Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gone on vacation

I see there´s a spirited debate going on in a few threads, but I won´t be able to participate or make any new posts for a few weeks.  Have a nice Christmas/holiday season everybody!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kent Hovind's "Doctoral Thesis"

I just finished reading the entire 102-page doctoral thesis of Mr. Kent Hovind (note that I won't be referring to him as "Dr."), from the prestigious, non-accredited Patriot Bible University. If you don't know, Hovind is one of the dumbest, but most popular, creationism proponents in the USA. He is currently serving a 10-year sentence in prison for tax fraud. The dissertation has been highly sought-after for years by people attempting to see what exactly qualifies Mr. Hovind as a Ph.D., but was never made available until it leaked onto the internet just a few days ago. Now the secret is out! I have some thoughts on it:

1. It contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors. The errors sharply increase in frequency and severity in the second half of the paper, telling me that the finish was seriously rushed. The second half was clearly never proofread, not even while it was being typed.

2. Many of the pages are hand-numbered in messy writing, even though the rest is typed.

3. He brags quite often that he was a high school science teacher. He apparently thinks that should be impressive. To the rubes, it probably is impressive. They don't know that you don't even need a university-level science degree to teach high school science. I don't think Hovind has any scientific education beyond high school. (Verification, anybody?)

4. It contains numerous personal anecdotes and opinions which are not backed up with any facts, and even a poem which he wrote.

5. It contains no references at all to any of the supposed facts it contains, something which would be demanded for all stated facts in a real dissertation.

6. It contains at least one quote which seems to be completely fabricated. This quote is used twice, in different parts of the paper.

7. In one part he argues that religions should not be in schools, then later he writes that his religion should be.

8. It begins with, "Hello, my name is Kent Hovind." This is not at all acceptable for a doctoral dissertation at a real university, nor even for a grade-school paper on polar bears.

9. It contains an ironic discussion about people's faith in their beliefs being so strong that it can hinder scientific progress.

10. It discusses countries in which people are not allowed to practice religion, saying they are contrary to freedom, but ignores countries in which one must practice the state religion and may not be an atheist (at least publicly).

11. It contains an anecdote about how fat Charles Darwin's grandfather was. Is this appropriate for a doctoral dissertation?

12. When he wonders why no trees are more than a few thousand years old, the words "forest fires" never occur to him.

13. It ignores modern scientific knowledge.

14. It contains no original research.

15. Most of the chapters which are discussed in the introduction are not actually contained in the thesis. He planned to write 16 chapters, but only the first 4 are included. He didn't even adjust the introduction to recognise this. The content promised in those chapters is not found anywhere else in the paper, indicating that it wasn't just several chapters combined into one. More evidence for my point #1 above.

16. In 2 places in which he attempts to quote a book (who knows if the quote is even legit), the title is missing, with a note to himself to add the title later.

If you're interested in reading it, check it out here. It's a fairly fast read, as it contains nothing scholarly or difficult on the intellect.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Atheism, Religion and Genocide - Part 1 - Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

As some of you already know, I went to Uganda last summer. Uganda has a really bad reputation for what happened in the past, but has been a mostly safe and stable country to visit for years now. Many people who remember watching its worst troubles on the news do not realise that it has since recovered quite well, except for a violent insurgency in the remote north.

I spent 2 weeks there, and really liked it. I had some great wildlife encounters, and the people were very friendly. The public displays of religious faith were much more numerous and stronger than I had experienced anywhere else. There are heaps of businesses, completely unrelated to religion, that have religious names. It is very common to find a hair salon called, "Saved By God", or a grocery store called, "God's Grace" or something like that. Even the banks get into it. An ad for a bank in neighbouring Kenya has a smiling face saying, "(bank's name) is my kind of company because it is God-fearing". The buses have banners on the front that say, "Protected by God/Allah", whichever is appropriate for the driver. There is a channel on TV which is just people dancing for Jesus, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Considering they only have about 7 channels, that seemed like an excessive waste. Even if you are religious, why would you want to watch little boys and midgets dance for Jesus to the same music over and over again?

In my friendly exchanges and experiences with the Ugandan people, it never occurred to me that they might be.... well..... genocidal maniacs.

When I first saw this article on CNN, I thought it was a joke. I don't know why I thought it was a joke, CNN not being known for its sense of humour, but it just seemed so ridiculous.

Here is a brief summary of the bill before the Ugandan parliament (I have read the original text):

1. Anybody committing a homosexual act can be imprisoned for life.
2. Those who 'attempt' a homosexual act can be imprisoned for up to 7 years.
3. Those who know of homosexuality taking place, but do not report it, can be imprisoned for up to 3 years. This includes hotel owners whose rooms are being used by a gay couple.
4. Anybody committing a homosexual act more than once faces the death penalty.
5. Anybody who commits a homosexual act and is HIV-positive faces the death penalty.
6. Anybody who enters a same-sex union can be imprisoned for life.
7. The law applies to any Ugandan citizen or resident who commits a homosexuality crime, even if the act is committed in a country where it is legal. Extradition will be sought (not like any civilised country would grant such an extradition).
8. Organisations, blogs, etc. which promote gay rights are illegal, effectively banning opposition to the bill once passed.
9. Any international treaties which contain provisions counter to this bill (ie. human rights treaties) are declared void.
10. The bill also declares same-sex attraction to be purely a choice, with no natural influence. Being religious people, they do not feel bound to provide any evidence for such a statement.

So people who commit homosexual acts more than once (ie. most homosexuals) face death. Sounds like genocide to me. Here's what some leaders of (morally-superior) religions in Uganda had to say, according to the CNN article:

"The Rev. Esau Omara, a senior church leader, said over the weekend that any lawmaker opposing the bill will pay for it during the next election, according to local newspaper reports." (link)

"And a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje, has called for gays to be rounded up and banished to an island until they die."

To their credit, it seems that some religious organisations outside of Uganda have spoken out against this bill, as have the leaders of several Western nations. However, at least one religious organisation is accused of being officially opposed to the bill, while some of its individual members allegedly lobbied in favour of it.

But deep down, this is what most Christians, Muslims and Jews want, at least those who actually believe their book is true and want it followed. The ones who think the books are a buffet of choice to be cherry-picked might not agree, but for those fundamentalists, which a large percentage of the religious are, they are commanded to do so!

Leviticus 20-13:

13If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So where are you now, you divinely-moral religious believers? Most of you probably don't even know about this, because your pastors don't like to bring up the negatives of religion and who the hell cares about Africa anyway, but if you are aware of it, what are you going to do? Are you going to stand up for your book, or stand up for human rights and against genocide? Are you going to find a way to blame it on atheists? It's time for those of you with any real morality in you at all to stand up to the murderous power of your religion!

If you choose to stand for decency and human rights, there are Facebook groups and online petitions. Search around.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Avoid donating to the Salvation Army

Some holiday advice to those charitable atheists who might be considering dropping some money in those Salvation Army buckets at the mall this winter: Find another charity.

Here is the Salvation Army's mission statement:

"The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.

Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Now using word verification for comments

I've been forced to turn on word-verification for all comments. The site has begun attracting too much spam, most of it for prescription drugs, and some in languages I can't read. Sorry for this, but once again, spam makes the internet less user-friendly for everyone. If there is a hell, I know the spammers will be there. Hopefully they'll be in a separate zone from me and my readers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How do they even know what Jesus looked like?

METHUEN, Mass. - A woman who recently separated from her husband and had her hours cut at work says an image of Jesus Christ she sees on her iron has reassured her that "life is going to be good."

Mary Jo Coady first noticed the image Sunday when she walked into her daughter's room.

The brownish residue on the bottom of the iron looks like the face of a man with long hair.

The 44-year-old Coady was raised Catholic. She and her two college-age daughters agree that the image looks like Jesus and is proof that "he's listening."

Coady tells The Eagle-Tribune newspaper she hopes her story will inspire others during the holidays. She says she plans to keep the iron in a closet and buy a new one.


Atheists on Kiva.org

I just joined the site Kiva.org. This is a really great site that lets you loan, not donate, money to entrepreneurs of your choice, mostly in developing countries. They use the money to invest in their business, and pay it back later. Once paid back, you can re-loan the money to a new project or withdraw it back into your Paypal account. The minimum loan amount is US$25, and almost all of the loans get paid back. The delinquency rate is very low.

This concept is known as microfinance or microcredit. It was first brought to my attention by the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, who started a bank for this purpose.

