Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Doomsday

If you think the world is ending this week, you're a fucking idiot.  That is all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What would you say?

Atheists often hear the question from Christians, "What would you say to (their) god if/when you died and found yourself standing before him (it)?"  The next time you hear this question, agree to answer it if the Christian will then answer some of yours.  After you get an agreement, give whatever answer it is you want to give to the Christian question.  Here are some of the questions I suggest you then ask.  "What would you do if you died and discovered there was no supernatural and no afterlife?  If you could come back and talk to the living, what would you say?  Would you apologise for threatening them with Hell?  Would you apologise for holding back humanity by trying to convince us of your imaginary friend instead of reality?  Would you apologise for attempting to oppress the rights of those whose lifestyles don't match yours? Would you apologise for being a gullible fool and a moron?  Would you apologise for attempting to legislate your imaginary beliefs on others?  Would you apologise for brainwashing small children?"  And so on.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vote for Jesus!

This is not a political website, but it seems that American Christians have put forward Jesus as their candidate for president, because both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are working for Satan.  This website is taking pledges for people to write-in Jesus as their candidate this November.  It has over 1.5 million pledges at the time of writing this post, but there's no way to tell how many of those are jokes, ineligible voters, non-Americans, etc.

If Jesus were to win the presidential election, it would mean a few things:

1.  The birther movement would become very confused and conflicted.
2.  The USA would join such illustrious nations as North Korea, which have a dead person as their leader.

Thanks to the good people at Ask An Atheist for bringing this to my attention through their weekly podcast.

Only 8 weeks left!

So I've already started the countdown to my next vacation.  I'll be leaving in roughly 8 weeks.  I'm heading to the tropics for some scuba diving, which makes me really happy and I'm super-excited about it.  It got me wondering how many Christians are excited about going to Heaven.  Do they get excited when they think about dying, which is their trip to Heaven?  When they're told they're dying, do they excitedly count down the weeks like I do for my vacation?  If they're not told they're dying, do they happily consider each birthday to be one year closer to their trip to paradise?  These reactions seem to be fairly uncommon, based on what I've seen in my life so far, so one has to wonder if these people really believe in the paradise of afterlife or not.  What could be better than a trip to eternal paradise?  Shouldn't they be looking forward to it and just waiting until they can get the hell (poor choice of word?) out of here?  I actually believe I'm going on my vacation, so I can be excited.  Why aren't the Christians excited to die?  Could it be because they're about as sincere in their belief as parents are when they tell their children that the dog went to Doggie Heaven?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'm not a psycho!

Two days ago at work, a person who is subordinate to me, flatly and to my face, refused to follow a fairly simple directive that I gave.

What I did:

I screamed at him in front of everybody, pulled him aside and told him that he can follow my orders or he can leave.  We had a long chat afterwards, in which I made my position clear, and shook hands at the end.

What I didn't do:

Create pain and suffering for everybody at work and their descendants, including the pets, send them off somewhere to be tortured, flood the workplace to kill everybody inside, and use the excuse, "It's a fallen workplace."  This is the way the fictional character Yahweh handled it, according to the story.  Do you know why I didn't do that?  Because I'm not a fucking psycho!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is Yahweh a Comic Book Super-villain?

My hat is off to the crew of the Ask An Atheist radio show and podcast, based out of the SeaTac region of Washington state, USA.  On last Sunday's show, they made an absolutely fantastic example of Yahweh's character as described in the Bible.  I'm crediting the Ask An Atheist crew with creating the demonstration, but if it has been used before, I'm not aware of it.

The premise was a simple game.  One host reads a quote, and the other hosts had to guess whether this quote came from Yahweh as written in the Bible, or from a comic book super-villain named Doctor Doom.  You may think it sounds easy, but it was really, really tough.  I couldn't possibly do it justice in text, so listen for yourself here.  The relevant part begins at about 18:35 of the audio.

The point is extremely obvious.  The fictional character of Yahweh is a fucking thug.  It is evil and I am proud to say that I am far superior to it in the morality department, as are probably all of the people reading this.  People who describe Yahweh as "all-loving" or "pure goodness" are deluded and/or plain ignorant.  When one cannot tell the difference between a quote from a super-villain or a quote from an "all-good" deity, something is wrong.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Yahweh Wouldn't Do That!

