Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm looking at you, Mormons!

A funny video about something I'm sure we've all thought about doing. I won't say more so that I don't ruin it for you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Karadzic the moral Christian

I get a bit tired of these morons who keep saying that atrocities on a world scale are only committed by atheists. They often cite (the highly questionable claim) that Hitler was an atheist, as were the communists of the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, etc.

So in recent days we get news that Radovan Karadzic, a Serbian accused of orchestrating the murder of thousands of people, many of them Muslims, has been arrested. In the news video I saw, he was shown in a personal moment, visiting some kind of church, where he made the sign of the cross and kissed a painting that looked like Mary (couldn't really tell on the video).

What is important is that he was a Christian. Look religious people, stop playing the morality card to try to discredit atheists. Even if it's true that religious believers are more moral, it does not make it any more true that your god exists, and it certainly isn't evidence. But as we can see from this latest case, the claim itself is bullshit.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Science wasn't even born yet

I was watching more videos featuring that putz, Ray Comfort of The Way of the Master. He made another assertion that was pretty silly. He stated that the bible contains many scientific facts which were not known to science at the time it was written. As an example, he said that the bible says the Earth hangs in nothing, when science still thought it was on the back of a turtle.

I lost track of the video and don't feel like watching them all again to figure out which one it was in, but I found this on Ray's website, in a post with the heading, Science Confirms the Bible. (That headline is disgraceful enough. How can this twit argue that the bible is correct because science confirms it, while constantly arguing that science is wrong? More creationist logical failures.)

"3. THE BIBLE: Free float of earth in space (Job 26:7). SCIENCE NOW: Free float of earth in space. SCIENCE THEN: Earth sat on a large animal."

Well Ray, that's all fine and dandy to assert, but I see some problems. The first problem would be that science as we know it did not even exist when the bible was written. The book of Job is in the Old Testament, which means it was written thousands of years ago. Modern science is defined by the scientific method of hypothesising, testing, analysing, publishing, defending. That method emerged after 1000A.D., and was not really solidified until the 17th century or so. That's why there has been such an explosion of human knowledge and progress since that time.

Not only did modern science not exist when the bible was written, but there was certainly no such thing as an international peer-reviewed journal of science, and therefore there could not have been a widely-accepted scientific consensus. So while I don't doubt that some of those pre-scientists might have thought Earth was on a turtle, it's completely ridiculous to suggest that's what science thought.

And I have to ask, exactly which scientists said the Earth was on the back of a turtle? Was an experiment conducted? Was it repeated and verified? Did the results really find a turtle holding up Earth?

I happen to know that the ancient Greeks (and possibly more civilisations) were aware that Earth is a sphere, at the time that the Bible was being written. If they knew that, then they most certainly knew that there was nothing holding it up.

Ray, it would be best if you don't comment on science anymore.

No, I won't read a prayer

My brother is getting married in a few weeks. I just spoke to him on the phone, and he asked me to read a prayer for the wedding ceremony. I told him that wouldn't be possible. He asked why, and I told him, as nicely as I could, that I no longer believe in that.

Even though I've been an atheist for about 12 years, my family is just beginning to find out about it, and this will actually be the first time that I've seen them since they first learned of it. I wonder if they're going to try to re-convert me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cause of the Big Bang

"The Big Bang was god exploding."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Free will also contradicts a divine plan

Earlier, I wrote a post about how the concept of praying for events to occur contradicts the concept of a divine plan. Read it here.

Many religious people love to talk about how god has a plan for each of us. If we die early, that's god's plan. If we win the lottery, god's plan again. If our baby has cerebral palsy, once again, god's plan. God works in mysterious ways, doesn't it?

Yet then to explain away the evilness of humans, these same religious people use the concept of 'free will', saying that humans were given the power to choose for themselves, and some choose evil.

So I must ask, how can both be true? How can god have a plan for us, AND give us free will? Free will by definition means that we can choose our own path. If we can choose our own path, how can we not change our future depending on the choices we make? If the believer then argues that you can choose a path, but all paths lead to the same place, which is god's plan, then he has contradicted free will. If I have a pre-determined destiny which cannot be changed, then I don't have any power in my own life, my choices ultimately are meaningless, and I never did have free will.

So I argue that both the concept of effective prayer and of free will contradict the concept of a divine plan. Free will and effective prayer do not contradict each other. So believers, you must either throw away the concept of a divine plan, or throw away belief in both the effectiveness of prayer and of free will.

