetual motion machine was created by some rednecks in the back of their pickup truck, wearing a tin hat prevents the government from beaming signals into your brain, aliens like to kidnap drunken country folk and stick things in their asses, there is no beef in McDonald's burgers, and so on, and so on, and so on.

So I have some questions for creationists:

Are you willing to pay the extra taxes and send your kids to school for more hours a day so that they can learn about all of these alternative views? What percentage of experts in the field must agree on something before it is no longer a controversy in your mind? Which alternative views are so stupid that it isn't worth wasting time and effort teaching them to children in the classroom? How do you decide which are too stupid to be taught? What do those other theories lack that your creationism doesn't (try to cite something more substantial than 'popularity')?

Friday, November 21, 2008

It isn't religion that makes us do good things

Believers often claim that religion is a force for good because it inspires so many people to do good things. I've even seen it claimed that the good feeling that people get after doing good things is a result of religion, and is not possible without faith.

Let's not try to make the ridiculous claim that atheists can't be good people. Despite what even the most religious reader might claim, everybody knows (if they even have a little knowledge of atheists) that atheists are generally good people and do good things, too.

Here's what I think. People do good things not because of religion, but because it is hard-wired in us to do good! We were given a tendency to pro-social behaviour by the social context of our evolution. Religion is only an excuse that people use to do good things. I find it hard to believe that these people wouldn't do good things if not for their religion compelling them to.

Monday, November 17, 2008

State = Taxes

"If many religious believers don't want separation of church and state, how can they be so supportive of separation of church and taxes?"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Questions biblical creationists can't answer without making me laugh


Basic questions (no education required):


1. What makes your story of creationism fundamentally different from all the others that exist now, have existed before, and will exist in the future?

2. How did Noah find all of the animals and get them back to the ark? Did he bring them back one pair at a time, or did they all follow him in a line as he visited other continents to collect more animals?

3. What did the carnivores eat on the ark?

4. How did koalas get to Australia after the ark washed up on that mountain?

5. Why did your god make life that has to destroy other life, often cruelly, in order to survive?

6. If cruelty and suffering result from a 'fallen world' caused by some original sin of humans, why did your god also punish the animals for it by creating disease, pain and suffering for them too?

7. Is it just to punish all humans, including those who weren't born yet, for the sins of one? Would you punish your own younger children for the wrongs of the oldest which occurred before the others were born?

8. If humans are special creations, why do we share the traits of violence, lust, rage, tribal warfare, homosexuality, etc. with animals?

9. Why do you believe your god made only one breeding pair (Adam and Eve), instead of many? With only one breeding pair, fathers are forced to have sex with daughters, brothers with sisters, and sons with mothers, in order to propagate the species. Is this a divine endorsement for incest?

10. If all civilisations resulted from Adam and Eve, and oral traditions about the god that created them were passed down from generation to generation, why are there so many other creation stories in the world? Why didn't all civilisations keep their 'true' religion?

11. Why did your god only appear to one group of people? If it can do anything and be everywhere at once, why couldn't it be fucked to appear to the other people of the world as well?

12. Why do you get your scientific education from people like Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron? These people have no university-level education in science, and in some cases, no university education at all. Wouldn't it be smarter to trust those who are educated, and actively researching, in the field?

13. Why has the world, including government funding, science journals, reputable newspapers, education standards, etc., moved on without you, leaving your barbaric bronze-age theories in their dust? Why have we made so much progress in our understanding after abandoning religious methodology for a scientific one?


Intermediate questions:

14. Why is there at least some evidence for our scientific theories, but none at all for your creationism?

15. Why is the fossil record arranged in such a way as to suggest evolution?

16. Why are the continents shaped like they were once together, and have similar geology on what would be the common edges?

17. Why are the continents moving apart at a rate that would put them together millions of years ago?

18. If humans are special creations, why do we share the same biology, metabolic pathways, etc. with chimpanzees? Shouldn't we have been made completely differently to emphasize the point?

19. To avoid the cruelty caused by life killing other life to survive, couldn't we all have been photosynthetic organisms, using sunlight and inanimate molecules to make our energy? If you're going to say there's not enough energy in photosynthesis, why couldn't your god design a more effective photosynthetic system?

20. Why does the evidence from so many scientific disciplines, astronomy, geology, biology, physics, chemistry, all converge to suggest the Big Bang and Evolution, while at the same time pointing away from your theory?

21. Why do the mathematical models behind scientific understanding of the Universe work so well, while creationists have no mathematical models at all?

22. Does your creation model or your holy book account for things like quantum mechanics? Why doesn't it seem to contain much useful knowledge at all?

23. If your god didn't explain quantum nature for these people because they wouldn't understand, then isn't it time your god shows itself and gives us an update now that we have more understanding? Why doesn't it divinely guide some people to write an update to your current holy book? Or is it allowing us to do that through science? Is the reason we don't need an update that science is doing such a good job of answering the questions?


Advanced Questions:

24. Why does the human chromosome #2 appear to have been created by the fusion of two different chimpanzee chromosomes, complete with structures which would not be necessary if it was created as a single, unified chromosome?

25. What is the Cosmic Background Radiation? The CBR is an integral part of the Big Bang model, and is in fact demanded by it. How does your creationism account for it, ie. where does it fit in your model?

26. Why are the galaxies moving apart? Were they once much closer together?

27. Why can we see objects in space that are billions of light years away?

28. What process did your god use to create life? Can you describe how it works?

29. Can you use your creation model to make any helpful predictions that might lead us to further discoveries or understanding?

30. What is one prediction that your model can make which could support your creationism to the exclusion of accepted scientific models, and what evidence can you find for it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mormons baptising Jewish Holocaust victims?

In a story which I think is truly bizarre, it seems that Mormons have been asked by the Jewish community to stop baptising their ancestors who died in the Holocaust. Those Mormons are so messed up.

Some excerpts from the article:

Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

...

"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."

...

Baptism by proxy allows faithful Mormons to have their ancestors baptized into the 178-year-old church, which they believe reunites families in the afterlife.

Using genealogy records, the church also baptizes people who have died from all over the world and from different religions. Mormons stand in as proxies for the person being baptized and immerse themselves in a baptismal pool.

You can read the full article here.