The Kiva.org site lets you join a "lending team", which allows you to join together with people in your region, or people who have the same interests. When I brought up a list of the teams, top of the list was Atheists/Agnostics/Freethinkers/Secular Humanists/Non-Religious. At first I thought it was just alphabetical order, my knowledge of the alphabet telling me that 'A' appears rather early in the sequence. But as I took a closer look, I saw that the team was at the top of the list because it had the most members and had loaned the most money of all 10,000 or so teams. Which team is currently a very distant second place? Kiva Christians.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Islamic countries try to ban my site

I was planning to write a different post, but that will have to wait now. I found this story in the news today, and it demanded a response.

The basics of the story are that a group of 56 Islamic countries are petitioning the United Nations to create a treaty that would protect religions and their symbols from abuse or mockery. This is essentially a worldwide ban on blasphemy. Ireland has just done this voluntarily.

I have a whole bunch of questions about this, such as:

1. Would this require the Islamic countries to actually respect other religions and atheism?

2. Would this make it illegal for religious people to come to my door and tell me how much I suck and/or deserve to be tortured forever because I don't believe what they believe?

3. Why aren't their gods strong enough to stand up for themselves? They seem to be kinda weak and cowardly.

Such a treaty would make this website against international law, so I have something to say to religions, while I still can:

"Fuck your prophets, fuck your saviours, fuck your gods, fuck your angels, fuck your texts, fuck your prayers, fuck your souls, fuck your afterlife, fuck your traditions, fuck your ceremonies, fuck your symbols, fuck your leaders, fuck your places of worship, fuck your holy cities, fuck YOU!"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Power of Simplicity

The idea that the simplest explanation is often the best, is popularly known as Occam's Razor. We all use the Razor in our daily lives, even if we don't think about it. The examples of how we do so are so insignificant that they can almost be considered trivial. For example, if you own a dog, and you hear it running around your house, then you hear a crash and find a broken lamp, you'd conclude that the dog knocked it over. That is the simplest and most reasonable explanation. Why did you reject the possibility that the dog was chasing away an alien trespasser, and the alien knocked over the lamp as it fled out the window? You rejected it because it would require a whole lot of other explanations in order to make any sense.

In a court of law, if a defendant was found standing over a stab-wound riddled dead body, holding a knife, wearing clothes covered with blood, confesses to the crime because he hated the victim, and has video he took of himself doing the stabbing, isn't it reasonable for the jury to conclude that the defendant killed the victim? Why aren't other explanations considered? Why wouldn't people accept the argument that the body was planted, the video was faked, etc?

A good example of this principle in science is the development of our knowledge of the solar system. In order to maintain a presupposed geocentric solar system, people put a lot of effort into explaining the movements of the planets in the sky. They invented cycles upon cycles upon cycles in an effort to force the presupposed conclusion to fit the observed data. In the end, it was a huge, complicated mess. Then along came a much simpler explanation, that Earth was not the centre. The movement of the planets could then be explained by single ellipses, which fit the data perfectly. Of course, the religious fought this idea as hard as they could, and came down hard on those who supported it.

So now we come to the existence of gods. A lot of claims about gods have been made, and a lot of excuses have been made for why none of those claims seem to be supported by reality. Here is a small sample of questions that I have about gods:

1. Why won't the gods heal amputees?
2. Why is there no measurable effect of prayer?
3. Why do bad things happen to good people?
4. Why did the god of the Bible allow mistranslations of the scripture into modern languages, after being so careful to not allow any errors in the originals?
5. Why do the gods not perform blatant miracles today?
6. Why do the gods hide themselves from us but expect us to believe anyway?
7. Why do perfect gods make so many imperfect things?
8. Why don't religious leaders (eg. Catholic Church) seem to be more moral than the rest of us if they are representatives of these gods?

Now religious people have answers for all of these questions (none of which they can support), but they really have to wave their hands a lot. A simpler, universal, and therefore much more powerful answer to all of these questions, is that gods don't exist. No hand-waving and no magic required. The idea of gods not existing fits the data perfectly. In other words, all of those questions above can be answered in a way assuming that gods exist, or in such a way that they don't. But the only way that prevents us from having to "invent cycles upon cycles upon cycles" is if we accept the idea that gods don't exist. Or at least, the claims that religious people make about their gods are not accurate. I suppose a totally different kind of god would be possible, but the gods that most humans describe lead us to a huge, complicated mess of explanations, which we can safely reject.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two generations of ignorant asses

".... I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under (my) god."

- Republican presidential candidate George Bush (the first one), 1987

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Science surpasses gods in amputee care

I found this article today, about a pretty exciting breakthrough in prosthetic hands. Scientists have developed a feedback mechanism which allows the amputee's brain to perceive a sense of touch when handling objects.

Now we know that gods are widely credited with healing humans from illness, but they seem to be quite incapable of healing amputees. No matter how much prayer a person makes and receives, their limbs just never grow back. It seems that the gods can only heal afflictions which the body would be capable of healing by itself, which leaves us in a position to reject the idea of a supernatural contribution to any healing that occurs.

With the technology described in the article, humans have now completely left the gods in our dust regarding the help we can provide for amputees. Would any of you religious-healing supporters like a re-match?

You can read my previous post on this subject here. I'll repeat my favourite part of that post here:

If the religious people object, I ask them, "Why is it that we have to seek such treatments?" It's because, despite promises of healing from you, your cult, your polygamous pedophile cult leader, and your imaginary friend, these people are not being healed in any other way! Despite all of your prayers, nothing is happening! If you want us to stop this research, tell your worthless, apathetic god to get off its lazy ass and start healing these people! Tell it to do something useful and productive for once in its fricking existence! Something tells me nothing will happen, despite all of your pleading. I know why, do you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

De-conversion story 4

Another de-conversion story from a reader:

I have always been inquisitive and interested in science, so my de-conversion from Christianity really came as no surprise now that I think about it. I was twelve when it first started, on a vacation in Florida. I was very excited that day because my parents took my brother and I to the bookstore. I ended up taking home 5 books, one of which was Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion". I read it in two days and it had a profound effect. I had grown up in a (quite liberal, I now realize) Presbyterian church, and even though I knew all about Evolution from watching the Discovery Channel and reading Scientific American, I had never actually thought about religion in a critical light. I found Dawkins' book very persuasive, but decided I was too stubborn to allow myself to be converted so easily. Over the course of the past three years, ! however, I have realized just how little sense religion makes and just how pernicious its influence is. A friend of mine recently invited me to his mega-church's youth group, and I was shocked at how these peddlers of 2000-year-old beliefs tried to ingratiate themselves to kids with rock music and funny videos. As soon as I got home, I googled "stupid fundies" to try and get the indoctrination off of me. That led me to a number of sites like these, and I am now a proud atheist.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chances of life

One of my first posts on this site, and actually part of what inspired me to start it, was a creationist attempting to argue for the statistical probability of life. You can read that post here.

It seems there is no serious shortage of religious people attempting to argue for the probability of life forming, whether or not they are of the young-Earth variety of twit. In my recent argument with Nathan 'the less-than-intelligent Christian', he attempted just such an argument. He came to my site and proudly proclaimed that it was mathematically more likely that life was created by his god than by natural processes. So of course, I challenged him on it.

His argument was essentially that if the chance of life occurring on Earth naturally is 1-in-x, then the chances that it was created by his god are 1-(1/x). He then cited some bullshit number for x that was pretty large. To state more clearly, and to use simple numbers, let's say that somebody determines the probability of life occurring naturally to be 10% (keep in mind that any such number is baseless and pure speculation at this point). If the chances of it appearing naturally on Earth are 10%, then Nathan's argument goes, the chances it was created by his god are 100% - 10% = 90%.

Now, I eventually got Nathan to concede that it didn't have to be his Christian god that did the creating. What I couldn't get him to concede is that this 90% would represent the sum of ALL other possibilities for how life could have formed, of which an infinite number could be imagined. Even so, his argument is still fatally flawed.

If I have a fair coin, the chance of flipping it and getting heads is 50%. So if I flip it and get heads, does that mean that it had a 50% chance of 'naturally' being heads, and a 50% chance that a god made it heads?

If I buy a lottery ticket with chances of 1-in-14 million, and I win, does that mean that there was a 13,999,999-in-14 million chance that I didn't win by myself, but that a god guided me to those numbers? You don't have to choose the winning numbers for this thinking to hold. By Nathan's reasoning, ANY set of numbers I chose, winners or not, were only 1 of a possible 14 million combinations I could have chosen. Therefore, it would have been a nearly 100% chance that I did not choose my numbers without divine guidance.