In my last post, an atheist reader challenged a Christian reader about morality.  The question was standard (paraphrased), "What would you do if Yahweh ordered you to kill me?"  The Christian's response was also standard (paraphrased), "Yahweh wouldn't do that!  It isn't in its character as a being of love and morality!"  Notice no answer to the question was given.

BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT!  This is the same Yahweh that ordered the sacrifice of Abraham's son, killed all but one family in a flood, sent bears out of the woods to murder children for calling a guy bald, turned a woman into a pillar of salt for turning around, orders you to kill homosexuals, witches, adulterers and disobedient children, killed all of the first-born of Egypt, sends people to eternal torture in Hell, ordered genocide, whose messengers sent virgin women to a crowd of men to be raped, etc. etc. etc.  What the hell is wrong with you people?  I think Yahweh's character is pretty clear from these examples.

The standard Christian response, and the one used by our visiting Christian friend, is (paraphrased), "Oh, but they were wicked and they deserved to die.  It wasn't murder, it was capital punishment."  FUCK!  OK Christians, so how do you KNOW that the atheist reader was not wicked?  How do you KNOW that he is not a homosexual or a sorcerer, or that he didn't call a guy bald?  How do you KNOW he doesn't deserve to die in the eyes of Yahweh?  So then, how do you KNOW that Yahweh wouldn't order you to kill him?  It clearly IS in Yahweh's character to order the murder of people it feels are unfit.  So the atheist's question is perfectly valid, and the Christian response is a cop-out (not that we should expect any better).  So answer the fucking question!

I'll go a step further.  I'll say that if you hold this kind of belief, that anything Yahweh does or orders is moral, then you forfeit your right to make any moral judgments for anything anybody does at all!  How do you KNOW that woman didn't kill her children because Yahweh ordered it, because it knew that they would grow up to be wicked?  How do you KNOW that Yahweh didn't order the murder of the Tutsis in Rwanda?  How do you KNOW that guy didn't punch the other guy because Yahweh ordered it?  How do you KNOW anything about morality or why people do what they do, if you believe that Yahweh orders people to do things that would normally be considered bad, and that anything Yahweh orders is good?

If you believe these things, then your morality is pretty fucked up, and I do not respect it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

My First Defriending!

Today I had my first (that I know of) defriending on Facebook.  A Christian who I was debating with decided to just unfriend me when I posed a particularly difficult question.

After she opened the conversation by asserting that atheists do believe in (the Christian) god, but don't want to follow its laws, it pretty much devolved.  When I posed a simple question about morality with a "yes" or "no" answer, both her and another friend of hers refused to answer.  They called the question, "rediculous" (sic) and "unhelpful".  They told me that answers are out there if I care to look, but didn't cite any, saying that if I won't look for them, they won't help me.  They refused to answer at all.  They didn't even attempt a "maybe" or "it depends on the circumstances" answer, just nothing.  My former friend called the question "a trap", which to be fair it was, even though it is a perfectly valid question.  The problem is that once you answer it either way, you realise that something is wrong either with your own morality, or with your deity's morality.  That is the trap.  If you answer, "Yes", you have to wonder why you are so fucked up to have answered like that.  If you answer "No", you must grapple with the fact that your deity is not as moral as you believe, or that it has drastically less power than you believe.

So then she unfriended me.  That's what Christians do when they are confronted with a question that is a toughie.  They cut off the source, censor the ideas coming in, and run back to their Christian groups, where their ideas won't be challenged and they can live a sheltered life away from outside thought.  It's a perfect recipe for religious belief.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Has Science Ever Done for Us?

I just read this article, about young people in the United States "abandoning religion" in large numbers.  I think the article is misleading because what the numbers really mean is that young people are having doubts in large numbers, but the article itself is not what I'm writing this post about.  This comment in the comment section interested me:

"I'm not trying to kill anybody's hope. If it makes you happy to think that humankind is going to abandon the belief in a power greater than itself that it has held in a multitude of ways for at least 6000 years, by all means, go ahead. I hope it works out for you. And turn to what? Science? The people who gave us Hiroshima, Zyklon B, the Tuscaloosa syphilis experiments, napalm, daisy cutters, drones, genetically modified food, hormone replacement therapy, DDT, global warming, etc. etc. etc.?"