My de-conversion story

This is my story, the first in what I hope will be a series of de-conversion stories sent in from readers and posted on the site (click here for an explanation). This is an edited version of an earlier post that I made. If you want to read the original, full post, click here.

In the final years of high school, we started studying world religions as part of our compulsory religious education. I remember reading about the silly rituals and beliefs of the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, etc. The one that got to me the most was (I think) some Hindu ritual where these people whirl around in circles until they get dizzy, then when they collapse onto the ground, they have visions of various truths. I thought it was absolutely hilarious! But then something happened. I was able to turn my ridicule on myself, which is a skill that very few religious people have. I saw that while I was laughing at them for their stupid dizzy fainting, they were over there laughing at me for my belief in drinking the blood of some dead guy, resurrections, ascensions, etc, etc, etc.

What a turning point that was! I came to the conclusion that my religion was no more valid than any of the others, and in some ways, was even more ridiculous than many of them. I realised that more than half of the world thinks I'm wrong. I had my holy book, but they also had one. There was nothing particularly special about any of those books or religions when compared against the others. But all of the religions couldn't be true, that's not possible. The only reasonable conclusion was that they were ALL bullshit!

So, I gave up my religion, cold turkey. Had no problems at all turning my back on it. I could no longer justify or defend the belief, and wanted to live the rest of my life in freedom from its clutches. I'm now so much happier and free!

Atheists, send me your de-conversion story!

I'm going to try a new feature on this site, and I need your help. Most atheists were not always atheists. We come from many different religious backgrounds, and de-converted for many different reasons. I'd like to document some of those stories from readers of the site.

So here's what I'd like you to do, if you choose to share with us. Use the Contact Me form and tell me about how and why you became an atheist. Please keep it reasonably short and to the point. You don't have to tell me your name if you don't want to.

I'll try to post all stories, unless they're so bizarre that believers would just use them as ammunition to show how weird/stupid/satanic we are ;-)

The almighty baby killer

A significant number of human pregnancies, about 20% (?), ends in a 'spontaneous miscarriage'. In other words, nature aborts the baby. So Francisco Ayala, biologist and ordained priest, has a question for creationists about the imperfections of the human reproductive system:

“If god explicitly designed the human reproductive system, is god the biggest abortionist of them all?"

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's the other way around!

The common belief that evolutionary theory states that humans came from chimps, is a misunderstanding of the way evolution works. It would be equally valid (ie. not valid) to say,

"Humans didn't come from chimps. Chimps came from humans."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Believers are closed-minded and dumb

Lately I've been watching some old videos on YouTube of paranormal-debunker, James Randi. I came across the story of James Hydrick. I was a small child when this story was active, so I'd never heard of it. The important part for the purposes of this post is the interview that I'll mention further down, but if anybody is not familiar with the story, here's a video of James Randi exposing the fraud (and check out the much younger Bob Barker!):


So after his fraud was humiliatingly exposed, Hydrick sat down for an interview in which he confessed his fraud. Check out some of the things Hydrick said during the interview:

Hydrick: "He [the magician] would show how easy it was to trick people. Slight-of-hand, etc. Things like that impressed me. How close-minded a lot of people really were. It was so fascinating to see how people would miss things just like that. The obvious things they would miss."

Notice that, unlike today's believers, Hydrick himself does not call the skeptics closed-minded, he calls the BELIEVERS closed-minded! He continues...

Hydrick: "I tricked the whole world. .... I just wanted to see how open minded people were. I wanted to see if these people who were so-called intelligent and I was so-called dumb; I mean, surely I'm here for a reason. My whole idea behind this in the first place was to see how dumb America was. How dumb the world is."

Isn't that interesting? He implied that the skeptics who can see through his fraud are the intelligent, open-minded ones! Current religious dogma says that if we don't believe that their imaginary gods are present, that we are closed-minded. I love this, it's awesome!

Surely the believers will protest now, saying that they're not closed-minded, because they believe that so many things are possible. Well people, the problem is that you are closed-minded to how some of these tricks might have been done, which is what our friend Hydrick is saying. You think the only way it could possibly be done is through psychic powers, and are closed-minded to all of our experience which says that such a thing is not possible. You are closed-minded to all of the ways in which you could have been duped. You are closed-minded to all of the ways in which religions and their leaders use trickery to convince people.

He goes on to describe how he used his 'powers' to convert other inmates (Hydrick was in prison) to Christianity.

I'd take a Bible and open it up and say "If the Lord is here with me make these pages move!" or I'd open the Bible and say "Hold the Bible. Father in the name of Jesus Christ make these
pages move." And the pages would move! And the guys are going "Oh my God!!!" Everytime it worked. Then I would say "It's in you."Or I take a pencil and put it there and say I've got to call the Lord; but you are going to have the power to do this if you accept the Lord. The next thing you know you would see them with this big cross and handing Bibles out to people!

Oh, using fraud to convince people of the existence of a god? Wow, I never would have suspected that people did stuff like that. You don't suppose that Jesus would've.... no, surely he wouldn't....

Time and time again people come forward with supernatural claims, and time and time again, they are exposed as frauds, or merely incapable of performing during testing. And yet there are still dumb, closed-minded people who believe that this kind of thing occurs.

You can read the full article here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Either way, can't do much worse than George


I hope this will be my one and only commentary on the U.S. presidential election.

I saw this article about supporters of the candidates gathering to pray for success on election day. No surprises here.

I did find a couple of points in the article amusing:

Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma, a popular Pentecostal magazine, asked his many readers in an e-mail to pray, fast and "believe for a miracle to see John McCain get elected."

Oh, so if McCain loses, will he then acknowledge that his god either doesn't exist, doesn't care, or doesn't favour Republicans? Nah.....

But many pastors are warning against asking God for a specific outcome.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the 12,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., has urging his congregants simply to pray for help choosing the right leader for the country.... Hamilton said no one knows "who God's person for the hour is."

That's right, whoever wins, some god did it. Completely unfalsifiable, typical religious style.

The hourly prayers begin with repenting personal sin and include appeals for "candidates to adopt biblical positions on issues" and remember they are accountable to God.

Yes, we need that Biblical law! The candidates should be for the stoning of disobedient children, killing people for spilling their seed on the ground, offering your daughter up to get gang-raped, etc. Or did they mean New Testament stuff? Like they want the leader to turn the other cheek when the country is attacked, or to take from the rich and feed the poor?