If you choose to throw away the divine plan, then you have to admit that sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen, and it is not determined by god. When bad things happen to good people, such as children being gang-raped, god does not intervene, and didn't plan it either. Shit happens, and god doesn't seem to care. Also, it would shorten a lot of post-sports-match interviews, and awards acceptance speeches if we admit that god didn't have anything to do with it.

If you choose to throw away the concepts of effective prayer and free will, then you could save a lot of time and money. Praying for events no longer works, so you can shorten services in churches, and stop giving money to those fraudsters on TV. There is no such thing as free will, so you'll have to admit that god created some people to be evil, and part of its plan is for them to be evil. Why would your supremely-good god create people to be evil? This would surely have an effect on the morality teachings of most religions.

It seems that either of these options would be somewhat devastating for religions. In order to continue, they need all 3 (divine plan, free will and effective prayer) to be true. They're relying on it. And most religious sheep will never figure out that there is a problem with all 3 being true.

So you can do away with one of these choices, or you can do the most sensible thing and throw out god.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A deluded fool who thinks he can scientifically prove that god exists

So I saw a video on YouTube by this putz claiming that he can prove scientifically that god exists. In fact, it says so right in the title of his video, 'GOD EXISTS, ATHEISTS!!! I'll prove it SCIENTIFICALLY!!' I'm surprised that while the brightest minds in the world have never been able to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of god, this guy on YouTube named, ooga2012, has been able to do it. Let's take a look at this amazing proof, shall we?



Wow, that was funny! Actually ooga (I can call you 'ooga', right?), what you did was not a scientific proof. It was what I call 'religious hand waving'. It's what philosophers and theologians do. Scientists hypothesise, then do experiments and/or gather evidence, interpret the results, and publish for their peers to dispute or support it. You failed to do any kind of experiment, or to gather any kind of evidence. I'd have to question your level of education in science. Do you have any qualification at all? I'll ask you to please not throw around the words 'science' or 'scientifically' until you gain an understanding of exactly what they mean.

At the end of your video, you go on to say that anybody who doesn't agree with your logic is "... stubborn, unreasonable ...".

Here's what I say to you. "You have no understanding of science. You have failed to provide any evidence for your claim. At at least one point in your video, you acknowledge 2 different possibilities, then assume that one of them is true without any justification. That is not proof. Your video proves nothing. Your disabling of both ratings and comments for your video show that you are not open to any kind of debate or criticism on the issue, putting you in the same group as dictators. Yet you call US 'stubborn' if we don't agree with you. You are also stupid enough to expect that we'd believe an argument from an English-speaker who does not know the difference between ITS and IT'S, a mistake which you make twice in your ground-breaking proof of the existence of god."

YouTube

I've been spending some time recently watching atheist/religious propaganda videos on YouTube. There is quite an active community of atheists there, and some of them make very funny, entertaining videos. I hope to write about some of them on this page.

In the meantime, if you want to see them for yourself, just go to YouTube and check them out. Search for the word 'atheist' and you'll soon have a long list of videos to watch, with related videos listed on the right side. Every time you watch one, you'll get a new list of related videos. It's a big web that you can lose yourself in for hours, if you've got that kind of time available.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pascal's Wager is not convincing

Most people who are knowledgeable of the debate about religion are probably familiar with Pascal's Wager. If you're not (you must be new to the religion debate), here's a quick tutorial.

A French mathematician and philosopher named, Blaise Pascal, suggested that even though we cannot prove whether or not god exists, we can live our lives so that we maximise our potential gains while minimising our potential losses. The argument goes that there are 4 possible combinations of reality vs. our belief.
  1. We believe in god, and it exists. We gain infinite reward in heaven.
  2. We believe in god, but it doesn't exist. We gain nothing and lose nothing.
  3. We don't believe in god, but it exists. We are infinitely punished in hell.
  4. We don't believe in god, and it doesn't exist. We gain nothing and lose nothing.
So as Pascal puts it, the only way we can possibly lose anything is if we don't believe in god, as in the third option on the list. Therefore, believing in god is a good gamble.

The standard rebuttal to Pascal's Wager is that if I believe in god, but it doesn't exist, I have wasted my life by naively and childishly worshiping something that doesn't exist, as well as donating some of my salary to the organisation which professes belief in the fairy tale. Since I only get one life, that's quite a loss.

Another rebuttal is that surely the all-knowing god would see through my deception. Wouldn't it be upset that I only chose to believe in it to try to win a wager? That's not genuine faith, and would surely anger it.