Similarly, if the chances of life occurring naturally on any given suitable planet are 10%, and we check some suitable planets and find no life on some, but life on one of them, does that mean that there was a 90% chance that it was put there by a god?

Looked at in this way, you can see that the argument Nathan is trying to make doesn't even make sense. If there is ANY CHANCE of life occurring naturally, then we do not need to invoke a supernatural being in order to explain why life is here on Earth, as we would be considered one of the 'lucky' ones that 'won the lottery'. Even if the odds of life occurring naturally are astronomical, the Universe is an astronomical place, so we're not at a loss to explain why we're here.

Given it is known that life already exists in any particular location, what is the chance it occurred naturally, versus the chance that it appeared due to some other (ie. supernatural) reason? How can we compare these two things when one of them cannot even be demonstrated to exist? For life occurring naturally, we know that the mechanism would be chemistry and the material would be atoms, with chemistry and atoms being things that we can show to exist. But what would the mechanism for supernatural creation be? How could we possibly calculate the odds of supernatural origin of life when neither the mechanisms, nor the supposed being responsible, can be shown to exist or to even be properly defined?

If you don't believe that it is impossible to calculate the odds that life was created by something that cannot be defined or shown to exist, do the following:

Calculate the probability that life on Earth was seeded by alien Zorkishes from the planet Lepon, orbiting the star Nirwag. They used a teleportation ray to put the DNA molecules into an unknown (to us) state of matter called 'quackle', which allowed it to travel through a phase-11 wormhole and arrive at Earth. Good luck.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wait... the world is NOT ending in 2012?

According to this article, a NASA scientist says the world is not ending in 2012.

I'm so glad we give NASA those billions of dollars a year so that they can clear up stuff like this! But wait a minute? How do we know that THEY are not in on the conspiracy? What if NASA is engineering this whole thing? I've heard they're testing a new heavy-lift launch vehicle. What kind of doomsday-inducing payload could it be carrying? Is it true that the space station is up there to provide a refuge for the only people who were chosen to survive, and that they'll come back to Earth after we're all dead and re-colonise? Or is the space station really a giant magnet, which is pulling that rogue planet into Earth's orbit so that it can collide with us? Aren't they just trying to spread misinformation about what's really going to happen in order to prevent us from foiling their plans?

You know, even when I try, I can't write shit as loony as these idiots come up with. Check out this site that a visitor linked me to, trying to convince me of the coming doom. He wasn't sane. Be sure to click around some of the links on that site to get the full experience and hilarity.

Note the ending of the first article I linked to:

"People are very gullible," he added. "It a sad testimonial that you need NASA to tell you the world's not going to end."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

De-conversion story 3

Another de-conversion story from a reader:

I'm almost 15 now, but I de-converted myself, with a bit of laughable help, when I was about 8. I attended a catholic primary school and had performed my first communion the year before, and was under the thrall of my lifestyle.

Having had the 'good word' ingrained into my psyche since my birth, quite literally, since I was taken to church frequently whenever my parents could manage it, I saw no reason to disagree(yet). Strange as it may seem, I was a young boy with a burning passion for knowledge. I had just about taught myself to read, and fortunately possess a partially photographic memory. Boastful as it may seem, it just helps to envision the irony of my devotion.

Anyway, I had begun to learn about evolution, and knew enough about science to know that, at a child's level, if it was in a science book, it was true. I also knew that if it was in the bible, it was true. At my level, despite steady immersion in both fields, I had yet to truly discover a conflict. That changed thanks to the TV, from a source that may cause some puzzlement: Ned Flanders.
I'll keep this brief: Ned and Marge were talking over the hedge, and Ned said(something like this): 'If romance is old then call me a caveman, if they existed, which they didn't.' Me: lol.
Later, as I came out of the shower(wierd but I think there a lot), I was shocked: cavemen were real. I knew they were real. I had read about them, seen pictures of their cave-art, and even seen a neanderthal's skeleton. And the bible said they didn't exist.

I suppose this is where many people have come to, and where the choice is made of which to reject. I made my choice through logic, and maybe it'll help someone else too now:
The cavemen existed. You can read about them, and you can see evidence of them all over. You don't meed to believe for them to exist(in the truest sense, that they will have some effect on the material universe, in some measurable way, like the matter in their bones.)

God doesn't exist. He has no measurable effect on the universe, and don't dare say that God working through people is his way of existing, there is enough neurological knowledge available to determine that if someone is hearing voices in their head, they are insane, not divinely inspired.

The main point: science doesn't need you to believe it to exist, but religion does. All do. They NEED you. Your mind is their lifeblood, and they will suck you dry. That is what tipped me.
Do I go for the one that actually exists, or do I go for the one that can only exist in my mind, if I imagine him, and will make me serve him, and will not benefit me in any way.
Sounds like a big heap o' crazy to me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oh, you had a personal experience?

Believer: "I had a personal experience which I can't explain, so I know it was (insert supernatural explanation here)."

Skeptic: "Oh, you had a personal experience that you can't explain? Well then, I believe you. I believe you because I know that you are familiar with and understand every natural phenomena there is, so if you can't explain it, it must have been supernatural. Not only that, but I also know that your brain is a more advanced version than a regular person's, and it cannot be deceived, hallucinate, or fail to properly perceive a situation."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Those Bible-burning atheist bastards! Wait.... what?

So on Halloween, some dumbass Christians in North Carolina, USA, are going to burn a whole bunch of non-King-James Bibles, along with other books and music on the topic of Christianity. Oh please, please burn some more things:

- Dinosaur Adventure Land
- The Creation Museum
- Ray Comfort's house (wait for his family to leave)
- The Institute for Creation Research
- local churches, synagogues, temples, Scientology centers and mosques (except ones with significant historical or architectural value)

A question for Christian readers, "Are they going to hell for this?"

You can read the short article here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Religion, atheism and charity

I received this message from a reader of the site:

"Can you do a post on charity? I've had this argument with my (religious) girlfriend many times but have yet to win it. She argues that most of the 'very bad' religious events in history really had more to do with non-religious things such as politics or discrimination. Fine and dandy, no problem with that. But then she goes on to argue that the major force of charity - what we would call nonprofit organizations today - is and has always been religious in nature. /That/ I don't really have an argument for."

OK, let me give it a shot. I want to address this from a number of different angles, so I'll break it up by point.

1. It's true that many charities are run by religious organisations. For that, we can be happy. It has been asked to me in the past, by religious people, why there aren't any "atheist charities". Well, the first reason is that atheists don't organise themselves on nearly the same level as religious people do. It has been said that trying to organise atheists is like trying to herd cats. They are independent thinkers by nature. And if you don't believe me, ask yourself why, if your particular country is X% atheist and Y% religious, you don't see X atheist buildings for every Y religious buildings in your town. There are some atheist clubs, sure, but not on nearly the same level, even per capita, as religious groups. I find even the concept of an atheist charity to be silly, because besides alienating a good deal of the population as potential donors, the only reason atheist groups exist is to respond to religious claims of the supernatural and to try to maintain a distance between politics and religion. Setting up a charity for the cause seems kinda pointless.

2. While many charities are religious, many are not, including some of the biggest charities on Earth. Some examples of secular charities (as far as I know) are the Red Cross (despite the logo), United Way, World Wildlife Fund and Doctors Without Borders. And don't try to argue that any charity started by a religious person is therefore inspired by religion, unless you're willing to admit that my charitable donations are inspired by atheism. And if you do take that route, I think you're a fool.

3. I want to question the motivations of religions for doing charity work, and to argue that most religious donors would probably give to charity even if they didn't have theistic beliefs. If you are religious and reading this, do you give to charity solely because of your religion? If the answer is, "No", then we're finished. But if the answer is, "Yes", then what kind of person does that make you? Doesn't that mean that you only act charitably in hopes that you'll get something in return (ie. in the afterlife), or that you only give because you feel obligated to in servitude to your imaginary master? If you think you only give to charity because of your religion, then that either makes you wrong, a liar, or a total jackass! Another point is that some religious organisations only provide their charitable services as a way to spread their religion to populations that don't currently embrace it. After the big tsunami a few years back, there were some Christian groups that provided aid to villages only on the condition that the villagers abandon their beliefs and convert to Christianity. Not exactly noble, is it?

