Sunday, March 29, 2009

My current favourite Bible story

This story makes me want to cringe when I hear people say they get their morals from the Bible.

Genesis 19:1-8

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof."

Next time some Bible-thumper tells you he gets his morals from the Bible, ask him to bring you his daughters for a good, old-fashioned raping.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A god at the video store?

This comment was recently posted on my Atheist's Riddle post. The original comment is in blue, and my response is in black.

I don't know why, but I have been heavily debating internally for the past few years about the existance of God. I look at religion and all of the pain and destruction that it has caused throughout the history of mankind, and science has come so far in recent times and solved so many of the great mysteries of the universe. Yet for some reason I've always had this lingering feeling of the presence of a higher power. Now I have figured one thing out for damn sure, and that is that no form of organized religion (at least any of the ones that I know about) can possibly be right. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddism, they all are built upon stories and myths that cannot possibly be completely true. Personally I think these religions are merely stories that got blown out of proportion via a giant longterm game of "telephone" throughout hundreds of generations. But I always thought that there could be something more than meets the eye.

Congrats for figuring out that the world's religions are ridiculous! I like you. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to use some sarcasm and a harsh tone further down, in order to try to get you to see that your argument is just as ridiculous. Sorry, but sarcasm is one of my best tools.

Due to a couple of extreme coincidental occurences in the past days and the fact that I read this artical when I did I feel I have no choice but to believe in a higher power watching over me.

This should be interesting.

You see, yesterday a friend of mine who's roommate is moving out in a couple of weeks asked me if I wanted to move in and take their place because I had recently been staying with my folks due to an unexpected financial crisis.
I was eager to take him up on the offer as some tension had been building between my parents and I due to the fact that they had been asking me to pay an amount of rent considerably more than the cost of my staying with them. I kind of took it as a slap in the face considering that I had fallen under some financial strife and was trying to get resituated.
Later on last night (the same night) I picked up a couple of random movies from "Family Video" (blatant corporation namedrop, sorry) and went over to my girlfriend's place and watched them. I got two movies, "No Good Deed" (two stars) and "Slingshot" (three stars). I noticed an astounding coincidence that in both movies there was a part where the main characters had to take a vehicle and switch over the license plate and it showed a close up of them screwing on the new plates with a screwdriver. Seriously rent these movies and watch them, it is a WEIRD coincidence because I had never heard of either of them before and I randomly picked them out of hundreds, possibly THOUSANDS of movies. I would seriously like to get the odds on that.

You'd like to get the odds on that? Out of possibly THOUSANDS of movies (or maybe just hundreds)? Thousands is not a lot, so I'm not intimidated by this challenge. Let's try it. Hollywood copies ideas often, so let's assume that every movie in that store had one other movie in which a scene is repeated in some way. If you rented one movie, and had THOUSANDS (again, I'm not scared) of possibilities to choose from, let's say two-thousand, then you'd have a 1 in 2,000 chance of choosing that movie as your second. Those odds are not improbable. In fact, if events with these kinds of chances are possible to occur in your life once a day, then you'd have one occur every 6 years, or roughly 12 times in the lifespan of the average American. The odds of winning the lottery are often millions or tens of millions to one, but nearly every week, somebody seems to win. If an event has a 1 in 10,000,000 chance of occurring to any given person in any given day, then it will occur to 33 people in your country every single day! Is that evidence of the existence of gods? Or is it just evidence that you're not so good at probabilities?

And I really take exception to your choice of events. You think there might be a personal god watching you because you rented two movies with identical scenes from the video store?! Seriously?! Well, good to know that while this god was helping you rent movies to communicate its existence to you, it was not intervening while hundreds, perhaps thousands, of little kids in your country got raped by their daddies. Good to know it didn't intervene in the helicopter crash that killed over a dozen people in Canada, or the shootings in the US and Germany around the day you sent me this. What kind of fucked up logic are you using? People put themselves on such a pedestal that they think minor events in their little lives are more important than all of the suffering going on in the world. Their gods help them win awards or the big game, but don't seem to mind really horrific events occurring to other people.

And now today I come home from work and find out that my Dad could possbly be getting laid off of his job, the VERY DAY after my friend had asked me to move in and AND the movie coincidence.

How many people have lost their jobs in your country in the last few months? I found a figure suggesting 1.8 million jobs lost since January. And how many more are in danger of losing their job, like your dad? Another 10 million? More? So this isn't exactly exclusive company, nor an event with a low probability. Your country has been averaging more than 20,000 lost jobs every day this year, and I'll bet tens of thousands more people got the same sort of news that your father did on that day.

Then, not five minutes later I stumble upon this atheist's riddle/theist's riddle argument.

It's advertised all over the internet. I see it several times a week. It's advertised using Google AdWords, and possibly other similar systems. In order to trigger the ad, you would have had to have been reading and/or searching for content related to religion, which you seem to be confessing you have been. It wasn't a god, it was fricking Google! And I do know how you found my rebuttal to the argument. You searched for atheist's riddle in a search engine. I can see that from the tracking software. You were looking for it. You found it because I took the effort to write it, not because a god put it there for you. Although, if you want to think I'm a god, be my guest, and send money! So basically, you found content related to what you were looking for or reading about. That's what internet advertising does (is supposed to do). It gives you relevant content. There is nothing divine about this.

What does it mean?

Nothing. Well, it means that shit happens, that you're bad at probabilities, and that you can be easily convinced/duped.