On the topic of the election, here is a video by EdwardCurrent about attack ads the Republicans would issue if Jesus were running for president. It's so true! Republicans don't really want Christian rule, because that might involve repealing of the death penalty, loving neighbours (including the queers), and high taxes to fund programs for the poor. I don't know why they claim that they're Christian. Anyways, here's the video:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cleaning up after religious fuckwits at their finest hour

I found this article about a campaign in Britain to grant pardons to hundreds of people who were executed for alleged witchcraft from the 16th to 18th centuries. According to the campaigners, about 400 people were executed in England, and 4,000 or so in Scotland. I was pretty astounded by those numbers, I had no idea it could be so high. Those poor people, killed because of a mob belief in something that doesn't even exist!

If you're interested in signing the petition, click here.

This is a very good example of just how dangerous religion is, and why we must never allow religious freaks the power that they so desire. There are still a lot of believers out there who demand a theocratic government in which non-believers would be killed or 're-educated'. In fact, it still goes on in some parts of the world in which religion runs wild. There is no fundamental reason to believe that it would not return to any modern, Western country if a theocratic government were to take hold of power.

It also worries me a bit that people have been arriving at my page after entering the terms 'kill atheists' into search engines. Isn't StatCounter great?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stop scientific progress! Preserve god's natural habitat of gaps!

Religious believer living in 1600: "Science can't explain how the Moon moves around Earth, therefore it points to supernatural control, and is evidence of god."

Religious believer living in 1700: "Science can't explain what lightning is, therefore it points to a supernatural origin (most likely to punish us for bad deeds), and is evidence of god."

Religious believer living in 1800: "Science can't explain how disease is caused, therefore it points to a supernatural origin, (most likely to punish us for bad deeds), and is evidence of god."

Religious believer living in 1900: "Science can't explain how stars get their energy to shine for so long, therefore it points to supernatural power, and is evidence of god."

Religious believer living in 2000: "Science can't explain how life originated from non-life, therefore it points to a supernatural origin, and is evidence of god."

Religious believer living in 2100: (I don't know what they'll say. Which gap will they run to next?)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Questions Atheists Can't Answer

So, Ray Comfort has a new blog posting that I think is interesting. In it, he makes a list of 10 questions which he claims that atheists can't answer. Check it out:

1. What was in the beginning?
2. How will life on earth end?
3. What happens after death?
4. What is the purpose of existence?
5. Why is there order in all of creation?
6. Why there is morality in every civilization?
7. Why does every civilization believe in a Creator?
8. Why does every sane person have a conscience, even when it is not dictated by society?
9. How did nothing create everything?
10. Which came first--the chicken or the egg?

Now if you're like me, you do have answers to some of these questions, and science is hot on the trail of answers to others, but that's not important for the purposes of this post.

What is important about it then? It's the fact that Ray has clearly implied (although he probably thinks once again that he's been too slick and tactful for us to notice his implication) that because we can't answer questions as atheists, and that he can answer them as a Young-Earth creationist retard, that he and his view somehow have an advantage over atheists and their views.

This is, in my opinion, the root of how religions got started in the first place, and why they have existed in almost(?) all cultures and civilisations. It's because there are many people out there, like Ray Comfort, who think it's a bad thing to say, "I don't know". If we don't know, and he has any answer at all to the question, then he is superior and we should follow him. Right?

But here's the thing. Some of us actually care whether or not our answers are TRUE! We don't like to make stuff up just so that we can give an answer, and we would feel embarrassed if we gave a ridiculously inaccurate response to a question. The fact that he has no proof, nor even a little evidence, at all to support his theory, makes his response LESS VALID than the person who admits he doesn't know.

In Ray's eyes, it would be better for me to make up my own religion, in which I claim that the answer to any question of origins is to say, "The colour red did it. Without red, there would be nothing. Praise red!" That would make me better than a dirty atheist, because as we have learned, belief in ANY god is better than a belief in none.

But Ray obviously gets comfort (oh, I'm such a clever pun-making guy) from holding on to his ridiculous mythological beliefs, so much so that even when science does answer a question, he refuses to abandon his old belief. That's why he's a Young-Earth creationist retard.

You can read Ray's original post here, but I'm not sure why you'd want to. ;-)

Religion not the only path to altruism

An article was posted to MSNBC today about an analysis of studies of links between religion and pro-social behaviour.

The article states that, "Religion and its promotion of empathy get undue credit for our unselfish acts. Instead, it’s our less-than-virtuous psychological perception that a moral authority is watching us that promotes altruism..."

On the scientific origins of pro-social behaviour, "Humans are evolved to be acutely sensitive to our reputations as do-gooders in our social groups because this promotes strong cooperative bonds that help the species. This psychological mechanism was originally unrelated to religion..."

And as many atheists know, it is not religion that keeps order, "... the courts, police, cameras, credit records and other justice-related authorities can serve the same purpose nowadays, encouraging proscial behavior among large groups of strangers."

Finally, as anybody with even a mild awareness of the outside world knows, "The fact that many non-religious people act as cooperatively as religious ones, and that many predominantly secular states are as (and often more) stable and functional as predominantly religious ones, attests to this"

You can read the full article here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is the problem merely lack of awareness of the world?

Wow, it's been over 2 weeks since my last post. I've been totally occupied with my first love, traveling. And as it turns out, the theme of travel will be relevant to this post.

I don't live in my home country. I've been an expat for about 8 years now. I work with other expats from different countries. My friends are mostly expats, too. And as I look around at my friends and coworkers (including those from my current job and my last job) here, something strikes me as odd. That is that a lot of them are atheists. In fact, nearly all of them are atheists. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure that even a single one of them is religious in any way. It also strikes me that an unusually large number of travelers that I meet are also atheists.

Why is this strange? Because if you know anything about the countries that these people come from, then statistically, one would assume that many of them should be religious. If I know a bunch of Americans, then statistically, with all other things being equal, well more than half of them should be Christian, and even more should be religious. But they're not. Why? I have a theory.

If you've ever read my de-conversion story, you'll know that what ended up destroying my faith was finding out more about other religions in the world, and recognising that they had just as much validity (ie. zero) as mine did. In the face of this new awareness, it became impossible for me to justify my faith, and I was instantly converted to atheism.

