Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Christian wants national register of atheists

A story is doing the rounds of the atheist blogs today about an American guy who calls himself Pastor Mike, who is advocating that Christians make a national registry of known atheists.  Each entry on the list would include name, location, place of business and maybe a photo.  The reasoning used is that sex-offenders are registered, so why not atheists?  He also doesn't see why anybody, including atheists themselves, would oppose such a list, unless they're ashamed of their atheism, which he calls a religion.

I'm not sure if it's a joke or not, but I checked out some other posts on the blog and it seems like the guy is legit.  I tried to make a comment about also registering Jews because they aren't saved by Jesus, but like many Christians, he does not allow comments from anybody who is not a member of the blog.  That keeps the dissent out and the Jesus in.

You can used to be able to read the original post here.


Tracie over at The Atheist Experience has published Pastor Mike's email address and an idea that we send him emails encouraging the idea.  Check her blog post here.  She notes that the good pastor has now made his blog private, so we can no longer even read it, like many good Christians would do in the face of a response from us.  His email address is pastorstahl@aol.com and my letter to him is below.

Dear Pastor Mike,

I am thrilled to hear that you have decided on a plan to register atheists nationally and (hopefully) internationally. As you are a Christian you may not be aware of this, but it can be very difficult for atheists to meet each other for a meaningful relationship away from the Christian god. Many atheists find it nearly impossible to date a religious person for any more than a casual few times in bed, because their beliefs just make it impossible to agree on long-term things, such as the way to raise a child, or even where and under what conditions to have a wedding.

So I have a suggestion. Can you add marital status and some full-body photos to your registry? Maybe a mechanism for sending winks to the godless goddesses? People could also indicate whether they're looking for godless marriage (gay or straight), some no-strings-attached sex, or for a person to join them and their existing partner in a 3-way. This would be a great help to the atheist community, and we'd appreciate it greatly.

Keep up the good work, Pastor!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Credit goes to gods, blame goes to people

I am unmarried, but have been in a committed relationship with the same person for over six years.  People often ask us when we're getting married.  I reply that we're not planning to, because we don't believe the institution has any value or purpose for us.  The reply I received to this answer a few nights ago was that I was called "a pussy" who was using "excuses" to avoid "commitment".  When I asked if my 6-year relationship with my partner was more committed than a couple who got married for a year then split, I was told that the marriage is more committed, no matter how long it lasts or how the people in it behave.  While these strange comments came from only one person, I was at a table talking to 4 people, each has been divorced at least once.  Only one is currently married, on his second.  Another was preparing for his third.

Anyway, that's besides the point.  My interest in the topic brought me to this article on CNN's website.  In the article, the author argues that marriage has been so tarnished by our failure at it, that not only should we discourage gay marriage, but straight marriage also.

But this is not a blog about gay rights or marriage, so let's get to the fricking point already.  I found this in the article's comment section:

If you people can't make a marriage work,thats your own fault.You have to work for anything worth having.Last week end ,my wife of 52 years and I were sitting on the beach just watching the people and their kids when a lady we had never met came up to us and asked"how long have you two been in love?"Who do we give the credit to?GOD ALMIGHTY

Isn't that great?  This person's god can never lose.  If your marriage works, it's all credit to his god.  If it fails, then all blame goes to the people involved.  Credit goes up, blame goes down, and never a reversal.  This guy can't even give himself any credit for his own successful marriage, but he has no problem directing blame at others who can't make theirs work.  YOU have to work for it, but I got mine granted to me.  If he truly believes that his god controls the outcome of marriages, then the commenter would have to decide whether his god failed to act to make other people's marriages work, or if it actively sabotaged them.  He would have to decide whether his own marriage would have failed, making it his own fault, had he not received supernatural intervention, which would make him equal to the people he is criticising.  This kind of idiocy is the damage religion does to your brain.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nature's cruelty

I recently saw a wildlife TV show which was documenting an attack by lions on a badger.  The lions had firm grips on the badger in their teeth and were pulling it in opposite directions, but did not actually tear it into pieces.  The badger was crying and screaming in terrible pain for about 35 minutes, until it finally stopped and died.  Afterward, the lions did not eat it.  They killed it for reasons besides food.

How does the above description make you feel?  Is it sad?  Horrible?  Sickening?  Or is it good and glorious?  I think many Christians , or anybody else who believes their deity made everything and is perfect and all-good, would be stuck arguing that it's good.

Nature is terribly cruel.  There is immense pain and suffering everywhere, often for no reason at all.  And yet this is the system that Christians believe their perfect and perfectly-good god designed.  By definition of its alleged qualities of omnipotence and omniscience, it could have designed any system it wanted, and it designed this.  I've pressed Christians on the issue before, and often get answers along the lines of it all being for a reason, or some have even argued that things even as terrible as genocide can be good, if they're done by their god.