4. I take exception to the argument about past 'very bad religious events' were not truly inspired by religion, but by politics or discrimination. Besides the fact that politics and discrimination often have a large religious component as their justification, any argument about how bad things couldn't have been caused by religion, but were merely using religion as a cover, is unfalsifiable, and therefore worthless. So when good things, like charity, happen and use religion as a cover, it's legitimate, but when bad things happen, it isn't really because of the religion? It's Ray Comfort's "no true Christian would become an atheist, so those people clearly weren't Christians", or "every sane person has a conscience given by a god, so anybody without the same conscience as me is insane". It seems like your girlfriend is trying to do major damage control, and brush the misdeeds of religion and religious people under the carpet. It's total bullshit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This is not a religious website!

It's hard to name a website these days. When I began this site a little more than a year ago, I wanted my own domain name, not just a Blogger address. So I started searching for availability of some domain names. Because the web is huge now, it was really tough. I think AtheistPropaganda was about my tenth choice, as the other names I thought of were all taken. But now that I have the name, I really like it, and am glad it was available.

The problem is that some people don't read the site, but think from the name that I am a religious believer attacking atheists. They then email me, without ever having read a single post, wondering why I'm being so harsh on atheists. This has happened a few times, with the latest being just a few hours ago. My guess is that these people are spamming religious sites, going from one to the other, copying and pasting the same text into the emails to each one, without ever actually reading the sites. This is probably because reading a post or two would mean they couldn't email quite as many sites in the same amount of time, and they've got spamming to do!

So please, stop emailing me and accusing me of being religious!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A fake, you say?

So the famous Shroud of Turin, thought by a whole lot of Christian believers to be the actual burial cloth of their not-yet-demonstrated-to-even-have-existed saviour, has taken another blow.

It had already been carbon-dated by scientists and shown to have originated closer to our time than to the time of the supposed Jesus. They concluded it was a Medieval forgery. Believers argued that the tests were wrong, and that the image on it could not have been created through any means known to man, especially at that time.

I once saw a TV show on crop circles in the UK. The believers said that there was no way a crop circle like that could have been made by humans, it was too perfect. Some 'experts' agreed with this analysis. Then the program showed two men who claimed to be the pranksters who made the circles. They demonstrated how, using some wood and ropes, they could make the circles in just a few hours. That was enough time to get into the fields after dark and out before sunrise, leaving a 'mysterious' crop circle.

So what do we have in the case of the shroud? A scientist now claims to have made a full-scale reproduction of the shroud, using some fairly simple techniques and materials. Click here to read the article.

Whether or not this turns out to be legitimate, I can't say at this time. If confirmed (science tends to like to actually confirm things, unlike religion), it is just another embarrassment to the religious. Time and time again, they come out with their argument from ignorance that science can't explain this, and science can't explain that. And time and time again, given a little patience, science comes up with an answer. Why haven't these idiots learned their lesson yet? What the fuck is wrong with them?

If you're keeping score, it's now:

Science 1,453,390,446,128 Religion: 0

*It could be argued that just because this image can be reproduced, doesn't mean that the original was made in the same way. That is a fair argument. But it has now been shown that it is at least possible to reproduce the image, and so the argument that it can't be reproduced should be thrown away. Until the religious can actually provide some proof instead of just bitching about the results from science, guess who wins?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

If only her faith were stronger.....

The following is a true story out of Uganda in the last couple of months. I read it in the newspaper while I was there, and have been unable to find it online, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

A woman whose child (I forget the gender) died ran off into the countryside with the body. The police caught up with her days (weeks?) later. The body of the child was already partially decomposed. She said she had taken the body away so that she could resurrect it. She was motivated by the encouragement of her pastor, who told her that it was possible for her to resurrect the body, and that she should go on the run with it.

When she was caught, the pastor got into a lot of trouble with the police. He insisted that resurrection is possible, but that the woman's faith in their (Christian) god was not strong enough, so the gift of power to resurrect the dead had not been granted to her.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The arrogance of clergy

This is my favourite Pat Condell tirade! I'm not usually a huge fan of the guy, but we're in total agreement here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Do Christian Singles

After seeing a bunch of ads for Christian dating sites, I decided to give one a visit. I clicked on profiles of some nice-looking girls, and found this one. (I prefer brunettes.) Read it and see if you know where this post is going.

Are you thinking I'm going to laugh at this part?

"I was home schooled from 1st grade throught 12th grade. Then after I graduated, I went to a Bible college in Abbotsford, Canada B.C. I was there for a year. Then I took 3 years off, when my family and I moved to Wyoming to own a campground. We were there for 4 years. The last year we were there, I did one year of college online through Trinity Bible College."

Yes, I did find that amusing. I'm sure this girl has a well-rounded view of the world, after spending her entire life in Christian schools or being taught by her Christian parents. It seems she's trying to pass that off as a real education. There is no mention of her major, but it probably didn't involve critical thinking. I see a college that fits the description offers programs such as 'Bachelor of Worship Arts'.

So what's the real reason that I made this post? It's this part:

"I am so thankful to be alive! I was born three months premature and only weighed 2lbs. 4oz. I spent three months in the hospital and almost died several times. But through a lot of prayer and the grace of God, I am alive and well today!!"

Notice that she gives no credit at all to the doctors and nurses who worked on her, or the medical technology which aided her survival? All of the credit and her thanks go to her imaginary friend! Oh, and let's not forget the prayer!

If that's how things work, why don't we just throw premature babies into the rain gutter at the side of the road? If it's a god's will that they survive, then they'll survive! And if it's a god's will that they die, they'll die! Why do we bother to use all of these fancy machines, such as incubators, to keep them alive? Come to think of it, why do we intervene in medical cases at all? Why do we even put our food in the fridge? Won't our god protect us by preventing bacteria from growing on the food, or just keep us from getting sick if bacteria are present?

Sweetie, you're a good-looking girl, and you're welcome to send me naked photos of yourself (click the contact link at the top-left of the page), but I just don't think our relationship is going to work out if you're such a ditz.

I've posted on this kind of thing before.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is this kind of thing even news anymore?

I'm shocked! SHOCKED, I Say!

A Roman Catholic Bishop wanted on kiddie porn charges. Who would have thought? Why, oh why, can't I be as moral as these Christians? Please Christians, teach me how to be as moral as you! I am clearly lost, and need guidance to more effectively behave badly now and ask for forgiveness later.

And to you people who think this guy is going to have eternal bliss and I'm going to be eternally tortured, go fuck yourselves.

As an added note, "The former leader of the diocese of Antigonish is perhaps best known as the man who helped broker a $15-million settlement with people who said they had been sexually abused by priests in the diocese, in some cases dating back to 1950. That settlement was approved by a Nova Scotia court on Sept. 10."

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Can you prove that Jesus didn't resurrect?

I was recently challenged by a less-than-intelligent Christian to prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Once again, these people do not understand where the burden of proof lies. They have an extraordinary claim. They need extraordinary evidence to back it up.

Another thing he doesn't understand is that it's often very difficult, if not impossible, to prove a negative. The example given to me in my high school class was to prove that a particular kind of bird does not come in red. You could check all over the world, looking for a red version of this bird, and not find one. But you haven't proven anything, because you don't know whether or not you missed one.

So how would one go about proving that such a thing as a resurrection did not happen? My first instinct was to try to find the body of Jesus (keeping in mind that I'm not sure he even existed to provide a body to find). If we could find a body and identify it as Jesus, would that prove to Christians that he never resurrected? NO! Because the Christians would then merely counter that either this was not the body of Jesus, or that it didn't prove that he didn't resurrect once (which would be a correct objection). The body we had was from his second death, of course. We'd then counter that Jesus was supposed to have risen to heaven in physical form, body and all. They'd then counter that this was merely a metaphor (like they do with every other part of the Bible when it collapses under the weight of reality), and that only his spirit went to heaven, while his body perished. *Please don't comment if you think I'm wrong about the physical ascension, it doesn't matter to the point.

I don't think that there is a way to prove that such an event did not occur, and that the Christian is being an ignorant jackass by asking me to do so. Does anybody have any ideas of how we could do this? Or do you think I'm right in thinking that it isn't possible?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

De-conversion story 2

A long time ago, I began a topic about de-conversion stories. I asked readers to send in their stories, and I would post them, of course keeping the writer anonymous. This is the first and only one I've ever received. It's strange, because for the number of hits this page gets, I'd think somebody would have sent me a story before now. Anyway, if you want to send me yours, please go ahead.

*Make sure to get to the end of this post for an excellent quote to finish it off.