Yet another rebuttal to the wager is that Pascal only considered the possibility that the Christian god exists. What if there is a god, but it's another god? By worshiping the Christian god, we'd make this other god angrier and angrier, and would surely be sent to that god's version of hell for our blasphemy. Even Homer Simpson knew that, and stated it in an episode of his show. So there is a chance of infinite punishment for believing in (the wrong) god.

I have to conclude that the wager is of no use to us in deciding how to live our lives.

See the following video by a member of the YouTube atheist community, EdwardCurrent. He makes some pretty funny videos, and this one accurately portrays the dilemma confronted by anybody trying to guarantee their way into heaven by playing the odds.

For my next trick, I will pull a statistical probability out of my ass!

I read a blog post on a non-related site by a creationist claiming that the odds of life appearing randomly on Earth were a mere 1 in 10^63. He went on to say that for the less-intelligent among us, that was a 1 followed by 63 zeros. Thanks, dude. So of course, he continues, it just isn't possible that life appeared without a creator. Interestingly, he then used it to also suggest, no, assert that we are alone in the Universe, because god created us, and there is no chance of life appearing randomly anywhere else. No thought seemed to have been given to whether or not his god could have created life on other planets, too.

Anyways, this is complete bullshit. We only have one sample of a planet capable of supporting life, that's ours. And we only have one sample of life forming, which is also ours. In fact, the only reason we can even be sure that our planet can support life, is that we see it all around. At this stage, we really don't know if other planets are capable of supporting life.

One cannot make a statistical calculation based on a sample of 1! The truth is, we have absolutely no idea what the odds are of life appearing on a planet. The creationist nut says it's 10^-63. Frank Drake, creator of the famous Drake Equation, put the odds at exactly 1. That is, Drake suggested if a planet is capable of supporting life, it is inevitable that life will appear. So we have quite the discrepancy there, don't we? Odds of 1 compared with odds of 10^-63.

Until we get more samples of planets that we believe could support life, and determine whether or not they do have life, any probability that you suggest is just as valid as one that anybody else suggests. The only limits are that the probability must be greater than (assuming life on Earth is natural) or equal (assuming life on Earth has supernatural origins) to zero, and less than or equal to 1. Either way, you just pulled a guess right out of your ass, and therefore may not use it to support your case. That is intellectual dishonesty.

Can't work. Praying.

"A single pair of hands at work achieves more than a billion pairs clasped in prayer."

This is exactly what I thought when I was in India, Cambodia and Egypt. The amount of time, energy, physical and financial resource put into their religious monuments is staggering. It occurred to me that they might not be such poor places today if they had been doing things more productive than worshiping. Even today in India, a vast number of people spend a vast amount of their time and money for worship.

Then again, these monuments built by the past generations did guarantee tourist income for their countries in the modern day, so maybe it wasn't such a worthless effort. And they are undoubtedly beautiful and amazing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jesus keeps soldiers alive. Right?

CNN.com had a story about an atheist soldier in the U.S. Army who served in Iraq and is suing the government because he says he's been harassed by his fellow soldiers, and even had his life threatened by his peers. Read the article here.

Now, the story is interesting, but is not the point. They had some forums on the subject, which I can't seem to find anymore, but to be honest, I haven't looked all that hard. In the forums, there was a poster named Lee who said something like, "He should believe in Jesus. Who does he think kept him alive in Iraq?"

Another poster responded with something like, "If Jesus has kept him alive, has Jesus also kept the enemy alive? Were the soldiers who have died not kept alive by Jesus?"

The second poster raises a very good point. Is Lee trying to say that when the enemy survives, that Jesus also did that? Maybe Jesus is a sadistic bastard who just likes watching humans go at it, like when sadistic-bastard humans watch cockfights. If he allowed one side to win, the fun would be over, and the betting would be called off, so he has to keep members of both sides alive. Is Lee saying that Jesus is bogging down his favourite country (the USA, of course) in Iraq? Is he trying to say that all of the soldiers and civilians who have been killed during our wars were not saved by Jesus?

Here's the thing, Lee. Shit happens! Some people will survive a war, some won't. Sometimes that bomb will kill you, sometimes it won't. You cannot claim that Jesus has kept some alive, without also claiming that he failed to protect, or even caused the deaths of, so many others.