Now let me ask a question.  What if I did this?  What if I designed a situation in which predatory animals tore apart another animal, causing it incredible pain?  Let's say I have some trained attack dogs and I throw a cat into their pen.  I watch the dogs tear at the cat, torturing it and causing it tremendous pain.  Then, when I'm satisfied, I give the dogs the cue to kill it.  I repeat it, again and again, always using new ways to make the animal suffer.  I then lean back and call myself good.  Not just 'good', but 'perfectly-good'.  The standard of good by which all other deeds by all other beings should be measured.

What do you think the courts and general public would have to say about my actions?  In most developed and (relatively) civilised countries, I'd be hated and cursed by the public.  I'd also be charged with animal cruelty and perhaps given a psychiatric evaluation.  I'd be a pariah.  What do you think, Christians?  Is there any way you could call that good?  Why not?  I didn't torture the animals, I just designed and set-up the system, like your god did.  And your god is completely good.  Right?

This isn't any reason to think that a god didn't design the current system, but it does cast into doubt some of the qualities that such a god might have.  I can see at least a couple of scenarios.  One is that the god is not omnipotent, and was not capable of designing a more cruelty-free system.  This was the best it could do, for whatever reason.  Another option is that the god is omnipotent and/or could have done better, but is a cruel and evil bastard, with little to no compassion for life.

If I were granted omnipotence, I'd override the current system.  I'd stop all of the cruelty in nature and create a system in which the animals can live together without harming each other, and even use their special skills to help each other out.   It's a type of scenario found in many stories for children.  I'd also stop animal deaths and suffering due to starvation, thirst, disease, etc.  I'd do this because I'm a good person and I have compassion.  The people who construct these universes for children's stories are probably also good and compassionate people.  If you prefer my style of world to the system we have now, then you're probably a good and compassionate person, too.

The bottom line, Christians, is that I am better (as in, more good) and more moral than your supposed god.  The only thing keeping me from getting rid of the system we have now is a lack of power to do so.

For more ways that I am better than the Christian god, see this post.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Goats on fire no more!

I have just received some excellent news.  Anybody who frequently reads atheist blogs will probably be familiar with a guy who goes by the alias of David Mabus.  His real name is Dennis Markuze, from Montreal, Canada.  He has spent years posting incoherent Christian ramblings to atheist and scientific blogs, including a couple of times at this one (which I think I deleted promptly), with his most famous line being, "Goats on fire!"  He is also fond of making death threats to his targets.  It seems that he recently took another step forward by advancing from threatening people from behind his keyboard, to actually showing up at an atheist convention and making a gun gesture with his hand (click this link for photo).

I'd bet that anybody who has ever read his messages felt he was mentally ill and needed help and/or a date in court.  It now seems he will get both.  He faces numerous criminal charges and a 30-day psychiatric examination.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Alternatives to divine revelation in religious scriptures

I recently wrote a post about a Muslim commenter who used an argument we've all heard before, from representatives of various religions.  The argument is that his holy book describes in some level of detail the process of the development of a human fetus (among other things), which could not have been known to the writers at that time, unless there was divine guidance given to them.  This is an attempted argument for the existence of gods, in particular his god.

Judging from the number of times I've seen this argument used, and had it used on me, I'm thinking that many theists can't for the life of them understand why such arguments are not convincing to most atheists.  As an illustration of the problem, consider the following multi-person conversation:

A:  My holy book describes the process of fetal development before it was described by modern scientists, and therefore this is proof of the existence of my god.

B:  I disagree.  It's not proof of gods at all.  It's proof that aliens visited Earth and told the authors of your book about the process.  Aliens have visited us, and now we have proof!

C:  You're crazy!  It is clearly proof that Bigfoot told them.  Bigfoot has existed since before humans, and passed the knowledge on to people.  It's scientific evidence of Bigfoot.

D:  You're all wrong.  I think it's proof that the ultrasound machine was invented much earlier than previously thought.  The authors had access to an ultrasound machine, which allowed them to see the fetus, but the knowledge of the machine was lost.  This proves it.

E:  No way!  It's proof that humans from the future traveled back in time to give them the knowledge.  So we now have proof that humans eventually gain the ability to travel through time.

How would one go about sorting through the train wreck of arguments above?  Aren't all of them just as plausible as divine revelation?  I actually think that gods are the least likely of all of the above arguments.  But none of them have reached their burden of proof and they will not be able to do so with arguments like this.  Real evidence is needed for that.

But why are any of the above wacky explanations needed?  If we grant the Muslim commenter the assumption that the description in the scriptures is accurate and what he claims it is, so what?  Is it so inconceivable that the society the authors lived in had a program to study fetuses, either by dissecting pregnant (hopefully dead) women or by studying miscarriages?  Aren't these options much more likely than any of the arguments listed above?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Man with PO Box in Indiana Proves Existence of Gods?