This stupid comment, written by Michael Ryle, leaves itself open to many methods of attack, and I'll take several of them here:

1.  So you're going to turn to a (presumably the Christian) god?  The god that invented pain?!  The god that invented suffering, death, cancer, cystic fibrosis, birth defects, mental retardation, cyanide, alcohol, anthrax, polio, malaria, HIV/AIDS, etc. etc. etc.?  The god that leaves evidence for its existence and desires so unclear that humans are brought to fighting wars for it, such as the Crusades, Witch Trials, Islamic jihad, etc. etc. etc?  The god that kills (how many?) millions of babies of mothers who want them every single year, supports slavery and genocide, etc. etc. etc.?

2.  At least 6,000 years?  What a fucking putz.

3.  Science is not a group of people that we turn to instead of a god.  When I was in university, my boss, a good scientist, was highly religious.  I found this out by surprise when he invited me to his home for dinner and he led his family in prayer before eating.  The Catholic Church (finally ) also recognises science as a path to truth, as do many other religious groups.

4.  The fact that the Hiroshima bomb worked, that genetically modified food exists, that hormone replacement is possible, etc. etc. etc., is PROOF that science works!  Say it with me, you fucking putz:


Science is not an entity, it is a method for discovering truth.  And the fact that it has proven itself, repeatedly millions of times, to be effective at discovering truth (ie. things that work), means that it is an excellent method for discovering truth.  Religion, on the other hand, has never proven a single shred of its (various and contradictory) supernatural claims, not once, not EVER!

5.  Wasn't the guy who ordered the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings a Christian?  Weren't the people dispensing the Zyklon B Christians?  Weren't the people dropping the napalm Christians? etc. etc. etc.

6.  Science is a method for discovering truth, as outlined above.  Sometimes the truth isn't pleasant.  But it's what WE DO with those truths that can bring bad consequences.  Are you going to blame the people who discovered electricity because people are tortured using it?  If you're advocating that we don't use science because it can bring knowledge that can lead to bad effects, then you're against KNOWLEDGE.  Like many religious people, you'd prefer for people to live in fear and ignorance.  Even the Christian origins story is an attack on knowledge.  You do all of this while you sit at a computer, typing on the internet, presumably in your climate-controlled dwelling, while the food is kept healthy in your refrigerator, you have vaccinations for many life-threatening diseases, etc. etc. etc.

You, Michael Ryle, are an ungrateful fool who does not recognise all of the benefit science has brought you personally, all of the truth science has discovered, all while advocating (between the lines) for us to live in fear and ignorance.

Friday, June 8, 2012

30 Days to a Better You!

I have a challenge for the religious.  The challenge comes with no obligation, and I offer a full refund of your payment if you are not satisfied with the results.  For the next 30 days, I challenge you to do the following.  Every time you have a question about your deity of choice, about a mysterious or confusing aspect of your understanding of it, try answering the question with, "Because it doesn't exist."

For example, if you ask yourself, "Why doesn't (my deity of choice) heal amputees?", answer with "Because it doesn't exist."  If you ask, "Why did my deity of choice make such an easily misinterpreted set of rules to live by?", answer with "Because it doesn't exist."  And so on.

You don't have to actually believe the answer during the trial period, but try it and see how well it fits every time (depending on how you phrase the question).  Former believers will tell you that it's amazing how much your understanding of the world around you can improve and clarify after you begin using this answer for those stubborn questions.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You can't explain eclipses!

I'm not sure if anybody else has ever heard this argument before, but I have.  Some religious believers have actually argued that the fact that the Moon is the perfect size to cover the Sun during a solar eclipse is evidence of an intelligent designer.  If I do not acknowledge this coincidence, then I'm apparently "ignoring evidence".

The standard rebuttal that I have seen to this argument is that because the Moon is moving slowly away from Earth, that it is only at this particular point in time that we can see total solar eclipses.  In the future, the Moon will appear too small from Earth to have total eclipses anymore.

I also want to point out that the Moon is NOT ALWAYS the correct size to create this phenomenon.  This week many people on Earth will be able to see an annular eclipse, which occurs when the Moon is at a spot in its orbit around Earth which makes it too small to completely cover the Sun, and will appear inside it.  Isn't this strange?  I mean, if it was intelligently designed, I'd expect the following things:

1.  That the Moon and Sun would always be the correct size for the magnificent total solar eclipse spectacle

2.  That many more people on the planet would be able to see these demonstrations of greatness, as opposed to the very limited number of people who can see them now

3.  That the experience would not be absolutely ruined for so many people by simple cloudy weather

If eclipses are meant to be a display of greatness and wonder, as the IDiots argue, then why is it so limited by these factors?  As usual, what we see is more in line with what we'd expect if this was just a natural phenomenon.