It's something that Christians are often guilty of. They attribute anything and everything that happens to Jesus, but only if it's a result that they like. Somebody survives a car crash? "Jesus did it!" Somebody survives cancer? "Praise the lord!" etc., etc. But why do those same people not acknowledge that if this logic holds, then Jesus also either caused, or turned a blind eye to, the deaths of so many other people? Did Jesus kill your mother with that tumour because she was a bitch? Does Jesus watch and decide to not intervene as little children are raped, tortured and murdered (maybe he watches and videos them for heaven's version of YouTube)? Does Jesus decide not to warn all of the people killed in natural disasters, or does he even cause the disaster himself, just for kicks? The examples of times when Jesus does not intervene are so overwhelmingly numerous, that I'm going to stop here.

What would happen without Jesus? Nothing? Is everything that happens caused by Jesus? The good things and the bad things? Is there no chance that I could survive an incident without Jesus? If there is, then how do you know which ones Jesus did and which ones were just chance? If you're going to claim that Jesus only intervenes in certain situations, then you're saying that some will suffer and others will be spared. Amazingly, that's exactly what would happen even if Jesus didn't exist!!! Hmm........

You know, I'm kinda rambling here, and don't think I'm doing a particularly good job of discrediting anything. But these points are something that people should think about. The next time you get hit by a bullet, and it misses vital organs, stop to think before you credit Jesus. Ask yourself, "Is there any chance that this bullet could have missed my organs without Jesus? If Jesus made it miss my vital organs, couldn't he have made it miss me entirely? This fucking hurts!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Did god really create EVERYTHING?

(A note about the context. Mel Gibson was asked in an interview if god created the film, Passion of the Christ. Gibson responded with something like, "Didn't god create everything?")

Believer: "God created everything."

Atheist: "Did god create kiddie porn?"

Change 'Dead Sea tablet' to 'Common sense'

So a new claim is that some tablet written before Jesus was born says that the angel Gabriel brought a 'Messiah' named Simon back to life, 3 days after he was killed by the Romans. This all supposedly took place before the birth of Jesus (real or not).

So, what does this mean? Some say it links the Jesus story to previous stories/myths from the Jewish faith.

Should be interesting to watch different interpretations of this appear.

Read the article, titled Dead Sea tablet 'casts doubt on death and resurrection of Jesus'.

Observe the great morality of Christians! Atheists couldn't possibly be so good!

So, this minister decides to buy some trampy clothes (get your mind out of the gutter), and sit in front of his church as the members arrive. He expects them to be nice and kind to him. Something about a line in the bible spoken by Jesus, “Inasmuch as you have done it for the least of My brothers, you have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Well, not so much. They ignored him and kept "checking their cars". He said he was shocked at how little they cared, and they were embarrassed after he revealed himself (errr... he didn't reveal himself like that, he revealed his identity).

Oh, the wonderful morality of religion! Bow down before it!

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To a believer trying to get prayer into schools

Believer: "There should be prayer in schools."

Athiest: "Don't pray in my schools, and I won't think in your church."

What do I believe?

  1. There are no gods.
  2. Jesus might have been a real person, but the stories of his divinity, virgin birth, miracles and resurrection are false. He may have been an intentional fraud, or he may have actually believed he was the son of a god.
  3. The supernatural aspects of other religions' holy texts are also false.
  4. There is not one bit of evidence to support any supernatural claim of any religion.
  5. The universe has a natural origin.
  6. Life began through through natural processes and evolved into its current form through natural selection.
  7. It is possible to be an atheist and a good person.
  8. There is a chance that I'm wrong about the above points, and I am willing to reconsider, given new evidence (real evidence, not religious hand-waving or philosophical arguments).

How can I be moral if I'm an atheist?

Religious believers do not have a lock on morality. In fact, I would argue that I'm more moral than 95% of religous believers. Where do I get this morality from if I don't believe in a god?

Evolutionary theory does have some thoughts on the issue of human morality, but I'll just speak for myself. It comes from my view of equal rights for all people. No race or religion is innately superior to any others. We all have the right to life, freedom, and all that nice stuff. I also believe that all life has just as much of a right to exist on this planet as we do. They are amazingly adapted organisms, and have earned their right to be here through victories in the trials of evolution.

I largely believe in the Golden Rule, which is to treat others as you want them to treat you.

Economic philosophy also plays a role. I believe in the capitalist principle of private property, therefore it is wrong to steal.