People who leave their country to go to another will naturally have a certain level of awareness of the outside (of their country) world, which is likely higher than that of the general population. Therefore, all of my expat friends, coworkers, and fellow travelers, might be considered to have above-average 'worldliness'.

The connection seems apparent. People who understand more about the world and have been out to experience it, will have a higher awareness of the outside, and not be so inclined to just believe whatever religion was forced on them as a child. They can examine and compare beliefs from one culture to another, and many will probably come to the same conclusion that I did when I was faced with alternatives to the only ideas that I'd been taught up until then.

This thinking was somewhat confirmed to me when one of my friends two weeks ago told me how he figured it all out. He told me that he could not just blindly follow the religious beliefs he was born into, when being born elsewhere would have led him to believe something else.

I then thought about it from the other side. If travelers and expats are more worldly and more highly prone to atheism, then is the opposite also true? It seems so. In the U.S. for example, it is widely known that a relatively small fraction of the people have a passport when compared to other developed countries, so it can be assumed that they haven't seen much of the world (except for trips to Canada or Mexico, but even these are impossible without a passport under new border-security rules). And not coincidentally, the U.S. also has one of the highest rates of religious belief (especially fundamentalism) of any Western developed country. Zooming in even further, we see that religious belief is stronger in the parts of the population which are, how shall we say...... less cosmopolitan (ie. southern and mid-west states, rural areas, etc.).

On the other hand, Britain has a rate of religious belief much lower than the U.S. (about half, I believe), and they are legendary travelers. I meet far more Brits while traveling than any other nationality, and their young people are fiercely into traveling during gap-years. Certainly one of the more worldly societies in the world.

Turning to the developing world, we can see that the percentage of religious believers, and the intensity of their beliefs, seems to be extremely high. The poor of India, Haiti, the Middle East, and South America, for example, are strong believers. It shouldn't surprise us that these people don't travel the world a lot, and many probably have never left their village. Even reading about the outside world might not be possible if they are illiterate.

So is there truly a connection between awareness of the world and atheism? Would many more people de-convert if they crawled out from under their rocks and experienced the world? I think so. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stereoscopic vision is a tool of the devil!

Thanks to Pat Condell's latest video for pointing this one out to me.

It seems a Saudi Arabian Muslim cleric has decided that women there are not covering up quite enough. He thinks that the 2-eyed look through the tiny slit is leading women to wear eye make-up, and is too seductive. The solution? For women to wear a veil which covers one eye, leaving only one visible. That would make sure that men are not tempted to try to talk to them or do anything else which is un-Islamic.

Is it necessary for me to add my own commentary? I don't think so. You can read the (short) article here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'd rather "come from a monkey"

Young-Earth creationist: "I dint came frum no monkey."

Atheist: "Yes, you came from incest."


*This is not (entirely) a redneck joke, it's about the biblical belief in all people coming from Adam and Eve, along with their sons and daughters. This is 100% scientific proof that all Young-Earth creationists are inbred.


OR

Young-Earth creationist: "Wuz da monkey on yo ma's side o yo pa's side?"

Atheist: "At least I believe my family has two sides."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Belief in any god is better than atheism

I was recently on a religion-related discussion forum, and found a thread in which a Christian was arguing that as long as somebody believes in a god, any god at all, that's better than atheism.

This seemed like a strange stance to take. After all, if this person is a Christian, and believes that the only way to salvation is through his religion, why would it bother him that somebody is an atheist, but not bother him if somebody is a Ra-worshiper? Isn't the Ra-worshiper bound for the same hellish fate as the atheist? Why isn't that detail important to this person? Don't they care about the fate of our eternal souls?

I'm sure many other religious people also feel the same way. We see evidence of this when religious people argue that the vast majority of the world believes in gods of some kind, not caring that most of those people don't believe in the same gods as they do. They're just happy to have people on the side of supernatural belief.

I don't know the definite answer to this problem, but I do have my suspicions. I'm going to suggest that the answer is related to their own hidden doubts about their faith. Deep down, these people suspect that they might be wrong about their religious beliefs, and that there really aren't any gods at all. They suspect that the atheists who laugh at them might be right, that they are totally delusional, and that they have wasted their only lives on worship of a non-existent phantom.

Wouldn't that be embarrassing if it were true? Wouldn't it be embarrassing if the atheists, who looked down on the believers for their utter stupidity, their limited powers of comprehension, their fancy and useless robes, their constant chanting to the ceiling, their sacrifices of time and money, their rejection of scientific knowledge, their following of child-molesting frauds, their belief that ancient books can order them around, etc., were completely correct? The only chance that these people have to avoid devastating embarrassment is if all people hold supernatural beliefs in one form or another. So they're happy if we believe in any gods at all. Then when the embarrassment is realised, they can shrug and say, "Everybody else believed it, too.", instead of hearing, "I told you so! You owe me a Coke!"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Even Santa knows who lives in which house

I was browsing Holy Freak, and found this post, which I like a lot. The post is about the story from the Bible of when this god asked the Hebrews to smear the blood of lambs on their doors to signify who they were, and that they were to be spared. But why did a god, who was supposed to be omniscient, require a sign to indicate who lives there? The post's author has some ideas:

  1. God will be on a blood thirsty rampage killing thousands of children. He just wants to slaughter children quickly without thinking about it.
  2. God is slightly mentally retarded and can only follow simple instructions like “bloody door good, normal door bad.”
  3. God is not all knowing.
  4. Moses lied about the whole blood on the door thing just to give the people something to do. (Of course, this bible is the word of God so I guess that can’t be right.)
  5. All humans are just bags of meat to God and we are not really special. (I don’t think He would send us Jesus then.)
  6. Humans are insignificant to God and “we all look alike to Him”. That doesn’t work with other parts of the bible and if that was true, why would he care what we do if he can’t even tell us apart?
  7. This entire concept of God is ridiculously silly and I feel embarrassed that other members of my species actually believe this nonsense.
I think it's a good point. I mean, if Santa Claus knows where each person lives and whether they've been naughty or nice, why doesn't this god character know?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On your knees for Jesus

Am I the only one who wonders about the sexual origins of people, including men and boys, getting on their knees to pray to Jesus?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creationists are intellectual terrorists

In my last post, I discussed how some of the leading creationists (this term must be used very loosely) have declared that there is no evidence that could possibly be presented that would change their minds on the issue. In this post, I'd like to write about how their tactics can be compared to those of terrorists and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not saying that creationists are killing people with suicide bombs (although on second thought, I guess that is true), but that their tactics equate to intellectual terrorism. Allow me to explain.