To all of you in the eclipse path, clear skies!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Legislating away our free will

I've decided that Christians must believe that their god gave us free will so that they could legislate it out of us.  If they had their way, any non-Christian act (by the definition of which sect, I wonder?), would be illegal and therefore banned.  That isn't exactly free will, is it?  So why are they opposing their god's desire for us to be able to act freely in a non-believing manner?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Celibate" kiddie-diddlers give sex advice for married couples

If you ever wanted advice about sexual relations with your spouse from men who dress up in funny robes, take a vow of celibacy, but end up fucking little boys in their care, check this out.

Everybody knows from the introduction that I'm referring to the Catholic Church, there was really no need to say so, even though I just did.  It's just mind-boggling, and I mean that in the most serious way, that not only would they think themselves qualified to give this advice, but that anybody would give a shit what they think!  Anyway, I present it to you for your own amusement.  Feel free to read it with your partner and break each rule as you go along.  You can make a game of it!

Some excerpts:

If a man has a vasectomy, does he need to reverse the procedure before having sex again?
If a man is truly sorry for having the operation and has gone to confession, he may have sex again without fear of committing a sin.

Is “pulling out” considered contraception?
Yes. When a man ejaculates, the life giving seed spews forth. If you keep this seed from following its natural course (by blocking it, spilling it, or chemically destroying it) you violate the natural use of sex. Pulling out is equivalent to using a condom.

Is oral sex considered a kind of contraception?
For a man, yes. Well, at least if he ejaculates. It would be the same thing as “pulling out.”

Is mutual masturbation a mortal sin?
Somewhat. If a man ejaculates, then this is very clearly a mortal sin, as he is spilling the seed. In spirit, the act of mutual masturbation eliminates the loving embrace God intended for man and woman. It puts oneself in the drivers seat, and degrades sex to a purely physical act. But sex is not a merely physical act of love. It is a supernatural act where man and woman embrace in body and soul.

Is it wrong for a woman to masturbate after the man ejaculates?
It is reasonable for a woman to expect pleasure from sex. In cases where a man will not spend the proper time and energy to physically fulfill a woman’s needs, it is permissible for her to do so herself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. March 24th!

For some reason it never occurred to me until now to promote this on the site.  Shame on me!

On March 24th, 2012, there will be a rally of the secular (non-religious) movement in Washington, D.C. at the National Mall.  There is an impressive list of speakers lined up (eg. Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, James Randi, Michael Schermer, the sexy and charming Cristina Rad of YouTube fame, etc.), and plenty of well-known organisations sponsoring the event.  In this American election year, if you can make it to Washington to make your heathen voice heard, go for it!

For more information, see the official Reason Rally website.

I will not be there, although I wish I could be.  I will, ironically, be in the Holy Land of Israel and Jordan visiting famous religious sites.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why we need evidence

I realised that I missed a perfect opportunity with my last post to write about why we require evidence.  What we've got in the previous story is a rival set of fundies, including the prominent and evil monster Pat Robertson, yelling at each other about how and why their god caused the tornadoes and why people died.

Let's assume for a moment that we accept that their god exists.  On one side, we've got a fundie yelling that it was for reason A.  On the other side we've got another fundie yelling that it was for reason B.  How can we determine who is correct about this particular situation? How can an objective observer decide which side, if any, is correct?  This is where something called evidence comes into play.

Religious people are afraid of this word and do not like to provide evidence.  In fact, they've even gone as far as to build into their creeds that to believe without evidence is a virtue, and that to do so will gain you great reward.  But this is how objective, intelligent people settle issues about reality.  Religious people have not yet reached this level of intellectual maturity.  They are no more mature intellectually than a couple of elementary school kids yelling "You're a doodie-head!  No I'm not, you are!" at each other.

So, who has the evidence to back up their claim?  I'm waiting.....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Idiots, all of them!

Read about these idiots, including the monstrous Pat Robertson, arguing about tornadoes in Georgia, USA:

Residents of west Georgia are still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after tornadoes ripped threw their homes late Friday night. Many of them say it’s a miracle that the damage and injuries weren’t more extensive.
When asked why God allows tornadoes to do people harm, the 700 Club host responded, “God didn’t send tornadoes. God set up a world where certain currents interact with other currents.”

"If enough people were praying, He would intervene,” Robertson said. “You could still storms, Jesus could still storms."