A reader writes:

My story begins when I was thirteen. I was a Lutheran, as my mother had raised me in the church. My father is Catholic, but that hardly matters. Anyways, I was in confirmation class (Yes, I went to two years of class, and have been confirmed in the Lutheran religion.), when I started to see past all the fancy language the pastor was throwing at us. Luckily for me we had just gotten a new pastor who was more open about answering questions.

He once asked us to question our faith, as that is what the brain God had given us was for. And I agreed on that point. Why give us the power to question, and then ask us not to? So I asked him a few questions, and my faith suddenly failed.

1. There is a God? (Yes)
2. He is all-powerful, all knowing? (Yes)
3. He knows everything that was, is, and will be? (Yes)
4. He has given us free will as a people to make our own decisions and act as we want? (Yes)
5. But if He knows what is to be, and we do not, how then do we have free will? Surely He knows what we are going to do? (Silence)

It occurred to me that a 13 year old boy should not be able to stump a 40-something year old pastor who has devoted his life to the church. And that set the ball rolling.

Why would God create a tree that, to eat from it, would cause Adam and Eve to be cast from Eden? Why would the tree contain the knowledge of good and evil? Why would He allow the Devil in? Surely He would know if the Devil were in his garden. He is all knowing. Why would He not forgive Adam and Eve? Surely if anyone ever deserved forgiveness, it was the two people He created who had no knowledge of right and wrong?

After all this my questioning of religion became sort of a hobby of mine. Once I found science and physics proper, not that crap they teach you in school, I mean Stephen Hawking, Einstein, etc., the truth became clear. Here was a way with answers, evidence, research. Not just an old book written by man.

Science became my religion, and it is to that I now devote my life. Surely if anything were worth my devotion, it would be the endless knowledge the universe offers freely, without want of my money or prayers or sacrifice. God has never helped anybody in a way that can be proven or supported by evidence. But science was curing disease, helping the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the injured to heal. I have yet to see the benefits of religion, but everyday I hear of its misfortune of war, ignorance and greed.

Religious fanatics are the poorest people in the world. Knowledge is true wealth. And it is amazing how many people wish to live in poverty for their beliefs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CNN Survey

Today's survey on CNN.com's international website is, "Do you believe in God?" The results so far are surprising to me. Out of over 29,000 votes, 65% say, No. I'm not sure if this is because Muslims would answer that they believe in Allah, not God, but oh well.

Vote by clicking here and scroll down to the survey. (Edit: the poll is gone now)

(Another edit: A reader commented that the results were due to an organised effort by readers of at least one other atheist blog to vote in large numbers. For me to not mention that in the main post would be dishonest.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I was robbed by a Christian

So, I was in Kenya recently. As some of you might know, Kenya has a fairly bad reputation for crime, especially in Nairobi, which is referred to as "Nairobbery" in travelers' circles.

I was on a short tour heading to Masaai Mara park, when our group stopped for lunch. A camera bag belonging to a member of our group was stolen while we ate. It contained camera equipment worth more than US$2,000. It was taken right from our table, with 5 of us there, yet we couldn't figure out how.

We then found out that the waiter had intentionally overcharged us for everything we bought. He had charged us more than double the real price for some items (there was no menu to verify prices against), and had removed the carbon paper from the receipt book so that the restaurant would not discover the copy and learn what he had done. He destroyed the original copy afterward.

Once we knew about the waiter, how the camera bag got stolen seemed a bit more clear. He was likely working with a partner. When he took our order from one side of the table, all of our eyes went to that direction. Then somebody else came and took the bag while we were looking away.

So we dragged the waiter to the police station. Along the way, I asked him if he was a Christian, and he said that he was. I asked him if he believed in hell, and he didn't respond. I guess he could see where my line of questioning was going.

At the station, the officers asked my girlfriend what her religion was. She told him she's an atheist, and I told him I'm an atheist too. He then told his fellow officers, who proceeded to laugh at us. The officer called us 'pagans'. I objected at first, but it turns out that by some dictionary definitions, any non-Christian/Jew/Muslim is a pagan. So sure, fine, I'm a pagan.

We never were able to prove the guy helped steal the camera bag, but we did prove that he had badly overcharged us for the meal, and had pocketed the money for himself. He lost his job, and may or may not have been charged with anything after we left.

The morality of Christians never ceases to amaze me. The saying goes, "Why be good when you can just be forgiven?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How other people's religion hurts me

Religious people often argue that their religion does not harm or inconvenience me in any way. To them I ask, have you ever visited a country with a significant Muslim population? How about getting woken up every single morning at 4:30AM by the call to prayer which is blasted from loudspeakers mounted on the mosque in the downtown area? Why does every single person who lives in that town have to wake up every single day at 4:30AM, just because these people have an imaginary friend? Is there no consideration at all? This particular town wasn't even half Muslim, and still they have to do this to everybody, every single day! At least I was only there for 3 nights, but it really sucked! Inconsiderate pricks! You can't even use earplugs, because then you run the risk of missing your own alarm. All you can do is take it and try to get back to sleep after it's over.

I should note here that of all religious people, I think the Muslims are my favourites. I've been to a few Muslim countries now, and find the people to be incredibly kind and hospitable, more so than any other people I've met. So in general, I like Muslims. But in this case, I have to strongly object.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Making a problem worse

I want to use this post to give a concrete example of how "innocent" religious belief can really hurt.

I recently visited Kenya. As some of you may know, Kenya is currently experiencing a serious drought. The annual rains failed. Food and water are scarce, animals and people are dying. Some farmers have lost most of their herds. The government is giving out emergency food rations to the people. While I was there, some organisation issued a report ranking the "water wealth" of countries, meaning the amount of fresh water available per person. Kenya ranked at the absolute bottom, dead last. They are the most "water-poor" nation on Earth.

So I was talking with some of the Maasai tribesmen. They still live a traditional lifestyle, in huts made of animal dung and plant materials, herding sheep, cows and goats, etc. They have been devastated by the drought, with many of their animals already dead. They (at least the ones I talked to) are now Christians. The guy was explaining to me that they don't use birth control or family planning. He said that his god decides how many children he will have. So if he has more children, it's the will of his god.

Isn't that terrible? Here they are, in the middle of a multi-year drought, when there isn't enough food or water to feed the people that already exist, and these people are making the problem worse by just having as many kids as possible because their imaginary friend wills it! Options for controlling their numbers are available, but they won't use them because their imaginary friend doesn't like it! For every child born (above the replacement rate), Kenya becomes even more water-poor. For every child born, there is even less food to go around per person. You get the idea, right?

Here is a link to a recent article about the problem. Note that the guy in the story has 16 kids. Also note the closing quote about their imaginary friend.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Leprechaun in a box

There's a great post worth checking out at the Atheist Experience blog. It's about a leprechaunist and an aleprechaunist arguing about whether or not there is a leprechaun in a box.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Objective morality can't be supported by reality

I've recently been debating with a Christian who began commenting on the site about how he believes that people staring at the texts of the Bible and studying who wrote them is proof enough of the resurrection of Jesus, and therefore of the Christian faith. This guy is in, or is a fan of, the 'philosophical community', and spends a lot of time reading. He sent me a long-winded, and in my opinion pointless, parable written by a philosopher. I can tell that this guy spends too much time reading, and not enough time observing reality.

The topic turned to morality, and I argued that there is no such thing as objective morality, but that society has agreed on certain things which are 'right' or 'wrong' (helpful or harmful). His philosophically-educated response:

"You did very well here to demonstrate the idea of objective moral values. It is the fact that societies across history agree on certain morals that one can say that there is objective morality. So, your questions do nothing to convince me otherwise."

Have you ever observed the reality of society, or do you just read? How can anybody be so stupid to think that there is absolute morality, and in your case, that it was given to us by your Christian god? I mean, this is Ray-Comfort-level stupidity and inability to comprehend the real world!

Let me ask you a question before I begin on reality. I know you're absolutely shit at answering questions, and very good at dodging them, but I'll try anyway. Here is the question. If we all agree that drinking cyanide is bad for our health, does that mean we were given objective knowledge of health from your god? Or does it mean that we've read newspapers, we read warning labels, and we generally trust that these reports are accurate, and that drinking cyanide is lethal? In other words, was this knowledge given to us divinely, or was it formed from observing reality? Ironically, religion can and has made people drink cyanide, because religion turns off the rational thought processes in the brain, and has nothing at all to do with reality.