These same creationists, Ken Ham (founder of Answers in Genesis) and Kent Hovind, have been known to debate scientists on the issue of creationism vs. real science. Sorry, I meant to say that Kent Hovind used to debate scientists, before he was sentenced to prison for 10 years for LYING about his taxes. He now probably debates car thieves, disgraced politicians and ex-CEO's.

Let's think about that for a moment. Debates are supposed to be used as intellectual forums to argue one's case, usually by presenting some kind of supporting evidence, and it is usually assumed to be possible for one side of the debate to lose. Yet in this case, one side of the debate has declared, in advance, that it is not possible for it to lose, that no amount of evidence, of any kind, could actually defeat its argument.

So my first question would actually be for the scientists, and that question is, "Why would you even agree to debate a person who has declared in advance that they cannot be proven wrong by any means?" I suppose their answer would be that they do it for the audience's benefit, so that the public can see the evidence for one side, and the foolishness of the other.

The scientist will go into the debate prepared to pile on all kinds of evidence to support his (I don't use gender-neutral writing style on this page) case. The creationist plan is usually to merely try to poke holes in the evidence presented by the other side, often using misrepresentation, quote-mining, personal attacks, etc. They believe that by convincing people that the other side is wrong, that their side will be proven right. This is not a correct view because there are not only 2 possibilities in regards to this issue. This is a false-dichotomy.

If the scientist cannot immediately provide any evidence to address any question that the creationist has about science, the creationist will declare a point scored for his side. But the creationist will never provide any evidence to support his own case, because there just isn't any. Many in the audience will not be smart enough to detect this tactic, and will find themselves in agreement with the creationist.

So what does this have to do with insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq? In those wars, both sides are not playing by the same rules. One side tries to protect civilians, the other tries to kill them. One side is out in the open with uniforms, the other is hiding amongst the public. One side is expected (notice that I used the word, expected) to follow rules and to not torture prisoners, while the other side has no rules and tortures prisoners with glee.

In these debates, the creationist and many audience members DEMAND that the scientist provide evidence to support any claim. And they often make ridiculous demands for what kinds of evidence they expect, based on a total misunderstanding of the theory itself. If they believe there is any problem with that evidence, they will declare a point scored for creationism. And if there is anything that is currently unexplained, or not known with sufficient detail, that will be declared MAJOR points for creationism. The scientist is expected to take the high road to win public support, just as the NATO forces in Afghanistan are expected to take the high road.

Meanwhile, the creationist side will use logical fallacies, including but not exclusive to those mentioned above, will never provide any evidence for their claim other than to wave a book around, will demand the strictest of evidence for all claims made by the scientist, yet will have declared in advance that they will not accept any evidence that's provided anyways! They imply the importance of evidence by demanding it from the scientist, then attack intellectualism as a ridiculous philosophy. They take the lowest road, and yet they often win public support.

It should also be noted WHY both the creationists and the insurgents use these tactics. It's because they have to! In both cases, their positions are so weak that they must resort to underhanded tactics to try to gain any advantage. The insurgents cannot compete with the superior military strength of nations, and the creationists cannot compete with the evidence-backed case presented by the scientists. They stand no chance in a fair fight or debate. The tactics are used out of desperation caused by weakness compared to their opponents.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My embarrassing fantasies

Ever since I first heard of the (public, not academic) debate between evolution and biblical trash, I've been fantasising about the day when a piece of evidence is found that is so convincing, so unbelievably perfect and undeniably conclusive, that the young-Earth creationists have no choice but to fold and admit they were wrong. (Most reasonable people were convinced by the evidence long ago)

I now know how naive it was of me to think that!

I was reading the Answers in Genesis (young-Earth creationist organisation, and sponsors of the Creation Museum) website, and found the following in their 'Statement of Faith':

"The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches."

......

"No apparent, perceived, or claimed interpretation of evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record."

Do you realise what this is saying? It's saying that if any evidence, no matter how many mountains (even literally) of it there are, appears in any way to contradict the supreme authority of the Bible, then it cannot possibly be valid! This is their presumed assumption with which they view any evidence, and from which they are unwilling to budge or reconsider! It's right there on their website, and they're proud of it!

Can you imagine a (real) scientist ever saying, "This is my conclusion, and I will never, I repeat, NEVER back down, no matter how much evidence you pile in front of me!"? That kind of thing doesn't happen because it's absolutely ridiculous! Any scientist who would say such a thing would likely be removed from the scientific community. Even a creationist must see how ridiculous that would be.

I was then listening to an episode of The Infidel Guy Show, in which he has a two-hour interview/call-in program with the young-Earth creationist, Kent Hovind as the guest (it was recorded in 2004, a few years before Kent was sent to prison for 10 years for LYING about taxes). During the show, Kent is asked what he would consider as convincing proof of evolution. Kent says that he would never accept any fossil as proof. With his next statements, he implicitly also eliminated any biological or geological finding. He said that the only proof he would ever accept, is to see one kind of animal 'bring forth' a different kind of animal, such as a dog giving birth to a non-dog.

This is something that is not considered possible by evolutionary theory! Evolutionary theory predicts that it isn't possible for a plant or animal to create a completely different kind. It's too big of a change in one generation. Evolution works by small changes, such that the offspring isn't very different from its parent(s), but through small changes every generation, is very different from its distant ancestors.

So the only thing that Kent Hovind would accept as proof of evolution, isn't even allowed by evolution! In fact, if we ever did see this kind of thing happen, we'd have to re-think the theory!

Do you see what's wrong with the stances of these people? I find it absolutely frightening that there exist people who are so irrational, so unwilling to accept evidence. In my next post, I'll continue this thought and explain why they can be compared to insurgent terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Scientific proof vs. "religious proof"

With the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) opening for business, it gives me a good opportunity to write about the differences between "religious proof" *cough* and scientific proof. Note that only the second one is real. Here's why:

One particle that scientists are looking for with the LHC is called the Higgs boson. It is a theoretical particle which is believed to give the property of mass to all of the other particles (or something like that, but it isn't important what it does for our purposes here). The particle has never been observed, but is still believed to exist.