I hold myself to a very high moral standard. No violence, cheating, lying (except in special circumstances, such as protecting people's secrets), stealing, infidelity to my girlfriend, etc. I pay my taxes, pay my bills and pay my debts. I believe that my word and my honour are important, and do my absolute best to keep my promises. I give money to several charities. I don't 'borrow' anything from work. I don't even own (knowingly) any piece of pirated music, movies or software on my computer. I pay for it all. If I don't like the price, I don't obtain it.

Now, when I compare myself to all of those weak, immoral religious believers out there, I have to feel good about my morality standard. I'm a better person than 95% of those racist, hypocritical, lying, cheating, tax-evading, promise-breaking, greedy, selfish, adultering, wife-abusing, child-abusing, animal-abusing, child-support-evading, child-neglecting, drunken, drug-addicted, drug-dealing, kiddie-porn-viewing, bar-fighting, road-raging, prostitute-visiting, thieving, raping, murdering, welfare-defrauding, bribe-accepting, conning, nuke-Mecca-supporting, hateful, warmongering, religious wackos.

And I'm definitely a better person than those weak, sexist, hypocritical, child-abusing, gay-prostituting, defrauding, stealing, lying, murdering clergy that all of the other immoral people look to for leadership and guidance.

(In reading the above, give me some credit. I'm in no way saying that all believers are guilty of all of these immoralities. What I am saying is that every day, each of the immoralities is committed by many believers. I commit none of them, at least not to any significant level. For believers to then try to play the morality card against me is intolerable garbage.)

So go ahead, pray to your god for help with your weakness and immorality. I'm strong, and I have no need of an imaginary friend to give me my strength or morality.

Are atheists satan worshipers?

Are atheists satan worshipers? What kind of stupid question is that? Why do people call us satan worshipers? That doesn't make any sense at all. We don't believe in the supernatural crap, therefore we don't believe in satan, therefore we don't worship it. Do you think we spend our time worshiping things that don't exist? What kind of fucked-up retard would ....... oh, right.

Check this video. It's definitely worth watching from start to finish, as some of the best stuff is near the end. I'll let you decide for yourself if it's real or satire. This video is definitely not safe for viewing at a typical workplace. It would probably be OK at mine. :-)

The most serious failure

In my opinion, the following represents the most serious, intellectually dishonest, shameful and ridiculous lie, deception, and logical failure of all religious tactics. That is, once a believer thinks he has demonstrated the existence of A god, he then concludes, without providing evidence, that it is HIS god. Nothing demonstrates the underhanded tactics of a believer more so than this.

Watch one of my favourite targets, Ray Comfort of The Way of the Master commit this act of intellectual fraud, which he does by following up his 'proof' of god with the 10 commandments, which are from his god (you can probably start from the mid-point of the video).



He then continues in the next video with talk of Jesus, which of course is his specific god.



There are a lot of gods which have been believed in throughout history. Hindu gods, Greek gods, Roman gods, Egyptian gods, Native American gods, Scandinavian gods, pagan gods, etc., etc., etc. Christianity itself has probably wiped many gods out of history. It would be hard to figure out exactly how many gods have been conceived of by humans, but I would guess it's in the tens of thousands. Perhaps that guess is way off, but it isn't relevant to the point.

In addition to all of these gods which have been conceived, there are an INFINITE, yes, INFINITE number of other possible gods which have never been conceived of or described by humans.

So how can one assert, even if there is a god, that it is his god? The believer will throw his holy text or stories in your face, but that proves nothing, and is a total cop-out. Other religions have holy texts and stories too. What is his evidence? Nothing!

The truth is, the believer has no leg to stand on here. If we have an infinite number of possible gods, then even granted that one or more gods exist, the chance of it being the god(s) described in his book is extremely small. In fact, as calculus would describe it, the chance approaches zero. Put simply, that means that the chance of his god being the correct one, without any evidence to show differently, is as close to zero as it can possibly get without actually being zero. Put another way, his god is the most unlikely thing in the universe that is not actually impossible. Put yet another way, the chance is infinitely small.

Infinitely small. And that's even granting the believer that any god exists at all.

Prayer contradicts the concept of a plan

A favourite belief spewed by most religious people is that prayers work. Even if they don't explicitly say it, they demonstrate the belief through their actions. They pray for health, guidance, money, relationships, sports victories, etc.

Another of their favourite beliefs is that their god has a plan for all humans. That's how they explain the bad things that happen, including the death of young children, car crashes costing people limbs, and any other form of suffering or misfortune. They'll claim, "It's all part of god's plan." or "God works in mysterious ways."