Well all I can say is that it's just too many longshot occurrences in too short a span of time for me to just pass off as "a funny coincidence"

I don't agree. If people are this easy to persuade, no wonder religions have managed to dominate much of human history, and continue to hold most of the world's population hostage!

I really don't know what to say. I believe in science, I believe in evolution, I believe in progress. But after this I must say that I also believe in something unseen as well.

I'm sorry I wrote so much and take from it what you will. It is what it is. I'm out.

And no, I didn't make up a word of this. I'm not that lame.

Glad to hear it. Sorry I had to be so harsh, but you're slipping out of rational thought. I found this email to be a really weak argument, in fact, it's the weakest I've seen in a long time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Religion feeds on fear and desperation

I found this article about a new survey showing that the percentage of Christians in the United States is declining, to the benefit of the growth of atheism. The article suggests that up to 20% of Americans are now non-believers. The article was interesting for a couple of other reasons.

First, check out this asshole quote of the day:

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League said he thinks a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it. "The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not," he told Lou Dobbs. "Notice they are not atheists -- they are saying I don't want to be told what to do with my life."

Yeah, that's right! We don't actually not believe in fucking fairy godmothers, we just don't want to be told what to do. Fuck you, Donohue! (That rhymes)

Next, there's this:

(Tony) Perkins (of the Family Research Council) told Lou Dobbs he sees that decline easing, and he thinks soon religion will be an even greater part of people's lives. "If this poll is taken next year will the outcome be different?" he asked. "As the economy goes downward, I think people are going to be driven to religion."

Here we are! It's religion's secret weapon, their trump card, their ace-in-the-hole! Fear and desperation! As the economy around the world collapses, religions are licking their chops, waiting to feed on the scraps like the_____ that they are! (I left it blank because I couldn't think of what to write. I wanted to write dogs, but I like dogs. Then I wanted to write bottom-feeders, but as a scuba diver, I like bottom-feeding fish, too. Why do all of these popular expressions relate to animals anyway? I like animals, and there's nothing wrong with them doing what they do, so I'll just let the readers fill in the blank themselves).

Is that what people really do? When times get tough, they begin to believe in religion? Like I'd suddenly think, 'Wow, I've fallen on hard times. Best to start believing in imaginary friends. They'll make it all better.' Honestly, who does that?

It remains to be seen whether or not membership in religions increases as a result of the current problems, but one thing is for sure; religions are loving every minute of it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I don't respect your insanity

If you believe you have an invisible man on your shoulder, and you talk to it and take orders from it, I can call you insane. But if you believe that invisible man created the Universe, I'm supposed to respect it, and the government is supposed to give you tax breaks.

You may get your tax breaks, but you're not getting my respect for your insanity.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

10 Questions to Ask Your Pastor

Ebonmuse over at Daylight Atheism commented on a tract given to students listing ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution. In response, he posted a list of 10 questions he'd like to see Sunday School students ask their pastors:

1. Why is your god called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, it specifically orders its chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?

2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?

3. Why does the Bible routinely depict its god as manifesting itself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?

4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries?

5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?

6. If it was always the god's plan to provide salvation through Jesus, why didn't it send Jesus from the very beginning, instead of confusing and misleading generations of people by setting up a religion called Judaism which it knew in advance would prove to be inadequate?

7. Since the Bible states that its god does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn't this show that the god's plan of salvation is a failure even by its own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?

8. Why didn't the god create human beings such that they freely desire to do good, thus removing the need to create a hell at all? (If you believe this is impossible, isn't this the state that will exist in heaven?)

9. Is it fair or rational for the god to hide itself so that it can only be known by faith, then insist that every single human being find it by picking the right one out of thousands of conflicting and incompatible religions?

10. If you had the power to help all people who are suffering or in need, at no cost or effort to yourself, would you do it? If so, why hasn't the god done this already?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Our laws are not from biblical commandments

One of the most infuriating and baffling assertions that Christians make, and they make it often, is that the laws of Western developed countries are based on the 10 commandments of the Bible. They use such arguments to try to get religious monuments on the grounds of courts.

This is complete and utter bullshit! I never cease to be astounded every time this argument is presented. I'm not sure if the problem is that these Christians haven't read the commandments (or most parts of their precious Bible), or if they just have a very poor understanding of law, but our laws have very little to do with the commandments.

I used Wikipedia to help me sort out the commandments as they vary from version to version of the books, so we actually have 12 different rules to examine. More data points are always welcomed.

1. I am the lord your god.

Not even a rule, just a statement of supposed fact. No evidence to back it up.

2. You shall have no other gods before me.

Not a law.

3. You shall not make for yourself an idol.

Not a law.

4. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your god.

Not a law.

5. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

Not a law.

6. Honor your father and mother.

Not a law.

7. You shall not murder.

This is a law in most countries, unless your leader tells you to go kill people from another country.

8. You shall not commit adultery.

Not a law.

9. You shall not steal.

This is a law in most countries.

10. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

This is a law in most countries, but only sometimes. It is illegal to lie about your neighbour as a witness in court, but not if you're just trashing him behind his back in social situations. In most daily situations lying is not illegal, only socially unacceptable.

11. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife.

Not a law.

12. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Not a law.

So as we see, only 2 of these rules are reasonably solid laws, with a third rule which is a law sometimes, but not in daily life. It doesn't seem to me like the laws of Western countries are based on these rules at all. If we could have only figured out about the murder, lying and stealing from the Bible, why then did the Hindus and Buddhists also figure it out? Also, why does the biblical god allow us to kill our slaves? And why can't it obey the fricking laws itself? Oh well, these questions will have to be answered another time.