How can it be believed to exist if it has never been seen? Well, the formulas and current models suggest that it does. It theoretically exists.

You might wonder how this is different from a religion. After all, religious believers have all kinds of models of reality. They theorise that if the Universe exists, then there must be a god, or gods, to have created it. That's their model of reality. Another example can be found with the Atheist's Riddle. This guy has decided that his model of how information theory works and how DNA works, requires that there be a god to create it. So their god theoretically exists also, just like the scientists' Higgs boson.

But there is a very, very important difference, and here it is. The scientists will say that the existence of the Higgs in their models and formulas suggests its existence. Then they will go out and build a super-huge and incredibly ambitious machine to figure out if it really does exist. If the machine detects the Higgs, and it can be repeatedly detected, then it will be declared to exist, a Nobel prize will be handed out, and human knowledge will have grown. If the particle cannot be detected, then the scientists will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out where their models and/or experiment went wrong.

What does the religious believer do? If you look at the Atheist's Riddle (link above), or at Ray Comfort's model of the Universe requiring a creator in order to exist, you'll see that both of them claim that it is absolute proof of the existence of a god (and they both claim that it is therefore their god, which is extremely dishonest). Ray even goes as far as to say that it is "100% scientific proof".

Will the theists build a machine or conduct any kind of experiment to try to detect their god which theoretically exists? No. Even if they did, would they claim that said machine's failure to detect their god requires them to go back to the drawing board and fix their model? No. Will Ray Comfort ever learn the meaning of the word, 'scientific'? No.

And that, my friends, is the difference between the theoretical existence of things in science, and in religion. Upon theorising the existence of an object or entity with models or mathematics, the scientist will try to prove its existence through real experimentation, while the religious fool will just declare victory, because any experiment is bound to fail, as all have up until now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Darwin on his own controversy

In the conclusion of The Origin of Species (at least in the printing which I read), Darwin made some interesting comments, some of which I've written here. They are still relevant to this day.


1. On the way that his detractors were ignoring a part of his text in order to mislead:

"Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure."

This is of course still relevant today in the way which creationists parse his text to make it look like he wrote the opposite of what he actually wrote.


2. On people's objections that his theory doesn't explain how life originated:

"It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life."

This is still relevant because people continue to use ignorance of the world to make claims for a god. Besides, the theory of evolution does not even have the origin of life within its scope.


3. On suggesting that his theory does nothing to take away from the possibility that a god created a few early forms, which evolved, by the laws of creation, into the diversity of life seen in modern times:

"I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone."

Obviously a lot of people today have had their religious feelings shocked. Mostly the lunatic fundamentalists (ie. ALL fundamentalists).


4. On the closed-mindedness of other veteran scientists of the time who may be too old and too biased to learn new tricks, as well as those who ignore the things it does explain, while objecting to the theory on the grounds of what it doesn't (yet) explain:

"It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the 'plan of creation', 'unity of design', &c., and to think that we give an explanation when we only re-state a fact. Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject the theory."

There are still many people who nitpick about elements of nature which they feel the theory doesn't adequately explain, ignoring the fact that it's the only theory that explains the rest of it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anglican Church owes Darwin an apology

This reverend of the Church of England has written that they owe Darwin an apology for the way they reacted to his theory of evolution.

Brown said the Church of England should say it is sorry for misunderstanding him at the time he released his findings and, "by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand (Darwin) still."

He goes on to say that evolution is not atheism, as most atheists already knew.

He said he opposed Christians for whom "evolution is equated with atheism" as well as Darwinists who felt ideas about evolution "completely undermine any kind of credibility for God."

"That's completely wrong," he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "It's a false polarization."

Read the full article here.

The Anglican Church has no problem with evolution, the Catholic Church has no problem with evolution, etc. The only ones who seem to reject evolution so forcefully are the fundamentalist Christians (mostly in the US and A) and the fundamentalist Muslims. Those two groups have much more in common than they realise.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chimps 1, Human children 0

I just saw a documentary on TV. They were explaining the differences and similarities between the mental abilities of apes (especially chimps) and humans, showing in experiments how chimps have culture, use tools, and can be taught to co-operate.

Besides the obvious evolutionary implications, there was something else. The scientists did an experiment using a 'black box' (one cannot see the inner workings of the box) from which you can get a candy. They taught the chimps to execute a procedure using parts of the box, moving sliders, tapping it, etc. They then opened the little door at the bottom and found a candy there. The chimps learned to copy the procedure to get the candy. The human children (about 3-5 years old or so) also learned to do the procedure and get the candy.

They then changed the 'black box' into a 'transparent box' (one can see the inner workings), which was otherwise identical to the old box. Now that the insides of the box were visible, it was clear that the procedure of moving the sliders and tapping on the box did absolutely nothing to make the candy appear at the door at the bottom of the box. In fact, the candy was always there, and all that had to be done was to open the door and take it. However, the chimps and children were not taught this.

The chimps learned to just open the door and take the candy, skipping the procedure after seeing that the steps did nothing. However, the human children weren't able to figure that out, and continued to execute the procedure of steps, even though it clearly had no purpose.

The scientists interpreted the results by suggesting that human children have an expectation to be taught things by the adults, and so blindly did as the adults did. Basically, they're saying that human children will do whatever they're taught to do by the adults around them.

This has obvious implications for our purposes. It suggests that no matter how silly a belief or ritual is, even if it clearly does nothing, a child will believe it and continue to follow it as long as the adults teach them to do it.

Round Earth Theory--DEMOLISHED.

Any of you ever heard of the Flat Earth Society? It's a group of dimwits who believe that Earth is flat and that a giant, multi-government conspiracy is keeping us from knowing the truth. They believe that Earth is circular in shape, with a giant ice-wall surrounding the outside edge to keep us from going over. The ice-wall would have to be tens of thousands of kilometres long, putting even the U.S.-Mexico border fence to shame. It is guarded by military forces to keep anybody from approaching.

As far as I can tell, the Flat Earth Society is legitimate. When I say they're legitimate, I mean that they're not joking, not that they're legitimate as in competent, respected or intelligent.

I sometimes troll the boards there, and found a post titled, Round Earth Theory--DEMOLISHED, by a user who goes by the name of Punisher. The guy is arguing, using incorrect facts about the duration of sunlight in the Arctic Circle as well as lack of basic knowledge of what a circle is, that he has absolutely proven that Earth is flat. This technique sounds somewhat familiar, doesn't it?

