Saturday, September 25, 2010

"What's the harm in superstition?", you ask

I'm a bit slow posting this story, but it pretty thoroughly disgusted me.  It's about an American couple who moved to Belize to try to do some good for crocodiles by running a sanctuary.  When two local children went missing, the Americans became targets after a psychic told the locals that the missing children had been taken by them and fed to their crocodiles.  So what do the locals do?  They show up with guns and machetes to the Americans' crocodile centre.  Not finding the people they were looking for, they burned the place to the ground instead, while screaming that they were going to find and kill the Americans, then feed them to the crocodiles whose sanctuary they had just destroyed.

I cannot put into words the level of disgust and hatred I feel for these locals, but I'm going to try.  I'll inevitably fail.  People such as this, who are this stupid and willing to act on their idiotic beliefs, do not deserve to live amongst the rest of us.  These people are useless in our age.  They're stupid, moronic, gullible, ignorant bastards who deserve nothing better in life because they will not use reason.  We emerged from our own dark ages by the light of reason, and here we are in the 21st century, and these people are still visiting psychics and acting on what the psychic says, even when murderous violence is "called for".  Lock these ignorant fucktards up and throw away the key.  Unfortunately, a very large portion of the world hold similar beliefs, and what I'd like to do about it at the moment would be considered genocidal.  Must calm down.

If you want to know what is the harm in superstition, believing in psychics, etc, here it is.  The harm is that some people are willing to ACT on their superstition.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My son for a photo, straight-up? Deal! Thank you, sir.

I won't allow anybody to tell me that I'm insensitive to the events that took place in the United States 9 years ago today.  I was living in the U.S. at the time, and remember it fairly well.  I hurt side-by-side with the Americans that day.  I went with my girlfriend at the time to the local blood donation clinic to do what I could, only to find a 6-hour line had already formed.  Even so, we began to wait in the line until we were told by a clinic staffer that my girlfriend was disqualified from giving blood because she had tattoos and a body piercing.  We left the line and I tried again to do what I could.  My uncle was a volunteer firefighter, and I felt terrible about what happened to all of those brave men and women who ran into the towers, rather than away from them.  I donated money to the memorial fund for the New York Fire Department, and I also sold some of my personal possessions on eBay during the Auction for America, in which all proceeds went to the relief effort for the victims.

So today I saw this article on CNN, what was supposed to be a feel-good article, but left me shaking my head.  It's about a man whose son was a NY firefighter, and died that day.  His body was never found, and the man has been wondering about the exact circumstances of his son's death.  After quite a lengthy search of photo archives, he found one of his son, decked out in his firefighter gear, walking/running (hard to tell) along stopped cars in a tunnel, towards the scene.  The man was very emotional about this photo, which is understandable.  I'm glad he was able to find what was almost definitely the last photo ever taken of his son, alive or dead (as his body has not been recovered).  And I'm proud of the bravery of his son on that day.

But now comes the head-scratching part.  The man made two comments for the article that I find strange:

"I was out of out control, emotionally (after finding the photo)," Box said. "Thanking God, being so happy that I had something to see."

"I wish everybody could get what I got."

It seems that the proposition is as follows.  This guy (presumably) believes in the Christian god, which is supposed to control everything.  This god either took away his son, or allowed him to be taken away on that day, in what was ultimately a fruitless and useless rescue operation that would have been better off having never even been attempted.  What this god gave him, in return for giving up his son, was a blurry photo.

Now I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty shitty deal to me.  Anybody who tries to take one of my loved ones and give me a photo in return is going to be on the receiving end of a baseball bat to the head, or worse.  But this putz is literally on his knees, literally thanking, literally praising and literally worshiping this thing that he believes forced this trade upon him (even if he would never put it into words that way).

Why is it that this man gives his god credit for the tiny little good thing that happened, an insignificant thing which had he known about it in advance would have seemed so worthless a trade that he'd never in a trillion years agree to it, yet gives no blame to his god for the bad thing that happened?   A poster in the comment section of the article wrote that (her) god answers prayers, so this photo thing happened.  But of course, that same god didn't answer any prayers for protection of the country and its people on that day.  I guess to her, her god answers prayers in a random fashion that makes it appear almost as if the god isn't there.  People, this is your brain on religion.

This all reminded me of a YouTube video by Edward Current:

Religious rebuttals to Stephen Hawking

Famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently made news for his comments about the existence of gods being unnecessary in order for the Universe to exist.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

In his new book "The Grand Design," Britain's most famous scientist says that given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing," according to an excerpt published in The Times of London.
"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he wrote.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going."

Of course, this drew immediate responses from the theological community, none citing any evidence, some even quite baffling:

But the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that "physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing."

It might or it might not. We don't know for sure yet. But one thing I know is that you have not settled anything either, "doctor", *cough*. You provide answers, but have no interest in verifying whether or not they are the correct and true answers. You also cannot even support any claims that your ideas are better than the ideas of any of the other religions' on the planet. I don't think any religion has ever, in the history of humanity, settled anything at all.

Writing in the Times, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said: "Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation ... The Bible simply isn't interested in how the Universe came into being."

It's not interested in how the Universe came into being?  It's not?!  Are you sure?  Then why are so many (biblically) religious people (a majority?), running around saying that the Bible tells us EXACTLY how the Universe was made?  Why does it say that it was created by a god?  Is the existence or lack of existence of a god merely an interpretation of reality?  No, if a god exists or doesn't exist, then that IS reality.  It is not an interpretation.  And I'd argue that as religion is completely unable to back-up any of its interpretations, that it is merely about allowing people to interpret reality in a way that makes them feel good, regardless of the actual truth of it.  Sacks, you win the dumbass comment of week award.

Ibrahim Mogra, an imam and committee chairman at the Muslim Council of Britain, was also quoted by the Times as saying: "If we look at the Universe and all that has been created, it indicates that somebody has been here to bring it into existence. That somebody is the almighty conqueror."

Really?  It indicates it?  How?  Evidence?  Even a little?  Guess that would be too much for you, wouldn't it?  I suppose your faith is all the evidence we need, is that correct?  It's also interesting that you called your god a conqueror.  It hasn't conquered me, yet.  Am I too strong for it?  I thought your religion was peaceful.

"The 'god' that Stephen Hawking is trying to debunk is not the creator God of the Abrahamic faiths who really is the ultimate explanation for why there is something rather than nothing," said Denis Alexander, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.

Evidence?  No, it only provides an ultimate explanation for somebody who doesn't care whether or not the explanation is true, and who has no interest in exploring any further or asking further questions on the matter.