Now on to morality. This might seem a bit rambling, and that's because there are so many different angles that I want to attack this claim from. I'll try to keep its length within reason.

If morality was objective and given by your god, then we should all agree that the 10 commandments define morality. I've covered this in another post, but our laws are not based on the commandments, and my morality isn't either. There are only 4 of them that I'm on-board with. The others, fuck them! That's right, fuck your douche-bag of a god making blasphemy wrong! For the love of your fucking god, I will take its name in vain any time I want! Fuck the 'sabbath day', I'm using it to blaspheme right now! (I'm writing this post on a Sunday, but will delay its publication for a few days. Wait a minute! Wasn't Saturday supposed to be the sabbath day? Oh, those wacky Christians!) I don't feel bad about it at all, because this is not part of my morality. Your ogre of a god doesn't even exist!

Now if societies throughout history agree that some of these things, like murder, are wrong, does that mean that the knowledge was given to us divinely? Or, going back to the cyanide analogy, does it mean that we've observed what happens when people harm each other, and that we decided it isn't productive? Our civilisation wouldn't even be here today if we thought murder was generally acceptable, so the fact that we are here shows how we feel about it. But time and time and time again throughout history, and every single day in modern society, people decide that they have reasons for breaking this morality and killing people. Societies have murdered each other in tremendous numbers throughout history. People slay each other in the streets every day, all throughout the world. And if they feel it was justified, they all have different reasons why it was necessary in their case. Your country made a moral case for nuking two cities, and for invading another country which had not attacked it. If morality is objective, then shouldn't we not only all believe murder is wrong, but also agree on the circumstances under which it is OK? We don't see that at all.

Beyond murder and theft, which almost all people believe is generally wrong, there are so many other morals which people disagree on strongly. These are people who disagree on what is right and wrong, which shouldn't be possible under your scenario. Can't you see that? Do you need me to spoon-feed you some examples of morality issues on which people genuinely disagree? Here:

- consumption of alcohol and drugs
- prostitution
- gambling
- pedophilia
- forced marriages
- women's rights
- homosexuality
- piracy of intellectual property
- abortion
- adultery
- universal health care (look around in your country, dude!)

So all you've got for evidence of your 'objective morality' is that MOST people agree that murder and theft are wrong in MOST situations, those situations being defined differently for every person. The rest is completely up in the air. You'd have to be spending way too much time with your nose in your books to not notice the conflicts over morality which occur daily all around you! And that's why I've lost even more respect for you, your arguments, and the 'philosophical community'.

For the record, I think piracy of intellectual property is flat-out theft. Society as a whole seems to tolerate it, and some believe it's not in any way wrong. I believe there is nothing at all immoral about prostitution, but society as a whole believes there is. I also don't believe there is anything immoral about homosexuality, but your little book of myths and its loyal followers disagree, don't they? How can we have all these disagreements if morality is objective?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Religion provides cover for more serious insanity

In this post, I want to give some examples of the way that the religious beliefs of the general population provide a sort of "cover" for some pretty dangerous beliefs held by others, including the recent case of the kidnapped girl who was found in California after nearly 2 decades.

Let me start with a comical example. Have you ever heard of a cargo cult? Cargo cults are formed by natives of certain isolated areas, after contact is initiated with people from the developed world. This is my loose understanding of what they are. The natives see the equipment, or cargo, that the foreigners have, and they want some too. Cargo can include anything from radios to bottles of Coca-Cola. So they create a religion of rituals and whatever in an attempt to bring planes full of cargo to them. One of the better-known examples is the John Frum cult on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu (I've been to that island, but did not visit the cult). The island was a base for American troops during WWII, and there were a lot of planes full of equipment landing. Even today, the villagers build and maintain airstrips and have fake radios ready to guide the planes in. I remember reading a story, I can't remember where, in which one of the leaders of one of these cults was asked just how long they were going to wait for their cargo. The implication was that they should give up after 60 years, it's not coming. The leader replied (paraphrased), "If you can wait 2,000 years for Jesus to return, we can wait a little longer for our cargo." This is what I mean when I say that the public's acceptance of religion provides cover for other 'crazier' beliefs. A Christian can't lecture these people on sanity, because they're just as bad, if not worse! When is Jesus coming back, by the way?

So now we get into some more harmful, destructive beliefs. On my recent vacation this summer, I visited Uganda. I had a chance to read their newspapers once or twice, and found articles about their problems with kidnapping of young children. It seems that although the country is largely Christian and Muslim, they still have some people who practice the old tribal beliefs, witchdoctors, etc. And these people have been kidnapping young children on their way to school, and then sacrificing them to their spirits. I was just appalled at this, and wanted to find these people, beat them over the head with a fricking baseball bat, while I 'gently explain' to them that there is no such thing as spirits, and they need to use their fucking brains and leave the poor children alone! They're absolute monsters! But they really do believe in spirits, and how can we convince them that their spirits don't exist, when a good portion of the population of the rest of the world believes in all kinds of spirits, gods, angels, devils, ghosts, witches, and all those other ridiculously irrational things? Our culture's widely-held religious beliefs have provided a perfect cover for these people to continue to believe the most fucked-up bullshit! When we stop believing in spirits, maybe we can drag these people into the 19th century with us!

So now we've got this guy in California who kidnapped a little girl, repeatedly raped her, and held her in a prison in his backyard for 18 years. From the news reports I've read, I learned some more about him. First, I learned that he had a history of kidnapping and rape, and had been let out on parole decades before his sentence was completed. The other thing I learned is that he believed that he spoke to his god (Christian god, I assume), and wrote about it on his blog. Now, I've posted before on this topic. The only difference between a person who is in a mental institution because he believes he talks to an imaginary friend, and a guy like this, is that this guy believed his friend created the Universe. Once you believe your imaginary friend created the Universe, it becomes a religion, and you are then somewhat protected legally and socially from being officially declared insane. The question I have is, why was this dangerous offender, who publicly states he talks to some spirit, allowed to remain in society at all? The reason is that the milder level of insanity among the general public provided cover for his belief in this bullshit. The public is accepting of people who believe they talk to their particular god.

You know what my dream is? For a society in which any person who believes they talk to spirits is given an automatic psychiatric evaluation, and that the people who have committed dangerous crimes AND believe they talk to spirits are never let back into society.

And just to close, I want to remind everybody of the case of Tony48219. Another lunatic who would have raised far more red flags in a more rational society.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Theologian says what?

I received an anonymous comment on my post, Why is YOUR religion NOT ridiculous?, that I just had to respond to. Here is the comment in blue. My response is below.

"For me, being a Christian, it comes down to whether or not Jesus truly was what he claimed to be. Did he really have a bodily resurrection? Was he the Son of God.

I would recommend looking into a couple of books to get proper answers. First, The Resurrection of the Son of God. This book was written by N.T. Wright a top historian of this age. It deals with, obviously, the Resurrection.

Second, Richard Baukham's book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Baukham is another leading historian. In the book, he argues that the Gospels were eyewitness testimonies. In fact, the book is so ground braking, I've heard that scholars are ignoring it right now because everybody knows that it is spot on.

Anyway, you probably won't look into these books. I just thought that you should know that there are numerous books that write on this topic. Do not be insult religion until you have properly studied what the theologians have actually written. Otherwise you get nothing more than strawman arguments."

I have some problems with your argument:

1. You assume that there are not, and have never been, any 'scholars' who have argued in favour of the reliability of any other religion. Or that nobody from any other religion has ever believed they witnessed the supernatural firsthand. No prehistoric tribesman has ever seen the tree god? Ironically enough, this was the entire point of the post, which has gone right over your head. You need to find something which makes your religion DIFFERENT from all of the others that have ever existed, exist now, or will ever exist! We call this kind of thing, evidence.

2. You assume that it matters whether or not they're correct in determining that the stories were written by supposed 'eyewitnesses'. Oh, these people wrote this thousands of years ago... so of course a spirit knocked up a virgin, she gave birth to a miracle-boy who was killed and resurrected from the dead, so that we can all drink his blood and worship him, so that we can go live with him when we die!

It's a weak argument, and if you could do better, you would. But you can't.

You know what I have eyewitness testimony of? A girl I knew who said that she got attacked by demons in her room at night, physically thrown against the walls, and that Jesus came down to rescue her. She also claimed to be regularly visited by aliens who just came to sit at her bedside and watch her sleep. Do you believe it? I assure you, I was told that from the source. Shall I write it into a text for you? Perhaps then it will be more believable to you.