A reader sent me this link a few months ago, and I have been shamefully slow to respond.  In the article, some Christian putz gives his "practical proof" that a god exists from a "purely scientific perspective".  Before I even begin, I must yet again point out that this is nothing more than another hand-waving argument for gods, with not a shred of positive evidence.  He's trying to think his god into existence and he has no idea what science is.  Let's now examine the argument itself.

It begins with a strawman argument, which sends the article into a comically misguided and misinformed direction:

"Most atheists maintain that there was no beginning.  The idea is that matter has always existed in the form of either matter or energy; and all that has happened is that matter has been changed from form to form, but it has always been.  The Humanist Manifesto says, 'Matter is self-existing and not created,' and that is a concise statement of the atheist's belief."

He spends half of the rest of the article arguing that the Universe had a beginning.  He then triumphantly declares that the atheists are wrong about saying the Universe had no beginning.  Thanks a lot, fucktard!  We already know, and have REAL scientific proof, that the Universe had a beginning.  Maybe some atheists believe there was no beginning at all, but then they are as misinformed as you are!

In the next section, he goes into a scientifically-illiterate rant about the usual 'something coming from nothing' creationist argument while using his god as the default position that must be true if another idea is not true.

Then we get this, which he accepts without question:

"If we know that the creation had a beginning and we know that the beginning was caused, there is one last question for us to answer--what was the cause?  The Bible tells us that God was the cause."

And we also get this gem:

"The subject of design has been one that has been explored in many different ways.  For most of us, simply looking at our newborn child is enough to rule out chance."

This last part is merely a re-stating of the old pathetic argument known as 'look at the trees', and is an argument from ignorance.  If you look at a tree or your newborn baby or insertwhateverthefuckyouwanthere and cannot think of how nature made it, then you can rule out nature.  That is what any good scientist would do.  Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to study the issue.

Feel free to send this guy hate mail at his address on the page.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Note from a Muslim reader

I received this email from a Muslim reader.  His email is in blue, my comments are in black.  I'm too busy traveling to write a long reply, so I thought the readers would like to take this one in the comments section. And notice how well this relates to my last post about hating Islam, not Muslims.

"i wrote to you about a year ago trying to debunk your atheist beliefs but the truth be told, you handed me my balls in a bag.
i tried talking about the bombardier beetle (not sure if that's the correct spelling) but to my later on discovery after research is that there was no mystery there. Again, after some research into my religion (Islam), i felt the urge to say something because writing you makes me wanna research more, find the truth if you will.

i believe that you jumped into atheism right after Christianity. Christianity on its own made you decide religion is not for you. the problem here is that you immediately attacked the rest of the religions whether Abrahamic or not due to exposure to false Christianity and being unable to SEE your creator."

Not being able to see the supposed creator is not the only problem.  There are many more.  But it was actually the study of more of the world's major religions, not ignorance of them, that convinced me that they were all wrong.  My final deconversion occurred after taking a course in world religions in high school.  They all sounded as ridiculous as the last, and none were able to provide any evidence.  Read more here.

"so ill just state a few scientific areas which my religion touches on.

1. the Qur'an talks about the big bang theory but doesn't call it a big bang but a separation
2. the Qur'an also stated that the universe is expanding when everyone thought it was static.
3. the Qur'an was first to describe the earth as oval shaped rather than circular
4. the Qur'an spoke in great detail about the formation of an embryo waaaaayyyyy before science did"

I haven't yet encountered a religion that doesn't claim its holy literature, if interpreted in just the right way, might contain some knowledge (amid all of its vagueness) that could only have been given divinely.  They also all ignore the things that the literature did not know.  Yours is no different.  This is not evidence of gods.

"just asking you you to read a text before ignoring or disproving it. you can search for scientist who turned to Islam after finding the answer for the questions they couldn't solve, in the Qur'an (im not trying to convert anyone or anything, just reference)."

And for every one of those scientists you name for me I can give you a list of a hundred scientists who have NOT converted to Islam.  But you're ignoring them, as I mentioned above.  You also need to look at the decline of science in the Muslim world after Islam became dominant.  There are videos on YouTube documenting the lack of scientific papers and Nobel Prizes from Muslim scientists.  The Arabs used to be some of the best in the world.  Then Islam happened.

"Ramadan kareem ya m3alim

P.s. A creator that gives you everything and on top of that reveals him/her self is shit"

My parents gave me life and they revealed themselves.  You only say this because it doesn't reveal.  But if it did, you wouldn't say it was shit.  Just like faith wouldn't be considered a virtue if it wasn't needed due to a lack of evidence.  Exactly how is showing someone you exist after giving them something a shitty thing to do?