So I have to ask, are these two beliefs not in complete contradiction of each other? How can they both hold? To state that god has a plan (which must be perfect, because god is perfect), but that it will also change that perfect plan (changing the outcome of an event) if people ask, doesn't make any sense. If it's god's plan that I must die now, but I pray for my health and it answers the prayer by saving my life, doesn't that mean that it changed its plan, or that I have to die soon anyway?

Which is it? Does god have a pre-determined plan/destiny/purpose for all of us, OR does prayer work? Make up your minds!

Circular reasoning

One of the most basic logical mistakes that some believers make is a pretty serious one. They use their holy text to prove the existence of their god, then use their god to prove that their holy text is true. You can't do that! It's called circular reasoning, and if they're aware that they're doing it, then it's just intellectual dishonesty.

An example argument goes something like this:

"The bible says there is a god, therefore there is a god. God guided the people who made the bible, therefore the bible is true."

Watch Ray Comfort use the Ten commandments as part of his 'proof' of the existence of (his) god. You can start watching from the 7:00 mark.



While this logic might impress a child in the first half of elementary school, it's a pretty stupid argument for an adult to believe. However, in the defence of the religious believers, it might just be the best evidence they have of their respective gods. How sad.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Christians at my door


Why do the Christians keep coming to my door? And why do they seem so shocked when I start to shut it in their faces? I mean, how am I supposed to react to people coming to my home and disturbing me, to talk about their imaginary friend?

I wonder if the next time it happens, I should show them my stuffed yellow frog (errr.... my girlfriend's stuffed yellow frog), and tell them to worship it. I could try to get them to bow down and pray to it. Or, I can chase them down the street with it, shaking and waving it at them as they flee, screaming at them, "This is my god, and he commands me to give him blood!"

Atheist's prayers

Our brains, which art in our heads, treasured be thy names. Thy reasoning come. The best you can do be done on earth as it is. Give us this day new insight to resolve conflicts and ease pain. And lead us not into supernatural explanations, deliver us from denial of logic. For thine is the kingdom of reason, and even though thy powers are limited, and you’re not always glorious, you are the best evolutionary adaptation we have for helping this earth now and forever and ever. So be it. source

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Bless my family and me,
Whatever organizing force there may be in the World;
Whatever abiding spirit may have escaped the crushing randomness of the Universe;
Whatever God-like being, capable of ascribing meaning to life and the world
I might have over-looked in the arrogant certainty of my atheism. source

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Let us take responsibility for our own actions, inactions, strengths and frailties and not project them onto ghosts, spirits, stars, portents and gods unseen.
Let us have the courage to accept that one person's faith is another person's bloody-minded pig-headed refusal to accept the obvious.
Let us have the courage to accept that the person at the front of all crowds, including this one, doesn't know all the answers.
Let us have the wisdom to accept that if our ancestors had fared differently in wars our communities would be holding different absurdities up as sacred truths, and the willingness to accept those absurdities would be seen as the badge of social trustworthiness or even the right to be allowed to draw breath.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.
Let us have the courage to accept that wanting to believe in something with every fibre of our being does not and cannot make it true.
Truth needs no help, no believers, no bowed heads and no amens. source

Creation of the Universe

There are a few times when I get extremely angry with religious nuts, and this is one of them.

Have you ever debated with a creationist about the origin of the Universe? They flat-out assert that because the Universe is here, it must have a creator, because all things have creators. Then if you ask them what created their god, they say something like, "That question can't be asked." or "The question has no meaning."

What's their reason? They say it's because the creator exists outside of this realm of space-time, and since it is not subject to time, it didn't have to have a beginning, and therefore didn't need to be created. And of course, this creator is their god, no other is possible, but we'll get to that in another post.

I'm actually having trouble figuring out where to start tearing down such a maddeningly ridiculous assertion. First, let's start by playing along with the creationist for a little bit. We'll call him 'person A'. Let's say that person A's god does exist and is in fact the creator of this universe. Then isn't it possible that person A's god was created by another god, worshiped by person B? And then couldn't person C come along and assert that his god created person B's god, who in turn created person A's god? This could go on forever. The point is that even if we grant person A, without having him provide any evidence at all, that his god does exist, he can't prove that it was not in turn created by another, more powerful god. But he claims to know anyways. He's just pulling crap out of his ass and trying to pass it off as facts. If one infinite god can exist, why not many?