Some victims don’t see it that way. In fact, many residents say it was divine intervention that helped them get through a tough time.

“Personally, I thank God that I’m alive and that the damage wasn’t greater,” said resident David Wilson. “I think that my neighbors are safe and not harmed in any way, although they’ve lost quite a bit of property. But this weather, I can’t say this is God’s fault.” 

Fucking idiots!  "Yahweh sent the tornadoes!"  "No it didn't, it just didn't stop them!"  "If you prayed more, it would have stopped!"  "It's our prayers that lessened the damage!"  So Yahweh chooses the most faithful part of the country to pick on because they're not praying enough?  What a douchebag!  Which one?  Both of them!  Yahweh AND Robertson!

When Pat Robertson kicks the bucket, I'm going to write a really nasty post explaining exactly why Yahweh has smoten him.

To read the full article, click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Better Life book needs your support

I've just been made aware of a worthwhile project that could use some support from you.  Are you familiar with Kickstarter?  It's a website that allows individuals to seek funding for projects that they'd like to work on.  An award-winning photographer and filmmaker in New York, Chris Johnson, is behind the project.  He intends for the book to be a coffee table photo book about atheists, some known and some unknown, and what gives meaning and happiness to their lives.

The list of already confirmed personalities for the book is impressive, and is still growing.  Check it out:

  • Derren Brown, illusionist/mentalist
  • PZ Myers, evolutionary biologist/blogger
  • Dr. Daniel Dennett, philosopher/cognitive scientist
  • Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist/author
  • Matt Dillahunty, host of The Atheist Experience
  • Dr. Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine/author
  • Rebecca Watson, blogger/speaker
  • Matthew Chapman, film director/writer
  • Julia Sweeney, comedian
  • Dr. Steven Novella, neurologist
  • Greta Christina, blogger/speaker
  • Chris Mooney, host of Point of Inquiry/author
  • Dr. Patricia Churchland, neurophilosopher
  • Dr. Carolyn Porco, planetary scientist
  • D.J. Grothe, president, JREF
  • Beth Presswood & Lynnea Glasser, Godless Bitches podcast
  • David Silverman, president, American Atheists
  • Dr. Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist/author
  • Hemant Mehta, blogger
  • Brian Dunning, host, Skeptoid podcast
  • Jessica Ahlquist, First Amendment hero
  • Roy Speckhardtexecutive director, American Humanist Association
The project goal is $95,000.  The way Kickstarter works, if the pledged funding does not reach that level, then all donations are cancelled and you will never be charged.  The project is only funded if the goal is reached.

Donations come with benefits, also.  US$25 gets you a PDF copy of the book.  $50 gets you a hardcover copy and the PDF.  $100 gets your name mentioned in the book as a supporter, plus the hardcover copy, plus the PDF copy.  And so on.  A donation of $2,500 gets you or a person you nominate featured in the book yourself (assuming you're an atheist and not a religious person who is backing the book for some reason).

Click here to visit the website and make your donation!

Chris has also embedded a video on the site that makes it amply clear why such a project is necessary.  This is just terrible:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What is the burden of proof?

I just received the following 2 comments on another post:

Please define "burden of proof"

I am not the same guy that was writing earlier but abmin it is very obvious you do not know the definition. Prove to me simply that athiesm is in any part verifiable in history or can be proved without ANY doubt that it is even logical thinking. 

The first one is easy enough, but the second one is fightin' words.  Why exactly did this guy think it's "very obvious" that I don't know the definition?  Is it because it took me nearly 4 hours after the first comment was posted to post this response?

Anyway, the burden of proof can be loosely defined as the expectation that the person asserting a positive claim must provide some evidence to back up his statement.  Examples of positive claims include the existence of entities, a legal accusation, the occurrence of a historical event, etc.

I also think the writer of the second comment is not being honest with himself.  He knows how the burden of proof is applied in most aspects in life, and is probably grateful for it being set up the way it us, but he makes different rules when it comes to burden of proof of religious claims, almost definitely only for those of his own religion.  More on that moron (it's a homophone) later.

Let's get to some clear examples.