I don't even necessarily believe that the Bible has a shred of truth in it, so the findings of a bunch of people with agendas not to truth, but to faith, who stare at old texts and try to make sense of them or who wrote them is not going to convince me of anything. Show me the proof of the supernatural!

I have another question for you. Have you ever seen, Weekend at Bernie's?

3. Telling me what "theologians" write is not credible. These are people who can't even prove that the subject of their study exists! Show me any case in which a theologian has successfully proven that anything supernatural is real. I'll wait........ You could just as easily have told me that an astrologer wrote something, or that a numerologist thinks something. Better yet, a professional masturbator said... No, that's not fair. I can at least show that masturbation exists, so the comparison isn't valid. (You might counter that some theologians only study the social aspects of religions, with religions being things that I agree do exist. But such theologians should have not much to say on this particular issue.)

4. Your argument about a book being so "ground braking" (sic) and so correct that people would ignore it is unbelievably laughable! Do you realise that's exactly what would happen if it was completely wrong?! So books get ignored if they are either too wrong or too correct? Can you differentiate between the two situations? Can you imagine any science book being so accurate, so experimentally verifiable, that scientists just ignore it?! HA! What a fucking joke! "Oh, people are ignoring my book because it's so correct." Wait, I want to laugh one more time.... HAHAHAHA!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bible as a book of knowledge

Have you seen that video on YouTube with the lady declaring, "The Bible is the most scientifically accurate book ever written", or seen people claim that, "All of the answers are in the bible"?

I think it's really funny to suggest that the Bible was given to us to communicate knowledge. What other books are meant to do that? Science books would be a good example. When I open a science book, I see straight-forward, yet often complex, diagrams and text. They tell me, in very clear terms, exactly how a process works, what evidence there is, and what problems remain unanswered.

The Bible, along with other old holy books, uses this vague, poetic language which requires interpretation in order to make any sense at all, and that interpretation is highly subjective to the reader.

For example, here is the introductory text from the Wikipedia article on jet streams:

"Jet streams, or just jets in context, are fast flowing, narrow air currents found in the atmosphere of planets at the tropopause, the transition between the troposphere (where temperature decreases with height) and the stratosphere (where temperature increases with height). They are thought to be caused by a combination of atmospheric heating (by solar radiation and/or internal heat) and a planet's rotation on its own axis. On Earth, the strongest jet streams are the polar jets (7-12 km or 23,000-39,000 ft above sea level) and the higher and somewhat weaker subtropical jets (10-16 km or 33,000-52,000 ft). The northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere each have both a polar jet and a subtropical jet."

Do you think it's possible to misinterpret that to mean anything other than what it's supposed to mean? It's pretty clear, as long as you know what all of the words mean.

Now here is a passage from the Bible, which creationist idiots claim is meant to reveal to us information about the jet streams:

"The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits."

Even if you ignore the fact that the jet streams go from west to east, not north-south, you can still see that this is total garbage. If the Bible was meant to communicate knowledge to us, why didn't it use a straight-forward style? It's for this reason that the Bible, even if it did contain knowledge, would be almost completely useless to us as a tool in discovering new things. However, the real handicap is the fact that it doesn't actually contain any knowledge at all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thunderf00t - Ray Comfort videos

I just watched the highly-anticipated Thunderf00t vs. Ray Comfort debate/discussion on YouTube (link to first video here), and I have to say that I'm disappointed in Thunderf00t's performance.

Thunderf00t has made his name by attacking and utterly destroying the bullshit spewed from the mouths of the religious, especially the creationists. I think he showed Ray Comfort's ideas way too much respect, and spent most of his time trying to explain his view to Ray. That's a very difficult thing to do, as Ray's mind can't absorb scientific information.

I definitely approved of some things, such as the way Thunderf00t pressed Ray on the pedophilia thing, but he failed to properly criticise Ray for his explicit avoidance of the question, and just ended up dropping it and moving on. Near the end, he called Ray out for his spreading of bad information about science, and how it was detrimental to the progress of mankind, but I think he didn't follow-up and drive the point home enough.

In general, Thunderf00t did not produce enough offence, spending much of his time on defence. Ray lobbed several easy pitches that Thunderf00t should have hit out of the park. Some of the other things I think Thunderf00t failed to do:

1. Challenge Ray to explain HOW (as in the exact process) his god created the Universe, not just to explain over and over again what made it. Ray likely would have had to admit that he doesn't know exactly, which would have been interesting because he mocked Thunderf00t earlier in the discusssion for not knowing exactly how the Universe came into existence.

2. Challenge Ray to distinguish his creation story from the thousands and thousands of creation stories that have come before it. As in, once you decide that a god exists, how can you assert that this is the one? There's no evidence to suggest his is true.

3. Call Ray on making declarative statements (that he KNOWS how the Universe got here), after telling Thunderf00t that he wasn't allowed to do that.

4. Point out that people in the future may laugh at SOME of the things we think we know now, but that people are ALREADY laughing at Ray, as Ray's view is an old one that has been shown to be completely ridiculous, cannot be supported by reality, and is just plain wrong. Human understanding (the kind supported by evidence) has moved on, and Ray still clings to the old beliefs. I'd also like to point out that the old beliefs were never supported by any experiments or processes that we might now call 'scientific'.

5. Ask Ray why his views are so opposed to what we see in reality, such as age of the Universe and the fossil record utterly excluding creationism.

6. Ask why Ray's god doesn't need to have been created, but the Universe must require a creator. This is the question that badly tripped Ray up in his debate on TV a few years ago with the Rational Response Squad. I posted about it here.

7. Thunderf00t asked Ray what the difference is between his god and an imaginary god that somebody makes up in order to feel good. Ray just completely ignored the question and started preaching. Thunderf00t did bring him back on topic and forced him to answer. Ray said he thinks that because the character of his god was described in a book, that makes it real, while the other is not. Ray then said that he knows the book is real because his god wrote it. Classic circular reasoning, and I can't believe Ray would still be dumb enough to say this kind of thing on camera! Thunderf00t should have pounced here, but didn't.

8. Point out that the presence of a conscience is also explained by the evolution of humans as social creatures, and so Ray can't use it as a proof of his god, because it is mutual to the natural origins hypothesis and the god hypothesis. Proofs must exclude competing hypotheses, as the fossil record excludes creationism.

9. Thunderf00t also dropped other points from conversation, such as when Ray demonstrated a complete lack of any understanding about evolution. He even equated the reproductive incompatibility of newly split-off species with infertility in individuals of a single species. He has no idea what he's talking about! Why didn't Thunderf00t call Ray out for his lack of education on the subjects he debates in public?

I'm thinking I'd much rather have seen Ray vs. Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience. Matt doesn't let those softballs go by without getting clobbered, and would press Ray for answers more than Thunderf00t did. Perhaps Thunderf00t just doesn't know enough about baseball.

After writing the above part of this post, I watched Thunderf00t's video about his reflections on his performance. He said that popular opinion is almost exactly what I wrote, but that he was going for mutual respect and exchange of ideas, not for blood.

Comments? Anybody agree or disagree with me? Do you think Thunderf00t was right to keep it so low-key to maintain civility? Or did you want to see Ray squirm and bleed?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Better than the original!

Do a search in Google for atheist's riddle. As of the time I'm writing this, my rebuttal to it has overtaken the original argument's page in the result rankings. That's pretty funny.

My understanding of how Google ranks sites suggests that the top-ranking of my rebuttal is due to the number of people reading it, along with how many are linking to it. So I guess I owe the thanks to you, the readers! Please continue to link to it on your site, if you have one.

Result rankings change often, so not sure if it will still be the case by the time any readers try the search. Just to prove that it was once true, I've attached a screenshot. Click on it to see a hi-res version.

I have followers?

So even though I hadn't added a 'Followers' section to the page (and didn't even know what that meant), some people have already chosen to follow my site. So I'm adding one now. If you'd like to follow this page, check out the link on the left sidebar below the topics.

So far, I have 8 disciples. Let's see if I can get more than the 12 that the Bible says Jesus had.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sidelines science

It has occurred to me that my post, Science is not a democracy, so shut up!, could be misinterpreted. One could argue that I'm attempting to silence the religious, the same way that I accuse them of wanting to silence atheists. This is not true.

I'm perfectly willing to see anybody participate in science, whether they're religious or atheist. The problem is that what many religious people call, 'participating in science', I'd merely call, 'bitching from the sidelines'.