He then added these comments (I have not altered spelling/grammar):

"Yes my brothers, we've been lied too and we've forgotten Wisdom, but I remembered my CREATOR, you see GOD knows this Earth better then anyone else, yes my brothers, science mumbo-jumbo doesn't stand a chance before GOD, for GOD knows all, even their Pinocchio round theory. (He's referring to the 'theory' of the round Earth) The Truth will be putting a hamper on their mind parade of orgies that has been masturbating the populace, neither will we feel sorry that their parade will be coming to an end, yes brothers, the end is nigh."

After a couple of people replied in mockery of his post, he posted this (which, by the way, got him suspended from the board for a couple of days):

"The Devil finally kicked these two guy's in the ass to reply and this is their best retort they came up with, hahahahahaha, man alive wait till he gets them to-nite while they sleep, lol, they won't be."

I've gotta say, this is one of the smartest theists that I've ever encountered. They should make him their leader. All hail Punisher!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There's no other way to put it, Ray Comfort is an asshole

On the day that the Large Hadron Collider began operating, Ray Comfort posted this on his blog, complete with the photo on the right;


IT'S A SICK WORLD

After 14 years of preparation, a new scientific wonder of the world opened for business Wednesday with the official startup of Europe's Large Hadron Collider.


The $10,000,000,000 particle accelerator is the biggest, most expensive science machine on earth, designed to probe mysteries ranging from dark matter and missing antimatter to the existence of extra, unseen dimensions in space.


Understandably, many of his readers who believe that science and learning are good things, whether atheists or not, commented in protest on the site. Some pointed out to him that he's just trying to prevent humanity from learning so that he can continue to profit from human ignorance. After all, the more we increase our knowledge, the less places there are for his god of the gaps to hide. Others pointed out that while this machine might have cost $10 billion, that is many, many, many, many, many, many times less than the money spent on wars, booze, drugs, cigarettes, sex, movies, video games, iPods and other things with a much less noble cause than the pursuit of knowledge. It should be noted that Ray is an Iraq war supporter, even though that has spent hundreds of billions on death and destruction, leaving many orphaned children.

He posted the following afterward;


IT'S A SICK WORLD

There were a lot of comments from angry atheists, just because a picture of a starving child was put next to an article that said that $10,000,000,000 was spent in the name of "science." Nothing else was said. It confirmed that even hardened atheists have a conscience.



Ray is trying to deny that he made any implication that the money could have been spent on the starving kids. I commented that his remark was about as subtle as the time when FoxNews "accidentally" and "mistakenly" put footage of the World Trade Center on fire into their coverage of the Iraq war, many years in.

The possibility remains that Ray truly thought he was making a cloaked comment, one that atheists wouldn't be able to read between the lines of. If that's the case, then the problem isn't that he's an asshole; it's that he's a total IDIOT who thinks he's actually pretty smart, and thought he was out-smarting us. He does not realise that we're a hell of a lot smarter than him.

What do you think?

The Pope doesn't like knowledge, either

"Have not money, the thirst for possessions, for power and even knowledge, diverted man from his true destiny?" the pope asked.

So what exactly was man's destiny? To die from smallpox because we didn't have the knowledge to prevent it? Was it to live in ignorance of weather patterns, and have no satellites to track hurricanes and warn people to get out of the way? Was it to live in the metaphorical darkness of not understanding the movement of the planets? Or was it to live in the literal darkness, without electricity, which our knowledge allowed for us to control?

I LOVE KNOWLEDGE! SCREW YOU, BENEDICT!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Bible is made up

So I was debating a guy on another thread about the Bible. It was getting pretty long and was off topic in that thread, so I thought I'd give it its own post. I left off claiming that maybe instead of looking for long explanations about why things are the way they are in the Bible, that it would be easier to operate on the assumption that it's all made up.

The following comment in blue was his/her reply (not sure if the writer is male or female):

And when would you proposition that it was made up? And what parts? The Jewish history? The prophets? Jesus? The whole thing...?

When many people often say that the Bible is just made up (they often include the fact that it's just made up to keep people in line, and giving money to the church). If I ask these people when they think it was written, they have no idea when it was written or by whom. They think maybe some bored 'white' (usually) guy wrote the whole thing; maybe during the dark ages, or something ignorant like that.

I'm assuming you're aware that the earliest book (Job) is speculated to have been written 2000+ BCE (Carbon dating puts earliest found copies of mosaic law at 2500-1500BCE and Job was written before that). The youngest book of the New Testament is thought to be the book of Revelation, which is believed to be written either just before the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70AD or just after.

So we have a book that spans (possibly, given the exact date of Job would be impossible to establish, as it is the oldest written text) about 2500 years (that is, the time period it was written in, not the events it covers which is longer); and is written by about 44 different authors from all walks of life: shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians, fishermen, priests, philosophers and kings.

Even though it spans such a ridiculous length of time and was written by over 40 people; it is an extremely cohesive and unified book. For example the fulfilled prophecies and foreshadowing that occurs throughout the old testament, especially in the prophetic books; both short term (things that happened in the writer's generations) and long term (things that were happened hundred of years later) prophecies. In my personal opinion, if one person could write a piece of text that has such continuity of theme, plot-line, foreshadowing (talked about in previous post with the sacrifices compared to Jesus' sacrifice), motifs, and everything else that you look at when doing a literature study; then that author would, without a doubt, be a genius.

But the fact that it was written by about 44 people and spanning more than 2000 years (not to mention being written in three different languages; Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic) makes it remarkable. The prophecies about Jesus in the old testament are also remarkable. Many prophecies showed this. It prophesied his birth (Isaiah 7:14), miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6), betrayal and death (Zechariah 11:12; Psalm 22), resurrection and ascension (Psalm 2:7; 68:18; 110:1), etc.

These a just a few I found.

Another thing people do, is say they don't believe that biblical characters like Moses even existed. This to also shows a real lack of knowledge, and ignorance if the face of known historical facts. These same people probably wouldn't doubt the existence of Ramesses the second, the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time. These same people will say, there was no such person as Daniel that slept in a lion's den; then go to the movies and watch 300, and although not historically accurate, will say "yup, Prince Darius and his son Xerxes were real people." (even if they didn't previously believe they existed because they were mentioned in the book of Daniel, among others).