1.  Claim of existence:  Two little children are playing in a sandbox, without a care in the world.  They're only concentrating on the sand and having fun with it.  Suddenly one child says, "There's a monster buried in the sand."  So the second child (correctly) says, "I don't believe you.  Prove it."  The first child then says, "You can't prove that there isn't!  Prove to me that any part of amonsterism is in any part verifiable in history or can be proved without ANY doubt that it is even logical thinking!"  Who is correct in this case?  Is the first child correct in his assertion that if the second child can't prove the monster doesn't exist, then it should be assumed that it does exist?  Or does the first child have the responsibility to provide back-up for his claim?

2.  Legal accusation:  A person has been accused of breaking and entering.  He enters the courtroom and the judge says, "Can you prove that you didn't do this?"  The accused replies, "No, I can't prove it."  The judge then gives his verdict, "As the accused cannot prove he was not involved in this crime, the court finds him guilty."  In the legal system of the civilised world, we have what is commonly referred to as "innocent until proven guilty".  It means that the burden of evidence is on the prosecutor, the one making the accusation, to prove the guilt of the accused.  If the prosecutor were to merely say, "I think his guilt is self-evident.", then the defence would not be required to present any evidence at all, the verdict would be not-guilty.  I do in fact know a person who was accused of a killing that he did not commit.  The prosecution was unable to prove its case and the verdict was not-guilty.  I am very grateful that the system is designed the way it is, with the burden of proof on the prosecution.  If it was the other way around, well, that's how you end up with witch trials, in which it is the responsibility of the accused to prove their innocence.  I think that the writer of the second comment would also be grateful for this system if he was accused.  If he was accused and we had a "guilty until proven innocent" system, he'd be screaming about how the accuser has the burden of proof and that this isn't fair.

3.  Occurrence of a historical event:  A historian comes forward with the claim that in 1297, Spain invaded England.  Other historians look at their records and cannot find any evidence to support such a claim.  They ask the historian who made the claim why he thinks so, and to provide evidence for it.  The first historian then says that it's up to the others to show that it didn't happen, or we should assume that it did.  He may also say, "Prove to me that any part of aspaininvadeenglandism is in any part verifiable in history or can be proved without ANY doubt that it is even logical thinking!"

This is the burden of proof.  In the case of theist claims, which most closely resembles case #1 above, a group of people is claiming that there exists an entity.  They cannot even begin to demonstrate that it really exists, so some of us decide that we do not believe them and continue to live our lives without this belief.  There is a less-than-intelligent fucktard on YouTube, who I suspect our second commenter is a fan of, who has attempted to turn this burden of proof upside-down in matters of religion.  His line is, "Prove to me that atheism is true and accurate."  I believe theists know what the burden of proof is, they know how it works in other aspects of their lives, such as in cases #2 and #3, but their attempt to reverse it is an act of desperation.  They're desperate because they cannot, try as they might for many thousands of years, provide any evidence that they're even on the right track.

For the Wikipedia article on the burden of proof, click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A strange spin on the story of Jesus

I found this story online, which when I first saw it seemed ridiculous and I was mocking it.  It's about a small town in northern Japan that claims it is the location of Jesus' grave.  The story goes that he was not crucified, but rather his brother was.  He then carried some of his brother's remains on the long journey to Japan, where he married a local and had children.  There he died at 106 years old.  He and his brother are now buried in the town.  Check it out here.
But after thinking about it for a while, I realise that it is actually far more plausible than the classic story of Jesus, for the simple reason that it doesn't include a dead person coming back to life and flying to a magical place in the sky.  We know travel across continents was possible, so I suppose it's a question of ,"Why not?"

Monday, February 20, 2012

Religion; making people kill their own family members since its beginning

This article requires no comment from me.  Here are some selected portions:

A 40-year-old mother of two was burned alive in central Nepal after she was accused of being a witch, police said Saturday.

Dhegani Mahato was attacked and set on fire by family members and others after a shaman allegedly accused her of casting a spell to make one of her relatives sick, Police Officer Hira Mani Baral said.


She was beaten with sticks and rocks before being doused with kerosene and set afire, an attack witnessed by her 9-year-old daughter, according to the local police report.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our child is too young to think!

In a case just ruled on by the Supreme Court in Canada, students in one province do not have the right to opt-out of a mandatory course in ethics and world religions.  My understanding is that the course does not push one religion over another, but is meant to introduce the children to the world's major faiths.  I strongly believe this is a valid social science.  Religion is such a major force behind politics and relations between people and countries, that we would be doing a disservice to students to ignore it completely in their education.  Understanding the various religions should increase understanding of current events and the world around us.  If you've been reading my site for a while, you might even recall that my own de-conversion from Roman Catholicism was finalised by a mandatory course in world religions at my high school.  See here for that post.