Now we'll stop playing with the dumbass and just get to the point. The creationist usually argues that the Universe could not have existed forever, because the stars would have burned out all of their energy if it had. Fair enough. The problem with the argument is that the current evidence overwhelmingly points to a Big Bang creation. That Big Bang created both space and time. If time didn't exist before the Big Bang, then the progenitor of the universe, the singularity or whatever it was, can share the same property as this mystical god that the creationist argues for. In other words, it needed no creator. His whole argument was based on suggesting that the Universe can't exist without a creator. Unfortunately for him, by the same rules under which he assumes his creator can exist without an earlier creator, the Universe may also exist without a creator.

Now, the creationist might suggest that this doesn't prove anything, because the universe could still have been created by god. That is indeed true. We have not demonstrated that his god doesn't exist, but it isn't up to us to prove it doesn't exist, it's up to the creationist to prove that it does. We have evidence to support, if not prove, the Big Bang, including the cosmic background radiation, cosmic expansion, etc. All we have supporting the existence of god is the assertion of the creationist. There is not even a tiny shred of evidence for his god, or person B's god, person C's god, or any other gods. He has not even remotely demonstrated that a creator exists, and he has doubly failed in his attempt to prove that his god exists. Our theory has evidence to support it. The believer must support his with actual evidence that didn't come from his ass, or shut up!

If god can be infinite, why can't the Universe be infinite? Watch what happens when our friends Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron from Way of the Master are confronted with this question. Watch them fold and squirm. You can forward the video to the last half if you want to see it, it's near the end. They had no leg to stand on, and they knew it. In addition, I can't believe that the fools were unprepared for this question. Didn't they expect it? Are they that blind to the most obvious of obvious counter-arguments? Look at the awkward and painful smile on Ray's face when he asks Kirk if he'd like to tackle the question. (If you're not interested in the debate point, at least watch the video to check out this chick's knockers!)


How did I become an atheist?

I am a 30-something-year-old guy living in reality. It was not always that way, however. This is the story of my journey to reality from religion.

I was raised in a Roman Catholic (RC from here on) family. More accurately, my mother is a RC and my father is neutral on the matter. I went to RC elementary and high school. There's no middle school or junior high school where I'm from, so that's 14 years of Catholic schooling, from kindergarten through the end of high school. There were no nuns running the schools, but we did pray every day and have to go to mass once a month or so. My mom tells me that when I was in kindergarten, the fanatical teacher thought I was devil-spawn because I was left-handed when writing. The teacher tried to convert me to being a right-handed writer, but my parents intervened and straightened the psycho-bitch out.

I had the regular RC upbringing, including first communion, confession, confirmation, etc. I don't recall actually questioning the faith that much when I was in elementary school, although there was one funny incident when I definitely showed my streak of independent thought. We were in grade 8, and preparing to do our confirmation ceremony. This involved sitting around the local priest from the church next door and asking questions, discussing our faith, etc. When the topic of women serving in the RC church came up, I called the Pope a hypocrite for trying to convince us that all people are equal, but that women can't be priests. I now realise that it was because they didn't want any women to witness their molestation of children :-) But anyways, my independent streak in regards to the church was there.

At the beginning of high school, I was still pretty sure that god existed. I used to think about becoming a priest myself, in order to be the best person possible. I blamed the bad things that happened to me on god, suggested to myself that things happen for a reason, god has a plan, etc.

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!

A question for agnostics

A lot of people claim to be agnostic when asked if they believe in god. They say that means that they do not know if god exists. Well yes, most of us don't know whether or not god exists, such a thing is not really possible, and those who claim to know with 100% certainty in either direction worry me. The question of being religious or not religious is what you believe, not what you know.

A believer bases his life on the assumption that god exists. He (or she, please don't make me use gender inclusion in all of my posts, it's a pain in the ass, and I'd like to stop now) prays, follows rules from the respective holy texts of his religion, etc. Maybe he doesn't do any of those things at all, but he does still believe that there is a god, and might try praying when he finds himself in a really tough situation.

On the other hand, an atheist lives his life on the assumption that there is not a god. He likely does not follow rules from a holy text, except for cultural reasons, and does not pray, except possibly to keep up appearances. Let's face it, I wouldn't want to be the only one who refuses the call to prayer from a mosque in Saudi Arabia, would you? The point is, that he does not believe god is there.

Now, both the believer and the atheist are open to the small possibility that they are wrong, except for the worrisome ones on either side. So does that technically make all rational people agnostics? Yes, perhaps, but that isn't really a useful description of the situation and of your personal stance on the issue. When people ask you if you believe in god, and you reply that you are agnostic, you really haven't answered their question.