According to research the new testament is far more accurate than ANY other ancient writing and there is apparently more evidence for the integrity of the new testament than there is for the works of Shakespeare.

It also isn't like something a human would make up (this is just my own personal opinion). For example, the old testament prophets: The Jewish nation were saying to the religious leaders at the time, "peace! peace! tell we are in a time of peace!" And the "prophets" of the time told them they had peace. When Jeremiah told the people "that there is a fishing little town in Chaldea next to the Euphrates river called Babylon, it's little' but's gonna get real big soon, and they are going to invade Jerusalem and wipe you out."
No they won't the people say. What happens? The Babylonians come in, it's a 20 year military siege, and they take the Jews in deportations and put them in concentration camps. They slaughter Jews, level the temple and burn the city to the group. Jews are in hostage for 70 years.

Now why would the religious leaders of the time put these writings of Jeremiah in their "made up" religion. They didn't as a nation listen to the prophets. Why would they include those books?

Therefore, whenever someone falls back on, "Well maybe it's just made up," I'm skeptical about their knowledge of the bible, and of history.



My response:

To start, if you see my post about What do I believe, you'll see that I believe Jesus was likely a real historical person, and I have no particular reason to suspect that Moses or Abraham were invented either. Well, no more reason than I have to believe that the rest of the Bible was made up.

You cited carbon dating, so I'll guess that you're not a Young-Earth Creationist (YEC). As you are not a YEC, you probably don't take the Bible literally, or you'd have a hard time justifying anything with carbon dating, as you did to give the date of the Book of Job.

So let's start and say that the Great Flood was made up, as it just seems to contradict so much science that is based on carbon dating and other techniques. Parting the Red Sea was made up. Talking burning bushes were made up. In fact, these were made up like you would claim the books of ANY OTHER religion are. I can use exactly the same arguments to justify Islam. I can use the Hindu holy scriptures to justify that, or ancient Greek writings, many of which are most certainly lost, to justify their myths. I can use statues of Egyptian gods, made by many people over many centuries, to justify that they existed. Which of these many alleged books of truths you believe in is entirely an accident of where you were born. If you were born in Saudi, then there would be an almost 100% chance that you'd be lecturing me about how tightly written and how verifiable the Koran is.

You've got a book of myths, for which no historical proof actually exists! If you had any proof, you wouldn't need faith, and preachers wouldn't have to try to convince people that faith (ie. the bypassing of one's brain) is a virtue, and call it what it really is, downright stupidity. The Bible is full of BS stories, like making man from the dirt or clay or whatever, 'miracles', virgin births and all kinds of other things, which seemed to cease occurring at exactly the same time that humanity began to learn methods for investigating and debunking such claims (ie. the scientific method).

Just because some of these towns exist, or some of the wars existed, does not give any support at all to the supernatural events which are said to have occurred in them.

How to explain the foreshadowing? Gee, let me think. That's a tough one. The authors of the later books forced the text to match the predictions in the previous books. Edward Current made a YouTube video in which he mocked this kind of reasoning. How could an author possibly make the end of a book match predictions in the beginning?



The Christian myth is a rip-off of other contemporary beliefs, and was written in such a way to convince people at the time that it must have been true, based on their existing beliefs. We see evidence for this tactic in the traditions that go with Christmas, such as tree decorations and their choice of date. The rest of it was just made up. It was made up by a bunch of Stone-Age men, many of them extremely violent and brutal, with no understanding of the world around them. It has absolutely no more weight than any other ancient book of fairy tales.

The fact that some people are willing to take the word of ancient (what did you say they were?) farmers, fishermen, tent-makers, kings and priests (yep, kings and holy men never lie for personal gain) and base their entire lives around that, is pretty sad. You're skeptical of my knowledge of your book of fairy tales? I'm skeptical of your ability to separate fantasy from reality. If you want to separate your Bible from all of the other BS religious texts out there, you're gonna have to produce something a lot more convincing than you have.

At this point, many believers fall back on faith, which is the ridiculous bypassing of the intellect. Gotta keep that brain bypassed to believe stuff like the Bible.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So... you want prison for blasphemers or something?

The Pope has declared that religion should be involved in politics. Of course, he doesn't mean that religion should be involved in politics, he means that Christinsanity should be involved in politics;

"The presence of Christian values is fundamental for the survival of our nations and our societies," he said.

I wonder if he's aware of the positive correlation between religiosity of a country and crime rates? Or if he's aware of the positive correlation between Catholic priests and child molestation?

Check out the full article here.

Why leave it to error-prone, human interpretation?

Many Christians, in an attempt to dismiss the nonsensical parts of the Bible, will often say things like, "The Bible must be interpreted metaphorically."

I say, "Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense for your god to write a book which could be interpreted literally, you know... like any other book which contains facts?"

(Then there are those who think that even the nonsensical parts are to be interpreted literally. *shudder*.....)

Did they hang the teddy bear for accepting the name?

These guys are accused of killing an American diplomat and his driver, and plotting to kill a British diplomat in Sudan. Their motivation? Revenge against the West for that teacher who let her students name the teddy bear, Mohammad.

That seems like a perfectly reasonable thought process. I don't see how anybody could object.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Darwin's image appears on wall stain


I found this article via Young Earth Creationists Anonymous. The article is about a stain believed to be in the form of Charles Darwin, which appeared on a wall in Tennessee. Coincidentally, the wall belongs to the courthouse which was used for the famous Scopes Monkey Trial.

According to the article, believers in Darwinian evolution have been flocking to the wall from all over the United States to see the stain. "I brought my baby to touch the wall, so that the power of Darwin can purify her genetic makeup of undesirable inherited traits... Behold the power and glory of the scientific method!" said Darlene Freiberg.

Others were not so impressed. "It's a stain on a wall, and nothing more," said the Rev. Clement McCoy, a professor at Oral Roberts University and prominent opponent of evolutionary theory. "Anything else is the delusional fantasy of a fanatical evolutionist mindset that sees only what it wishes to see in the hopes of validating a baseless, illogical belief system. I only hope these heretics see the error of their ways before our Most Powerful God smites them all in His vengeance."

To read the full article, check it out at its original source, The Onion.*








*(I hope you all know that The Onion is satire.)