Anyway, the parents of some students didn't like the course, and wanted their children to be opted-out.  It managed to make it to the Supreme Court, and the court ruled that all students must take it.  You can read the full article here, but some excerpts are below, including one gem of a comment from one of the parents.  The article quotes are in blue, my comments are in black.

"The Drummondville, Que. couple in the case believe the course curriculum interferes with their ability to pass on their faith to their children, and violates their freedom of religion."

That's right, because your rights to freedom of religion include never having to hear about any other religion, correct.

"Parents Morse-Chevrier works with will start gathering evidence that the course harms their children, in the hopes they can pursue legal action again at a future time, he said."

Yes, the harm that learning about the world does!  Won't somebody please think of the children?!

"My son is in fourth grade and he already asks questions about his own religion and I find it sad that it's happening at such a young age,"

You stupid fucking bitch!  How dare you tell your son when he can start to think for himself and to ask questions!  So you're upset that your little fucking experiment in controlling your son's mind is not working?  You're upset that he has shown an ability to think, to ask questions about something he doesn't understand?  You want him to just accept it on faith from the pastor/rabbi/imam/shaman/whatever, like you did?  What are you going to do now that you've lost in the Supreme Court, punish him for thinking?  Are you going to try to deny him knowledge of the world around him?  You are a terrible, terrible parent!  And evidently your religion is so flimsy and weak that it cannot even stand up to the scrutiny of a 10 year old!  If it could, you'd have no problem answering the questions to show him how it is correct!  Only religious people consider thinking to be harmful.

"She and her supporters say the course trivializes faith by treating students to a religious buffet."

Note that this comment is from the same person who made the previous monstrous one.  Right.  One way faith remains strong is for the people who practice it to remain ignorant about their other options, to deny that there are in fact any other options.  You are trying to deny those options to your child!  This is not a trivialising of your faith, it's education about the world for your son, bitch!

In short, these parents suck.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A blank slate and no limits

I'm going to give you a pencil, a blank slate and a task.  You are to design a species and the world that it lives in as best you can.  You have no restrictions or other requirements.  Your only limit is your imagination.  How will you design it?  What characteristics will it have?  Here are some things I'll bet you wouldn't do, or at least that you wouldn't do many of them:

  • design the world to be full of a substance while designing the creature to require that substance to survive, then make it incapable of using the vast majority of that substance
  • give it a terribly flawed memory bank, one which frequently fails to properly recall information either partially or completely
  • make it so that it needs to spend one-quarter to one-third of its life in a near-unconscious state, unable to do anything useful, then even harass while it is in this state with frightening and stressful images
  • give it eyes but make it so that it cannot see nearly half the time
  • design it to appreciate the beauty of the world you have created, but also so that it cannot go out for very long without burning itself in some places or freezing to death in others
  • make it so that trivial things constantly re-grow, but that critical systems and parts do not
  • design predators that try to hunt it, then make it so that it cannot see what is behind it
  • design it with a constant urge to explore, yet put much of the world permanently out of its reach due to the incomprehensibly large distances involved
  • make an extremely critical system, that controls all body movement, fragile and with no redundancy
  • make it so that it excretes waste several times a day that is poisonous to it and contaminates its resource supply that you already limited so drastically in the first point
  • make sure that it is prone to starting life with terrible and debilitating defects and illnesses
The list could go on and on.  Would you do these things?  Why not?  Probably because you're intelligent and these suggestions are pretty strange and/or stupid, is that correct?  Yet all of these things are characteristics of humans and the world we live in.  This is what many people argue defines perfection.  They assert that we were created to have all of these traits by a perfect being, and that the design is perfect.  When confronted with a list like this one, these people will then claim that while these appear to be defects in design to humans, that we just cannot see the way in which they are perfect.

Once you make an assertion like that, you are beyond hope for a reasonable conversation and will have a pretty hard time climbing out of the cesspool that you have voluntarily thrown yourself into.  If you assert in advance that everything about our structure and characteristics is perfect and that even if something seems ridiculous, that it is still perfect and that we are wrong, you have made an unfalsifiable claim.  If you believe that apparent good design is perfect, and apparent bad design is just beyond our ability to comprehend its perfection, then no number of examples of poor design is capable of pulling you out of your cesspool until you admit that your fundamental way of thinking about the situation is incorrect.