So, my question for agnostics is, "Do you live your life on the assumption that gods exists, or that they don't exist?"

So that settles it. You're either an atheist or a believer. Which is it?

If you still claim to be an agnostic when people ask about your belief system, I ask you, "What does that mean exactly?" Do you alternate days with prayer and days without? Do you try to follow the rules of all religions? What exactly does it mean to say that you neither believe in god, nor disbelieve in it? I think "yes' and 'no' exhaust all possible answers on this issue. If you are actively trying to determine the answer to god's existence as we speak, that's ok, which one do you believe right at this moment? You can change your mind later if you want, it's ok. Don't listen to those damn jackass politicians (especially that fool, W) who criticise 'flip-flopping'. It's called 'changing your mind', and it's what most intelligent people do when new information comes to light, or they just refine their thoughts. People who refuse to change their minds, despite new information, are stupid. So what are you right now, a believer or an atheist?

If you still think you're an agnostic, please write me a comment below to explain. Even if you're not, go ahead and comment.

When a believer says he'll pray for you

Believer: "I'll pray for you."

Atheist: "I'll think for you."

What's with the quote at the top of the blog?

I was checking out one of my favourite religious websites, The Way of the Master. I have to say that the website design and production is pretty slick. That's evidence that they have a good web designer :-) It opens with a video showing Kirk Cameron talking to Ray Comfort. Yes, it is the Kirk Cameron from TV's Growing Pains, he is an evangelist now. And yes, Ray Comfort is a perfect name for an evangelist, don't you think?

Anyways, near the end of the two-minute or so video, Kirk talks about how Christians can convert non-believers. He points at his head with both index fingers and says it's possible if we use "... the powerful principle of bypassing the intellect ..." When he said it, I was reading other websites as I listened, so I went back to the video and played it again to make sure that I heard it correctly. And after I heard it again, I played the video again (oh why won't they put a rewind button on that thing?), just to be sure. I was laughing and couldn't believe that he actually said that!

What exactly is he trying to say? That intellectual people don't believe in gods, so they have to go around it? That gods are not intellectually reasonable? That gods don't make any damn sense? That any person who likes to use their intellect is not going to believe in gods? That his god gave us these brains in order to not use them? That some god wanted us to have the brains for the sole (soul) purpose of creating instruments, techniques and thought processes that would cast doubt on its existence? Is an intellect bypass like a heart bypass at the hospital, but it takes place in a church? Absolutely unbelievable, and just further evidence to support the sentiment that all thinking men (and ladies) are atheists.

Edit (September 2nd, 2008): I just saw another video in which Kirk says Christians can avoid the issue of evolution by "circumnavigating the intellect". Ray happily adds that means people don't have to learn about the (air-quotes used when he said it) "fossil record", or learn any big words.

I will NOT bypass my intellect.

Prayers for Madeline McCann

Now, I don't want anybody to think I'm totally cold-hearted. A little girl is missing, possibly dead, and that's terrible. I would very much like to see her, and all other missing children, returned safely. But it did happen to give me a good chance to write about the blindness of religious people.

I was recently watching a news report about the ongoing case. They had an interview with a woman who said something like (trying to quote as accurately as my memory allows), "I don't understand how so many people can be praying for the same thing and it not come true."

This woman made the first important realisation, which is that her god is not answering their prayers for this little girl. She likely was searching for any explanation, with the axiom that 'there is a god' as the foundation of all possible solutions. She failed to find the solution, resulting in her admission that she can't understand.

She ignores a possible solution to the problem, perhaps the simplest solution to the problem. That solution, it appears obvious, is that her god is not answering their prayers because it doesn't exist. Another possible solution is that her god does exist, but doesn't answer prayers, which would just be a devastating revelation to televangelists. Yet another solution is that her god does exist and does answer prayers, but is busy helping some professional athlete smite the competition, or some Hollywood awards nominee be awarded the statue, and doesn't really care about little girls being kidnapped all that much. Either way, it's not the god she blindly believes in.

So there you go, lady! Three solutions that you were unable to come up with because you refuse to open your mind. You will remain lost and unable to understand as long as you refuse to give up your childish beliefs.

Monday, July 7, 2008

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*Note that if you contact me, I may decide to publish your comments. I also might choose to attack those comments. However, I promise that I will never publish your name or email address. You have my word on that.