Science is not done by talking, protesting, whining or public speaking tours to bible colleges, any more than sports are played in the stands (forgive me British soccer, err..... football fans). There are no points given in sports for how loud your fans were, how drunk they were, or how many nifty chants they came up with. Similarly, you cannot win in science by nipping at its heels like a little bitch. You must participate in the research and publication!

So when I tell religious people to shut up about science, I mean for them to shut their mouths and start their research!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A modern miracle

This post is about a modern-day 'miracle' which occurred, witnessed by hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of people, in multiple countries. Most of those people are still alive today. Yet I'd bet a lot of money that the vast, vast majority of Christians have never even heard of it. How is this possible?

The answer is in the name. This miracle is commonly known as the Hindu Milk Miracle. The alleged miracle occurred in 1995. It was believed that statues of the Hindu god, Ganesha (my favourite Hindu god, thanks to Apu!), began drinking milk which was offered to them on spoons. People in India, and in Hindu populations in other countries, began buying milk at an insane rate, and trying to see the miracle for themselves. You can read a bit about the events at its Wikipedia page.

I've done a little more reading on this, and found a website which said something like, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible." Wait a minute! Isn't that the same tactic that the Christians use? I wonder how they would respond.

See, this is the thing that bugs me. When Christians, or people from any other religion (but mostly that's the Christians), try to tell me about their miracles, or their creation stories, they assume that I'm too stupid to know that there are many, many other religions on the planet. There are even many, many religions which used to exist, but are now extinguished. Why do they think that the alleged miracles from their religion are correct and true, but that the ones from other religions are ridiculous? I've covered this before in another post.

And the Christians often argue that their miracles had eye-witnesses, whose testimony, passed orally, and written down hundreds or even thousands of years ago, is accurate. Yet why would they ignore a much more recent miracle like the Hindu Milk Miracle, with all of its witnesses which can be interviewed even today? Oh, that's right, because they're too sheltered under their rocks to even KNOW that there are other religions with the same claims and the same evidence! Even in the face of modern science, these people still believe that the milk miracle was real. Can you imagine how easy it would have been to dupe people before science came along, which is when most of the alleged Christian miracles occurred (interesting coincidence, isn't it)?

None of it makes any fricking sense, and I wish the religious could use their heads for thinking, instead of just as rain protectors for their necks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reader's questions

I had a reader send me the following email:

"hey I found your blog like a week ago and I truly like it.

I would like to see your views about homosexuality and homosexual couples adopting children.
And your views about jesus.
on school there were teachers with arguments like: "could an entire town lie about what jesus did?" I thought "ofcourse they could, probablly only 10 of them ever saw jesus." ofcourse I couldn't tell her or they would of kicked me out of school.

excuse me if you don't understand me but I'm from Chile.

thank you for your time, I hope you talk about the things I said :)"

I don't think I've posted anything on homosexuality in the past, so this is a good chance for me to discuss it a little. First, I don't mind gay people. I can hang around with them, even when they're with their partners. I can shake their hands, laugh with them, or discuss their relationships. However, I'm not going to say, "Oh yeah, I could picture myself being gay." I don't find the lifestyle appealing, and it grosses me out a bit.

I think homosexuality is a natural thing, yet not ideal. Homosexuality has been observed in hundreds of animal species, notably one of our closest relatives, the bonobo. It's difficult to argue from the biblical perspective that homosexuality is a choice, when the animals were not supposed to have been given free will. That would mean that they were created gay. Back to reality, it is not ideal because any animal which is homosexual would not typically be able to pass on its genes, which is not evolutionarily helpful to the species. On that level, I would consider homosexuality to be a 'bug' in the genetic programming. But is it any more of a bug than my own desire to not have children? Most men my age have children or are planning to, but I don't want them. My genes will not be passed on (at least, I hope not).

Now what about homosexual couples adopting children, which was the reader's question? On the surface, I think it's odd and unnatural. Two men or two women are not supposed to be having children, so it violates a basic principle of nature. However, on the issue of adoption, is it really any different than if a mother died and the father's brother stepped in to help the father take care of the child? Certainly, that would happen in many societies in which families are more tightly-knit than in Western countries.

And what is the alternative to homosexual couples adopting children? If we were absolutely overflowing with traditional, financially stable, heterosexual couples who wanted to adopt children, and no child was going without parents, then perhaps we could exclude homosexual couples from adopting. But that is not the case. There seems to be more need for adoption than there are couples like this, and so the alternative is to let a child go unwanted and unloved. That doesn't seem right, does it? I think if you gave a child the option to be part of a family with gay parents, or to live in an orphanage until they're grown-up, they'd take the adoption.

As for my thoughts on Jesus, I think he may or may not have been a real person. I have no real reason to think that he was not real, although I haven't been shown enough evidence to say for sure. Let's say that I accept he was real, but wouldn't be even a little bit surprised if he wasn't. However, there is a big difference between the man being real, and the stories of miracles and divine birth being true. I think that's just bullshit, plain and simple. I KNOW that there's no good evidence of any of that happening. If there were, the Christian apologists wouldn't have to rely on trying to convince us that eye-witness testimony, passed orally, is reliable. It's a weak argument, and if they could do better, they would.

I hope that answers your questions! If you have more questions, you know where to find me!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Why I post anonymously

Some readers might be wondering why I make this website anonymously. I don't use even my first name, include any photos of myself, or exact information about where I live, etc.

There are 3 reasons:

1. I could lose my job.

I work in what is officially a Christian workplace. It's not a problem that I'm an atheist, as the vast majority of the staff are not Christian, but that doesn't mean that I should be caught making a website that treats religion so harshly.

2. To protect the innocent.

If people don't know who I am, then they can't identify the friends, family members and co-workers that I post about. I wouldn't want my family to identify themselves in any of the stories, should they happen to find the site.

3. I'm scared of religious people.

It's true. Religious people are dangerous. They've shown what lengths they'll go to to silence dissenters, including physical violence and harassment. I'd prefer not to have some psycho track me down.

Monday, July 27, 2009

No credit and no responsibility

As this is being posted, I have already left for my summer vacation. I'll be away for a month, but have made sure that some posts will be made while I'm gone, thanks to the site's ability to delay posts. As we'll learn in this post, I have Allah to thank for this feature.

So I was digging through my travel stuff in preparation, and found this Muslim prayer card that I got on the plane on my last trip. It contains a prayer that good Muslims are supposed to say when traveling in a vehicle. I'm not going to type all of it, but it begins with the following:

"Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest. How perfect he is, the one who placed this plane at our service, and we ourselves would not have been capable of that...."

Do you know where this post is going? As a person who has a degree in aerospace engineering, I find this sad and insulting. Did nobody think to say thanks to the people who worked hard to design the plane? The workers who assembled it? What about the mechanics who maintain it? The pilots who fly it? The flight crew who are trained to make sure that everybody will get out safely in case of incident (eg. Air France in Toronto or Hudson River landing)? I'm pretty sure all of these people are real. I can go and meet any one of them. But instead, they'd prefer to give all of the credit to an imaginary being! None whatsoever to any of the real people who worked to make the flight happen. And to say that we wouldn't be capable of doing any of this without their invisible buddy? You stupid fucks!

It's a theme common to many religious people, no matter what their exact beliefs. That is that they are unable to take credit for anything they've done well, nor are they able to take responsibility for anything they've done wrong. What a sad life that must be. What a waste of a human intellect. I do feel some pity, but since it's their own damn fault, not too much.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eclipse... run!

Across India, even in regions where the eclipse was not visible, pregnant women were advised to stay indoors in curtained rooms over a belief that the sun's invisible rays would harm the fetus and the baby would be born with disfigurations, birthmarks or a congenital defect.

Krati Jain, a software professional in New Delhi, said she planned to take a day off from work Wednesday to avoid what she called "any ill effects of the eclipse on my baby."

"My mother and aunts have called and told me stay in a darkened room with the curtains closed, lie in bed and chant prayers," said Jain, 24, who is expecting her first child.

That's what religion is best at, creating fear. Poor fools. Missing one of nature's great spectacles because of ignorance and religious (insert chain of expletives here). A once-in-a-lifetime (for them, anyway) chance ruined. It's funny that the article calls her a 'software professional', yet she lives in the 4th century.

I saw a total eclipse in 2002 in Ceduna, Australia. We almost got clouded out, but 5 minutes before the eclipse reached totality, a hole in the clouds opened. It then closed up about 1 minute after. The clouds actually helped a little by providing cover, so we were able to watch the eclipse before it reached totality, without hurting our eyes.